A magical after-dark experience following thousands of tiny lights along a winding woodland trail to discover illuminated playgrounds, friendly reindeer, and dear old Santa Claus

It's been a strange time for us all.....

... and continuing restrictions mean that dear old Santa still can't meet young visitors face-to-face inside his warm cottage. Undeterred, sensible Santa will now be welcoming visitors to his willow dome workshop, where he can have a good natter and a ho-ho-ho in the open air. The problem is that the location of Santa's workshop is top secret, and very few know the right path to take through the dark, dark, forest to reach it. You might get hopelessly lost if you don't have a helpful guide.

Paraffin Pixies to the rescue

Our old friends the Paraffin Pixies are here to help. The happy little creatures, who live inside old paraffin heaters, have expert knowledge of the secret ways through the woods that lead to Santa's workshop.

The Pixies will be your guide on a journey along magical illuminated trails that wind among the trees and fields. In the dark of a winter evening, you’ll encounter fantastical sights and spectacular lights. Within this world of wonder, you’ll see preparations being made for the best Christmas ever. You may bump into some of Santa’s helpers, and his faithful reindeer may be nibbling away in the moonlight. You might even have opportunity a quick chat to the dear old chap himself, as his happy team work through the night to prepare for a perfect Christmas day.

Awesome lights and sounds will also transform our giant covered play-space into a winter dreamland, while the big spaces of the orchard barn will be filled with twinkling lights, tasty delights and happy Christmas cheer, ensuring that the fun goes on no matter the weather.

The practical stuff

The Paraffin Pixies' Search for Santa is a special event within the Almond Valley Heritage Centre that takes place after dark on certain dates during December. Prior booking is essential, as tickets will not be available on the door. Standard day tickets and season tickets to Almond Valley will not be valid, and only certain areas of the site will be accessible.

Who is the event for?

It’s for everyone who retains a sense of wonder, magic and imagination, no matter their age. It’s an experience that all the family can share and enjoy. Paraffin pixies are gentle, friendly folk, so there will be no shocks, sounds or spectacles that might disturb younger children.

Is it Christmassy ?

Yes! Paraffin pixies bring sparkle and magic to dark winter evenings, and lead you to a hidden after-dark world of wonder and mysteries. There will be lights, beauty and wondrous seasonal adventure, without things being too glitzy and commercial.

What will we see and do?

Many tiny, twinkling lights will guide your way past the old mill buildings and through a tunnel of light across the river to our lands in Charlesfield. Pools of light and strings of lanterns will illuminate your way through the orchard to the giant barn filled with Christmas sparkle and festive nibbles. At the heart of it all is the Paraffin Works, our huge covered play-space, which will be alive with the sound and light of a seasonal dreamscape. Emerging from this, the Paraffin Pixies have laid a trail of shimmering delicate fairy lights that will guide you along winding woodland paths. On your journey you will encounter beautiful and awesome arrays of light among the trees, and discover woodland places where toys are made. You'll meet some of Santa's reindeer, and may even get a glimpse of the man himself, working hard to prepare for a brilliant Christmas.

Will other parts of Almond Valley be closed?

For your safety, and for the welfare of our animals, you will be restricted to the illuminated route, with no access to the farm areas of the site.

Will I see Santa? will I get a present?

Close-up one-to-one encounters with Santa just aren't safe and sensible in these difficult times. Santa will be there to wave, smile and ho-ho-ho, but the sort of intimate discussions that normally take place in Santa's cottage will just not be possible. The only present that you will receive will be warm and happy memories

How long will it take?

You will book for a specific arrival time between 15.00 and 19.15 so as to minimise queues and congestion, and to ensure social distancing. Please try to adhere to this. The route around the site will take about 60 minutes, depending on how energetic you are, although you might want to stay longer if you choose to eat or play. The site will close at 20.30.

Do I need to book?

Prior booking is essential. Booking confirmation, either printed out or displayed on your phone, is required for admission.

Can I change or cancel my booking?

Ticket bookings for the event are non-transferable and non-refundable within seven days of your visit. If we are forced to cancel the event on any day on grounds of safety, due to extreme weather or government restrictions, we will provide as much notice of this as possible, and refund the cost of your tickets.

I’m a member, do I get discounted tickets?

A discount rate is available to members of the Friends of Almond Valley, but not to other forms of season ticket. Membership cards must be shown on admission

What about the weather?

Weather is always going to be unpredictable so wrap up warm and bring waterproofs and sturdy footwear just in case. It is an outdoor event, but the big spaces where much of the fun takes place – the orchard barn and the paraffin works – are sheltered from the wind and rain. Only if the weather gets really severe, and conditions become unsafe, would we have to cancel the event for that day. Under such circumstances, we will contact you by e-mail, post messages on social media and this website, and provide as much notice as possible. We would then transfer your booking to another date or offer a refund.

How accessible is the event?

All activities take place along usual pathways on the Almond Valley site which have a paved or rolled stone surface. Other than the yard outside the mill, most routes are reasonably level. It’s about 400m from the car park to the Paraffin works, and a further 200m to the most distant part of the woodland walk. Please let us know at time of booking if you require blue badge parking. Some features may contain flickering lights, but no strobe lighting.

Will there be food and drink?

The tearoom will be open, but serving a special menu of hearty hot meals. The kiosk in the orchard barn will be serving warm drinks and nibbles.

How do we get there?

It all takes place within the Almond Valley Heritage Centre, Millfield, Livingston, EH54 7AR. See our main website for full details. There's ample free parking, and stewards will be on hand to direct and assist you.

Can I bring my dog to the event?

Other than assistance dogs, we would advise against bring pets with you, as they might find the after-dark world a little strange and disorientating.


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Event tickets
  • Adult.......£12
  • Child.......£10
  • Adult member.......£10
  • Child member.......£8

Tasty options

The tearoom will be open and serving a special menu of hearty hot meals to keep the chill at bay. No need to book in advance

The shepherd's hut kiosk in the picnic barn will be serving warming drinks, and we'll be toasting marshmallows over the fire pit.

Covid safety

Your safety is always our priority. Risks need to be fully assessed and effectively controlled in any public event, particular those taking place after dark. The need to take effective measures to guard against the transmission of Covid19 adds an additional dimension to this process.

In planning this event, we've done everything practical to minimise the risk of virus transmission. Pre-booked and timed arrival times ensure a steady flow of visitors through the site, and minimises queues and congestion. We've limited the number of visitors each evening.

A one-way route and open spaces help maintain distancing, and in the limited places where people may congregate there are markings and barriers. Handwashing sinks and hand sanitisers are distributed throughout the site, and key contact surfaces are regularly sanitised. There are ample toilets which are maintained scrupulously clean.

Your responsibilities

  • Please arrive as close to your booked time as possible.
  • PLEASE DON'T VISIT if you feel that you might have Covid symptoms, are in self-isolation, or you may have come into contact with households who had Covid symptoms.
  • Be safe and sensible and act with consideration and respect for other guests.


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