Families will be jumping for joy as Lapland UK has won its bid to stay open longer this Christmas season.

But concerns were raised over the attraction being open during the crucial days of Christmas, Boxing Day, and the New Year period.

In Lapland UK’s Winter Wonderland, families can enjoy a magical tour of a makeshift Christmas village, complete with Elf grottos, reindeer pens and live performances, culminating in a visit with Father Christmas himself.

The company had applied to extend its Winter Wonderland open days from Monday, November 1, to Saturday, January 15, 2022.

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Previously, the attraction was only allowed to open from November 15 to December 24 (Christmas Eve), and then reopen from January 2 to January 15.

The request was granted by Bracknell Forest Council’s planning committee on Thursday, August 19.

There was a debate as to whether the Winter Wonderland should be allowed to be open on major holidays such as Christmas, Boxing Day and the New Year.

Councillor Michael Gbadebo (Conservative, Great Hollands South) was  concerned that approval would give Lapland UK free rein to open on these days, which he said are “important” to families.

He proposed a condition banning Lapland UK opening on these dates and the week after Christmas.

Cllr Dale Birch (Conservative, Little Sandhurst and Wellington), objecting to Gbadebo’s suggestion, said: “I’m not supportive of this discussion about changing their request, amending their request, in terms of up to December 24, and then blanking off the week after Christmas.

“They [Lapland UK] are a commercial, marketing, and publicly sensitive organisation that knows when the public want to visit that site, and to limit the fact that they may wish to open after Boxing Day, and shut before or on New Years Eve in the knowledge that there aren’t going to be too many people around on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day because Santa’s going to be busy.

“I’m troubled that we’re looking to make an amendment to something based on our own perception, when this business has asked for this, and they have been very responsible for their opening in the past.”


Later in the meeting, planning officer Paul Corbett stated that it was unlikely that Lapland UK would be open on Christmas Day and public holidays.

Cllr Gbadebo’s proposed time limitations were never voted on.

Lapland UK has also been allowed to extend operating hours on each day as part of the approval. Previously, it only had permission to run tours round the site from 9.30am to 6pm on weekdays, and 9am to 6pm on weekends.

They can now run tours from 8am to 7pm each day.

The approval means construction work can commence on September 23. After that, all temporary structures must be packed up no later than February 8.

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Speaking against the date and hours extensions, Cllr Gbadebo said: “We’re here for a reason, we’re here because we represent the residents, and we owe it to them to try and protect their interests.

“I think this is a fantastic thing to have in Bracknell Forest, it’s good for our residents, it creates jobs, I get all that, and they’ve been around for a long time, I haven’t had complaints, I’ve had a lot of compliments.

“I’m struggling here because I  think the holidays are important for families. I don’t think leaving something to commercial people is always a good thing. We still have regulations, we have everything to protect the public.”

He went on to argue that opening at 8am would intensify traffic between Ascot and Bracknell, stating that opening at 9.30am when traffic has ‘died down’ is better.

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Meanwhile, Cllr Colin Dudley, the chairman of the committee (Conservative, Crown Wood) said: “I don’t have a problem with the opening hours, if you look at it as commercial activity, their commercial activity relies on the story of Christmas and I think that it would be commercial suicide to open on Christmas Day and let children meet Father Christmas when he is supposed to be out delivering gifts!

“I’m not going to be a bah humbug and its the first Christmas comment that I’ve made this year.”

Lapland UK’s plans were approved at the virtual meeting of the committee by 10 votes to one, with Cllr Gbadebo ‘reluctantly’ voting against it.

You can see a list of all the decisions made at the meeting in this Twitter thread: 

You can observe the full plans for Lapland UK by putting reference 21/00347/FUL into Bracknell Forest Council’s planning portal here: https://planapp.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/online-applications/