The Best Santa’s grottos in the East of England
This is the moment they’ve been waiting for since Christmas decorations started to appear, and what could be more magical for a child than meeting the big man in red? Here’s where to catch Father Christmas as he makes his way across the region…
Father Christmas Train Rides
Bure Valley Railway, Norfolk
Aylsham Station, Norwich Road, Aylsham, NR11 6BW.
It seems even Santa can’t resist the beautiful East Anglian countryside as he is swapping his sleigh for the Bure Valley Railway. He will be steaming in every weekend from 3 -17 December, then every day until 24 December.
The Santa train will depart from Wroxham Station and travel to Aylsham where Santa and his railway sleigh will be ready to welcome everybody. Each child will receive a personalised present and there will be entertainment adding to the festive atmosphere. The popular event is now in its 26th year so booking is essential. Adults and children from £15, 01263 733858, http://www.bvrw.co.uk/events/Santa
Audley End Miniature Railway
Audley End Road Audley End Rd, Saffron Walden CB11 4JB
You can also catch the train to Father Christmas at Audley End Miniature Railway, from 26 November – 24 December.
Take the Santa Express into the woods to visit Father Christmas and his elves in their woodland grotto. Children will also have the opportunity to visit the craft area and write a letter to Father Christmas and post it in the festive box. £10 per person, 01799 542134, www.audley-end-railway.co.uk
East Anglian Railway Museum
Station Road, Wakes Colne, Essex CO6 2DS
If you’re little ones are big fans of Thomas the Tank Engine give them a visit to Santa they’ll remember forever at the East Anglian Railway Museum. On 4, 11, 17 and 18 December Thomas and friends will be offering unlimited rides on at least four train, story time, interactive re-enactments and a visit from Santa. Adult: £13, Child: £9, gift from Santa an extra £5, 01206 242524, http://www.earm.co.uk/events/santa
Epping Ongar Railway
Epping Ongar Railway, Ongar Station, Station Approach, Ongar, CM5 9BN
Santa is coming to the line to hear Christmas wishes on the trains and to give all the good girls and boys a present on 3/4, 10/11, 17/18 and 21-24 December 2016. Good Mums and Dads get a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine too. Special fares apply and advance booking is strongly recommended. Adult £16. Child £13, eorailway.co.uk
Visit Santa in Magical woodlands
Weald Country Park
A festive grotto is a truly magical experience for children. Wrap up warm this month and head to some of the region’s most beautiful parkland where Father Christmas will be waiting.
Weald Country Park is famed for its reindeer’s year round, but at Christmas it is the perfect setting for meeting the big man in red. Walk through the Christmas cottage where Santa grows candy canes and winter vegetables, before being greeted by a friendly elf who welcome families into the workshop, visit Mrs.Claus’s knitting station with real sheep then on to meet Santa, where in small groups of five, he will greet each child, allow them to look around the grotto with live animals and provide a wrapped gift. Finish the experience with by feeding the tame deer! The grotto will be open from 26 November – 24 December. £10 per child, 01277 261343, www.visitparks.co.uk/events/santa-s-grotto/
Christmas trail at Wicken Fen
Lode Lane, Wicken, Ely CB7 5XP
Pull on your hat and scarves and follow the Christmas trail at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire, on 7-8 and 14-15 December from 10am – 12pm, to find Father Christmas in his secret grotto. They’ll be craft activities and a trail to follow which will lead to the Christmas Elves Workshop, where Santa will be busy making final preparations for the big day! Booking in advance is essential. Child: £8.50, 01353 720274, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/
Traditional Santa Grotto’s
Santa at Hatfield House
Hatfield AL9 5NQ
From Thursday to Sunday, from 1 – 18 December, Father Christmas will be greeting children in his grotto at Hatfield House. He will be located in a themed tavern next to Hatfield House Toy & Gift Shop in the historic Stable Yard. There’s good news for parents too, the venue has promised that the whole experience will be simple and stress free! Tickets £9, www.hatfield-house.co.uk
Blackthorpe Barn Santa Grotto
Ipswich Rd, Rougham, Bury Saint Edmunds IP30 9LZ
For a classic Father Christmas experience make a visit to one of the region’s stately homes or Christmas barns. This year Blackthorpe Barn near Bury St Edmunds has created a perfect miniature grotto, offering a superb Santa experience. Details are being kept tightly under wraps, but if previous years are anything to go by, visitors are in for a treat! (Children £6, Adults £1, http://www.blackthorpebarn.com/barn-events/santas-grotto)
An Audience with Father Christmas at Audley End House
Off London Road, Saffron Walden CB11 4JF
On weekends throughout December (3-18 Dec), Audley End House and Gardens, near Saffron Walden, will host ‘An Audience with Father Christmas’. Children can enjoy meeting the man in red in the beautiful and historic surroundings of the grand home and listen to his tales of Christmas past amidst the yuletide decorations. Lucky visitors will even get a festive treat! Pre-booking essential. Normal admission price plus £4, 0370 333 1183, www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/whats-on
Audience with Father Christmas at Holkham Hall
Holkham, Wells-next-the-Sea NR23 1AB
Holkham Hall will also be welcoming Father Christmas from 17-20 December. Guests can join in the special ‘Audience with Father Christmas’ for the chance to meet Father and Mother Christmas in the Saloon where they will regale you with tales of wonder and magic while our all-singing, all-dancing band of cheeky elves will entertain you with musical interludes. And of course we’ll have a small present for all of our younger visitors and a glass of prosecco or a soft drink for everyone. Adult £16, Child (0-12 years) £16, 01328 713111, www.holkham.co.uk
Santa’s Magical Journey at Thursford
Thursford, Fakenham NR21 0AS
For the ultimate Santa experience visit Santa’s Magical Journey at Thursford from 26 November – 23 December. Make the magic of Christmas come alive with a trip to on Santa’s Magical Journey in the festive setting of Thursford.
The 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, before visiting 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 come visit Booking is essential. Children £15.50, adults £9.50. http://www.thursford.com/santas-magical-journey.aspx