Van Hage is a large garden centre in Hertfordshire. It has a massive free car park and the garden centre itself covers a very generous sized area, both indoors and outside. In addition to the huge selection of brands and items for sale, there is also a restaurant, miniature railway (small additional charge), free animal gardens and various events.
During the festive season, they also have a very popular ice rink. Sessions can be booked online in advance, which is essential during busier periods. There are dedicated parent and toddler slots and a very limited number of SEND sessions too. Prices vary, but most sessions cost £10 per adult or £8 per adults, with certain concessions available, plus there is an additional charge for supports from £5 each. Further details are on the website.
Van Hage has a great Christmas selection, with cute displays and a Santa’s Grotto. I don’t know what the actual grotto experience is like as we haven’t visited, but the rest of the garden centre certainly helps us to get into the Christmas spirit!
More photos from a previous visit can be found here.
Squiggle had a lovely day enjoying the festivities at Willows Farm in St Albans. The main downside was that even during school hours it was alot busier than we would have hoped as it seems a popular destination for school trips at this time of year. That aside, we really enjoyed the range of Christmas activities on offer as well as the usual Willows fun.
It was not possible to take full advantage of the developments they have made recently to the sand area, that now includes additional features for water play, but it looked brilliant. Also looking forward to the future developments planned for the adventure playground, on the theme of Peter Rabbit.
From an SEN point of view, we appreciated the fact that disabled tickets did not have the same restrictions as other ticket types on the internet advanced booking system. Such a simple thing made a big difference and says alot about their attitude I feel. So big thumbs up for that! The staff generally seem understanding towards SEN families and have a positive attitude, based upon our experiences there anyway.
Father Christmas was very accepting of Squiggle’s additional needs too, and he interacted with her beautifully. The only issue was the difficulty with waiting in the queue, especially when other customers unfortunately lack the same understanding, but thankfully it wasn’t as long to wait as it can be at times so we were fairly lucky with that. The larger toy shop was a big improvement, a far less claustrophobic experience than previous years!
Overall, really pleased with our visit, fantastic day out. Feeling very festive now!