When you walk into The Enchanted Christmas House, there’s a big fluffy snowman waving at you in the entrance hall. An elf invites you to leave your coat and wander through to the Garden of Winter Wonder.
You pass rows and rows of sparkly Christmas trees to find an exquisitely decorated play area with activity tables, sand pit, mini bouncy castle, costumes and instruments set out for the kids to bash – and bash away they did!
I wasn’t sure if my 7-year-old would be impressed by the pre-school set-up, but he was happily moving from table to table and soon we were all busy playing knights and dragons.
It was hard to drag the boys away to follow the elves and Mrs Claus over to the stage area, where the kids spread out on cushions and a colourful cast of characters began the show.
The story revolves around naughty Betty Bubblegum who is on a mission to destroy Christmas and can only be stopped by Santa’s Snowball Soup. All boys and girls present were encouraged to perform a variety of tasks to help Santa’s magical helpers recover the recipe and save the day.
These tasks took us on a tour of the house, to make sock puppets in the Elves’ workshop, decorate gingerbread men in the Gingerbread Kitchen (my favourite room) and hunt for chocolate coins in the genie’s cavern.
My boys are sometimes too self-conscious (or in Ezra’s case, too ‘cool’) to get truly stuck in with audience participation but they were totally swept up in this interactive story.
I enjoyed watching them play musical statues to trick Mrs Claus, search for treasure with the genie and giggle at the clowning on stage. And my 4-year-old is still talking about how he helped ‘save Christmas’ at the Enchanted House.
Throughout the day, kids were taken to go and see Santa in his grotto. The Santa was convincing (despite the dodgy beard) and the boys were starstruck — especially since he knew all about their favourite football team and toys. They each got a gift to take home, along with the stuff they’d made.
Enchanted Christmas House is a lovely way to spend the afternoon with your family and literally marinade in Christmas spirit. After the show, there’s time for more free play for the kids, while the adults kick back with mulled wine and mince pies in the cafe.
They also gave us tasty hot food before we left and refreshments throughout the day; the real thrill for grown-ups is getting an inside peek at the gorgeous, award-winning London Art House. I want to hang here without the minis for an evening!
Tickets are eye-wateringly steep and the admission price will make some cry ‘bah humbug’ (hint: it’s cheaper and more fun if you take more kids). But you have to consider it’s an interactive theatre experience, an imaginative play space, a party atmosphere, a date with Santa and chill-out family time, all rolled into one giant ball of fantasy fun.
I would recommend this for ages 0-5, although the slightly older kids present seemed to be having a blast.
The boys were raving about it and I could hardly peel Jed off the Snowman before we left!
Enchanted Christmas House is at London Art House, 2-18 Britannia Row, N1 (Angel tube) until Christmas Eve. Times 10.30am-1.30pm, 2.30-5.30pm, & 4.30-7.30pm; family tickets from £129 for 2 people to £260 for 6 people (until Dec 20) and £159 for 2 people to £300 for 6 people. Babies under 15 months go FREE (until Dec 24)