It’s that time of year, where the big man himself starts popping up all over London. A visit to Santa in London can be truly magical and memorable experience. However it is good to do a bit of research to avoid it transcending into a day of queuing and disappointment.
Thankfully in London we have a wonderful selection of tried and tested experiences to choose from, but you have to be quick as many have sold out already. Here are some of the top tips we have received from readers and friends. Thank you, and Merry Christmas all!
Your local School or Church fair
You may not go home with the enormous present your little one was hoping for, but a pocket money toy and opportunity for a good chat with Santa, without queuing or travelling miles. Santa is in it purely for the love of the job, and he won’t leave a huge dent in your Christmas budget.
2. Painshill Park, Guildford
Whilst a little way out of London, this experience comes very highly recommended, but sadly is sold out for 2018 already. Set a reminder for October 2019 and book very early to experience Santa’s Toy Factory at Painshill Park. Cheeky elves lead you through the toy factory to see the presents being made and to meet Father Christmas, where your child will receive a gift. Santas Toy Factory is part of with Painshill Park’s Festive Illuminations, which does still have tickets available. Whilst you won’t get to see Santa, you can still enjoy the illuminations and music, food stall, bar and marshmallow camp fire.
From £14.50 for an adult and £4.50 for a child (or £13 if the Santa Toy Factory is included – now sold out).
3. Santa Spectacular, Willows Activity Farm, near St Albans
We are very excited to be visiting Santa at Willows Activity Farm again this year. Read our top tips for visiting Willows Activity Farm at Christmas here.
There is so much on offer to keep your little ones feeling festive all day; an Elf Academy for budding Elves, a cuddle workshop where you can make a soft toy to take home, and the Nativity story acted out by the children in amongst the barn animals. This year there is also an ice rink and gingerbread decorating. By the time they visit Santa’s Grotto the children will be full of the joy of Christmas. Using their golden key to enter Santa Toy Store and choose from hundreds of gifts will top off a wonderful day.
Tickets available starting from £17 per adult and £33 per child.
4. Royal Albert Hall
What could be better than visiting Santa in his top-secret London headquarters at the iconic Royal Albert Hall? Children spend an hour journeying through the historic Hall, meeting a range of enchanting characters from the North Pole, including toy soldiers, fairies and workshop elves before meeting Santa himself, and of course taking home a gift.
Last few tickets remain for weekday mornings (at the time of writing), starting at £30 per child and free for accompanying adults.
5. London Wetland Centre, Barnes
Santa visits London’s Wetland Centre in Barnes for just a few days a year and sadly tickets have sold out for this year. However there are still many festive experiences on offer including donkey riding and husky sleigh rides and elf craft workshops, all set amongst the beautiful wetlands of Barnes.
Tickets to meet Santa have sold out out. Other activities are included in the price of entry to the Wetlands.
6. Bocketts Farm, Leatherhead Surrey
A trip to Santa at Bocketts Farm is one our family favourites. The children board Santa’s trailer and a tractor pulls them to a beautifully decorated hay barn to meet Santa. Each child receives a lovely gift and has a chance to share their Christmas wishes with Santa. A visit to the farm is included in the price of the ticket so children can also enjoy all that is on offer there, including festive crafts, a large indoor play area and hopefully some newborn lambs.
Tickets start from £11 for an adult and £21 for a child.
7. Crockford Bridge Farm, Weybridge
A visit to meet Santa at Crockford Bridge Farm comes highly recommended and is promised to be a smaller, more magical experience this year. Children enjoy a 30 minute walk through The Wonder Wood (30 year old real Christmas Tree Forest), meeting a cast of characters along the way, before finding Father Christmas in his Log Cabin. There is a gift for every child and a chance to share Christmas wishes. You can also cut your own Christmas Tree at the PYO farm whilst you are there.
Tickets start at £16 per child and £12 per adult and at the time of writing, just a few remain.
7. Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
As Hyde Park is transformed into a Winter Wonderland, Santa takes up residence in his Grotto in Santaland, which is packed full of children rides and entertainment. It is free to enter the Grotto, but you cannot prebook so be prepared to queue.
8. National Trust
We have so many wonderful national trust properties in London, and Santa tries to visit as many as he can. Further details of his visits can be found at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/father-christmas-in-london. Mini Travellers recommends the festivities at Morden Hall Park https://minitravellers.co.uk/where-to-see-santa-at-your-local-national-trust/#London.
9. Hamleys Toy Store, Regent Street
If a visit to Hamleys wasn’t exciting enough, your child can meet Santa and tell him about all the amazing toys they are hoping to receive on Christmas Day. At the time of writing just a few spaces remain so you will need to book very quickly.
Tickets from £39.95 per child
10. Westfield Shopping Centres – Shepherds Bush and Stratford City
Children are invited to visit the Snow Factory, where Santa’s elves make all the snow in the world, and they can create their own snowflake. Children can meet Santa in his icy Snow Chamber, where they will receive a gift and have their photo taken with him.
Child tickets £7.50 (photo with Santa is purchased separately).