On Saturday it was a very big occasion for us as we were invited to London Zoo for their family press day along with our friends from @beautygurusecretsx to experience the Magic Of Christmas season which runs from 30th November – 24th December, this was extra special for me and Kimaarah as it’s the first ever press event we’ve been invited to! I hadn’t been to London Zoo since I was a child and never at Christmas so I was really excited to get there and make some memories with Kimaarah as well as checking out all of the special activities they had on offer.
We travelled by train and tube, the whole journey took around an hour, we actually decided to get to Liverpool Street station and then walk to Moorgate which is only about a 7 minute walk. From here you can hop on the Northern line for only 5 stops to Camden Town station and then it’s around 15-20 minutes walk. Our alternative was to get to Bank station and change to the Northern line from there but as we had our friends with us including a pram, it’s not the most buggy friendly station to change at so that’s why we took the other route! I would definitely recommend the walk from Liverpool Street to Moorgate if you’re going on a weekend as it’s really quiet due to being a City area with mostly Monday – Friday working offices.
Once at Camden Town the walk was very straight and easy and there were signs to help us on our way. The girls were super excited and all throughout the day they didn’t moan once about walking even though we had some long walks!
When we arrived at London Zoo we checked in with a lovely lady who advised us that as part of the Magic Of Christmas event we could become ‘Keepers Little Helpers’ to make special presents for 12 different animals and then throughout the day there would be talks with the animals and they would be given their presents from us, which I thought was a great way to teach children about what each animal likes. We were given a map of the zoo and the times of each animal talk, the girls were also given a lollipop which made them very happy!
We didn’t end up going to every presentation as due to the girls attention span they didn’t want to stay still for one minute! But we did attend the penguin talk and this was very informative while being quick enough for small listeners not to be sitting down for too long! The penguins also had a bubble machine which they seemed to enjoy and the girls loved seeing the penguins swimming in their pool. Kimaarah took great pride in telling her friends about meeting penguins when we went to Ski Dubai this year (which is part of my Dubai blog series if anyone wanted to check this out), she was very excited to see more at the zoo. Next year I would love to go to more of the presentations when Kimaarah might be a little more interested in sitting still for more than 30 seconds!
Walking through the zoo we felt very festive, there were lots of lit up Christmas trees and animal sculptures which lit up when it got dark creating a very magical atmosphere! In the main square of the zoo they had a beautiful traditional carousel (£3 per person) and boat swing rides (£2 per person), whilst chatting to the lovely lady working on the boat swings she informed me that in the summer they have a bouncy castle there. Whilst the rides were at an additional cost the children were not rushed and I felt this was a reasonable price for it. In this area they also had built a gingerbread cottage with a huge life sized gingerbread man (not edible!) where you could meet Santa’s elves and Mrs Claus to do some Christmas arts and crafts, this was brilliant for the children if they needed a break from walking or wanted to do something different and this is included in your ticket price. Next to here was Santa’s Grotto which is at additional cost and needs to be pre-booked, it was fully booked that day so I can’t give a review on that section but it shows how popular he is! On selected dates they even have a VIP Breakfast with Santa which I’d love to do next time!
There were also cute little wooden chalets around this area offering different hot food selections, candy floss and fudge which the girls went mad for and face painting (all at an additional cost). We decided to eat in the main Terrace restaurant which had some great food offerings like the freshly made pizzas which looked delicious but stupidly I decided to get 2 kids meals for me and Kimaarah to share, plus a couple of drinks and a cupcake that she begged me for then had 3 licks of icing and decided she didn’t want, typical. All of our food came to £19.15 which I thought was quite expensive for what it was, really sorry to say! It was £5.50 each for the kids meals there were sausages, chicken tenders, the usual children’s favourites. My friend had the fish and chips with mushy peas which she said was really good, next time I would probably just get a pizza for us to share or 1 kids meal with some extras, as the portions were quite generous. We also brought some of our own snacks and some of the other bloggers we met had brought packed lunch, so there are definitely ways to keep costs down! In the restaurant there was also a colouring station where children could help themselves to a little packet of crayons and sheets of colouring in, which the girls really enjoyed and I thought was a nice touch especially if your children don’t always want to sit down during meal times!
After lunch we went to see some more of the animals, throughout the day I was quite surprised on how many different animals were at the zoo, and how many were out for you to see up close. For example we saw lots of jumping monkeys that were free to play in the trees, we saw butterflies that sometimes landed on you and flew right next to you! The only animals we couldn’t see properly were the hippos and the gorillas as they were hiding but that’s all the more reason to go back again! We loved walking through an enclosed area to see the lions up close although they were a bit sleepy, did you know that lions sleep for around 20 hours a day! You can also book a stay in one of the Lodges right next to Land of the Lions which has gone on my bucket list! Throughout the day we met some incredible staff who made us feel so welcome and it was lovely to see how much they cared about the animals.
A couple of other activities that we missed was the Christmas story reading with Mrs Claus as we were in a different part of the zoo, and the Christmas movies as it was fully booked. Both of these are included in the price of your ticket but the films need to be booked in advance and you can find the timetable here https://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/whats-on/festive-films-at-zsl-london-zoo. This would make the perfect family activity or a great date day as they are showing films such as The Polar Express, Elf, Love Actually and The Holiday.
We finished our day at the gift shop (of course) and I treated Kimaarah to a small cuddly tiger for £10, the gift shop is huge and I had to resist the temptation to buy her a mini zookeepers dress which looked so cute! You can get mini zookeepers outfits for all the children – maybe next time! We then walked through Regents Park for around 20 minutes and caught the tube from Great Portland Street straight back to Liverpool Street on the Circle Line so this is another route you can take, in the summer it would be a lovely walk through the park on a sunny day.
Overall I would definitely recommend the Magic Of Christmas event at London Zoo, I had been recommended to visit last year but again the Santa’s grotto was fully booked so you definitely need to get in early! I didn’t realise how many other Christmas activities were on offer at the zoo and would love to make this a tradition for myself and Kimaarah for many years to come as we both had such an enjoyable day.
Thank you so much to London Zoo for the invite to your press day and for your hospitality!
Our tickets were gifted for this event – normal entry prices can be found here and yearly membership is also available: https://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/londonzootickets