Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular!
Last week was my birthday – yay! – and we headed to the Hunter Valley for the weekend with some of our friends. One event we’ve been recommended to go to by everyone we’ve met in Newcastle is the annual Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular.
Since I first arrived in Australia 8 years ago, I’ve spent almost all of my birthdays in the Hunter and it’s becoming a bit of a tradition now.
This year was of course different as I’m now a mum of 2 small children so whilst some wine was drank, it wasn’t all about the wine and cheese!
Ok, it might have been a little bit about that.
Miss M loves Christmas as much as I do – the lights, music, caroling, Santa Claus, really just everything about it. So this was DEFINITELY the event for us!
We stayed at Cypress Lakes Resort which is only a few minutes drive up the road but anywhere in the Pokolbin area is an easy car journey, taxi or walk away.
The Christmas lights turned on at 7.30pm and my 2 year old and 6 month old are normally in bed by 6.30-7pm so we wondered how challenging it might be – it wasn’t too bad. Miss M had a nap in the day and was pretty calm. I think she was just in awe of everything!
Hunter Valley Gardens very kindly gave us a family pass so when we arrived we chose the Pre-Paid queue. At the point we arrived, it was exactly the same length as the General queue however it did move much quicker and we were inside in no time.
Just inside the entrance we were greeted by carolers – amazing! I could very happily listen to Christmas carols all year round.
We made our way into the gardens, first passing a very realistic looking dinosaur – Miss M is a little like George from Peppa Pig and is a bit obsessed with dinosaurs, perfect! Mini M was wearing his dinosaur PJs so was very co-ordinated. He fell asleep on the way and managed to sleep for a good while before waking up quite happily.
Next we made our way to the stage area where Little Scallywagz were entertaining the kids with a performance of Christmas songs – Miss M loved it! They are on at 7pm and 8pm.
After that it was a trip to see Santa Claus. There was only a short queue and I showed Miss M where Santa was sitting. I asked her if she was going to sit on his lap and she said “But he’s got a beard!”. I couldn’t argue with that! Luckily up she ran and we paid $45 for 13 different photos on a USB stick – a mix of just the kids and us too. Mini was still fast asleep at that point but rather than have him miss out we popped him on Santa’s knee in his car seat – hilarious!
The photos were, as you can imagine, a little rushed although the quality was great and lovely to have the USB to take home immediately. I would have preferred to use the same time slot to take less photos. That way we could have been a little bit more prepared between each shot. I’d recommend you ask it that’s possible when you go as you can imagine the challenge of getting a 2 year old to smile 13 times in a row in about 13 seconds!
After the photos we headed into the food area and there were loads of options for dinner with tables free and no real queues at about 8pm when we were there. We had already eaten but I treated myself to a cheeky glass of bubbles. When in the Hunter… :)
Next it was a walk through the “12 Days of Christmas” where the song played and the lights lit up in order – amazing!
To save any meltdowns, we managed to convince the kids that the Jumping Castles were closed but they actually open from 7.30pm – 10:00pm :) They did look awesome but it was getting a little late for our munchkins.
Next came Candyland – it took a lot MORE persuading to convince Miss M that the sweets were not real!
By the time we were back to the beginning we had a couple of tired toddlers, 2 sleeping babies and 13 weary adults – we’d had a brilliant time!
For those heading to the lights for New Years Eve, you’ll be treated to a fireworks display at 9.00pm.
We had a wonderful time at the Christmas Lights and we’re well and truly in the Christmas spirit now!
Disclosure: we were sent a family pass to the Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular in exchange for our honest review. We honestly had a brilliant time :)