Christmas is fast approaching, and there’s plenty to do before then – buying presents, getting that perfect tree, and of course, re-igniting the annual magic of Christmas for the whole family. And what better way to do that than visiting a Santa’s Grotto, where children can meet old Father Christmas himself in a profoundly magical experience that they won’t soon forget?
Centrale Shopping Centre, Croydon
Starting from November 19, the Centrale Shopping Centre in Croydon will be having several Christmas events that will last all the way through to Christmas on December 24. These are the Elf Workshops, the Gingerbread Workshops, and of course, the Santa’s Grotto.
The Santa’s Grotto experience at the Centrale Shopping Centre lasts approximately 5 minutes, and every child will receive a special Christmas gift from Santa at the end of their visit. There will be opportunities for photography of course, alongside the added joy being greeted in by Santa’s helper elves.
The Grotto opens on Friday, November 19, and will continue to be open on all following weekends that month, before being open every day in December. Event tickets will be on sale shortly, so get them while you can.
Sutton House, Hackney
Famed for being the oldest house in all of Hackney, with history dating back 500 years, as well as a wonderful annual Santa Grotto, this one is not to be missed. The Christmas tours and Santa Grottos are free for those with a National Trust membership, so if you have one, there’s no reason not to go.
Otherwise, the prices are typically £8 for non-member adults, and £4 for non-member children. The Grotto is typically held as part of the National Trust’s Winter Trail programme – and though it’s not available every year, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for, as there are few better places to meet Santa than in Hackney’s oldest house.
Tickets can only be booked two weeks in advance, so make sure to look into it for a unique, Victorian Christmas experience.
Bocketts Farm Park, Surrey
With this Grotto’s proximity to Croydon, it’d be a waste not to go, if you happen to live in the borough. The range of available activities at this Santa Grotto are much more numerous than your average Santa Meet and Greet. Here, children will get the opportunity to make an Elf Passport, explore a giant snow globe, as well as receive a gift from Santa himself in his workshop.
This Grotto is set to open a little later than most others, going from November 25 until December 24. It’s one of the most popular Santa Grotto events, and tickets tend to sell out rather fast, so make sure to look for them while you can.
The good news is, once your booking is made, there will be no time limit to how long you can stay at the farm – you can be there all day, or for several hours until closing time at 5.30pm. The Grotto will also feature special late night openings on December 13, 14 and 15 until 7pm.
Christmas Tree Farm, Bromley
Found in Downe, not far from Croydon’s Addington area, is a rather unique Santa Grotto – in the sense that you can not only meet Santa himself, but you can also cover buying a Christmas tree, and see the tree farm’s various and friendly animals.
The tree farm’s grottos will be open every weekend following November 30, from 11am to 3pm. It can get rather busy, so it’s important to note that the queue will close at 2:15pm, so make sure to show up before then.
Bookings will be unnecessary this year, and Grotto entrance will be free. Alongside the opportunity for children to meet Santa and receive a present from him, you can also see the farm animals, with Winter admissions at £3 for adults, and £1.50 for children aged two to 16. Christmas tree sales begin from November 27, too. A good chance to cover two activities at once.
Santa Grottos are a great way for families to connect over the holidays, and can provide an unexpected relief for adults as well as children.