Little Sussex: Santa is special

Every month Kate Eastman is searching out the best things to do with children in the county with her son, Jasper. This month she visits Horsted Keynes and the surrounding area

CHRISTMAS is such a magical time for children. At the Bluebell Railway you can take them to meet Father Christmas on the Santa Special train ride running every weekend in December. There are frequent services between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes from 11am until 3.30pm, where Santa himself will visit every child on board with a gift. Once at Horsted Keynes you have the opportunity to visit Santa and the Snowmen in his special marquee where you can take a photograph with him and your family. There’s plenty to see, with Victorian street entertainers and traditional fairground stalls including Hoopla, Splat the Rat and The Shooting Gallery. With mulled wine, mince pies, hot chestnuts and other warming refreshments available. Once back at Sheffield Park you have the opportunity to take a look around the new museum, visit the engine shed, have a bite to eat in the Bessemer Arms or do some Christmas shopping in their gift and souvenir shop.

Tickets; Adults from �22-�17, Children �10-�11 and �6 for toddlers.

For more information visit 01825 720800. The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL

Two other great things to do:

Enjoy a traditional Christmas experience in the heart of Ashdown Forest. The Llama Park has its own herd of friendly reindeer that are preparing to play an important part in the festivities at the park this Christmas.  You can see them in their decorated stable and get close to them during their regular ‘meet the reindeer’ sessions. Join in the guided walks and Children’s Christmas trail and visit Santa in his grotto from Saturday 17 – 24 December. Their Christmas shop is now open, selling unusual gifts, South American crafts, musical instruments and luxury alpaca knitwear. With easy access and parking you will have a relaxing shopping experience.

Llama trekking gift vouchers make ideal Christmas presents for adults and children over 14 years and can be purchased at the shop or over the phone. Prices start from �30 for one and a half hours walk leading your own llama.

Please telephone 01825 712040 for further details on any of the events at the Park or visit their website

If your children like the water why not take them to Ardingly Activity Centre? Over the past 25 years, they have introduced thousands to the thrill and challenge of sailing, windsurfing and canoeing. The reservoir provides a large expanse of fresh water, offering an ideal teaching environment, in an area of outstanding natural beauty. From the age of 6 they can introduce children to the fun of sailing, kayaking from 7 and windsurfing and raft building from 8. The experienced staff are patient, enthusiastic and use up-to-date and well maintained equipment which is included in the price.

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Taster and birthday sessions from �16.50 per person, minimum six per group for two hours.

For more information contact Ardingly Activity Centre, The Lodge, Ardingly Reservoir, Ardingly, West Sussex RH17 6SQ 01444 892 549