1329 West Middle Turnpike, Manchester, CT 860-528-0856
2016 Update: December 10 & 11, 14 – 23, 2016 from 3 – 6 PM (weekday), 1 – 5 PM (weekend)
Ever since Santa’s Workshop at Wickham Park made my list of 50 holiday activities in CT I’ve been wanting to visit this free Christmas activity. The weather has been so nice this past week that I decided to pack the kids in the car and head up to Manchester, CT to get a peek into Santa’s Workshop. We don’t have that many opportunities for 60 degree days in Connecticut during the month of December so I needed to take full advantage of the mild weather.
The workshop is open every day from December 12 – 23, 2015. Weekday hours are 3 pm – 6 pm. Weekend hours are 1 pm – 5 pm. I assumed that there would be a long line to wait to see Santa, similar to the Christmas Village in Torrington, so I drove up extra early. Not only were we the only people waiting to see Santa extra early, but the park was actually closed.
TIP: Gates to the park open at 3 pm (weekdays) & 1 pm (weekends). There’s no need to get there extra early
Since we were there a little too early, we headed to buy some non-perishable food for the donation box. Santa’s Workshop is a free activity but they welcome food donations. We also went to visit the reindeer at Dzen Tree Farm.
The gates were still closed when we came back around 2:45 pm. The man at the gate had us start a line of cars in front of the gate extending into the street. At 3:00 he escorted us to Santa’s Workshop. The drive up to Santa’s Workshop is has Christmas light displays.
Santa’s Workshop sits on top of Wickham Park with a beautiful view of Hartford. The grounds are stroller-friendly and the parking lot is only a few steps from the building.
Since we had gotten there so early we were first in line. The line was short and on our way out (around 3:45) there was no line to see Santa. I would expect that it gets busier on the weekends so be prepared for a short wait.
A friendly elf greeted us at door and directed us to see Santa. Our first stop was with an elf who took our names, asked us what we wanted for Christmas and whether we had been naughty or nice.
Next up was the jolly old guy himself. Santa was seated next to a large fireplace inside of the log cabin. The whole room was decorated for Christmas along with a giant live Christmas tree in the corner. There were elves making toys and a toy train circling around a track.
Santa took his time with us. I’m so used to being rushed with Santa at the mall that this was a welcome change. He asked each child what they wanted for Christmas and gave them an apple to take home. He patiently posed for pictures and even reached out his hand for a high-five from my shy little ones.
TIP: Bring along your own camera
After visiting with Santa we were greeted by Mrs. Claus who had cookies and hot chocolate waiting for us. We found a bench next to the tree and enjoyed our treats. We weren’t in a hurry to go anywhere so we enjoyed the Christmas spirit that filled the room.
I love stumbling upon these magical Christmas activities and sharing my experiences with others. I love seeing the look on my kids’ eyes as they experience the magic of Christmas. There’s nothing sweeter.
I hope you get to enjoy some quality family time this holiday season too. Merry Christmas!