REVIEW: "The Nutcracker and The Fairy: A Christmas Adventure" in Shrewsbury

Step into 'A Christmas Adventure' and be transported into a captivating festive story. Imagined by Shropshire's Emma and Oli, it's a visual treat filled with meticulously designed scenes. However, based on our visit during its debut year, there's still room for improvement.

Max & Mia in sleigh with Santa at desk in 'The Nutcracker and The Fairy Adventure'.
Max engrossed in a chat with Father Christmas during 'The Nutcracker and The Fairy: A Christmas Adventure' in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

Ad/ A Short But Sweet Christmas Adventure 💂‍♀️🩰

"A Christmas Adventure" in Shrewsbury is a whimsical journey into a festive world, crafted with evident passion by Emma & Oli Jones. While the magical settings and engaging characters provided moments of pure enchantment, certain oversights left us with a mix of wonder and a hint of disappointment. Nevertheless, the allure of the festive spirit made our day memorable as our review reveals. For a debut offering, it was an impressive hit, but there's definitely space to polish things up for 2023.

Holly in an ice blue coat and Max in navy, hugging from above, in front of a candy cane-themed festive backdrop.
Holly and Max share a warm embrace, smiling against a picturesque festive backdrop.

Introducing The Makers Behind the Experience 🌟

Mid-December last year, we embarked on "A Christmas Adventure" in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Emma & Oli Jones, the masterminds behind Camp Severn – Kids Festival, have crafted this interactive festive journey.

Female Elf in red and white striped top and green overalls explaining the 'Elves Code of Conduct' from a blackboard listing three rules.
An Elf enlightening us on the 'Elves Code of Conduct' inside Santa's Toy-Making Workshop.

The Journey and Arrival 🚗📍

Setting off from Derby, it took us a pleasant 75 minutes to reach our destination. Though the Waze app guided us flawlessly. Navigating to locate where to park was a tad challenging without clear signage, but thanks to our feedback, Emma promptly took steps to streamline the experience for future visitors. The chilly embrace of -2°C outdoors was hard to ignore, but our warm welcome from Emma and her daughter at the caravan somewhat melted it away. Emma recommended we wait in the heated dome.

Me standing tall next to a prop of Twinkletoes, characterized by her long pink hair, wearing a white fairy dress adorned with snowflakes and holding a star-shaped wand.
Posing alongside the captivating Twinkletoes prop - a standout character from the story brought vividly to life.

A Cold Start Inside the Dome 🎪🥶

The dome's promised warmth was missing in action, feeling more like a cold embrace. Inside, we found tables adorned with wooden tree decorations, and assuming they were for pre-adventure fun, we eagerly began colouring them in. Little did we know, they were for the grand finale! Whoops! This slight confusion became clearer later on, though.

Santa with a short beard, picking up Max's 'Daily Report' from his office desk to ascertain if he's been 'Naughty' or 'Nice' this year.
Santa checking the children's 'Daily Reports' to determine their 'Naughty' or 'Nice' status for the year.

The Enchanting Storytelling Begins 📖🤶

At the clock struck 11, we stepped into a snug space with Mrs. Wigglebottom at the helm of tales. Her enchanting stories provided a contrast to the room's brisk atmosphere. Despite gearing up for primarily an indoor affair, we found ourselves snuggling into our layers. While her narratives provided warmth, the showground's older structure with its less-than-ideal heating felt almost open-air. A heads-up to future attendees: dress warmly and be prepared for an ambiance that leans toward the outdoors.

Mrs. Wigglebottom, resembling Mrs. Claus, stands behind a kitchen table with a notable basket of mini Haribo bags, sharing enchanting tales.
Mrs. Wigglebottom enchanting us with tales in her magical kitchen, setting the stage for the experience.

A Sprinkle of Wonder: Unique Settings & Special Characters 🎭🪄

As we delved deeper, a dimly lit passage led us to the enchanting realm of storybook icons: Nutty and Twinkletoes. Their captivating aura, combined with bespoke props, transformed the space into something out of a fairy tale. Truly, every nook of the room was a photographer's dream. While subsequent spaces presented immersive festive backdrops perfect for cherished family photos, the experience felt a tad rushed. The pacing was off. We also missed the bubbly spectacle earlier visitors had raved about. Although every spot beckoned for a photo, a little more time and perhaps some personal moments with Nutty and Twinkletoes would've made it absolutely perfect.

Mia getting a high-five from "Twinkletoes", the character in a fairy-like attire, during the immersive experience.
Mia sharing a heartwarming moment with "Twinkletoes", a lead character from the immersive story experience.

Santa's Workshop: Magical Moments with a Few Missteps 🎅❄️

Next on our journey was the mesmerising Toy-Making Workshop, intricately designed to transport us to a different world. Here, children were introduced to the 'Elf Code' and even adorned with their very own hats. Between the ingenious toy delivery system and a surprise appearance from Santa, the moments were truly magical, with the young ones' names seamlessly woven into the narrative.

Yet, there was a stumble in our experience. The children, including ours, were hurried off before they could indulge their creativity on the easels, as a consequence of being beckoned to Santa prematurely. Given the workshop's pivotal role in Emma's story — which the experience builds upon — this oversight felt like a missed beat.

Upon entering Santa's quarters, we were met with an ambiance of warmth and intimacy. The room was designed to be both spacious and cosy, facilitating authentic moments with the festive legend. However, we faced a moment of disconnect. Despite having notes about the children, Santa seemed unaware of Mia's non-verbal nature. Our attempt to enlighten him was met with a fleeting acknowledgment. Regrettably, this Santa lacked the adaptability we hoped for, often failing to think on his feet or address queries adequately. What intensified our discomfort was his decision to engage predominantly with Max, almost entirely sidestepping Mia, even avoiding eye contact. This lapse was hard to overlook, as it cast a shadow on an otherwise enchanting visit.

Santa pointing off-screen, his expression suggesting deep conversation with Max, who is not visible in the image.
Father Christmas engaging with Max, deep in lively conversation.

Wrapping Up Our Adventure: Crafty Moments and Price Considerations 🎁❄️

Following our Santa encounter, the exit route wasn't immediately evident. Still, with some searching, we made our way back to the dome. Once there, Mrs. Claus's warm greeting awaited us. The tree decoration activity from earlier now tied everything together, letting us immerse in a final crafty delight, though the cool air of the dome remained a constant.

As we approached the journey's end, a spread of plush toys invited our attention. While our experience was generously gifted, and we hadn't paid an entrance fee, we couldn't help but think of those who did. With the significant entrance cost in mind, the £22 tag on each plush toy seemed a bit hefty. They were undeniably of top-notch quality, perfect as souvenirs, but they paralleled prices from high-end brands like Jellycat. Future visitors, you might want to plan your budget accordingly.

If you're eyeing refreshments, there's an adjacent stall, though we didn't get close enough to comment on the pricing. Just a heads-up, it stands exposed to the brisk British winter chill.

Max coloring a wooden decoration on a festive red tablecloth, with Mrs. Claus observing his work, while Holly looks up towards the camera.
Max diligently colouring a wooden decoration in the dome, as he shares a moment with Mrs. Claus nearby.

Weathering the Adventure: Enchantment with a Chill and Room for Growth 🎄❄️

Our 45-minute journey through "A Christmas Adventure" was filled with moments of wonder, yet a persistent cold and certain oversights took away from its full potential. This venture holds tremendous promise, and with feedback like ours and many others, I trust Emma and Oli will refine the experience for its next iteration in 2023. By adapting to the unpredictable British weather, aligning more closely with the narrative from their accompanying book, and addressing the challenges we came across, it has the potential to be genuinely unforgettable.

Would we make the journey again? Given the distance from Derby for a 45-minute experience, it's unlikely. However, depending on 2023's admission costs, it might be a delightful option for families residing closer to Shropshire.

A heartfelt thank you to Emma, Oli, and their dedicated crew. The meticulous attention to detail in their props showcases their undoubted passion. The journey is on the right path; it simply needs a touch more polish and precision in its planning, storytelling, and delivery.

P.S.: In the spirit of transparency - our participation was a gifted experience in return for an honest review. 🌟🎁

Mia smiling in front of a green door with a silver and white wreath, flanked by various-sized nutcracker statues and ornaments.
Mia beaming beside a Nutcracker-themed backdrop, eagerly awaiting the start of the festive journey.