This is the first year we’ve been to see Santa, we didn’t bother previously as Toddler H was so young. I’ve been feeling quite Christmassy, and eager that H might understand why we suddenly have a tree in the living room, so many cards to open and colourful wrapped boxes appearing, so, we’re going to meet good old Father Christmas a few times this month.
** Please note this was written in 2016 and so details, prices and times may have changed **
** 2017: the below suggestions all still exist in 2017, however I have an additional post – on where to visit a Santa’s grotto within 30 minutes of Cheltenham **
Where to visit Santa near Cheltenham:
1. Gloucestershire Jet Age Museum
We saw Santa arrive by helicopter, and met him in an air-plane cockpit. We also met one of his elves in the seating area of the plane and H put s decoration on the tree and was given some sweeties. A really nice touch, and only £5! This was a lovely and unique experience, and I must say Santa was superb, very relaxing, not scary, and had a real beard. I thoroughly recommend this for little ones who might get scared.
I also saw that you could have a 5 minute helicopter ride followed by a visit with Santa for £35 per person! Sounds like an early Christmas present in a future year!
Photo from New Mummy Blog instagram feed:
2. Wyevale Blooms Garden Centre
Afternoon tea with Santa
This was fun with our friends, we had yummy afternoon tea (tea, sandwiches, scones and cakes) and little ones had a sandwich, juice and snacks (raisins, gingerbread men, jelly pouches etc), they all decorated a snowman cookie, did some Christmassy colouring in and met Santa too. Sounds win win! It was, apart from little ones being wary of Santa! Price wise, this was brilliant, £3.99 for us adults, and £9.99 for kiddies. Check out my review here!
3. Evesham Light Railway at The Valley Evesham
A train ride (a toddlers dream!!), Santa, a present and lovely festive shops and garden centre at The Valley… I was SUPER excited to go here and we had an absolutely brilliant afternoon. A full review here!
There were quite a few options and deals for tickets on their website (but a family of 2 adults and 1 child (age 2), was £12.75. So fantastic value!
The Valley in Evesham also have various activities going on throughout the Christmassy period, from ice-skating to a giant Sniwglobe you can get inside and have your photo taken in! That sounds like a great place to get in the Christmas spirit!
(The snowglobe is only open on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th if December)
On top of that there are a few other locations nearby which have been recommended to us, and seem to book up early, so we’d definitely try them in future years…
GWSR Railway Santa Specials by steam train
This is a sell out every year. You really have to buy your tickets as soon as they are released! We’ll try next year, as this is one lots of our friends are doing. (Booking needed)
This is supposed to be magical, with many friends saying nowhere else compares. I think this is a must-do for us next year. I have heard that they are open between Christmas and the 3rd of January (without the Samta bit)… So if we have time between Christmas and New Year, and can get tickets, I’d love to venture here.
Travel Loving Family have visited Santa at Clearwell Caves and have a review over in their blog so do pop over for a look if you’re intrigued.
Prinknash Bird Park
Lights, reindeer and Santa! What a good combination. Also, your ticket lets you in from 2pm-6pm, so lots of time to enjoy the park.
A tractor sleigh to meet Santa with reindeer and a winter wonderland, sounds perfect. There also appears to be a cafe, gift shop and lots of activities for the children (including colouring and writing letters to Santa).
It looks like this might be fully booked (18/12/2016), best to enquire before turning up!)
I’ve heard Santa actually comes down the chimney!! How AWESOME is that!
From what I understand you have entry for the whole day, and then at your booked time, you go and visit Santa. Santa then comes down the chimney and tells stories and spends time with the children for 25 minutes. And, in a #parentwin parents get warm mince pies and a warm drink too.
During your visit you can also ride the train and wander the woodland walks and treetop adventure.
Slimbridge Wetlands Centre
Breakfast or afternoon tea with Santa
We love Slimbridge anyway, but there are loads of crafts on offer (marshmallows toasting, snowman decorating, etc), along with breakfast or tea with Santa too. I’m not sure if these are all sold out now (18/12/2016).
Slimbridge also have a Santa’s Grotto from the 17th of December until Christmas Eve (2-5pm each day) costing £8.95 per child).
Westonbirt’s Enchanted Christmas
Westonbirt’s Christmas lights are renowned for being spectacular, and book up well in advance each year. When tickets were released this year, Toddler H wasn’t doing very well at bedtimes and was also very VERY grumpy from 4pm onwards, so I didn’t think this a wise choice. It actually would have been ok, as we’ve figured out a good early dinner routine, followed by eat-some-of-mummy-and-daddy’s dinner too, to combat the hungry grumpy time. But, back to the lights – they look AMAZING, and Santa is also there (although, I hear he’s dressed in green, which is a bit different!). Anyway, definitely one for the bucket list next year!
The photo below is from Westonbirt’s Instagram feed
A ride in a tractor’s trailer to Santa’s grotto. This would tick the tractor box for Toddler H and excite most toddlers I think! It looks quite cheap too with adults costing £4, children over 3 £10.99, and under 3’s £5.99.
The photo below is from Cattle Country’s Instagram feed:
I think I this is only £2 per child, but it might have only been on the 10th and 17th of December – so it might not be much use now (sorry, but a good one to remember for 2017!)
I have heard that Santa is at Tesco in Brockworth and it’s free to see him and get a present! I’m not certain on times or days he’s there, though.
I don’t know if any other Tesco’s or supermarkets are doing this in other areas of the country… but it could be worth checking if yours is.
Of course, garden centre’s are always magical at Christmas time, with ornaments, Christmas trees and lots and lots of lovely gifts. Many also have Santa’s grottos, so be sure to check out your local garden centres. Here are a few garden centres I know of, but haven’t personally visited, which have Santa’s Grottos.
I also understand you can just turn up to these see Santa!
Highfield Garden Centre
Located near Whitminster this looks lovely on the website, and is only £5 for each child. It looks like there aren’t any online bookings places left (but I have heard you can just turn up). I’ve seen this mentioned on a few groups I’m a member of, and the reports and feedback has been fantastic, second to none. Let’s face it, visiting a garden centre is a must-do at Christmas time, they’re just so magical.
Three Shires Garden Centre in Newent
I’ve only heard this recommended on Facebook, so have no personal experience or know any friend’s who have been. but given it’s a turn-up-with-out-booking Santa, I thought it best to include it, especially for all parents wanting to see Santa the week before Christmas!
Dobbies near Cirencester
I can’t find out much about this, so you might have to enquire yourself! But, from what I can see, the Santa’s Grotto is sold out, as it supper with Santa, however it looks like there is availablility for Breakfast with Santa at the Cirencester branch (as of 18/12/2016). I found the link for booking here.
If you do find this list useful, I’d love it if you’d share it, and also let me know your experiences (and any places I’ve missed).
From what I understand as some of these don’t require bookings, you can just turn up and see Santa, even this close to Christmas – including the week before Christmas!
Have a fabulous Christmas everyone, and enjoy every moment of meeting Santa and all the festivities (and mince pies) that go with December,