Where to find Santa's grottos in London
Needing very little introduction, Winter Wonderland opens its doors on November 22 - but if you’re thinking of visiting Santa’s Grotto, bear in mind that he arrives a day later, on November 23. There is no fee to visit the S-man, nor an option to book – this is very much a first-come, first-served situation.
Considering the utterly vast array of toys that Hamley's has to offer it's no wonder that Father Christmas has decided to set up shop there for the festive season – he's probably on the lookout for new gift ideas. From November 24 until Christmas Eve, excitable kids have another reason to visit: Father Christmas will be making an appearance. Those crafty Hamleys Elves have cooked up enough games and activities to fill a 45 minute slot, including writing and posting a Christmas wish list to the North Pole – and sweet treats will be on hand to maintain soaring blood-sugar levels. Tickets cost £39.95, and bookings must be made in advance.
What could be more festive than a grand English house at Christmas time, tastefully strewn with swags, garlands and wreaths? Mosey on through candlelit Ham House and learn a little about how former residents the Lauderdales celebrated the holiday back in the seventeenth-century (very lavishly, apparently). The big man himself will be in residence between December 15-23, so a brisk tour of the frosty gardens can be rewarded with an early Christmas present.
Festive cards, gifts, trees and, of course, Father Christmas – so many familiar Yuletide trappings arrived with the Victorians. As an homage to this, the Museum of London is giving their grotto a nineteenth-century spin, with appropriately vintagey decorations, distant carolling and a twinkling Victorian Walk. Santa’s on hand to talk Christmas wishes, and he’ll throw in a gift for the little’uns too.
It doesn’t get much more picturesque than the grotto at Sutton House, where Santa awaits in oak-panelled Tudor room next to a cosy open fire. Post-present fun includes Christmas arts and crafts, music, and dressing up, all while enjoying a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. Admission costs from £5.50 for children, and £9 for adults, and all profits go towards the upkeep of Sutton House and their year round programme of community work. You’ll find santa here at weekends from 25 November to 17 December.
Santa called. He’s added another date to an already busy schedule. Catch him, and his trademark twinkly, goodtime atmosphere, at the capital’s latest Crimbo destination. Kids will gather for an audience with the big man, before getting a chance to meet him and receive a gift.
Make festive crafts and visit Father Christmas in his enchanted grotto who will be giving little ones personalised gifts to take home. Book in advance via the National Trust website.
If a skating rink, Christmas market, funfair and food festival weren’t enough to lure you over to Ally Pally this Winter, perhaps a rare visit from a certain Saint Nick will do the trick. Santa’s setting up camp in Alexandra Palace’s East Court this December, with a brand new grotto. Kids can place their present orders and leave with a framed photo to commemorate the occasion. Tickets cost £12, and slots must be pre-booked (1,2, 9, 9, 15 & 16 December).
This year Camden Market is going full throttle with the festivities – in fact, their grotto is the work of The Ministry of Fun, so expectations are high all round. Visitors will leave with a bit of culinary know-how as well as Christmas cheer, since the experience involves helping Santa’s elves with a spot of gingerbread-making (a fair price for meeting the head honcho himself). Tickets will cost £15. From 24th November-23rd December.
Discover the winter wonderland that awaits you inside the Royal Albert Hall. Already a building brimming with charm, the elves have laid on lashings of festive spirit to enhance the enchantment. From Thursday November 22 until Saturday December 22, visitors to the Royal Albert Hall can get a glimpse of Santa’s elusive HQ as part of an hour-long interactive experience. Little helpers will be treated to a Christmas blow out, journeying through spaces within the historic Royal Albert Hall and becoming acquainted with various North Pole characters along the way (toy soldiers, fairies, workshop elves and, obviously, Santa himself).
Find more kids' christmas fun in London
December is never more exciting than when you're littler than Santa's elves. They've been waiting for this all year; help to make their festive dreams come true at these great Christmas events for kids. And there's lots more wintery fun to be had at London's ice rinks, Santa's grottos, Xmas lights and Christmas theatre shows.
Snap up exclusive discounts in London
Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...