Each year I arrange to do a special Santa visit somewhere, this year we chose to visit Longleat Wiltshire. It looked like it would be a great day with animals, rides, Santa Express train ride and the Festival Of Light. Which is a large Chinese Lantern Festival filling up the grounds around the Longleat house.

I have put together my tops tips on making your day at Longleat run smoothly, see the bottom of my blog post for these.

When we arrived into the park, we could see the festival of light set up, huge lanterns dotted all the way around the park,  I couldn’t wait for it to get dark.

Longleat had suggested to people to arrive from 9:30am and go through the safari park first, allowing 3 hours to complete this! I didn’t think it would take us 3 hours, but it did!! I have written a full post on the safari, it is full of so many different animals, and the children really enjoyed this part of the day. Here are just a few pictures!

Once we had completed the safari, it took you back into Longleat where you can park up. Then you are free to explore the park in whatever order you want.

We took the kids to the adventure play area so they could burn off some energy, after being in the car for so long. The park is great, built like a castle with trampolines, ball bits, hamster wheels and lots of slides, they were happy. Longleat even have a Costa, so we grabbed one before going into the park to keep warm whilst they were playing.

We walked around the animal adventure area, seeing lots of different animals including, Penguins, Monkeys, and the beautiful Red Pandas.

We didn’t see as much as we wanted, the queue for the Jungle Cruise was really long so make sure you allow time for this, as it is lovely to do and see the Seals in the water and the huge Silver Back Gorilla.

The kids really wanted to do the HUGE hedge maze….I hate mazes! Sticking together we ventured in…….and managed to get back out quite easily, I think we found a short cut (shhhh don’t tell the kids!)

Dotted around the park is little rides to go on, and a big Arctic Corner which we sadly never visited….maybe next year!

By the time we had done these things, it was time to head to the Santa Express, you must arrive 15 minutes early for your slot and wait for the train to arrive.

Once aboard you are driven out into the woods, this is a really lovely experience, as the woods are decorated with snow, and lights. It really did give a lovely atmosphere, and with Santas wooden lodge set at the back of the woods.

We did have one little problem though, we held back and took so photos and let everyone else run ahead to see Santa which meant we were at the back of the queue, not a problem at all and didn’t bother us. Then one of the Elves came along and said instead of waiting in the queue, why don’t you go and have your faces painted and then come back when the queue is down to see Santa. Great we thought, no standing around waiting for Santa.

Well the Elves took ages to come and do the face painting, then took their time doing them and we turned around and everyone had done their Santa visit and the next train was arriving with more people!! So it ended up being a very rushed visit to Santa and the Elves not being ready for us, so then we never got a photo of the kids with Santa properly.

We picked the 4pm train which was perfect, light enough to ride out to the forest and see Longleat, but it was turning dark quickly whilst we were at Santas village and a sparkly light train ride back to Longleat.

The Festival of Light had started when we got back, so Longleat looked beautiful with all the lanterns lit up and we headed off to main section, which starts around the house.

I can’t show you very well the size of these but the cake lantern was MASSIVE!

I won’t spoil this too much, but make sure you stop at the big Christmas tree! It isn’t a normal Christmas tree, and something very special happens every half an hour……..

We had a great day at Longleat Festival of Light and I would 100% recommend it, all ages groups will enjoy themselves and have a wonderful day out.


  • Do the safari first
  • Wrap up well, as it got very chilly as soon as it got dark
  • Plan what you want to do in the park before you leave home
  • Pack snacks and lunches if you don’t want to eat at Longleat
  • Plan somewhere to meet if you lose each other
  • A bag for carrying Santas gift afterwards
  • Keep all kids valuables zipped away and don’t lose a mobile phone like we did!
  • You need a full day to do everything
  • We used our Tesco Clubcard vouchers for entry to the park
  • Visit the Christmas tree at the end of the lights

*I wasn’t asked to write about our trip to Longleat Festival of Light, I just wanted to share out day out with you

Country Kids



  1. Those lights look amazing. I love the Peter Rabbit one. What a shame your visit to Santa ended up being so rushed with the face painting taking a while though. Looks like you all had fun though and I love the photos of the animals, especially the red pandas 🙂 #countrykids

  2. Oh my goodness, all this in one day of visiting Longleat! You certainly do need all day to do this properly! I haven’t been to the wildlife park in years and certainly never visited the festival of lights. It really dies look amazing. I’m quite excited for our Coombe Mill Santa Express after seeing this. Not quite on the same scale as this but hopefully lots of fun for the children staying here. I love the journey into the woods you had and the face painting was a good idea while waiting, though it sounds like you could have done with a wink from an elf to rejoin the queue!

    Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing on #CountryKids

  3. Kerry Norris Reply

    This looks absolutely amazing. It reminds me of when I visit the Christmas lights at the hunter valley gardens in Australia x

  4. This looks spectacular…i’ve heard such good things about the Festival Of Light and am hoping to take the boys next year! xx

  5. The festival of light looks amazing and lots of fun . Some great tips here that will be handy to know for those planning to go.

  6. the festival of light looks amazing, love the peter rabbit lights especially. We have never been to Longleaf before but would love to one day – thanks for the tips x

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