There’s always something a bit magical about going to Center Parcs.

And never more so than during the festive season, when we last visited.

Winter Wonderland is the perfect way to describe it.

Driving down through the entrance at Longleat always gathers gasps from our two young daughters, but coupled as it was this time – with sparkling trees and festive figures as far as the eye could see – it was even more special.

It wasn’t just the driveway that had the magical touch. Wherever you went, throughout the forest, paths were aligned with enchanting Christmas trees sparkling with fairy lights leading eventually to a festive themed area with real reindeer and, Santa’s Woodland Workshop – featuring the big man himself.

And they hadn’t missed the chance to dazzle indoors either – as we saw while we made our way to family friendly Huck’s Diner for a slap-up meal, American-style.

As they coloured in their festive art sheets, the girls chatted excitedly about all the treats lined up for the coming weekend, from hours spent shooting down the slides in the Tropical Paradise swimming pool, to making their own Christmas stockings and, best of all, the Elves Workshop at the Time Out Club.

And they even managed to wolf down a few mouthfuls of the children’s buffet before shooting off to play in the restaurant’s soft play and computer area.

Later, tired out after a long day at work, it was time to retreat to our home from home lodge in the forest, stand under the drencher shower and then sink into the deep, snuggly duvets – ready for our first, packed day.

After hiring our cycles – his and hers tag-alongs – we took advantage of a dry morning to whip through the forest with our giggling girls.

En route we stopped to watch as visitors trotted past in the Winter Wonderland pony and trap and treated ourselves to a well-earned lunch in the popular Pancake House.

Then we were off to swim, chute and splash for a few hours in the balmy tropical paradise. Created with kids and adults in mind, the domed complex has a wave pool, rapids, a lazy river and separate children’s pools for the littlies.

We finished what could have only been described as a fantastic day with a splendid meal spent at The Grand Cafe, then an amazing fireworks display over the lake – magical.

On Sunday, while the girls made Christmas crafts, dressed as elves and generally ‘partied’ with lots of other children at The Time Out Club, we adults snuck off to our favourite spot – the Roman-themed Aqua Sana spa.

Two hours in the spa, followed by a massage (and facial for the wife) was possibly the best Christmas gift these two weary adults could have asked for.

The snow may have been artificial, but we left Center Parcs feeling even more festive than when we had arrived.

And, when it came to creating a Winter Wonderland weekend for our family, Center Parcs did it with bells on.


Short breaks at Center Parcs start from £299 (Longleat Forest start from £319).

For more information or to book a short break at Center Parcs call 08448 267 723 or visit