The start of the Christmas preparations season arrived on the Mum to Mum Facebook Group, when Frosts announced their ticket sales date. Lots of mums asked for recommendations for other places to meet Father Christmas, and have an all-round festive time. We’ve collected all the suggestions together, grouped them by distance from MK, and given them a score of between £ and £££ depending on how expensive they are. Merry Christmas! Any other suggestions, do let us know…
Frosts Garden Centre, Woburn Sands – ££
One of the most popular destinations in MK, the tickets sell out fast and there are dozens of families who go back year after year. Full details and booking information on the website: Frosts Garden Centre – Santa’s Grotto
MK Museum – £ (after you’ve paid normal entry to the museum)
Katie says: “We always go to MK Museum, it’s so lovely there at Xmas. Plus if you’ve already got a 12 month ticket (£26 for a family ticket, 2 adults and up to 4 kids) it only costs about £6 per child to see the big man. Plus lots of other stuff on in the main house for Xmas too”. MK Museum Victorian Christmas
Bletchley Park Christmas Grotto – £ (after you’ve paid normal entry fee)
“Experience a 1940s Christmas at Bletchley Park. Father Christmas will be at home in his vintage grotto in the Mansion House for you to visit. Each child will receive a present to keep and can enjoy festive crafts and music.” It’s even more cost-effective if you hold a season ticket, so you will only pay the £6 grotto fee.
Wyevale Garden Centre – Breakfast or Tea with Santa – ££
Enjoy breakfast or tea from at Wyevale, then the whole family meets Santa, children decorate a festive biscuit and then choose their very own present to take home. Wyevale Garden Centre – Breakfast or Tea with Santa
c:mk Christmas Grotto – £
Part of the Christmas decorations and festivities in Middleton Hall in the The Centre:mk shopping centre, this Father Christmas grotto is always popular. From 10th November – 24th December (closed 13th-17th Nov)
Gulliver’s Land – prices vary depending on package
Lots to choose from at Gullivers, with Christmas shows, Christmas food and Santa’s grotto to visit. Combination packages for all of these things are shown on the Christmas at Gulliver’s website.
Dobbies Garden Centre – £
Katy says: “We went to Dobbies last year… it was just our family that went in to see Santa, and it was much more Christmassy and personal.”
Xscape – FREE
Meet Santa in his cosy grotto at Xscape and receive a Christmas present… FREE! Santa’s Grotto is in the centre mall area, just at the bottom of the escalators, surrounded by Christmas trees, presents and a giant teddy bear! Pre-booking is advised, however a small number of walk-up bookings are available each day, on a first come first served basis. Xscape Santa’s Grotto booking
Events including a Santa’s Grotto:
- 12th November, 10:30 – 15:00: Mrs Trumpets’ Christmas Market and Father Christmas VIP Experience, Bradville Hall Community Centre
- 2nd December, 11am: Shenley Wood Retirement Village. Free entry and £2.50 to see Father Christmas, and to receive a small gift. Meet some real reindeer, too!
Up to 1 hour from MK
Enchanted Forest Outdoor Grotto, Forest of Marston Vale – £
With a cheeky snowman as your guide, go on a magical adventure to find Santa Claus in the enchanted forest. Booking essential. Forest of Marston Vale – Enchanted Forest
Santa Narrowboat Cruises, Stoke Bruerne – ££
Depart from The Boat Inn, Stoke Bruerne for a 1½ hour cruise to Blisworth, where Santa will join the boat for the return journey, meet each child and give them a present. Party games and music will be played during the cruise. The Boat Inn: Santa Cruises
Mead Open Farm, Leighton Buzzard – ££ (includes full day entry to farm)
One of our top-recommended venues for visiting Santa.
Rachel says: “We did this last year and had such a great time. We had as much time as we wanted with Santa too”. Details on the Mead Open Farm website
Riverside Hub, Northampton – ££
Fauve says: “Riverside Hub in Northampton is excellent. Lots of fun and activities in the build up to see Santa (including a bit of magic) and you take your own photos. Children get to pick from a good range of gifts at the end. Never felt rushed at all.” In previous years, it wasn’t essential to pay for entry to the Hub as well – it looks like that’s changed this year, and all the magic can be found on the Riverside Hub website.
Tea With Santa, Bell Plantation Garden Centre, Towcester – ££
The children will tuck into delicious homemade sandwiches and scrumptious treats like sausage rolls, chicken nibbles, cheese straws, mini cookies and Christmas cupcakes. Santa will present them each with a small gift, and if time allows, read a short story. Tea with Santa, 19 – 22 December
Santa’s Workshop, Grendon Hall, Northampton – ££
Join the Elves for an interactive theatre experience as they prepare to get the sleigh ready for Christmas Eve, before going to see Santa with his Naughty and Nice book. Full details and some lovely photos on the Santa’s Workshop website.
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre – ££
Helen says: “We did a trip with Thomas the Tank last year. Santa visits on the train and gives a present. We loved it. Price includes Mince pies, sausage rolls and drinks for children and adults. There was a little magic show and other activities also included last year.” Details of Santa’s visits, including whether he will be aboard Thomas, or one of the other steam engines, can be found on the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre website.
Wrest Park, Bedfordshire – £
Meet Father Christmas at this English Heritage stately home and gardens. Vicki says: “You take your own pics and it cost around £3/4 per child, and adults go free. You get a story and present”. Full details on the English Heritage Wrest Park website.
Northampton and Lamport Railway – ££
Come along to visit Santa in his Magical Grotto, and then take a train ride along the Northampton & Lamport Railway from Pitsford and Brampton station. Timetable and ticket information on the Northampton & Lamport Railway website.
The Olde Watermill Dickensian Shopping Village, Barton-Le-Clay, Beds – £
Vicki says: “they wrote a letter. Two jolly elves did lots of silliness. They walked to a second room and make a wish in the fountain. 3rd room was story time with Santa and mrs. The room was lovely. Santa actually came down the chimney!” More information (and a Santa’s Grotto video) on the Olde Water Mill website.
Willows Activity Farm, St Albans – ££
Lots of Christmas activities and attractions indoors and out, as well as a meeting with Father Christmas and a gift. More information about all the Santa Spectacular and Christmas fun to be had on the Willows Activity Farm website.
Wardown House at Christmas, Wardown Park, Luton – 2-30 December – FREE
“Experience a magical Christmas of past, present and future at Wardown House, Museum and Gallery. As part of the yuletide festivities the House is being decorated in Christmas splendour! See three uniquely decorated trees inspired by Dickens’s tales of past, present and future as part of the museum’s delightful Christmas decorations.” Free entry – no Father Christmas grotto. Wardown House at Christmas
Waddesdon Manor – 11th November onwards – ££
“From 11 November the festive season will be in full swing with Christmas lights in the grounds, decorated rooms in the house and a new light and sound show projected onto the Manor. Throughout the season there will be delicious festive foods in all our food outlets and the Christmas Fair, already a tradition for many, is a fantastic way to start the festive celebrations.” Usual admission fee applies – no Father Christmas grotto. Christmas at Waddesdon
Further Away (1 hour +)
Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway Santa Specials, High Wycombe – ££
Kirstie says: “Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway have a lovely Santa Express. It’s one of our favourite Christmas events.” Timetable and ticket information on the C&PR Railway website.
Drayton Manor Theme Park, Birmingham – ££ (includes entry to park)
The home of Thomas the Tank Engine, ticket prices include a full day’s entry to ThomasLand and the rest of the park (majority of rides are closed, but the zoo and Dino Park are open); a scheduled visit for each family to Father Christmas plus gift; journey round the Christmas grotto. In years past, they have also included a free ticket per child to the theme park for the following year’s season, up to the end of the autumn season.
Becky says: “The Father Christmas experience was brilliant, and he took a lot of time to talk to the boys. There are themed Christmas shows, it ‘snows’ in ThomasLand three times a day, and the decorations are lovely.” Full details on the Drayton Manor website.
Lapland UK , Ascot, Berkshire – £££
The choice of top celebrities such as the Beckhams, Sir Elton John, and Holly Willoughby, this has to be one of the premium Christmas attractions in the UK. The prices reflect that – they vary depending on when you go, but start at £50 per person.
Ewelina says: “Highly recommend Lapland UK, we went last year and definitely booking for this year! It’s quite expensive but at least feels like a real Lapland – amazing!” The beautiful website contains all the information: Lapland UK
Harrods – ££
Jo says: “My cousin always goes to Harrods – for a really British experience….you have to sign up to their rewards scheme and then make a purchase in the next 10 days to be eligible to book it. But it’s only £10 per child.” Harrods Events calendar
Harry Potter Studios – Hogwarts in the Snow – ££
A magically seasonal tour of the Warner Bros Studios Harry Potter scenery. VisitLondon has lots of information, and some lovely photos: VisitLondon: Hogwarts in the snow
Christmas Wonderland, Enfield, London – ££
Helen says: “We went here last year and it was lovely. Big garden centre, you ride a small train to Santa (he was very real looking) you could take your own photos and choose a toy.” All the information you need on the Christmas Wonderland website.
Christmas at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire – ££
“The Formal Gardens will light up for an unforgettable after-dark festive trail of lights.” Usual entry fee applies – no Father Christmas grotto. Christmas at Blenheim
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London – FREE but attraction charges apply
For six weeks, London’s famous Hyde Park is transformed into a magical wonderland of winter festivities. It’s free to enter so you can walk around at your leisure and soak up the atmosphere. There is also skating around the UK’s largest open-air ice rink; an arctic adventure in the Magical Ice Kingdom; circus shows; ice dancing in The Nutcracker on Ice; and see stunning views across London in the Giant Observation Wheel. There’s over 100 spectacular festive rides and attractions, London’s largest German-style Christmas Markets, plus a wealth of delicious food and mulled wine aplenty. No Father Christmas grotto. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland