giraffe merry bright trail colchester zoo christmas

A Christmas Visit To Colchester Zoo

Over the years Colchester Zoo has played a big part in our Christmas activities. Our first Christmas activity with Ethan was breakfast with Santa at Colchester zoo. We have had numerous trips to visit the Father Christmas Grotto there. More recently we went to their Twilight Christmas Experience. Also, another breakfast event in 2019 so that Little E would get the chance to experience it. In December I was able to book pass holder tickets so that we could have a Christmas visit to Colchester Zoo. Because of the pandemic, Colchester Zoo didn’t host its normal Christmas events. There was still some Christmas magic to discover there.

A Christmas Visit To Colchester Zoo

Our Christmas Visit To Colchester Zoo

Upon entering the zoo we stumbled into the first piece of Christmas magic the zoo had put in place. Santa’s post box was ready for you to send your letters to Santa.

little e santas post box christmas visit to colchester zoo

The children soon worked out that placing your hand inside the post box made it snow. At the same time, Christmas music played. Something so simple entertained the children for ages.

ethan little e watching snow santas post box

The Enchanted Woodland

Following the new social distance route around the zoo, we made our way to The Enchanted Woodland. Our first visit to this area was during our breakfast with Santa visit in 2019. On the way, we were also able to visit Ethan’s favourite animals in the zoo the sea lions. You need to pass through this area and the orangutans to get to the woodland entrance.

enchanted woodland sign colchester zoo

The Enchanted Woodland is full of fairy houses for you to look at. Each house has a sign telling you about their fairy resident.

aine fairy house enchanted woodland colchester zoo
aurora fairy house enchanted woodland colchester zoo
little e gormand fairy house enchanted woodland
jarett fairy house enchanted woodland colchester zoo

The Enchanted Woodland is also where you will find the Reindeer Stable. I didn’t have my big camera out but Darren took a quick photo on his phone. The reindeer were staying in their home today.

reindeer colchester zoo

There was a Colchester Zoo volunteer at the reindeer stable. She was selling real reindeer food in little bags to help raise funds for the zoo. We brought two bags so we could leave out some reindeer food as part of our Christmas Eve preparations.

The Merry and Bright Trail

One of the reasons I wanted a take the children for a Christmas visit to Colchester Zoo was for Ethan to see the Christmas lights. The zoo creates a Merry and Bright Trail of light display animals to see as you walk around the zoo.

polar bears merry bright trail colchester zoo christmas
elephant merry bright trail colchester zoo christmas
zebras merry bright trail colchester zoo christmas
giraffes merry bright trail colchester zoo christmas
giraffe merry bright trail colchester zoo christmas
reindeer merry bright trail colchester zoo christmas
nutcracker merry bright trail colchester zoo christmas

They also place lots of Christmas lights in the trees. Making the zoo look lovely at Christmas. The Christmas tree was amazing this year. The lights were colour changing but if you got there are the right time it looked like a beautiful rainbow.

family selfie christmas tree colchester zoo

Spotting Santa

Due to the Covid restrictions, the zoo couldn’t open the Christmas grotto this year. Instead, Mother and Father Christmas would be walking around the zoo to say hello, socially distanced of course. We had the pleasure of bumping into them on our walk around the zoo. Mother Christmas remembered the children from our previous Christmas visits which I thought was lovely.

ethan little e talking mother father christmas colchester zoo

The one thing we didn’t get to experience was the Christmas road Train. We were able to go on this during our Twilight Christmas Experience. We have also been on the train when we have been able to arrive at the zoo just as it opens. Ethan loves singing the Christmas songs on the train but the queue for it was huge. As far as I’m aware Colchester Zoo doesn’t have anything in place to help with queuing. He really wanted to go on it but the upset the queue would cause really wasn’t worth it. We didn’t want to end the day with a full-blown meltdown. Thankfully the promise of pizza distracted him.

What About The Animals?

Ethan dictates what animals we visit at the zoo. We can easily visit the zoo without seeing any of the animals. Sometimes he just wants the walk. I knew the Australian Rainbows and penguins were closed because of the reported cases of Bird Flu. So I did my best to distract Ethan from these areas. His favourite sea lions were our first port of call.

As we made our way past the lion enclosure we could see that the lion was active. He must have just woke up from an afternoon nap. I was able to take a good photo of him with my big camera.


The lioness soon joined him and she also let me capture a good photo of her.


Little E loves foxes. On our last visit to the zoo, we discovered where the Fennec foxes live. Anything fox or wolf-related is a highlight for her. We made sure we went to see them again during this visit.

sleeping fennec fox

All Ethan wanted to see then was the elephants and the giraffes. With the new one-way system in place, Ethan gets a little confused about our direction. It took us a while to work out the correct way during our last visit. We have to reassure him that we are going to see his chosen animals. It was getting late by the time we arrived at their enclosures so the giraffes and elephants had been taken into their houses. We have never seen the animals inside before.

giraffes inside enclosure
elephant eating inside enclosure

We really enjoyed our Christmas visit to Colchester Zoo. I’m so glad I was able to book us a pass holder visit for the day. Darren filmed some moments of our day on his iPhone. You can watch them in our video below.

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