It’s that time of the year again! With less than 100 days ’til Christmas, now is the perfect time to start thinking about booking your Christmas 2021 Santa experience. In fact, some of the experiences local to us opened up bookings (and sold out too!) more than a month ago. We try to do something different every year, so we have booked the Alton Towers Santa Sleepover: a two day experience which cost us £480 (they advertise prices as being from £85pp) but if you haven’t booked anything yet then here are some of our favourite, tried and tested, UK Santa experiences:
The final booking window for Lapland UK opens TODAY so if you want to experience the UK’s premier Christmas experience then now is the time to book. I’ve written a full review of our Lapland UK experience here and, it truly was magical. Santa looked the best I have ever seen him look, and the fully immersive experience and attention to detail meant that the kids truly believed they had been magically transported to Lapland. BUT, by gosh was it expensive! The price is dynamic, and is more expensive the closer to Christmas you visit, so I can’t tell you exactly what it will cost, but I can tell you that we booked a weekday at the beginning of December to keep the costs low, and still spent over £400. For an experience that only lasts 4 hours, that’s a lot of money! But can you put a price on magic?
Legoland at Christmas
If you’re a fan of theme parks, or of Lego, then Legoland is probably a Christmas no brainer! Legoland at Christmas offers two options: either the Santa Sleepover or the day trip, which is what we went for. Not all of the rides in the park are open at this time of year, but there is plenty to fill the day, and the Lego model village (our favourite part) is open too: Santa also parades through the park on his sleigh, and you can pay extra to visit Santa in his grotto and receive a Lego gift (this year the grotto experience is £20 per child on top of the cost of park entry). We loved this experience because it was combined with a day out, Santa and the elves were incredibly friendly with lots of interaction, and the faux pine forest you walked through to reach the grotto was incredibly well done: as adults we know that there were multiple grottos, but as children you couldn’t tell at all, and ours were certainly none the wiser.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Visiting the Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park is one of my favourite Christmas experiences, but more for the wider experience than the Santa. Classic funfair rides, German Christmas beer tents and market food (yummy bratwurst in particular), a large ice skating rink and other attractions such as circus shows and ice sculpture displays mean that you could spend the whole day here and always have something to do. The Santa here is secondary to everything else, but it is a fun addition. You can’t book tickets to see him as he is available for free with entry on a first come first serve basis. I would recommend getting there as the Winter Wonderland opens if you do want to see Santa, so the queues can get long. You can find out more about the whole experience here.
Meet Santa at the London Wetlands Centre
We’re big fans of the London Wetlands Centre: it’s a great place to be no matter what the time of year, with nature walks to explore, an abundance of adventure play equipment, and of course, birds everywhere you look. But in December the whole thing has a magical air, because Santa has a grotto here! If you’re outdoorsy then this is the Santa experience for you. Kids get to meet the main man and his elves, and whilst things are different every year, when we visited there were husky pulled sleigh rides and donkey rides available too. Boy8 is obsessed with wolves and huskies, so this was one of his favourite Christmas experiences out of all the ones on the list (though his favourite Santa by far was the ‘real’ one at Lapland UK). You can book this year.
Wroxham Barns Christmas Experience
Wroxham Barns is based in Norfolk, and so is wonderfully local to us. Last year, when Covid requirements meant we couldn’t travel far, we tried their Christmas experience. Whilst it certainly didn’t have the glitz and magic of many of the other experiences outlined here, it was a lot of fun, and it made this list for two reasons: Because the Santa is a sweetheart, and because the event was perfectly covid safe. It was very odd for the kids to see Santa sat behind a glass screen, but he made it seem normal, and had plenty of time to engage with the children and answer their questions. Rather than hand the children presents, they each choose a gift from the ‘elves toyshop’ which added to the fun and the sense of covid safety. Find out more and book here.
ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure Park Santa
Finally, we have something of a tradition that every Christmas Eve we visit ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure (another local attraction) to ‘say goodbye’ to Santa before he starts his journey around the world. To be honest, this tradition started because we were season ticket holders of the park, and so it was a fun and affordable way of getting the boys to run off some of their Christmas eve energy. The grotto is really pretty, the elves are enthusiastic, and the presents are of really high quality: but parents of older children beware! The santa here has a fake beard (!) which is a big no no in our family, and Boy8 was well aware he was just one of the ‘helpers’ and not the real deal. Boy5 was blissfully unaware, and was very pleased to meet Santa!
Where will you be visiting Santa this year? And have you ever been to the Alton Towers Santa Sleepover? I would love to read some positive reviews before our visit!