Christmas. It seems to get earlier every year.

Just as the last sunbed is put away on Bournemouth beach, the supermarket aisles start filling up with cut-price Quality Street tins and tinsel – and it only feels like I put the decorations back in the loft yesterday.

And when you’ve got two young daughters, it’s only a matter of time before they ask: ‘Dad, when are we going to see Father Christmas?’ Over the last couple of years, we’ve got away with the odd trip to see Santa in a shopping centre or garden store but, as they’re getting older, the pressure was on to do something a bit more exciting this time – and as soon as the unmissable road signs for Santa’s Christmas Wonderland at Paultons Park went up, they weren’t going to go unnoticed by my two.

We’ve spent a few good summer’s days at the Hampshire-based family theme park, especially as my daughters are Peppa Pig addicts – but have never been in winter so wasn’t sure what to expect.

The first bit of good news was it was much quieter than normal - and barely a queue as we collected our tickets and were greeted at the theme park entrance by a couple of cheery elves.

As we strolled through the entrance, with jolly festive music playing and elves everywhere – it was definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

We’d booked in early to see the man in the red suit – so we joined the line to the Santa’s Christmas Wonderland spectacular and after just a few minutes we were led into the grotto.

‘Wow! Wow! Wow!’ was all we heard from our excited daughters as we walked through the grotto and along the enchanting North Pole themed trail – which I’ll leave the details of as a surprise – before arriving at Santa’s door.

And even as parents, there’s always something still a bit magical when you watch your children’s faces light up as they see Santa’s big smile and him clutching a present. And despite yapping all the way round the grotto, they turned shy and bashful when they greeted him.

After a chat, hug, a present and a photo it was time to leave Santa to his next lucky children – and return to the theme park.

But to keep the Santa spirit going, next on the agenda was the fantastic new 4D cinema showing a Christmas themed film. My daughters absolutely loved being rocked around in their seats while being transported into an enchanting Santa story that put them firmly in the festive mood.

Then it was back to the theme park for some fun on the rides. As it is now winter most of the water rides were closed – much to my relief as despite my two’s pleas on the way there, I didn’t fancy getting dragged onto the log flume nine times to get a soaking in my hat, scarf and gloves.

However, after a few turns (of my stomach) on the pirate ship and Wave Runner among another dozen or so rides, we saved the best until last – Peppa Pig World.

This is definitely a great time of year to enjoy what has become one of the South Coast’s top attractions and with much reduced queues in Peppa Pig World it meant we were able to enjoy all the rides we wanted.

And we enjoyed delights such as George’s Dinosaur Adventure and Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride and Daddy’s Big Car Ride – and a quick dash round Peppa’s house before my two were finally worn out.

And as the sun went down, and the fairy lights twinkled brightly on Peppa’s Christmas Tree (the biggest my daughters had ever stood next to), it was time to leave.

And, yes so Christmas for us has started early again this year. But what a magical way for it to start.

Getting there

If you want to treat your children to a magical Christmas experience, then look no further than Santa’s Christmas Wonderland at Hampshire theme park, Paultons Park.

Tickets are from £20.75 and include entrance to Santa’s Christmas Wonderland and Peppa Pig World, as well as a gift for the children. All visits must be pre-booked. Selected Paultons Park rides will not be open for Santa’s Christmas Wonderland. Please check for details and opening times.