I’m not the best at planning out fun activities for the Christmas season. I just love enjoying the quiet family moments at home. But I know it’s important to incorporate fun for the kids, as well, and let them have some really Christmas-y moments too. So on December 23rd, I was looking up things to do in Alaska on Christmas Eve. And up popped the Christmas at the reindeer farm event. Now we had been to the reindeer farm in previous times, but this was a more structured event. And seriously, what could be a better Christmas activity than petting reindeer?
The Williams Reindeer Farm
Located in Palmer, AK, the Williams Reindeer Farm is an attraction for tourist and locals alike. They offer year-round tours, and during various seasons offer events. During the Christmas season they offer “Christmas on the Farm.” It is usually the weekend before Christmas, and affordable for families. Located in the shadow of Pioneer Peak, during the winter season be sure to dress warm. Alaska gets cold during December, and the farm doesn’t get direct sunlight because the mountains block it for a few straight weeks.
Feed and Pet the Reindeer
One thing I truly appreciated about Christmas at the Reindeer Farm was that there wasn’t a time limit to being with the reindeer. The Williams Reindeer Farm has a good sized reindeer herd, and in the past we were only given a few minutes to pet and feed the animals. But at this event, while there was a limit to how much food you were given (you don’t want to make these sweet animals sick!), they didn’t set a time limit. This allowed us to wander throughout the pen, petting reindeer, taking pictures, and just having a good time with these amazing native animals at our own pace and leisure.
Our kids were enraptured with the reindeer. James wanted to see the ones with the biggest antlers who are named Red and Moose. Jed and Jules were completely delighted by the little reindeer which had been born earlier in the year. There were many giggles and happy smiles as they got to touch and pet the reindeer. We taught them how to be careful around the reindeer and to be sure not to touch their antlers (the reindeer do not appreciate that) and treat them with kindness, as well.
While you are in the reindeer pen, you also have access to their yak and young moose. While you are not in the same pen as these animals, you can see them up close and at times touch the moose. It is quite the experience!
Take a Picture with Santa, Makes Crafts, and Play with the Bunnies
While experiencing Christmas at the reindeer farm you also have the opportunity to go inside and warm up under heaters in some of the large outbuildings around the reindeer farm. In those buildings you can make some Christmas crafts and purchase some hot cocoa. You can also play with the bunnies, and you’ll love hearing your kids squeal about how fluffy they are! You can also take a picture with Santa using your own camera (for free!). There are also winter sleighs out as decorations that you can get a few Christmas shots in!
But besides actually interacting with the reindeer, our favorite part of Christmas at the reindeer farm were the reindeer rides. There were two different and unique options, both of which are very fun. The first is their “reindeer train.” This train is pulled by a side-by-side, and each little train car is painted as a reindeer with real antlers attached to the front. James and Jules particularly loved riding around the farm in the reindeer train and caught a ride several times. Jules had the biggest grin on her face as she went past us while waving!
The other option is truly a reindeer ride. They hitch one of their reindeer up to a simple snow sled, and the children get pulled around in the sled by a reindeer. Bonus points that the man leading the reindeer was dressed in an elf costume. How he was not completely frozen since it was about 3*, I have no idea – but the costume really added to the festive feeling! While Jed was feeling a bit unsure and ended up not wanting to go in the sled, James and Jules absolutely loved it. I also truly appreciated the fact that the reindeer farm anticipated the line that would form for this activity and had a lovely campfire going for all of us to warm up at! I apparently have not acclimated to the cold temperatures as well as the elves.
Christmas at the Reindeer Farm
I truly believe that Christmas at the reindeer farm is a dream come true for a Christmas Eve activity. I would do it again in a flash with my kids, and I think they would too. It’s a quiet event – not too crazy – but well worth it. When we came home from the farm, we warmed up in front of the fire with hot chocolate and read Jan Brett’s book, The Wild Christmas Reindeer. A perfect end to a fun Alaskan Christmas activity. Be sure to check out my post about the Reindeer Farm in general, and why you should go there at other times of the year too! It’s a wonderful way to support a local Alaskan farm and business.
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