Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to Santa – over the years this has changed from a snake like queue around ‘Switzers’ or ‘Arnotts’ department stores to gi-normal, over the top tasteless events where parents are beguiled into spending money on tickets at the door only to find that a visit to Santa is extra AND that the there is not time slot for your child even after paying for your ticket.  One such event recently launched to much fanfare but after scrutiny santa was on a ‘first come first served basis’.  That’s very tricky - both for the mums and dads and the bored children waiting in the queue.
 
I was delighted to hear about the Mount Juliet Estate new Christmas Santa Train.  It is running from 11th until 23rd December inclusive. Families can prebook places on the train for an hour long journey through the beautiful 1,500 acre Mount Juliet Estate.
 
We’re told that the train will be a pretty magical experience, first stopping off for a magical Christmas story with Mrs. Claus.  Next follows Santa’s workshop before arriving at Santa’s Grotto where a present awaits every child. 
 
But the trip isn’t just about that one hour – before (or after) the Santa train, Mount Juliet is also hosting a Christmas Village which sounds like one of the European market that have been in existence in cities like Budapest and Prague for hundreds of years.  The 40 stalls will be home to an array of foods and crafts on sale from local artisan producers.
 
The one hour long Santa train experience runs from 12pm and 8pm each day and costs €15 for a child (which includes a gift at Santa’s grotto) and €7 for an adult but be warned, availability is limited. Tickets are available to purchase now online here or phone +353 56 777 3010. Advance booking is essential
 
If you feel like making a weekend out of it, special accommodation packages are also available on www.mountjuliet.ie
 
At the best of times, Mount Juliet is a family friendly place to visit and stay – with the presence of the Christmas market and Santa, it sounds like it will be a magical transformation which is well worth the visit.

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