If your children love magic, fairies, elves and trains, then a day out at the Audley End Miniature Railway Summer Festival has to be on your list. We’ve visited the enchanted woodland and the miniature train many times over the years and we always have a fantastic day out. Be transported to an enchanting world of fairies, elves, pixies and even a few goblins and trolls if you look really closely…
We climb into the little carriages and then we’re chugging off into the Audley End Estate Woodland, into the cool shade and over the River Cam. There are three tunnels on the winding journey that add an extra thrill and it turns out that we are not the only visitors to these magical woods… did I see some teddy bears having a barbecue?!
The train ride takes around 15 minutes and there’s plenty to see along the way. Each of the kids received an Audley End Activity Booklet at the entrance and they happily tick off highlights on the ‘I Spy’ sheet inside… like Grandpa’s Crossing and Forest Deep Halt station.
Story Telling With The King of the Elves
Eventually the train returns to the station and the Station Master cries “all change”. It’s a short walk over to the Picnic Field which is decorated with more flowers and festooned with colourful ribbons. There’s a real festival vibe, the sun is shining and the Story Telling is starting on a little stage in the corner of the field. We take our seats on stools decorated like little toadstools and the King of the Elves reads from an Elvish book covered in moss and ferns. The attention to detail is wonderful, it’s the little touches like the toadstools, the beautifully decorated stage and the utterly convincing King Elvar, that all come together to make the magic at Audley End Miniature Railway.
Once the story is told King Elvar and one of the fairies hand out bells, tambourines and ribbon wands and there’s a little sing-along. The young audience (many of whom are wearing their sparkliest fairy wings) are mesmerised and I am grateful for the chance to sit down in the sunshine and enjoy the moment.
Crafts and Face Painting
We continue the summer festival vibe with a visit to the face painting corner. Mr 3 chooses three colours and some rainbow glitter very carefully and sits, statue still, whilst a fairy applies a sparkling starburst around his eye. We spend some time playing in the toddler play area whilst I have a welcome coffee and snacks are deployed and then we venture over to the crafts. Two fairies offer their help and I sit back in amazement as pens are carefully selected, glue is considerately applied in restrained quantities and Mr 7 and Mr 3 both produce beautiful rainbow clouds.
A special mention for all the staff at Audley End Miniature Railway Summer Festival as everyone is so friendly, kind, helpful, polite, engaging and those in character never falter. We all feel welcome and the smiles and sunshine add to the magic of the day.
Also, the Story Telling, Face Paints and Crafts are all included in the entrance price, as well as one ride on the Woodland Railway and the Fairy and Elf Walk. There are some activities that you can pay extra for, like bouncy castles and a model railway ride, but you can spend a whole day at Audley End Miniature Railway without the added extras.
Fairy and Elf Walk at Audley End Miniature Railway
After some lunch on the Picnic Field we head over to the Fairy and Elf Walk where we meet another fairy who helps to make our pencils into wands and gives us precious leaf-shaped pieces of card upon which each child is instructed to write a special wish. Again, I am grateful for another helpful pair of hands, we thank the fairy and walk through an arch of flowers and ribbons, into the Enchanted Wood.
The trail winds through the woods and inside the Audley End Activity Booklet there’s a simple trail to follow with over thirty fairies, pixies, elves, goblins, trolls and gnomes to find. Along the way we are invited to tie-up our wishes and leave them in the woods, so that the fairy Christabelle can work her magic. Each fairy has their own miniature home complete with a variety of furnishings and coins and pearls for the Tooth Fairy!
There are also letters dotted along the trail to collect on the way and it was a challenge to decipher the anagram at the end!
Saffron Walden and District Society of Model Engineers Picnic Field Railway
Before we head home we can’t leave with a ride on another train! There is a model train that runs in school holidays around the Picnic Field. It’s £1 per person and you get two loops of the field for your trouble. It’s fun to ride along so close to the ground and every fairy that we pass stops to smile and wave.
After four and a half hours we are ready to wave goodbye to another fantastic day at Audley End Miniature Railway and head home. It’s a relaxed and gentle day out great for pre-schoolers, infants and their families. They also run amazing events at Halloween, Christmas, Easter, as well as Father’s Day and the Mermaid and Pirate Festival and if you want to enjoy some summer festival magic Audley End Miniature Railway’s Summer Festival is perfectly enchanting.
TOP TIPS FOR A VISIT TO AUDLEY END MINIATURE RAILWAY SUMMER FESTIVAL
- Audley End Miniature Railway is on Audley End Road, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JB.
- The Audley End Summer Festival runs from 21st July to 3rd September 2018.
- Dressing-up is welcome but you don’t have to wear a costume if you don’t want to. We saw lots of fairies, a few elves and some Disney characters too.
- There’s plenty of free parking.
- Take a picnic and stay all day, especially if it’s a dry day.
- To get the most out of a visit then try and choose a dry day, but don’t let that put you off if the forecast looks gloomy as there are places to shelter.
All information is correct on the date of publication: August 2018
We received complimentary tickets to Audley End Miniature Railway Summer Festival for the purpose of the review. Words, picture and opinions are all my own.