Christmas Fun in North West Wales - Festive Family Days OutIn addition to our wonderful stay at Seinot Manor we had lots of fun activities planned for our festive weekend in Wales. We were invited by Attraactions of Snowdonia to three of their places to visit in North Wales and I'm going to share what we thought of Bodnant Garden, Bodnant Welsh Food and the GreenWood Forest Park.
The first place on our itinerary was Bodnant Garden which we visited on Saturday morning. This National Trust property is a large garden situated in the Conwy valley. Spanning more than 80 acres, it's a beautiful site which is packed with fascinating plants and trees to explore. We were there to participate in an Elves Workshop and enjoyed a leisurely walk through the gardens to reach the old mill where the workshop was taking place.
The garden is very beautiful. I was expecting it to be rather barren at this time of year but I was surprised by just how much colour the garden had, there were a number of winter blooms and the remains of autumn foliage. Bud loved looking for conkers and pine cones and kept saying 'it's very beautiful Mummy'. The garden has a wheelchair (and pushchair) friendly route but, as LM wanted to walk, we chose to take the steps a lot of the time. This really allowed us to see the layout of the garden and the terraces in the valley it is arranged over.
We arrived at the Elves Workshop in time for the 11am session. These can be booked at the Ticket Office at the main entrance. Bud and LM were shown how to make a Christmas tree and a snowman and both of them really enjoyed getting crafty with the elves. Said elves were part of the volunteers at the Garden and it was clear to see their enthusiasm and love for it. When we left we had our crafts popped into a little bag and received a pack of reindeer food and an invitation to go and see Santa at the Bodnant Garden Centre.
After a quiet wander back through the garden we had a look around the Garden Centre and Craft Centre, which are located around the entrance to the main garden The Craft Centre had a demonstration of glass bead making from the lovely lady behind MidasTouch Jewels who was incredibly patient with Bud, inviting him to choose the colours for a bead and wear her safety goggles while we watched her create a glass bead. It was a real highlight of the day for him and he was telling everyone about it later.
Our time at Bodnant Garden was completed by a trip to see Father Christmas in the Garden Centre. Children can visit the grotto in exchange for a small donation to a local children's charity and both Bud and LM enjoyed their visit. They had a sleigh outside the grotto that the children were really happy to sit in too.
The second part of our day saw us visiting Bodnant Welsh Food, a short drive away. This is actually situated on the same estate as Bodnant Garden and opened in 2012 following the renovation of a derelict farm house and it's buildings. The results are impressive and now include a large farm shop, tea room, restaurant, wine shop and ice cream bar now available to visitors.
Upon arrival we were met by the General Manager who took us on a comprehensive tour of the site. We started in the Cookery School, a fabulous facility where people can book onto classes with some of Wales' top chefs. It's an amazing, custom designed facility, I would love to have been able to cook there. From there we saw the beautiful Hayloft Restaurant. It's a beautiful setting and was bustling with people both dining and enjoying a drink in the elegant bar area. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and prides itself on serving the best Welsh produce.
From there we made our way into the beautiful, five star, bed and breakfast accommodation. We weren't able to see the bedrooms as they were fully booked but there is shared living accommodation, including a kitchenette which allows guests to create their own meals and is stocked with the basics from the excellent shop. Breakfast is included and is served in the Hayloft Restaurant. The accommodation is situated in the old farmhouse and looked absolutely lovely, I'd love to stay there sometime.
We were able to take a peek inside the dairy, they make award winning cheeses on site, using milk from just across the valley. The cheeses have to be turned every day and that's the job of two of the dairymen every morning. We were able to sample a few of the cheeses in the farm shop and I can definitely understand the awards.
Bodnant has an excellent wine shop, well stocked with wine from Wales and across the globe. It's displayed according to type of wine and we had a very enjoyable chat with the owner. He was so passionate about wines, I was rather gutted that my pregnancy precluded me from sampling some of his stock.
From there we headed into the courtyard to take a look at the Christmas market, which is taking place throughout December. This has a wide range of gift ideas and Bud was delighted to spot one of his favourites, Tractor Ted, on offer! Bud and LM spotted a certain man in red in the Tea Room and got a bit excited so we headed over to see Father Christmas once again (small charge applies, weekends only). Santa and his elves were very friendly and both children were very pleased with their reindeer food and chocolate lollipop.
Our day was completed with a tour of the farm shop. This is packed with local produce, including the aforementioned cheeses, They butcher all of their own meat on site and we had an informative chat with the Head Butcher about the importance of traceability in meat, at Bodnant they even have chalkboards which tell you where the various types of meat have been supplied from that day. As the meat is butchered there it means little waste with meat going in to the pies and ready meals made there too.
The final destination on our tour made Bud very happy. An enormous ice cream cone from the ice cream parlour! All of the ice creams are made on site and Bud enjoyed Strawberry while LM loved her Milk & Honey cone (with honey from estate bees). There's an informative little exhibition on bees and honey right next door to the ice cream parlour too. Our last visit was to the small adventure playground where Bud and LM loved the chance to play for a while.
We loved our afternoon at Bodnant Welsh Food, it felt so festive with the Christmas market and the visit to Father Christmas and we left with a few treats to fuel us for our journey back to the hotel and evening in our suite. The staff are justifiably proud of the awards and achievements of the last two years and I can see them going from strength to strength in the future. It was a fascinating place to visit. I'd definitely recommend checking it out if you are in the area.
On Sunday, our third and final visit of the weekend took us to the GreenWood Forest Park, which was a few miles from our hotel. This is one of North Wales' most highly rated family attractions. It's currently on Winter opening hours which means that the Enchanted play barn, shop and cafe are open to visitors (with reduced admission charges as a result). It was the perfect place to visit on a Sunday morning as the play barn wasn't too busy. For the Christmas period they have a Santa's Grotto in the gift shop. We didn't visit though as we saw Father Christmas twice the day before. I did speak to one family who had been to see him though and they were pleased with their gifts and the experience.
Bud and LM loved being able to rampage all over the play barn. They have a small section for under 3s which LM enjoyed but she was soon climbing all over the main part of the barn with her brother and Daddy too. We don't often visit soft play so they both really enjoyed the opportunity to let off steam before travelling home.
I can heartily recommend the cafe, I had a lovely cappucino and then a spiced apple juice. We didn't order food but others around us did and it was very well presented and reasonably priced. There was a birthday party on when we were there and they had access to a large room for their food and games. It seemed very well organised. For parents there is a lovely (and very well protected) log burner and free WiFi.
During the Winter adults go to the Play Barn free and children (up to 140cm tall) are £4:20. Visits to Santa are £7:50 which includes admission to the Play Barn and a gift.
The park looks like a wonderful place to visit in warmer months. My friend Anna visited with her family last year and had a wonderful time exploring the various attractions.. To find out what she and her boys thought see GreenWood Forest Park at In the Playroom. I definitely think we might have to plan a return visit in the Summer.
We had a wonderful weekend in North West Wales and loved the opportunity to see what festive options are available. It was the perfect way to enjoy time together as a family and we had a fantastic, relaxing time. For more information on the attractions and events in North Wales check out Attractions of Snowdonia.
Disclosure: We visited the attractions as their guests.