Santa’s grottos in London

On the look out for Father Christmas? Everybody's desperate to meet the beardy man with the bag – here's where to find him this winter
Santas Grotto (c) Museum of London.jpg
© Museum of London
By Time Out London Things To Do and Ellie Walker-Arnott |

A spot of ice skating and gazing up at London’s Christmas lights are all well and good, but everyone knows that the festive season isn’t complete without a visit to the main man himself. 

Santa is super busy this December, party hopping between various venues across London to dish out presents and yuletide cheer. From a Victorian-themed grotto with vintage decorations, to London's much-loved toy store, here are the best Santa’s grottos to take the kids to this Christmas.

RECOMMENDED: Find more festive fun with our guide to Christmas in London

Where to find Santa's grottos in London

Things to do, Markets and fairs

Santa’s Grotto at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

icon-location-pin Hyde Park, Kensington

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. 

Things to do

Father Christmas at Hamleys

icon-location-pin Hamleys Toy Shop, Soho

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. 

Things to do, pop-ups

Father Christmas at Ham House

icon-location-pin Ham House, Ham

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. 

Things to do

Santa's Victorian Grotto

icon-location-pin Museum of London, Smithfield

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. 

Sutton House Doorway.jpg
© National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Santa at Sutton House Christmas

icon-location-pin Sutton House, Hackney

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.

Christmas in Leicester Square
© David Jensen
Things to do, Event spaces

Santa's Grotto at Christmas in Leicester Square

icon-location-pin Leicester Square, Leicester Square

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. 

Father Christmas at the National Trust
© Arnhel de Serra
Things to do

Father Christmas at Morden Hall Park

icon-location-pin Morden Hall Park, Morden

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. 

Things to do, Festivals

Santa at Ally Pally Christmas Carnival

icon-location-pin Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill

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).

Shopping, Street vendors

Santa’s Grotto at Camden Market

icon-location-pin Camden Town

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.

Kids, Quirky events

Father Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall

icon-location-pin Royal Albert Hall, Knightsbridge

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


Best London Christmas activities for children

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.

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