Santa’s Magical Journey begins at Thursford in Norfolk
- Credit: Ian Burt
Nearer to home than the North Pole, the elves and reindeer are hard at work in a corner of our deepest countryside.
Alongside the glorious Thursford Christmas Spectacular, Santa's Magical Journey has grown into what must be one of our most glorious grottoes.
Thousands, upon thousands of lights twinkle in the trees and the smell of cinnamon fills the air between spellbinding tableaux.
This year traction engines collected by the late George Cushing, as part of what grew into the Thursford Collection, have been lit up for the first time.
Animated figures of monkey mechanics and dogs of all shapes and sizes look down from the iron monsters.
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A former threshing machine which once helped bring in the harvest has found a new lease of life as a present machine, with elves a-trosh on top.
Real-life elves have also been at work since the summer, wrapping 16,000 gifts for young visitors to Thursford's Santa. The storeroom which was packed with presents a few weeks back before this season got under way is rapidly emptying.
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'It's amazing when you look at it,' said George Cushing - grandson of the great collector, who now works as the attraction's projects manager. 'You think how on earth are we going to get rid of all these presents and they just go so quickly.'
He added he hoped the present machine might help educate children about the long gone steam age, along with the many restored engines sitting under sparkling decorations.
Elsewhere reindeer peep out from snow-covered pine trees and the smell of caramel wafts from the Three Bears' cottage, while a posse of polar bears convene for fish al-fresco.
Strange creatures with names like Snoring Snugglebug and Morston Munchling line part of the route to Santa's ho-ho-home.
Tickets for this year's Christmas Spectacular have now sold out. Seats for next year's go on sale on Monday.
Santa's Magical Journey is open daily until Friday, December 23. All tickets must be booked online via here or by calling 01328 878477 (9am - 4pm).