Phoebe Master brings us the lowdown on the best local places where kids can see Father Christmas
Santa’s Snow Train and Crystal Grotto at Painshill
Painshill’s mesmerising Grade I Listed Crystal Grotto comes to life this Christmas as Santa moves in for the festive period. Board a magical land train for a tour through the landscaped grounds before arriving at the grotto. Children can spend time with Santa surrounded by shimmering stalactites before receiving a special gift from his elves. 1 – 22 Dec, some dates excluded; From £18.50; Online Advance Booking Only; Painshill, Cobham.
Christmas in the Village at Wimbledon Village
Children and parents will line the streets of Wimbledon Village to watch Santa Claus and his elf ride down the high street on horseback. Afterwards, children can take the opportunity to visit Santa in his grotto for a chance to hear stories and give him their wish list. Fairground rides, balloon modelling, face-painting and dancing help continue the celebrations while adults can benefit from tastings and discounts in Village stores. Finish the evening joining in with carol singing around the tree. 8 Dec; 10am – 5pm; Free; No Booking Required; Wimbledon Village.
Father Christmas at Ham House and Garden
Mosey into the historic back parlour at Ham House where Father Christmas has taken up residence and decked the halls with twinkling lights and baubles. The whole family can spend a private moment with Father Christmas where children will receive a gift, before exploring the rest of the candle-lit house. Brave the cold and head out for a wander in the gardens followed by a cosy teatime treat in the café. 7 – 8 & 14 – 23 Dec; From £7.50 excl. entry; Advance Booking Advised with Some Walk-Ins Available; Richmond-upon-Thames.
Santa’s Grotto at Bentalls Kingston
Enter the Toy Department at Bentalls where Santa’s elves are busy making presents for Christmas, before heading through the frosty forest to Rudolph’s gingerbread stable and decorate your own gingerbread biscuits. If you can find it, open the secret door to Santa Claus’ workshop where you can help the elves hard at work. Climb aboard the sleigh to take an ‘Elfie’ before meeting Santa in his office. End your visit with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie for parents and a hot chocolate and slice of cake for the little ones. 14 Nov – 24 Dec; £12.50; Advance Online Booking; Kingston-upon-Thames.
Santa’s Grotto at Squires
Make a trip to your local Squires Garden Centre this Christmas and experience a meeting with Santa Claus in his snow-decked grotto where each child will receive a gift. Parents will benefit from the joy of giving to others this season, knowing their donations will be helping a local charity. There is no need to book a meeting with Santa Claus at Squires, making it the perfect place to find some last minute festive cheer. Free or £5 – Charitable Donations Welcomed; No Booking Required; Check online for locations and dates.
Meet Father Christmas! At Hans Christmas Anderson
Hand-pick your Christmas tree from 7,000 spruces at Hans Christmas Anderson and make a day of it with a stop at Father Christmas’s grotto. Show your little ones to the post box where they can send off their letters to Santa and receive a present in return. While you are there pet the farm’s own reindeer, purchase some local produce from the market and take the whole family for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. 30 Nov 1pm – 4pm and 1/7/8/14/15 Dec 10am – 4pm; Free – Charitable Donations Welcomed; No Booking Required; Shamley Green – Guildford.
Father Christmas at Bocketts Farm
Start your journey to meet Father Christmas with a ride on The Santa Express trailer at Bocketts Farm. Join in some festive elf fun once you arrive at the magical workshop and prepare to greet Father Christmas who will gift you a special gold coin to spend in his toy shop. 22 Nov – 24 Dec, some dates excluded; From £12. incl. farm entry; Advance Booking Essential; Leatherhead.
The Thatched Cottage at Claremont Landscape Gardens
This winter, The Thatched Cottage at Claremont is transformed into a Christmas grotto for all the family to enjoy. Set within a woodland glade close to the lake, the cottage has been adorned with lights, bunting and a real tree from which baubles hang. While Father Christmas is busy preparing for the big day, he has left a selection of toys and games for everyone to enjoy in his absence. From 12 Dec; From £4.75; No Advance Booking Required; Esher.
Chelsea’s Christmas Grotto, Pavilion Road
London’s most interactive grotto arrives in Chelsea this season with renowned children’s entertainers Sharky & George transporting all to the North Pole. Settle in beside the fire to be read a festive story by Father Christmas and listen to him discuss the children’s antics from the past year, before surprising them each with a traditional gift. Craft activities including bauble decoration and gingerbread icing will also be on offer. 23 Nov – 23 Dec; From £27.50; Advanced Booking Required; Chelsea (pictured top).
Santa at Elys
Santa is back in the Elys toy department ready to hear the children’s wishes in the exciting run up to Christmas. 30 November to 24 December. £5.95 including a gift.
Santa’s Grotto and the Christmas Forest
The Pottery in Kingston will be home to a winter wonderland where Santa will be handing out gifts, while money raised goes towards Momentum Children’s Charity. 7-8 December, £8.50
More Christmas fun….