If your kids enjoy watching Peter Rabbit on CBeebies (how catchy is that theme tune?) they will LOVE Willows Activity Farm
(just off the M25 near St Albans). But, even if your kids have never happened upon the show or the classic books by Beatrix Potter, they will still have a fantastic time, because it’s really a rather brilliant place…
We went along for the Summer Spectacular
, featuring a new season of outdoor performances by Peter Rabbit, Lily Bobtail, Squirrel Nutkin and Benjamin Bunny, a huge maze to find your way around, and a spot of goat racing. That’s the lovely thing about Willows Farm, they really capture the passing of the seasons, and reflect what is happening on the farm with special activities (coming in the autumn: pick your own spuds and the pumpkin festival).
There are so many other activities and play areas which are there all year round: my kids loved riding on Tristan the Tractor, pointing out the cows and sheep and sploshing through the deep puddles, playing in the Big Dig – a huge sandpit and play area with almost life-size diggers and tractors to climb on, play in and slide down. Another favourite is the Peter Rabbit Adventure playground, an interactive area where children can get up to mischief in Mr McGregor’s garden, cook in Mrs Tiggywinkle’s kitchen, make music, climb about in Jemima Puddleduck’s coop and spot Lily Bobtail and Benjamin Bunny in the adventure playground. Fabulous. Also on-site, there’s also a brilliant obstacle course, zip wire and a huge climbing fort for older kids (and grown-ups with an adventurous streak!) and a plethora of bouncy castles.
There are plenty of places to eat – you can buy lunch at one of the cafes, or take your own food, and there are plenty of tables to sit at whichever you choose.
When we went, the weather was mostly kind – there was one huge downpour, but we just headed for the petting zoo, to feed the shire horses and cuddle the Guinea pigs, then went to Cottontail Village, an indoor Beatrix Potter-themed play street where the kids could happily play for hours, if there wasn’t so much else to do. There’s also a large indoor soft play for rainy days, and any performances move to the indoor theatre in bad weather (the scene of a load of kids dancing along in their own little moshpit is just adorable).
We absolutely loved our day at Willows Activity Farm, and you really can spend a whole day there – we spent six hours there and didn’t manage to do everything. The downside is that it is quite expensive, around £80 for a family of four, so this is probably a big treat rather than somewhere you would go every week. You can buy annual membership, and tickets are discounted if you buy online in advance. Under twos go free. My kids frequently talk about it and ask when we can go again!
It’s a massive thumbs up from us for Willows Activity Farm – we can’t wait to go again.
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About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison is the Editor of The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for four and a half years.
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Disclaimer: Willows Activity Farm very kindly gave us free tickets for this trip, but as ever, we review any experience on The Motherload® as truthfully as possible in keeping with our ethos.
Image credit: Alison McGarragh-Murphy