Thursford Christmas Spectacular truly lives up to its name
- Credit: THURSFORD CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
Driving through Norfolk and towards tucked-away Thursford, the dark and gloomy winter sky starts to become illuminated with bright, beaming lights.
After parking up and walking through the entrance, we’re nestled in with groups of friends who have arrived in their coachloads ready and eager to get into the festive spirit nice and early, bopping along to Christmas classics.
Once we've stepped through the gates, we’re immersed in a winter wonderland of twinkling lights, jingling bells, illuminated reindeer and dozens of Christmas trees.
As we overheard many people say, it’s “enough to make you feel like a big kid all over again”.
While the Christmas Spectacular Show (more on that later) is arguably Thursford’s main attraction, the Enchanted Journey Of Light is also unmissable.
Educational and fun - especially for young children - once inside we meet a whole host of colourful characters and animals as well as getting a glimpse back in time at vintage vehicles (Thursford is open as a steam engine museum for the rest of the year).
Each room is different to the last, ranging from a depiction of the Antarctic circle to elves getting presents ready in their workshop. There really is so much to look at (for us, the dancing and singing penguins were a particular favourite).
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And that’s without talking about the fluorescent world that awaits outside: neon jellyfish, vibrant flowers and musical wooshes place visitors first in the middle of the sea.
Then, just around the corner, we are transported to an eye-popping jungle full of colourful giant elephants, lions, cheetahs and exceptionally tall giraffes; before ending back in the Antarctic with a phenomenal ode to Happy Feet.
Our only regret is that we hadn’t arrived earlier so we could spend more time exploring the enchanting utopia…
And now, with the clock nearing 7pm, it’s time to take our seats in the theatre for the sold-out main event.
Festooned with all manner of Christmas decorations - including hanging baubles, tinsel, carousel horses, glistening icicles and much more, it’s clear that no expense has been spared on transforming the museum’s theatre space into a Christmas haven.
I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from the show - which sits somewhere between the Royal Variety Show and Britain’s Got Talent, featuring performers from across the globe - but what unfolds on the massive stage over the next two and a half hours is nothing short of phenomenal.
It’s easy to see why audience members have travelled from as far as London, Liverpool and Yorkshire; especially after last year's show had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 lockdown, it feels all the more special to be back out experiencing live entertainment.
The 130-plus fully-vaccinated cast - including a full live band, orchestra, organist, vocalists, dancers and a hilarious presenter - don’t put a foot wrong throughout; a remarkable feat considering how much they have to remember.
The production is brilliantly put together - a flawless combination of toe-tapping singalong showtunes, laugh out loud moments, classic carols, musicals favourites, countless costume changes, impeccable stage design and, without giving too much away, a remarkable number of world-class performers.
Just when you think it can’t get any better, the finale will leave your jaw on the floor - it really is spectacular.
“Same time next year same seats” seems to be the general consensus from the crowds of people leaving.
With this level of talent on show, it’s easy to see how Thursford - founded by local man George Cushing and with a run of 80 performances annually - has retained its crown as the best Christmas show in the country for 47 years.
Book tickets online via https://www.thursford.com/steam-museum/