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Santa’s Magical Journey begins at Thursford in Norfolk

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2016

Nearer to home than the North Pole, the elves and reindeer are hard at work in a corner of our deepest countryside.

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

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.

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

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.

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

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.

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

“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.

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

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.

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

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).

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A damning dossier compiled by a senior whistleblower from the region’s ambulance trust has claimed at least 40 patients died or were harmed due to delays over Christmas and New Year - including one person who froze to death.

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A senior whistleblower within the region’s ambulance trust has claimed up to 80 people could have died or come to harm because of delays over the Christmas and New Year period.

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