I had previously heard of Pennywell Farms’s nativity plays and meant to take the children but had never quite managed it. This year, when we were looking for a meeting spot for a large group of friends I thought of it straight away, and am very glad I did!
As a group, we were given a discounted rate of £9.95/person – the normal rate is a few pounds more. Tickets include roles and costumes to take part in the ‘interactive’ nativity play, a reserved table in the cafe (for groups), free festive refreshments for all and a visit to Fr Christmas in his cosy grotto (where he had a little something for all the children!). You can also visit the animals and take advantage of the fantastic play opportunities around the farm.
We were a group of adults and children of all ages, and this turned out to be a brilliant activity with something for everyone. Well situated close to the A38, it proved a good meeting point for us to gather from around Devon, with lots of free parking on site and a tractor to climb on outside the entrance while we waited to meet everyone.
As christmas activities have to be prebooked, entry was smooth and organised with out names on a list at the door (always a relief for a stressed coordinator!) and the welcome was cheery from Santa’s elves. We were shown to the main barn to get our little actors ready and into costume and even younger and shyer members of our group were enabled to take part by helpful and friendly on-hand staff.
The barn was transformed into the nativity scene while the traditional story was narrated, and each character took the turn in the play. There were several carols throughout the play in which we all took part before the final tableau was formed. The (careful) use of real animals and the gentle inclusion of all the children made for a really special and touching performance, and we all emerged feeling very christmassy.
We then made our way to Father Christmas’ grotto, where we were met by another elf, and went in to see the man himself in family groups. We didn’t have to queue long and were made to feel unhurried for our turn. Santa kindly posed for photos with our little ones before giving them each a nice gift that they opened later.
We headed to Henny Penny’s cafe to recruit ourselves and claimed our share of the yummy mince pies and mulled wine (or squash!) to give us energy for the play session ahead. All the outdoor play areas were open and the children loved the assault courses, park play, ride ons and space to run around.
There were plenty of animals to visit and see and some wonderful views to serve as a backdrop to a brilliant day.
It really was a special way to get into the festive mood and perfect for a family and friends treat in the run up to Christmas. We are definitely going to do it again next year and hope to return to visit Pennywell in the warmer months too.