The magic of Christmas is set to begin in Castlecomer Discovery Park from Saturday, 26th November.
Set amongst 80 acres of winter woodland, Santa and Mrs Clause will make their annual return to the 17th century old stone Bell House in the grounds of one of Kilkenny’s top visitor destinations.
This year, lots of fantastic colourful new lights will bring to life the magic of the ever popular hand crafted woodland elf village. Now in its eighth year the Castlecomer Christmas Experience is a firm attraction for families across the South East and further afield.
Michael Brooke Chairman of Castlecomer Discovery Park commented “Christmas is one of our most magical times when the park and woodland is transformed into a truly wonderful spectacle. As a ‘Social Enterprise operating on a Non Profit basis’ we’re very conscious that all of our activities are firmly focused on delivering an authentic experience that enhances our surroundings, facilities and overall offering to visitors.”
Boys, girls and adults alike will escape to the fairy-tale Christmas Experience which will keep the whole family entertained from start to finish. Visitors will first enjoy the cosy surroundings of Mrs Clause’s sitting room as old Christmas movies run before meeting Santa and Mrs Claus. Guests will then depart on the Christmas train where the sights and sounds of Christmas will come to life with stories and merry Christmas tunes as the train journeys through the natural winter wonder woodlands.
Visitors of all ages can have some fun taking their own ‘Elfie’s’ - a ‘selfie’ with an elf - or have a professional photo taken with Santa in his Bell House.
During the magical hour and a half experience, Santa’s little helpers might also be spotted in their Christmas Elf and Fairy village before the train master passes over the old stone bridge and lakes towards the Christmas Depot area. There, Santa’s sleigh waits loaded with gifts by a gigantic Wheel of Christmas adorned with hundreds of tiny lights.
Visitors of all ages will remember their special visit to Castlecomer’s Christmas Experience long after Santa has returned home and Christmas stockings have been packed away.
€17.00 per child or €12.00 per adult, the Castlecomer Discovery Park Christmas Experience will run from Saturday 26th November up until Christmas Eve, Saturday December 24th. Due to demand, early booking is strongly advised.
To book www.discoveryparkchristmas.com
Background to Castlecomer Discovery Park
Set in the former grounds of an estate that had fallen to ruin and which the local public were forbidden from entering, Castlecomer Discovery Park is one of Ireland’s youngest parks. With 80 acres of natural woodland and lakes, the community project was initiated to rejuvenate the rural and dis-advantaged town of Castlecomer following the closure of the coal mines in 1969 and textile mills in 1980.
Structured as a ‘Social Enterprise’, the park is continually developing the ‘enterprise/business’ elements of the park while simultaneously creating social benefit/good. The park was set up to regenerate the town, promote tourism and create jobs.
Castlecomer and neighbouring village Coon have the highest unemployment rate in county Kilkenny. Employment across the park has increased from 14 in 2012 to 33 in 2016. Another additional 18 people are employed between Jarrow Café and the Design Craft workshops.10 candidates are in employment under various Community Employment Schemes.
A growing outdoor activity programme, schools programme and seasonal events programme are the main revenue generating activities.
The park officially opened to the public in 2007 with the launch of the Coal Mining Exhibition, Visitor Centre and Design Craft studios which are located in the 18th former stable yard. It has continued to evolve and is constantly developing an exciting range of recreational, cultural and educational activities for visitors of all ages.
In 2015 over 117,000 locals, visitors and tourists visited the park reflecting its growing appeal.
The park was selected as a venue on Failte Ireland’s ‘Ireland Ancient East’ itinerary this summer. Outdoor activities include the Tree Top Adventure Walk, a ‘Leap of Faith’ experience and Climbing Wall, leisure boating, a junior obstacle course for 3 – 8 year olds plus a hand-crafted Bluebell Playhouse and newly installed Elf & Fairy Village are among just some of the key attractions. The flagship Zipline and High Ropes course were launched in May 2016, part funded by the Dormant Accounts Fund under the Social Enterprise Pillar, Kilkenny County Council, REDZ (Rural Economic Development Zone) and the Castlecomer Demesne Company’s own funds.