Santa’s Grotto – 10 Of The Very Best Places To See Father Christmas In The UK

  • By: The DIG for Kids
  • Time to read: 9 min.

It might only be coming up to the end of summer but if you’re anything like me, you’re already planning for the festive period. I am a sucker for Christmas; if I could, I’d have the tree up by the end of October! But since I don’t want to appear like some kind of crazy person, I need to sate my Christmassy needs another way. And what better way to get into the spirit than planning a visit to the Big Man himself?

That’s right, Santa, Father Christmas, St Nick, the Man In Red; whatever you call him, there’s no doubt that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without paying him a visit. 

If you’ve got little ones brimming with excitement about the big day then you’ll be pleased to know that there are a ton of options when it comes to seeing Santa in the UK. All over the country, the elves are setting up festive grottos ready to welcome children and adults alike. 

In this rundown of the best places to see Father Christmas in the UK, I’ll introduce you to some of my favourite spots. You won’t be disappointed!

1. Lapland UK – Berkshire

Have you seen the price of a three day trip to Lapland? It is pretty expensive and at a time of year when you’re already delving into the deep recesses of your bank account, a trip up North isn’t something we can all manage. 

But that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the action because they’ve brought the magic of Lapland right here to the UK! You and your children will head off on a three and a half hour journey through snowy forests filled with the Christmas spirit. 

There are elves at every turn and plenty of things to entertain including ice skating, Christmas crafts, gingerbread making and even a chance to meet some gorgeous huskies. Your journeys through the enhanced forest comes to an end at Santa’s grotto where you’ll have the chance to chat with Father Christmas and even get a photo with him 

Each child will also receive a gift and the cost of the adventure is a mere £65 which is thousands less than going to the real Lapland!

2. Mother Shipton’s – Knaresborough

There is truly magic in the air at Mother Shipton’s during the festive period. The winter wonderland spreads through the woods and reveals a Christmas village where adults and children alike will be immersed in the Christmas spirit. 

Follow the woodland trail to explore the petrifying well and the famous cave which is the birthplace of Mother Shipton. There’s delicious Christmas treats in the pop up stalls and coffee shop as well as plenty of festive photo opportunities including a Christmas sleigh and a magical throne. 

Children will take great delight in heading off to visit Santa and there’s even a dedicated postbox for those who want to send letters to the North Pole. 

3. Noir Kringle – London

There is a huge focus on diversity and educating our children about this so what better way to support this concept than by visiting Noir Kringle? This is an experience where all of the Santa characters, including St Nick himself and all of the elves are black.

I love this idea for black children who may have felt that Christmas is a white dominated event. The idea of black Santa has actually been around for decades over in the states and I’m pleased to see it’s found its way to the UK. 

Currently, the project is running in London and everything there is inspired by Black British Christmas culture. There’s lots of exciting things to do including storytime and lots of tasty food and drink. But of course, the main event is meeting Santa and this is truly one of the most magical ways to experience this. 

4. Harrods Christmas Grotto – London

I don’t think that I can think of anything more synonymous with Christmas than Harrods. This 200 year old department store has been serving up luxury in London for as long as anyone can remember and they really know how to do Christmas.

If you’re looking for the ultimate magical experience when you’re in the capital then a trip to Harrods is a must. Not only is the Santa’s grotto one of the best in the United Kingdom but there’s plenty more to see for everyone in the family. 

Head to the food hall for an array of Christmas treats or spend a lazy afternoon browsing the stunning selection of decorations so you can bring the magic of Harrods Christmas back home. There are gifts galore and a Christmas journey filled with activities to get the children hyped up to meet the Big Man!

5. Santa’s Tea Party – Newport, Wales

Located in the stunning Celtic Manor, the Santa’s Tea Party is a must for children, and big kids alike! Here you will have the opportunity to meet Father Christmas via video call and engage in a whole host of other exciting activities. 

The tickets start from around £25 for children and £35 for adults and there are dates available for the tea party throughout November and December. 

I get what you might be thinking, Santa is only joining the party via video link but this gives children a glimpse into the North Pole workshop and still has a truly magical feel. What’s more, you’ll have a delicious afternoon tea and the chance to ask Santa anything you wish. 

For the duration of your visit, there are elves on hand to cater to your every Christmassy whim and when the day is over, all children receive a special gift. 

6. Alton Towers Seasonal Wonderland – Staffordshire

Alton Towers is one of the most successful theme parks in the UK so when it throws a Christmas party, you know it’s not going to do it by halves! The Christmas wonderland at Alton Towers is a magical event that immerses you in the wonder of the big day. 

The theme park becomes filled with the sights, smells and tastes of Christmas since there is a selection of over 60 market stalls. What’s more, they really bring out the big guns in terms of entertainment with shows, songs and special guests throughout the festive season. If you’re lucky, you might just run into Santa Claus himself!

One of the things that I personally love about the Alton Towers Christmas event is that it doesn’t have to all be crammed into one day. With the chance to stay in the on-site hotel, you can make a festive break of it and spend a couple of days exploring everything this wonderful wonderland has to offer. Plus, the Christmas theme extends inside the hotel so you’ll always feel festive. 

7. Santa’s Grotto At Warwick Castle – Warwickshire

One of the best things about the Christmas event at Warwick Castle is how affordable it is. But just because you aren’t breaking the bank, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to get the full festive experience. In fact, if you’ve ever been to Warwick Castle for any event, you’ll know how they do everything to the max, and Christmas is no different. 

There is a real festive atmosphere at the castle and the Christmas event runs from November to the beginning of January so there’s plenty of time to cram in all of the activities. 

You’ll want to head to the Santa’s grotto to meet the main man and the setting is beautiful. When you’re done checking whether you’ve been naughty or nice, it’s time to explore the rest of the festively decorated castle and grounds. 

You’ll find Christmassy market stalls bursting with trinkets, toys, food and much more as well as ice skating, storytime and a stunning light trail. If you want to make the magic last even longer then why not book a stay at the castle?

8. The Santa Cruise – York

Beneath the Lendal Bridge in York is a beautiful hidden Santa’s grotto with a difference. You might not think that that big man would be into sailing, what with that magical sleigh of his but you’d be surprised how he keeps returning year after year to take part in the special Santa Cruise!

The large boat can accommodate up to six people at a time and the cruise lasts for around an hour. As you step on board, Santa’s elves will be waiting to welcome you and all children are given activity packs. 

The cost of the cruise includes food and drink and of course, a meeting with Father Christmas himself! What a unique way to fill your little one’s heart with the magic of Christmas. 

9. SantaLand At Winterwonderland – London

Hyde Park is one of the most iconic locations in London and at Christmas, it comes to life with the amazing Winter Wonderland. Yes, there are these wonderlands popping up all over the country during December but I think the one in Hyde Park is up there with the very best. 

What I really love about this one is that it costs nothing to get in. Yes, you’re going to have to pay for things once in the event but it’s a nice touch that you can wander around for nothing if you so desire. 

But for most people, they’re going to want to get involved with the activities. There is plenty to keep the little ones happy at Christmas with a toy workshop, festive rides including the ice slide, market stalls and a parade every afternoon at 5pm. And don’t forget, there’s the chance to meet Mr Christmas himself!

10. Meet Santa At London Zoo

If you have children that have a love of animals just as much as they have a love for Christmas then pairing the two together is a no brainer. London Zoo has long been one of the biggest attractions in the UK and they certainly know how to throw a Christmas bonanza. 

I was super excited to find out more about what goes on at London Zoo for Christmas and I wasn’t disappointed. Running across London and Whipsnade zoos, there are activities to keep every member of the family feeling warm, fuzzy and festive. 

There is the fantasy sweet shop filled with Christmassy treats as well as the chance to take part in a variety of Christmas crafts. Of course, a visit to the Christmas event at London Zoo wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Santa so it’s a good job he has set up a grotto there!

There’s a postbox waiting for you to send your letters to the North Pole and a festive trail to explore. What’s more, you can also buy an early access ticket that allows you to get into the zoo before anyone else and enjoy a spot of breakfast with Mrs Claus!


Christmas will be here before we know it. While the gingerbread bakes, and the lights on the tree sparkle, we can all be planning a trip to visit Santa. If you want to truly spoil your children and give them a really magical Christmas 2022, then why not head to one of the beautiful locations where the magic of Santa really comes to life!

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