The Best Santa’s Grottos 2018

Warning: This feature is now out of date

One of the most magical moments that you can have as a child is meeting Father Christmas in his grotto, with his elves all around and maybe even Mrs Christmas or a reindeer or two!

To help you find the perfect place to meet the jolly fellow this Christmas, we’ve put together a guide of the best Santa’s Grottos in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire. 

Audley End Railway

Audley End Miniature Railway Christmas Special, 1- 24 December

Audley End Road, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JB


Go on a Christmas adventure on the Santa Express to Father Christmas’ Winter Wonderland among the woodlands of the Audley End. You can meet the man himself as well as the mischievous elves, watch their dance and every child will receive a little gift. There is also face painting, Father Christmas letter writing and crafts for children too. This is a hugely popular event so book quick!

Lee Valley White Water Centre’s Christmas Event Santa’s Grotto, Weekends during 1-24 December and Christmas Eve

Station Road, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, EN9 1AB

Come and meet Father Christmas and receive a special gift if you’re on the nice list! There are photo opportunities to capture the special moment with Santa as well as ice skating and a Christmas Market to look for some stocking fillers. Booking is recommended.  

Blackthorpe Barn Santa’s Grotto, Weekends during 1 -16 December, and 19 -22 December

Blackthorpe Barn, Rougham, Bury St Edmunds, IP30 9HZ

Blackthorpe prides itself in its beautiful Santa’s Grotto and is a special and atmospheric place to meet the guy in red. All children will meet Santa as well as receive a small gift too. You can also pick up your Christmas tree, enjoy walks, crafts and the Christmas Shop.

Elves at Blackthorpe Barn

An Audience with Father Christmas, Weekends 1-23 December

Audley End House & Gardens, Audley End Road, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF

Meet Father Christmas amongst the festive decorations and listen to his Christmas stories. Children will also receive a small present. Please be aware there is an additional £5 charge for all children to see Father Christmas and pre-booking tickets is essential.

Perrywood’s Christmas Grotto, Weekends 1-16 December, everyday 17 – 24 December, 9.30am-3.45pm

Perrywood Garden Centre, Kelvedon Road, Tiptree, Inworth, Colchester, CO5 9SX

Complete with a northern lights sky, this year’s grotto is set to be better than ever. There are singing reindeers, friendly elves, art and crafts and a little toy for every child. Perrywood is also hosting a more relaxed magical grotto experience to be tailored for those with additional needs who might find the grotto overwhelming. Booking is essential.

Santa’s Magical Journey, Weekends 24 November – 16 December, Everyday from 17 – 23 December

Thursford Collection, Thursford, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 0AS

You’ll feel as though you have been transported to the North Pole at Thursford, minus the frost bite! Have a fantastical journey past the penguins and polar bears, elves and snowmen to Santa’s House to meet Father Christmas. There are gifts for the children and you can get a professional photo taken of your little one with Santa to take home!

Santa Cruise , 1 –24 December

Broads Tours, The Bridge, Wroxham, Norfolk, NR12 8RX

Come aboard the Santa Cruise for an hour of festive fun. Children can take part in Christmas quizzes, colouring competition and sing-alongs. Santa’s pixies will serve mulled wine and mince pies for adults and soft drinks and a festive cookie for children. You’ll find Santa in his saloon where he will give out named presents for every child. Tickets must be booked in advance.

The Magic of Christmas at Mead Open Farm, 1-23 December (excluding Mondays and Tuesdays) and Christmas Eve

Mead Open Farm, Stanbridge Road, Billington, Bedfordshire, LU7 9JH

Not only can you meet Father Christmas here, children can listen to a group story with the man himself, walk through the magical enchanted forest, make your own bear in the workshop, go to reindeer flying school, make reindeer food and decorate gingerbread in Merry Berry’s Christmas Kitchen.

Santa’s Grotto Brampton, Weekends 1-16, 20-24 December, 8.30am-7.10pm

Buckden Road, Brampton, Huntingdon, PE28 4NF

Santa’s elves will start things off with some singing and dancing and then Mrs Christmas will show the children how to decorate their own gingerbread biscuit. Then it’s time to meet Santa who will read an enchanting story, after which, the children can choose their toy to take home.

Santa and His Real Live Reindeer, Selected dates until 24 December

Hearts Delight Home and Garden Centre, Long Road, Lawford, Manningtree, Essex, CO11 2EF

For another year, Hearts Delight garden centre is hosting Father Christmas and three of his very friendly live reindeer! You can see Santa’s workshop and the busy elves making toys, meet Percy the Polar Bear as well as the gorgeous puppies. By that time, Santa will be waiting to hear all your Christmas wishes and give out presents.

Steam Trains to Santam 1, 2 9, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 December

Bure Valley Railway, Wroxham Station, Norwich Road, Aylsham, Norfolk

Come and visit Santa in the Broads on a Steam Train. Roll up to Santa’s Grotto, with Wroxham station dressed beautifully in twinkling lights to get everybody into the festive spirit. Steam Trains to Santa departs from Wroxham travelling to Santa’s Grotto, where Santa and his railway sleigh are there to welcome you all. Let Santa know what you’re hoping for on Christmas Morning and receive a personalised early Christmas present from Santa himself. Entertainment and festive refreshments for all the family add to the Christmas magic, before climbing aboard the train for the return journey to Wroxham.

Father Christmas at Fairhaven, 15-16 December, 11am to 5pm

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, School Road, South Walsham NR13 6DZ

Have yourself a twinkly woodland Christmas experience. Take a stroll through our illuminated winter woodland garden to meet the reindeer and visit Father Christmas tucked away among the trees. There will be live music, illuminations and an Elves’ Workshop with free Christmas crafts and face painting to keep the children busy. Warm up with hot food in the tearoom. Garden entry applies for adults (£6.85) and £8 per child to visit Father Christmas and receive a present (includes garden entry). Booking essential.

An audience with Father Christmas, 15, 16, 19, 20 December, 10am-4.30pm

Holkham Hall, North Norfolk

This is one of the most magical visits to father Christmas in Norfolk, in one of the most splendid settings –  which means it’s one of the most popular! £18 adult, £18 child (aged 0 to 16 years), booking essential.


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