Thursday 13 December 2018

Santa & The Elves Christmas Experience - Winchester Science Centre

If you're looking for a slightly different Father Christmas experience, then the Winchester Science Centre might be the place for you. Mixing a classic children's story with crazy science experiments, an elf led craft activity, a Christmas planetarium show plus a chance to meet Santa himself, this is a festive day out like no other!

We've not been to the science centre before so when we were invited down for the day, it was a big "yes please!" from all the family. We arrived just after 10.30 and as soon as the children saw all the exhibits, they were off! The brilliant thing about the science centre is that everything is interactive and children are actively encouraged to take part!

Elliot, at 6 is the perfect age and understood most of the exhibits with a little help from Daddy. He was very interested in the colon cafe exhibit where we picked a food and then found out how it worked through our body. Typical 6 year old, anything to do with farts and poo and he's happy!

Even Erin enjoyed taking part and exploring the exhibits - she may not have understood the science behind things but she certainly had fun pressing buttons and watching her big brother.

The Science of Sport zone was a big hit - you could test your reaction time, your flexability and your ability to balance. The family enjoyed racing against each other on the track!

The Christmas experience is split into two events - the first of these for us was a science show led by elves followed by a meeting with Father Christmas. I wasn't really sure what to expect having never experienced science with elves before! After our names had been ticked off the Elf list, we were led into a darkened room and the children were instructed to sit at the front on benches while the adults could take the seats behind.

The science show was inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk and the elves tested out different forces to see how Jack could reach the top of the beanstalk. The elves were very enthusiastic and really captured the attention of the children in the audience. It was also really interesting and I definitely learnt a few things!

We were then led into a room that had been decorated like the giants castle with a big seat at the end next to a huge Christmas tree. There were rows of tables and benches and everyone was invited to sit down. The children were all given a little present which was something they could open and do there and then.

Whilst this was happening, Father Christmas arrived and each family could go up and meet him. The children were then given another little present, these ones were age appropriate - Erin got a little book and Elliot a mini wooden jenga game. The adults also got a mince pie!

I thought this Father Christmas experience made a nice change from the usual ones where you go into a grotto etc. Erin is really wary of Father Christmas and because this was more relaxed and not in a small dark room/grotto, she didn't seem quite as scared! (She still wouldn't go near him but she didn't cry so that was a start!)

After meeting Santa we were free to leave the giant's castle. We had a bit of time before our next Christmas event in the Planetarium so we decided to have some lunch in the Hub Cafe. It did seem quite busy but there was plenty of tables and lots of staff working on the tills so we didn't have to queue for long. There were plenty of options for lunch including sandwiches, paninis and jacket potatos and the prices weren't too bad.

After lunch we headed over to the Planetarium where we were about to watch Reindeer Round-Up which is included in the price of the Santa and the Elves Christmas Experience. The children have never been in a planetarium before and Elliot was fascinated by the seats which were off course quite flat so you can enjoy the show above you!

The show takes the audience on a journey through the solar system in search of Rudolph and his furry friends to help save Christmas. I would say it is more aimed at younger children but it only lasts for 30 minutes so older ones shouldn't be too bored. We did enjoy the show however I was a bit confused how it was linked with Jack and The Beanstalk. The presenter told us she was Jack's Mum but it didn't really flow very well and I think it would have been better off as a separate show of it's own. I did read that last year's was presented by an elf and I think this might have been a better option!

After the show we spent some time exploring the lower level of the centre which features even more hands on exhibits including one where we could create a tornado.The children were fascinated with the little big room and could have spent all after in there!

Also located in the lower level is the brand new immersive zone, Explorer:Space. Featuring 20 fantastic modular exhibits, you can learn about meteorites, stardust, robots, atmospheric pressure and even human space flight! Elliot and his Dad are big fans of Kennedy Space Center in Florida so this area was an instant hit with them!

After dragging Elliot away from the space suit, Erin decided it was naptime! My husband sat with her in the cafe whilst Elliot and I did some festive themed crafts on the upper level. There appeared to be several crafts to choose from but it was a bit chaotic with glitter and pompoms everywhere! Elliot wanted to make a snowglobe so he was quite happy mixing the colours to make his unique. I did warn him that mixing the colours might make it look a bit like wee but he seemed quite happy with the colour!

After a quick look in the gift shop we decided to head back to Poole but we had a fantastic day out. The science centre is such a brilliant place and I'm ashamed it's taken us this long to visit!

There is lots going on at the centre throughout December including Storytime with Santa. Aimed at younger visitors, Preschoolers and their families are invited to join Santa and Magnificent (Santa's Master Elf) for a Christmas story read by Santa himself and a live science demonstration from the elves. This lasts for 45 minutes and includes a gift for the child.

Visitors can also experience their favourite Christmas films in the planetarium - these can be enjoyed from as little as £2 per person with General Admission or film-only tickets cost £5.

Santa and the Elves Christmas Experience tickets are £14 per person and must be purchased alongside General Admission - although if you book online at least 3 days in advance you will save 25% on admission.

For more information on tickets, timings or any of the above, please visit:

*Disclaimer - We were invited to Winchester Science Centre in order to conduct an honest review of their Christmas Experience.

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