'Tis the season to take the family to view holiday lights, listen to festive carollers and tell the old man in the red suit what you really really want for Christmas. Throughout London many Santa’s grottos offer ample opportunities to take in the holiday season.
Victorian Santa's Grotto, Docklands, E14
This grotto takes you back to 19th century London, complete with staff in full period costume. Father Christmas waits in his secret Sailortown grotto to hear your Christmas wishes. Every ticket purchased for a child includes a gift that Santa hands them after their wish is made and photos taken. Each special experience lasts around an hour and he’s sure to be popular. Explore 19th century London Christmas (which incidentally is nothing like Dickens’ Scrooge/A Christmas Carol!) Open until 24 December.
Westfield 5D Santa's Grotto, London, W12
This is one of the most talked about and interactive Christmas grottos in London. The 5D experience features an animated story about Elbow the Elf, who saves Christmas, along with the interactive help of kids in the grotto. The Pixar quality animated show includes lights, wind, music and magical elf dust. And, of course, the kids get to meet Santa. Santa’s Grotto is open every day until 24 December and both individual and family tickets are on offer. This is always a popular spot to meet Santa, so our recommendation is to base yourself at a nearby London bed and breakfast to get here early! Opens at 10am every morning with closing times varied day to day.
Father Christmas at Greenwich Grotto, London, SE10
Children are treated to specially shaped balloon creatures and spectacular magic tricks performed by Santa's elves as they wait to meet Father Christmas and share their Christmas wishes. After meeting the big man in red himself, kids are handed a gift bag full of treats and goodies. Don’t miss this event which is open each weekend until 22 December.
The London Zoo Christmas Experience, NW1
One of the unique aspects of visiting the Santa’s grotto at the London Zoo is Santa can bring his real reindeer along with him. Families are able to meet and pet the reindeer daily as they wait to meet Santa. There is also gingerbread decorating and a chance to learn more about Santa's favourite animals with a zoo staff meet and greet. The final bonus to this event is the mince pie treat with ticket purchase. This events runs from 14-15 and 20-24 December.
Santa Grotto Morden Hall Park, London, SM4
Situated in over 125 acres of glorious parkland, the Morden Hall Park outing includes meeting Santa himself and receiving a gift for the children in one of south London's most pristine settings. On 14 and 15 December families can participate in a wreath making weekend. Come along and meet Santa each day until 15 December.
Santa Paws Grotto, Pimlico, London, SW1
Why should your pets miss out on all the festivities? This is the ultimate in holiday pampering pooch-style. The Santa Paws Grotto features a Santa Claus for both kids and dogs to meet, with plenty of gift ideas for your pet and a pampering section. Part of the pampering is an optional Christmas dinner for your dog with all the trimmings and your dog's own table. There are also many prizes given out and dog massages while you shop. Santa Paws is open until 21 December.