5 Places in Hertfordshire to Visit For That Festive Feeling

Are you trying to find festive things to do with the kids that will get you all into that Christmas spirit? Here are five places to visit in Herts for some family fun that will leave you feeling wonderfully festive…

1. Willows Farm Santa Spectacular

We go to this Santa Spectacular event every year and it’s a fantastic day out. Not cheap but plenty of festive fun to be had! More information on my previous blog post here.

2. Notcutts, St Albans

Notcutts is a nice place to pop into on a tight schedule, because you don’t need much time to enjoy the festive magic yet is still well worth a visit if you are local, mainly for the giant dancing snowman! I have heard santa also visits on occasion, sometimes even for breakfast or tea with guests! (Event must be booked in advance). 

Notcutts, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Christmas, Santas Grotto, snowman

3. Ayletts Nurseries, St Albans

I have already written about this lovely local garden centre, because it was Christmassy enough to warrant its own separate post! Great festive atmosphere.

4. Van Hage Garden Centre, Great Amwell (nr Ware)

Again, Van Hage is so fabulously festive that it has a post of its very own! With an ice rink, grotto and wonderful Christmas displays, it is enough to take the scrooge out of anyone! 

5. Christmas Drive or Walk

Earlier in December, St Albans Christmas market would probably have taken this spot. But a Christmas walk or drive to see beautifully decorated houses is something that we all really enjoy and is a well-loved activity for many families. Our personal favourite is Beech Road in St Albans, who are raising money for Mount Venon Marie Curie Cancer Wing with their amazing display, but I’m reliably informed by Diary of an Unexpectant Mother that there are also brilliantly decorated houses on Brocket Road near Lemsford and lovely lights on Handside Lane in Welwyn Garden City. Amy from The Smallest of Things also suggests Blair Close in Hemel Hempstead too. Wherever you walk or drive, you are bound to spot plenty of festive sights! 

Beech Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Christmas, festive house, charity fundraising, go fund me, living life our way

And two more just outside of Hertfordshire…

Centre: MK (Milton Keynes)

There is an excellent Christmas event in Middleton Hall, which is situated within this large shopping centre. There is a carousel, train, snow globe and huge igloo which houses santa and his elves. The activities charge separately and aren’t cheap, but it does mean you can pick and choose, and it is a great treat. Plus, even if you skip any of the parts that cost and just have a general wander, it is still beautifully festive.

Crews Hill Garden Centres (Enfield)

If you aren’t familiar with this area, Crews Hill has a long row of garden centres. It’s a fab place for garden or outdoor enthusiasts at any time of year, but during Christmas it becomes a mini winter wonderland. Don’t miss Springtime nurseries, which is particularly festive! It has real reindeer, plus an indoor train ride to visit the grotto, an ice rink and a snow globe. 

Springtime nurseries, Crews Hill, Christmas, garden centres, Living Life Our Way

Do you have a favourite place to visit for that wonderful festive feeling? Please share yours with me in the comments section! 

Christmas at Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire 

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.

Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, places to go, things to do, days out, garden centre, animal gardens
Van Hage animal gardens
Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, places to go, things to do, days out, garden centre, animal gardens, wildlife
We love these DIY wildlife ideas!

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!

Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, places to go, things to do, days out, garden centre, reindeer, family fun, festive, Christmas, winter
Giant reindeer at the entrance
Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, places to go, things to do, days out, garden centre, festive, winter, Christmas, family fun
Van Hage at Christmas

More photos from a previous visit can be found here.

November: Part One

These are some of the things we have been doing so far this month…

character drawings 01.11.14
Drawing various characters she has created in a variety of outfits 01.11.14
fishing 01-11-14
Fishing for coins in the bath- a game she designed herself 01.11.14
water scales 01-11-14
Squiggle started off using her balance scales to compare volumes of water. This then led to a discussion about measurements of solids and liquids, and the units they are measured in. She then decided to experiment with comparing the ducks and water combined. She observed that when the water was the same volume each side and therefore balanced, that the two ducks did not weigh the same. This was not what she predicted because they look the same and are the same size, but she the concluded one of them must have water inside adding to the weight. She then tried to push the duck down into the water and was amused that it popped back up again so we discussed why this happens. She also noticed the water level rises as she did so, which also led to a discussion on water displacement. 01.11.14
white water rafting 01.11.14
We went to watch white water rafting at Lee Valley. 01.11.14
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Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
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Watching watersports on the lake 02.11.14
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Photos at the lake 02.11.14
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One of my favourite photographs of Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
cuddly toy cat game 3-11-14
Cuddly toy cat game 03.11.14
paradise park play area 4-11-14
Paradise park 04.11.14 physical exercise and a spot of map reading too
paradise park animals 4-11-14
A few of the animals at Paradise park 04.11.14
paradise park monkey 4-11-14
We were lucky enough to spot a two day old newborn baby gibbon clinging to mum 04.11.14
sylvanian school game 5-11-14
Squiggle used her Sylvanian families to act out a day at school. This led to some very interesting questions, such as why do the children need to wear a school uniform, who decides what it should be etc… We then had a very balanced discussion about the differences between school and home education. She was able to articulate very well why she personally feels home ed is much better suited to her needs. 05.11.14
southend 6-11-14
Southend beach 06.11.14
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We found this great resource at the beach playground, it is simple explanation of the weather cycle. Squiggle enjoyed learning how clouds form and how it rains. This led to further discussion about weather, the sun and also how stars form too 06.11.14
southend boats 6-11-14
Boats at Southend 06.11.14
southend more photography 6-11-14
Some of my favourite photos from our trip to Southend 06.11.14
southend photography 6-11-14
Scenic photos of Southend 06.11.14
fireworks fleetville 7.11.14
Local fireworks display 07.11.14
fireworks crabtree 8.11.14
Watching fireworks with a friend 08.11.14
fashion garden 9.11.14
Playing in the garden 09.11.14
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Picnic in the garden 09.11.14
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Fun at Bopping Babes disco 09.11.14
sylvanian imagination 10.11.14
Small world imaginary play 10.11.14
sylvanian ayletts christmas display 11.11.14
Acting out Ayletts Christmas display from last year 11.11.14
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We then visited Ayletts garden centre to see this year’s display 11.11.14
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Notcutts garden centre 11.11.14
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Squiggle made her own Christmas sticker book 12.11.14
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Sylvanian family decorating for Christmas (wearing clothes she made for them for winter) 12.11.14
duplo treehouse 13.11.14
Duplo construction (tree house playground) 13.11.14
clarence park 13.11.14
Clarence park 13.11.14
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Squiggle designed a multi pack of cat treats 14.11.14
cats 14.11.14
Squiggle then asked the next day to go to the pet shop to buy the cats a treat 15.11.14
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Chilling together
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Van Hage garden centre 16.11.14
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We popped to Stanborough lake briefly on the way home 16.11.14

 

In addition to these activities, we also practised estimating (time mainly) and discussed the difference between a guess and an estimate. We have also played a game several times that she invented whereby we try to recall what we were doing x number of days ago. This proved to be a fun memory game and we enjoyed talking about past events, as well as doing the maths to work out how many weeks, months and sometimes years ago the day was. I also discovered she didn’t know what a typewriter was when she found a miniature toy one (then again, why would she know!) So we discussed technology and how it has progressed, which she found very interesting.

 

Van Hage- it really is more than just a garden centre!

We went to Van Hage today, not for the first time, but I really think it deserves a mention as a great (and FREE) family trip out. In addition to things you might typically expect to find in a garden centre there is a lovely animal garden. They have a range of animals there and offer opportunities to interact with some of the animals at weekends and during school holidays (see website for details). There is even a miniature train ride (small charge of 80p per passenger applies).

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Stroking a snake at the reptile encounter today.
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She had the opportunity to touch a lizard.
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The chickens roam around freely and some are happy to be touched.
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They have a lovely range of animals.
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Looking at the giant bunnies and goats.
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She was able to stroke a tortoise today as well.
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We enjoy looking at the pretty displays.
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There are fun facts and activities in the animal garden.
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She learnt she was about the same height as a penguin.
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There is lots of useful information available.
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There are lots of flowers to look at to of course!
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The pet shop has a resident cat.
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There are lots of interesting things to look at in general.

 

Definitely worth a visit! See website for more details of events and activities http://www.vanhage.co.uk/garden-centres/great-amwell/