Visiting Father Christmas is one of the most important and exciting times of the year, where your children share their Christmas wishlists.
There are so many Christmas grotto’s across the country from your local garden centre to shopping centres, but we have been on the lookout for some of the very best experiences for families across the UK.
Here are our top 10 Christmas experiences to take your children to this year. Many of these suggestions are so popular they book up very early.
1. LaplandUK – Berkshire
Lapland UK is a family Christmas experience like no other. A visit to Lapland UK isn’t simply a visit to see Father Christmas. Unless you actually visit Santa in Lapland (which is one of the most magical holidays you will ever have) – Lapland UK the best Christmas experience that you will ever have in the UK. A forest has been transformed into a snowy winter wonderland, where you walk through a guided theatrical tour, meeting certain characters along the way.
During your three and a half hour journey you experience a Narnia like wonderland of snow covered trees and pathways, beautiful snow covered buildings and brilliant actors.
All activities including toy making, gingerbread decorating, ice skating, meeting the husky dogs, a beautiful gift for each child and a souvenir family photograph with Father Christmas is included. A visit to Lapland UK is definitely a visit you will never forget.
Tickets: From £65
When: 17 November to 24 December
2. Christmas Grotto at Harrods – London
If you are lucky enough to get tickets – which gets more difficult each year, there is no better way to start the festive season than visiting the Harrods Christmas Grotto. It will be one of the most authentic looking Father Christmas’s that you will come across. The interaction along the Christmas journey with the children is fantastic.
There are many Christmas activities for the children to take part in as they make their journey through a magical experience to meet Father Christmas. The grotto is located on the 4th floor in Harrods beside the door 10 escalator.
The main problem with the Harrods Christmas Grotto is their availability. There are only a limited number of slots available (which this year were only made available to Harrods customers who have spent an unspecified amount in store) which typically can lead to a lot of disappointment. If you are lucky enough to get a reservation there is a £10 booking fee per child but all booking fees will be refunded onto your Harrods rewards card to spend in store on the day of your visit.
Tickets: £10 per child
When: 15 November to 24 December
3. Storytelling with Father Christmas at Fortnum & Mason – London
I like this because it’s different. Fortnum & Mason is running Storytelling with Father Christmas sessions in its fifth floor boardroom. Children get to meet Santa and listen to him as he reads a story before they give him their all-important Christmas lists and getting a little gift to take away.
Tickets: £25 per child
When: 1 December to 24 December
4. Family Afternoon Tea with Santa at the Celtic Manor – Newport
As well as their own special afternoon tea, children will also be able to enjoy a very special group story time with Mother Claus and write their ‘wish list’ to Santa, before the big man himself drops in to say hello to the group and deliver a small gift before Christmas.
Tickets: From £12 per child – £24 adults
When: 2- 24th December
5. Meet Father Christmas At Hamleys – London, Manchester,Glasgow, Lakeside
Meet Father Christmas and his elves at one of the world’s famous toy shops for a special hour-long Christmas experience located in the party rooms in their stores, which have been transformed into quite authentic looking grotto’s.
Jingle all the way to the Finest Toy Shop in the World to join Father Christmas and his loveable elves for fun, magic and theatre at this very special time of year. Meeting Father Christmas at Hamleys is an extra special experience where children will take part in seasonal activities, spend time with Father Christmas and receive an extra special gift bag to take home.
Tickets: From £19.99 per child
When: 24th November – 24th December
6. Kielder Winter Wonderland – Northumberland
You start your full day adventure by following the winter wonderland star which leads your family into a magical enchanted forest – a truly stunning location, where you will find Father Christmas, Mrs Christmas and their friends. Children help the elves in their workshop to make a Christmas keepsake which they take home, help Mrs Christmas with her chores and watch a Christmas theatre show. Other activities include ice skating, feeding Santas reindeer and snow tubing.
Tickets: From £39.50 per person
When: 16th November – 23rd December
7. Santa’s Snow Grotto, Chill Factore – Manchester
If you want to experience real snow when you visit Father Christmas then Santa’s Snow Grotto looks so much fun at Chill Factore. After you visit Father Christmas in his snow covered grotto you get an hour play in the excellent snow park containing great activities to keep adults and children entertained including tubing runs, sledge racing and a bobsleigh/luge run.
When: November 16th until 24th December
Tickets: From £45 for a family of 2
8. Discover Winter Wonderland – Center Parcs
For a pre-Christmas break then the five Center Parc villages across the UK are magically transformed into a Winter Wonderland. The parks are decorated with over 70,000 fairy lights, sparkling silver reindeers, huge Christmas trees and enormous Christmas statues.
Families can get involved in numerous Christmas activities from visiting Father Christmas in his woodland workshop, joining the elf academy, festive pottery painting, designing their own Christmas stockings and even taking a festive carriage ride.
When: 8 November to 3 January.
Tickets: From £399
Kingdom of the Elves at Bluestone
As an alternative to Center Parcs take a look at Bluestone in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Their Kingdom of the Elves breaks are fantastic and include a visit to Father Christmas in his grotto.
9. Santa’s Magical Journey, Thursford, Norfolk
Children will love the magical setting of Santa’s Magical Journey. Your journey takes you past the penguins and polar bears to see all the giant sized teddy bears ready to load Santa’s sleigh, past the busy elves, hard at work in the toy factory taking in the wonderful wrapping machine.
You’ll meet lots of fantasy characters including the snowman family but watch out for the snowballs before you make your way through the magical forest to reach Santa’s House where you meet the man himself and all his gifts for all the children that visit.
Tickets: Adults £11.50 – Children £18.50 includes a present
When: 23 November to 23 December
10 Ride the Polar Express
If you are a fan of the iconic Christmas movie the Polar Express you will love the Polar Express experience on the Mid-Norfolk Railway, Telford Steam Railway or the Seaton Tramway which brings the movie to life for families.
Arriving at the train station you wait for the conductor to invite you and the other passengers to climb aboard (you are encouraged to wear you pyjamas like in the movie), shouting “All aboooooard!” for your journey to the North Pole. During the journey scenes from the film come to life as dancing Chefs and Waiters arrive to serve cookies and hot chocolate. Upon arrival at the North Pole you pick up Father Christmas who makes his way through the train and presents children with their special gift.
On arrival back at the station the fun continues in Santa’s Workshop you can write a letter to Santa and Post it in the Elf-Mail Box, paint your very own Christmas Decoration and colour in some of your favourite Polar Express characters.
Ticket: From £24.50
When: 1 December to 23 December 2019
When: 28th November – 24th December 2019
Ticket: From £24.95
When: 23rd November – 23rd December 2019
Ticket: From £37.00
Tower Toymaker’s Workshop, Portsmouth
One of the most unique places to see Santa is at his Tower Toymaker’s Workshop at the iconic 170 metre high Emirates Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. Here you can join Santa’s elves in the Tower’s workshop as they make the finishing touches to their latest batch of cuddly reindeer toys. What we like about this experience is the interaction offered as each child gets to name their toy, fill it with stuffing and place a magic charm inside before carefully sealing it up. Once their cuddly toy is finished, no trip to Santa’s workshop is complete without a visit to see Father Christmas in his grotto!
When: 30th November – 24th December 2019
Ticket: From £10.00 without admission to the tower £15.00 with tower admission
Are there any other magical Christmas experiences for families in the UK that should be added to this list, please let us know.