On the last Friday before the summer holidays had ended we planned on a day out to Audley End railway. It was just over an hour from us in the car so not to long to keep a 3 year old entertained. The question of ‘Are we there yet?’ cropped up rather early, thank goodness for PJ Masks on Youtube.
As it was still classed as the summer holidays they were still doing the Elf and Fairy festival, which had lots of extra activities on, including extra craft tents, a stage, outdoor games and a BBQ. The entry ticket was reasonably priced at £10 per person which included 1 train ride, Elf and Fairy walk and all the activities (except the bouncy castle at £2, luckily for us H doesn’t like them). We have an Essex Pass which meant the child’s entry was free, which is a very good saving. With your combined ticket you also get a booklet which helps you find all the elves and fairies hiding in the wood andan ‘I spy’ sheet at the back for the train ride. Some of the staff were dressed as Elves and fairies and it created such a wonderful atmosphere.
We arrived just in time to queue up for the 11 o’clock train, we didn’t make it on as it was quite busy. The staff there were very attentive and as the trains only run every half hour they were very quick to add in an extra train to meet demand. We only needed to wait for 10 minutes. The train ride takes you through a 1.5 miles through the woods, there’s also different scenes set up all the way with different teddy bears. All the children seemed to really enjoy the teddies, as well as the tunnels. Unfortunately for us you exit the train station right through the gift shop. We did manage to leave without purchasing anything although we did suffer a bit of a meltdown over that afterwards.
After the train ride we ventured over the train line to the picnic area, this is where they had wooden play equipment and all the extra activities. It was so nice to see all the children dressed up in their costumes with their faces painted, enjoying the atmosphere.
From what we could tell of food prices it wasn’t overly expensive, but like I say we took a packed lunch. After lunch we had a little explore of the craft tents, and for a child who doesn’t usually like crafting H went and made a rainbow cloud (which we almost forgot to pick up later on).
After this we headed over to do the Elf and Fairy walk. As you enter you can either queue and wait to make a fairy wand or go straight in and start the walk, we opted to walk straight in. Armed with our Fairy spotters booklet and a pencil we went in search of fairies. The walk itself was very popular so it was quite busy, this made it a bit a challenge for the buggy over the wooded areas. H wasn’t to interested in this part he wanted to get round as quick as possible.
The elf and fairy displays were all really nicely done and the little stories behind each one were really lovely. Thanks to H’s super Cat speed (thanks PJ Masks) we were done in record timing.
Final stop was the gift shop, you can purchase all the fairies you have seen on display there which I thought was a great idea, although maybe a little pricey. There was a good selection of other gifts as well, we left with the obligatory vehicle (of course).
We were there for a good 4 hours and you could have probably spent longer there. Overall we had a really lovely day, meltdown or not and I think we will definitely be coming back when M is a bit older, so she can see a bit more of it herself. Who knows, we might even get to have a better look at the elves and fairies.
Edit – if you are interested we visited a few years later at a different themed event. The Pirate and Mermaid event if you want to read more you can find it here in Audley End Miniature Railway Pirate And Mermaid Event.