Furious punters slam BBC Countryfile's 'Christmas in the Park'

‘The only Santa I saw looked miserable’: Furious punters slam ‘rip-off’ BBC Countryfile’s ‘Christmas in the Park’ as families who paid £80 to attend said stars didn’t show up and site turned into mud bath

  • BBC’s Countryfile Christmas held at Charlton Park Estate, Wiltshire, at weekend
  • Visitors paid up to £80 per day to get into event on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • But some visitors claimed there was ‘nothing to do’ at the event and it was ‘awful’
  • Others said car parks turned to quagmires due to the amount of rain and mud 
  • Furious punters who travelled hundreds of miles for BBC Countryfile’s Christmas event have branded the event ‘awful’ and a ‘rip-off’.

    Visitors who were charged up to £80 for the Christmas in the Park event in Wiltshire were promised appearances by Countryfile stars Matt Baker, Sean Fletcher, John Craven and Anita Rani, as well as a range of activities including Christmas crafts and baking workshops.

    But disappointed fans complained they barely saw the BBC stars, and were forced to leave after an hour because there was nothing much to do.

    One customer claimed a man had to carry his disabled son because he couldn’t push his wheelchair through thick mud. Another told The Sun that the only Father Christmas she saw ‘looked miserable as he was covered in mud’.

    Helena Townley said: ‘The summer shows are great but this one was just awful. There was no festive atmosphere whatsoever, there was no carol singing, no reindeer and the only Father Christmas I saw looked miserable as he was covered in mud.

    ‘The stars of the show are supposed to be here, but I’ve not seen them in the main marquee.’

    Visitors who were charged up to £80 for the Christmas in the Park event in Wiltshire were promised appearances by Countryfile stars Matt Baker, Sean Fletcher, John Craven and Anita Rani, as well as a range of activities including Christmas crafts and baking workshops

    Visitors who were charged up to £80 for the Christmas in the Park event in Wiltshire were promised appearances by Countryfile stars Matt Baker, Sean Fletcher, John Craven and Anita Rani, as well as a range of activities including Christmas crafts and baking workshops

    One customer claimed a man had to carry his disabled son because he couldn¿t push his wheelchair through thick mud. Another told The Sun that the only Father Christmas she saw ¿looked miserable as he was covered in mud¿

    One customer claimed a man had to carry his disabled son because he couldn’t push his wheelchair through thick mud. Another told The Sun that the only Father Christmas she saw ‘looked miserable as he was covered in mud’

    Lynsey Rodgers said on Facebook: ‘We have travelled 4 hours and stayed 2 nights locally for this, but we did it all in 2 hours. No animals, no Christmas feel (not even a grotto), very few stalls and hardly any activities for children. If you haven’t bought tickets yet, don’t bother.’

    Another wrote on Twitter: ‘I’m furious that we paid all that money, to slop around in thick mud, no outdoor events… sound system not working, Santa’s horses left becuz (sic) of the mud. Info tent had no info. A disabled lad couldn’t walk through mud – his dad dad carried him.’

    But others praised the event, with Brian Turner, President of Royal Academy of Culinary Arts writing: ‘What a weekend! The weather didn’t help but a massive thank you to all the chefs who came on the Christmas Kitchen & Merry Baking stages. 

    ‘Fantastic, professional performances, great fun to be with you all, and a few Countryfile presenters popped in too!’

    A BBC Studios spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Countryfile Christmas in the Park’s ticket prices were in line with other similar events in the UK and attracted over 13000 visitors – but due to the outdoor nature of the event, rainfall did cause some areas of the park to be muddy underfoot. 

    ‘We advised visitors to bring appropriate footwear however we apologise to anybody who found the terrain difficult.’ 

    The event was billed as a chance for fans to meet their ‘favourite Countryfile presenters’ for a ‘new festive celebration’. It promised fans the chance to meet their favourite presenters, as well as take part in live demonstrations and workshops.

    The event was also marketed to have Christmas shopping, ‘delicious food and drink’ and ‘fun for all the family’. 

    Disappointed fans complained they barely saw the BBC stars, and were forced to leave after an hour because there was nothing much to do

    Disappointed fans complained they barely saw the BBC stars, and were forced to leave after an hour because there was nothing much to do

    It was also billed as a dog friendly event, with visitors allowed to bring their pet pooches to the show.

    In a goodbye message to visitors, the event’s official website said: ‘That’s a wrap! Thank you for braving the mud and winter weather to join us.

    ‘Huge thanks to the Countryfile presenters for an entertaining three days, and to our exhibitors, contributors, and carol singers for supporting us to make the event happen with festive cheer. Wishing all our visitors a very happy and safe Christmas.’

    Countryside was first broadcast in 1988, covering rural, agricultural and environmental issues around the UK. It airs once a week.

    Alongside the show, The BBC’s Countryfile magazine was launched in 2007 and is now published by Immediate Media Co.

    The Countryfile photograph competition remains a highlight of the programme’s year. Viewers are invited to submit entries and the best are used to make up a calendar sold in aid of Children in Need. The 2017 calendar raised over £2.2million for the charity.

    Countryfile also hosts live events, called Countryfile Live, at sites around the UK and has done since its first event at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire in 2016. Around 125,000 visitors attended the four-day event, organised by SME London Ltd under licence from BBC Studios.

    Countryfile Live was due to host event at Windsor Great Park in Buckinghamshire in August last year, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic.