Visiting Father Christmas is one of the most important and exciting times of the year even in 2020, where your children share their Christmas wishlists.
Although many of our favourites are not running this year due to Covid-19 restrictions such as at Harrods & Fortnum & Mason, here are our top 10 Christmas experiences to take your children to this year – both in person and virtually. 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: 2 December
2. Christmas at Paulton’s Park, Hampshire
Peppa Pig World is even more magical for kids at Christmas plus you get the chance to meet Peppa and George in their Christmas outfits. Christmas themed activities include story time with Santa, Christmas shows, see Santa in his sleigh, giant Christmas trees plus lots of stunning illuminations around the park
Tickets: £29.50 per person
When: 5th December – 23rd December
3. Santa Weekends, Macdonald Aviemore Resort, Scotland
At the MacDonald Aviemore Resort, you will get to see Santa’s reindeer in the beautiful Cairngorns. Santa, Mrs Claus and the Elves will transform their resort into a winter wonderland. Children will visit Santa in his woodland grotto and Elves will pop up around every corner. There’s entertainment for the whole family. And not forgetting twinkling lights and decorations all around.
Tickets: £219 per family per night
When: Weekends in December
4. Virtual Santa Afternoon Tea- Newport, Wales
Much to everyone’s delight, Santa and his elves will be setting up their Christmas Grotto not at the Celtic Manor Resort this year but at their sister property the Coldra Court Hotel. They invite you to pay him a virtual visit whilst enjoying a delicious themed afternoon tea.
As well as their own special afternoon tea, children will also enjoy a very special visit to Santa’s Grotto to meet Santa in small individual family groups, with social distancing measures in place. Although he’ll need to keep his distance this year with Santa dialing in for a fun interactive group video call all the way from the North Pole!, Santa’s helpful elf will be on hand to give each child a small gift to celebrate the festive season.
Tickets: From £12 per child – £24 adults
When: 1- 24th December
5. Meet Father Christmas At Hamleys – London
Join Santa and his loveable elves at The Finest Toy Shop in the World for fun, magic and theatre at the most wonderful time of year. The Santa’s Grotto at Hamleys is an extra special experience where children will take part in seasonal activities at the Hamleys North Pole, spend time with Santa and that’s not all, you’ll also receive an extra special gift bag to take home with you.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s Santa’s Grotto sessions will only allow one bubble/family to enter at a time, your session will not be mixed with other children. One Santa’s Grotto ticket allows entry for a bubble of 3 people into the Santa’s Grotto.
Tickets: £45.00 for one bubble of 3 people. Additional people are charged at £15.00 per guest.
When: From 21st November – 24th December
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6. Santa’s Sleepover, Alton Towers, Staffordshire
At Alton Towers, their Santa Sleepover is always a popular option for kids for a wonderful Christmassy Escape. jump onto specially selected rides, dive into the Waterpark, tuck into a lusciously festive evening meal, meet Santa – and more! There’s even more dates than ever before to experience your magical Christmas escape!
Tickets: From £290 per family
When: 4th – 6th, 11th – 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. Unfortantely this year this event has to take place virtually.
Enjoy an online Santa experience like no other and bring the whole family together to talk to Santa online through their Santa Claus Video Call – Santa Claus Calls. With uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions between now and Christmas day, Santa himself has teamed up with Chill Factore to offer a COVID secure grotto. Even if Chill Factore has to remain closed or there are still restrictions in place, this virtual Santa experience will still go ahead!
When: 5th – 24th December
Tickets: From £20.99
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: 4 December to 2 January.
Tickets: From £399
9. Christmasland 2020 at Bluestone
As an alternative to Center Parcs take a look at Christmasland in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
In November and December they are running their festive extravaganza, Christmasland, where they have their Christmasland Chronicles. Discover how Christmasland first began and to celebrate the greatest gift of all, time with those we love.
Your magical Christmas journey will take you on an adventure across the resort, where from your lodge, to the ancient woodland and Serendome, you’ll feel wrapped in the Christmas spirit.
10. Santa Live from Lapland
Santa’s Lapland are one of the main companies who provide trips to Lapland to see Santa, however this year they are also doing things differently. Instead of visiting the North Pole they are offering a virtual experience with Santa at his home in actual Lapland. You’ll be led through the Lapland snow and see a reindeer up close before going live to Santa’s Cabin and speaking with Santa himself. This genuine Santa experience will allow your children (and the grown-ups!) to enjoy the magic of the real Lapland, all from the safety and comfort of your own home.
Tickets: Prices start from £85 per family and include a personalised video call experience of up to 15 minutes, for a maximum of 4 children per call.
Not running in 2020 because of Covid-19 restrictions
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.
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.
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.
Are there any other magical Christmas experiences for families in the UK that should be added to this list, please let us know.