Worth the Trip: Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield
I am typically a strict “No Christmas until the Day after Thanksgiving” kind of girl. But something this year has me feeling the Christmas magic early. Maybe it is the excitement of my toddler or the cold weather and cozy fire we had yesterday, but whatever it is has me playing Christmas music and watching Christmas movies in November (much to the chagrin of my husband).
I wanted to find an activity for Emma, my three year old, and me that matched my holiday mood. I remembered the magic I felt as a child when we visited the Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield, so off we went to explore today. Their store signage proclaims that this is a place where it is “Christmas Year Round,” so I felt we had made the perfect choice. Plus, I was hopeful that I could get a little Christmas shopping done.
I introduced Emma to the Bavarian Village, the Nutcracker Castle and Santa’s Workshop (which was by far her favorite). She loved the moving presents above our heads in the workshop room, and she enjoyed writing Santa a letter. She didn’t remember nutcrackers from last year and was in awe of all the different types and faces. She got to sit on the “throne” but wouldn’t pose with the intimidating giant nutcracker. Into the Bavarian Village we went where it “snowed,” and we admired the Christmas village set up. There were trains and stars above our heads to gaze and wonder at. I could tell that she felt the magic.
We waited in line to meet Santa, and the one hour wait we were warned of by the friendly elf was pleasantly only 25 minutes. In the line, we watched Rudolph which was viewable from pretty much every spot in line. There were benches and spots to write letters to Santa. The kids around us seemed pretty well entertained (but as I said the wait was fairly short). Santa was wonderful. He let her hold his magic key and, seeing her fear, told her stories and asked her questions before asking her to sit with him and Mrs. Claus for a picture.
We skipped the Candle Making Museum because she is three and was two hours past her nap time (poor planning Mom). They have live candle dipping demonstrations to help patrons imagine candle making in the 1830s. Their website lists times for these demonstrations.
Each family has about five minutes to meet and chat with Santa and get pictures taken. Parents are allowed to take their own photos but picture packages are sold at the end of the meet and greet as well. PIctures were moderately expensive, like all Santa picture places. However the set Santa & Mrs. Claus sat upon was better than any mall set, and I was impressed by the quality of photography.
If you haven’t been to the village here are some tips:
- Go through the village “in order.” By heading through the Bavarian Village and the Nutcracker Castle first leading you into the toy shop. We went “backwards” which wasn’t great for traffic reasons and we also missed out on the wow factor when you first see the large nutcracker or the facade of the castle. Both of which Emma still got a kick out of, but it was less impressive from behind in my opinion.
- The village is large. They give you a map at the beginning – definitely take one. There are small carriages you can take as well. It is tight in many spaces especially the Christmas themed rooms. I was glad I didn’t take one, but for even smaller children, I would definitely recommend it. It is crowded and I know it gets even more crowded as the season goes on. Plus, they can see more higher up and can touch fewer breakable ornaments.
- There is a food court. We stopped for lunch first, but there is an Au Bon Pain in the food court area. The rest of the food is just snacks – fudge, popcorn and ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s to be precise).
- I wish I had another set of hands. After waiting for Santa, I wasn’t going to wait in a long check-out line to buy candles, ornaments or other gifts.
- Plan naps better than I did. If your kid still naps, note that everything takes longer than you expect it to at Yankee Candle Village. Not in a bad way, but rather, she enjoyed the toy shop and Santa’s workshop and wanted to spend more time there than I expected. She also really loved the room where it “snows” and wanted to see it happen a couple of times. (It “snows” every four minutes).
- According to the “elf” in line, Santa moves to an annex building after Thanksgiving and waits can be hours long. You can find Santa’s schedule here. Perhaps do like I did and beat the crowd by meeting Santa prior to Thanksgiving? If not, definitely get there early in the day or after most of the crowds have left in the evening. The “elf” woman who told us it would be an hour wait mentioned the height of activity was around the middle of the day and it would probably lessen in an hour or so. She was right, the line was much shorter by the time we got to the front of it.
- There are other great spots for candid photo opps. There is a sleigh in the candle room with a Happy Holidays sign behind it and a tug boat in the toy shop that kids seemed to enjoy climbing around on.
Annual Holiday Tree Lighting
Saturday, Nov. 18
Holiday wagon rides, hot cocoa, elves and gingerbread men, holiday caroling with Mr & Mrs Claus, dog sled rides, discounts on ornaments and more. PLUS, they promise snow at the tree lighting.
Saturday, Nov. 25th – Santa’s Arrival by Helicopter at 10 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 2 – Holiday Parade starting at 10 a.m. Caroling, sleigh rides and more.
25 Greenfield Road
South Deerfield, MA 01373
Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Thursday –Sunday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
**Always call ahead or check website before going. Events can be changed or cancelled. Hours are subject to change.