Spring in Burlington Ontario

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Homestead Christmas at Bronte Creek

Yesterday we headed off to Bronte Creek Provincial Park for a much anticipated visit with Santa Claus.  While the weather outside left us wet and a bit chilly it did not dampen our spirits.  I have a 3 year old and a 5 month old - you can guess which one was most excited about today’s adventure.

In the past we have visited other similar Christmas attractions and the bar was set high for Bronte Creek to deliver a family friendly event that would become a childhood memory for years to come.  I have to say that they did not disappoint. 

You start your visit at the “Christmas Store” which is a transformed picnic shelter with Victorian table top bowling and other arts and crafts suitable for both young and older children.  There is also a small selection of “goods” available at the store.  With rain teeming down outside this part of the day may have lacked some of the Christmas feel but it didn’t stop my kids from having fun.

Once the group has gathered (our group had 2 families) you head off to the Spruce Lane Farmhouse.  We walked over huddled under our umbrellas and I am sure when the snow falls this will be a great part of the whole experience.  Our guide Erin provided us with some history along the way and engaged the children in the group with questions and facts about the Victorian era.  Once inside our coats were taken and we warmed up for our house tour.  In the sitting room the kids had a chance to see the types of gifts that would have been under their Christmas tree over 100 years ago.  They were able to play with them and while there is no threat to that X-box coming off the wish list, I think they really liked the simplicity of the old wooden toys.  Next Erin read “The Night Before Christmas” to the group and then we continued our tour.  During the house tour there is a nice mix of historical information and a chance to wander room to room getting a feel for life in the 1900’s.  The last stop is the kitchen to make another craft and enjoy some hot cider and freshly baked (and quite yummy) cookies baked in the cook stove on site!

One at a time families are brought from the farmhouse to Santa’s “house” a short walk outside where we saw Santa’s sled tucked away in the barn ready for Christmas Eve.  Once inside Santa’s our entire family was given Victorian costumes to wear (even the baby got decked out).  My three year old wasn’t sure why she needed to dress up but she enjoyed it all the same.  Mrs. Claus came to retrieve us and bring us back to where Santa was working.  Mrs. and Mr. Claus were great and very authentic.  My daughter was thrilled when Santa told her stories about his reindeer and her initial nervousness disappeared immediately.  One special thing that they do at this event is get a couple of facts about your child ahead of time that Santa can mention when he is talking to them. Expect saucer eyes as they realize that Santa does know everything about them!  After some chit-chat we all headed to Santa’s chair for pictures.  Bronte Creek has a photographer on hand that shoots candid shots and then you get a USB stick at the end to take home, which was great as we got some family shots and some of the kids as well.  After your visit Mrs. Claus escorts you to the door with some kind words for the kids, costumes are taken off and you are brought back to the Christmas Store where it all began to continue with Arts and Crafts or to head out and enjoy the park’s many features such as the playbarn and ice-rink (weather-permitting).

We had a great day and would definitely return to Homestead Christmas next year.  For those that still want to go visit the website for dates and pricing.  Thank you to the staff who were especially great with my 3 year-old answering all her questions and helping her with the activities. 

Guest Blogger - Linda 

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