15 best Santa's grottos in the UK for Christmas 2019

Visit these family-friendly events this Christmas...

Nichola Murphy

The festive season is almost upon us! From Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland to an exciting Santa cruise and a behind-the-scenes tour of a London landmark, we've picked out some of the best Santa's grottos in the UK to make Christmas extra special this year. But make sure you book your visit soon as these events are bound to sell out fast.

1. Winter Wonderland, London


Get the Christmas celebrations underway at Winter Wonderland, which returns to London's Hyde Park on 21 November. Little ones will love a visit to Santa Land, which is filled with rides such as a 45m ice slide, and Santa's Toy Factory fun house where Santa and his elves are making toys ready for Christmas. Better still, entry is free! However you can't book a visit to Santa, and entrance is on a first-come, first-served basis.

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2. Father Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall, London


Credit: Andy Paradise

Enjoy a magical day out meeting Father Christmas at one of London's best-known landmarks, the Royal Albert Hall. This hour-long interactive experience will show youngsters through the historic hall, meeting characters from the North Pole on their way to meet Santa. As well as puppetry and live music, they can gain some secret elf knowledge and bring home their own stuffed toy. The experience is most suitable for children aged three and above and is open from 5-22 December 2019. Tickets cost £36.50 (plus fees). 

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3. Set Sail with Santa, Poole


Forget Santa's sleigh and take a ride on his boat! Cruise around Poole Harbour with Santa Clause for a 1 hour 15 minute ride, where children can watch a 30-minute magic show and meet Santa, while adults sip on a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie and listen to Christmas carols. Cruises take place on the weekends throughout December and cost £17 per person online. 

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4. Meet Santa in Westfield London


Take a break from Christmas shopping and embrace the magic of winter snow at Santa’s Snowflake Grotto in Westfield London. During the 20-minute experience, children will be able to make their own unique snowflakes and meet Santa in his cosy cabin for a photo and gift. The grotto will be open from 21 November-24 December with tickets costing £7.50. 

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5. Santa's Grotto at the Liverpool Ice Festival, Liverpool


Liverpool's Pier Head is set to play host to the Christmas Ice Festival in November and December, with a whole host of fabulous market stalls, food and entertainment, plus the all-important Santa's Grotto. The attraction opens on 9 November 2019 and tickets for the grotto are on a first-come, first-served basis. 

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6. See Santa in Leicester Square, London


From 9 November - 24 December, Father Christmas will be in Leicester Square's scenic European-style Christmas Market waiting to meet families, pose for festive photos and tell stories. If children make it on the good list, they may even get to take home an early Christmas present. Tickets cost £11 and the experience lasts for around 25 minutes.

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7. The Chelsea Christmas Grotto, London


Ensuring the Christmas experience really is for the whole family, the Chelsea Christmas Grotto is returning this year alongside a baby grotto with dedicated pre-school sessions. How sweet! Children will head to a magical grotto for an hour-long winter wonderland experience which will include 30 minutes of classic Sharky & George games before they enter Father Christmas’ workshop. Expect festive stories from Father Christmas, presents, gingerbread biscuit making and bauble decorating. The grotto will be open from the 24 November and tickets cost £27.50.

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8. Santa’s Snow Grotto at Chill Factore, Manchester


With twinkling fairy lights and real snow, Chill Factore in Manchester is another Lapland-esque experience that will provide a real winter wonderland experience for the whole family. As well as being able to visit the man in red, all children can enjoy an activity in the snow, whether it's exploring the snow tunnels in Mini Moose Land or racing down the ice slides in the Snow Park. Open from 16 November-24 December and tickets cost £15-20 for Santa & Mini Moose Land or £45-52 for Santa & Snow Park for a family of two. 

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9. Santa's Polar Express, Newcastle


Hop on board Santa's Polar Express at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa for a festive day out that all the family can enjoy. Children can take part in story-telling with Mrs Claus, a letter-writing workshop with the elves and of course, Santa's Polar Express train adventure. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy complimentary tea, coffee or mulled wine and browse the festive stalls. Open Friday 14-22 December from 3.15-8.15pm each day. Tickets are £18 for adults, £25 for children and £10 for infants under one. 

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10. Meet Father Christmas at the Eden Project, Cornwall


Go behind-the-scenes at the camp Santa and his elves make their home in the countdown to Christmas, snooping at the elves' bunkbeds, seeing the letters from children and even reading a bedside story, before meeting Father Christmas and receiving a special gift. Opens 30 November to 24 December and costs £10 for a child with one adult.

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11. Meet Father Christmas at Hamleys, Glasgow, Scotland


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What better place to write your Christmas list than in a toy store?! Hamleys offers children the chance to enjoy an interactive 60-minute experience with Santa, including festive games and activities, learning elf songs and dances plus meeting Father Christmas. Available from 23 November - 24 December. Sessions cost £20 with eight children per session, and it is suitable for children aged two to eight years. 

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12. Make toys and meet Santa at Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth


Credit: Emirates Spinnaker Tower

Who says Father Christmas' grotto has to be at ground level? Climb the Emirates Spinnaker Tower to join the elves in their Toymaker's Workshop where children will get the chance to name and construct cuddly reindeers, before visiting Santa in his grotto. They can then help Santa navigate his sleigh to his next destination on the Sleigh Trail. Available Friday-Sunday most weeks from 30 November and tickets cost £15 per child with tower admission. 

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13. Santa Hunt at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley


Credit: Black Country Museum

Embark on a fun search for Santa, meeting a series of characters on your journey around the Black Country Living Museum. See how the reindeer fly and write a letter to Santa and see if he's received it when you find him. All children will receive a surprise gift once they reach Santa's workshop, while adults will get to enjoy a mug of mulled wine and a mince pie. Starts 23 November and tickets cost £17 for adults and £11 for children aged six months to 16 years.

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14. Santa Spectacular at Willows Activity Farm, Hertfordshire


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Enjoy a festive family outing with the Santa Spectacular experience at Willows Activity Farm. Of course, meeting Santa is one of the highlights of the day, with children able to pick out a gift from his Toy Shop to take home. There are numerous activities and workshops on offer, including making a toy bear, decorating biscuits and ice skating. Open from 23 November - 24 December 2018. 

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15. Dan yr Ogof Cave Christmas Experience, Swansea


Treat them to an experience they won't forget with a trip to Santa's Grotto within the National Showcaves Centre for Wales. Follow the twisting and turning cave passageways past underground lakes, waterfalls and colourful rock formations before meeting Santa in his underground grotto. Open Saturdays and Sundays in December 2019 from 10am-3pm. Children receive a gift to take home and adults receive a hot drink and a mince pie. Tickets cost £15 for adults, £12 for children aged three-12, and £6 for infants aged two and under. 

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