Sarah Jones and her family enjoy enjoy a Christmas treat for younger children

School’s out for Christmas and we kick-started the break with a magical trip to Swindon Arts Centre to see Santa Claus and the Magical Christmas Journey. As Santa Claus arrived on stage, the larger than life character captured my children’s imagination. They sat with huge grins, absorbing the enchantment taking place on stage. He was without doubt the real Father Christmas (in contrast the one who visited their school at the end of term who had a striking similarity to Dave the caretaker).

The show involved only four characters and a huge parcel-filled sleigh. It told the story of Santa’s dodgy sat-nav and his naughty stow-away elves. All the characters were amazing at singing and entertaining the children and adults alike. The cheeky elf Charlie was certainly my children’s favourite, as he ran out of the stage to pop bubbles, and pulled faces at the audience.

The show involved all the elements you’d find at the panto – lots of ‘he’s behind you’ and an amusing choregraphed sketch based on the 12 days of Christmas. In addition, there were festive songs in which the children were encouraged to participate. And if you put your hand up high enough, Santa Claus might choose you to sing on stage, alongside him and the elves.

The show was finished with ‘real’ snow falling, lots of dancing and of course a meet and greet with the big man himself. He was just as amazing to meet close up, and made a real fuss of my chatty six year old, admiring her ‘Team Santa’ top. My four year old was slightly more timid but was just so captivated, he ended up sitting on Santa’s knee too. Amazing. They were also given a very small treat as they left the Arts Centre by chief elf Kara.

One word of advice, don’t forget your camera – it’s not every day your children get to sit on Santa’s knee. Unlike other theatre shows, photos are encouraged. Well worth visiting for some festive fun.

Santa Claus and the Magical Christmas Journey runs at the Swindon Arts Centre until 24 December. More details here.