A magical musical steam train ride to see Santa and walking trails through beautiful woodland are offered at Exbury Gardens in the run-up to Christmas.
The now traditional ‘Santa Specials’ at Exbury are part of the family fun at Christmas, as children travel through a landscape filled with story-book characters before meeting Father Christmas in his grotto.
Entrance to the world-renowned Gardens in the New Forest can be enjoyed by everyone who buys a ride on the Santa Special, and the Christmas Trail through the woodland walks is something the whole family will enjoy.
“Our steam train ride to see Santa is an adventure that everyone loves and a bracing winter walk round the Gardens is a lot of fun,” said Exbury’s Commercial and Marketing manager, Nigel Philpott.
Exbury’s head gardener, John Anderson, has devised the winding trail through the award-winning Gardens, so that visitors are able to see the winter beauty of the 200 acres of woodland walks.
“The shapes of the trees, the berries and colourful leaves make this a very special time of year at Exbury. Because we are closed for most of the month not many people get to see this wonderful winter garden which is lovely at all seasons,” said John. “The trail takes visitors to winter highlights, including ‘Christmas Cheer’, a December flowering rhododendron,” he said.
The Santa Specials are train rides with a difference – passengers board the Exbury Gardens steam railway for a trip through a garden filled with favourite Christmas characters.
There’s a Nativity scene, the Ice Queen with her sleigh, snowmen, reindeer, while Exbury’s cast of animal characters are dressed in woolly hats and scarves. Christmas music plays and passengers can sing along with seasonal favourites, to bring the snowmen and reindeer magically to life.
Exbury Central Station is decorated with fresh greenery, while Mother Santa has chocolates for the children and there is hot punch and mince pies for the adults. Each child has a personal chat with Santa in his magical grotto and receives a present. Christmas gifts may be bought from the shop and plant centre.
Mr Eddy’s restaurant will be open, selling delicious food, including warming soup and Christmas roasts.
Santa Specials are on December 11, 12, 18, 19, 20, 21. They are very popular and must be pre-booked by calling 023 8024 5750 between 9.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Tickets are £12 for adults and children (ticket price includes entry to the Gardens and the children’s ticket includes a present from Santa) and £6 for under-threes, who will also receive a present.
There is discount for bookings of 12 or more on the 11th, 20th and 21st. Trains at 3pm on Sat 11 and Tues 21 Dec run in aid of Wave FM’s Cash for Kids appeal.