I wrote posts in 2016 – where to visit Santa near Cheltenham – and 2017 – where to visit Santa within 30 minutes of Cheltenham – and thought as it’s 10 days to go until Christmas I’d do an update on where has availability this year. Note: these were available , but may now have sold out
Many of the train ride Santa visits have sold out – Santa Specials at Evesham Light Railway (evlr.co.uk) and Cheltenham Racecourse GWSR (GWSR.com), and many breakfasts and teas with Santa have also sold out, especially for this weekend and next – however at the time of writing, there is availability during the week.
Here are a few ideas for Santa’s Grottos, days out and a winter wonderland experiences which still have availability or have ‘turn up for tickets’ policies…
Where to visit Father Christmas in Gloucestershire:
1. Land Rover Experience Eastnor Santa’s Grotto
We were kindly gifted this experience having time experiencing the thrill of driving off road in a Land Rover Discovery followed by a visit to a magical Santa’s Grotto. There was also Christmas crafting, toasting marshmallows and coffee and biscuits. Eastnor is around 40 minutes from Cheltenham in Herefordshire.
There are two options for a family of four:
Santa’s Grotto visit only – £35
Drive + Santa (like we did) – £139 (looks to be fully booked)
2. Gloucestershire Jet Age Museum
Visit Santa in his aircraft Grotto
We visited the Jet Age Museum Santa in 2016, and it was perfect as a first experience for just turned 2 year old H. The Jet Age Museum is right on the edge of Staverton Airport and so we all watched as Santa arrived by helicopter, and then he went and sat in an air-plane cockpit just outside the museum. We met his elves in the seating area of the plane and H put a decoration on the tree and was given some sweeties. 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.
Helicopter ride + Santa
It is also possible to book a 5 minute helicopter ride followed by a visit with Santa for £35 per person. www.jetagemuseum.org/ Photo from New Mummy Blog instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/p/BN6QQyehAr_/?taken-by=newmummyblog
3. Three Shires Garden Centre
I’ve seen this Santa’s Grotto recommended year after year on Facebook, so although I have no personal experience, I’ve heard brilliant reviews of the experience,the present received and the Father Christmas. I believe it’s possible to turn up without a booking (but do check yourself!) so a good one to include so close to Christmas for anyone looking to still see Father Christmas. www.bluediamond.gg/garden-centre/3-shires-garden-centre
4. Blooms Garden Centre Quedgeley, now a Dobbies Garden Centre
Santa’s Grotto & Breakfast/Afternoon tea with Santa
We haven’t visited since Blooms became a Dobbies, but have heard brilliant things about the Santa’s Grotto and the breakfast/tea with Santa experience on all the local Facebook mum groups. It looks like there is still availability for this coming week, but not for the weekend 22nd/23rd December. I believe there are two experiences:
I’ve heard you can just turn up and don’t need to book (but double check yourself first!)
Breakfast/Afternoon tea with santa
I believe a booking is required and many slots are sold out, but some definitely remain for week days (this week).
5. Dobbies near Cirencester
As with the above, but the Grotto is run by a different company. I’m not sure if you can visit just the Santa’s Grotto, but they definitely do Breakfast and Tea with Father Christmas. It looks like there is availability for Breakfast with Santa at the Cirencester branch (as of 18/12/2018). I found the link for booking here. www.dobbies.com
6. Wyevale Cheltenham (near Bishops Cleeve)
Breakfast/Afternoon Tea with Santa
We visited here in 2016 with our friends and it was great fun. 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. At the time of writing there is some availability! http://www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk/
7. The Quays, Gloucester
The Christmas market, ice rink and various Christmas every make the Quays a great place to visit to get in the Christmas spirit. It’s busy, like super busy, but as you can also do some Christmas shopping it’s killing two birds with one stone. This year there is a Santa’s Grotto – I’ve heard mixed reviews though.
8. Cattle Country
We have membership to Cattle Country but it does have Christmas prices on the website – adults £5, toddler 2-3 £6, children 4-17 £7, and to visit Santa it costs £7.50 extra per child. Santa’s Farmyard Grotto includes a tractor and trailer ride around the farm before being dropped off at Santa’s Farmyard Grotto in the Animal Experience Barn. There are also crafts, decoration making and face painting going on too. wwww.cattlecountry.co.uk
9. The Valley Evesham
The Valley in Evesham has lots of Christmas Activities…
Christmas dog parade
Sunday 23rd December 9.30am
Tea with Santa
Includes biscuit decorating, tea and meeting Santa
Santa Special Trains – Evesham Light Railway
I believe the Santa Special train is sold out but if you’re interested in it for next year my full review is here!
As well as the activities going on throughout the Christmas period there are quite a few shops to finish off Christmas shopping too.
10. Clearwell Caves
This is supposed to be magical, with many friends saying nowhere else compares. I think we might try this next year when we definitely won’t be needed a pushchair, as it’s maybe not as easy with a pushchair. www.clearwellcaves.com
Travel Loving Family visited Santa at Clearwell Caves in 2016 and have a review over in their blog.
11. Prinknash Bird Park
Lights, reindeer and Santa! www.thebirdpark.co.uk
12. Smart Trees
Reindeer, a winter wonderland and a tractor sleigh to meet Santa, this is also one experience I’ve heard people return to year after year. www.smarttrees.co.uk
13. Perrygrove Railway
Santa actually comes down the chimney!! 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. www.perrygrove.co.uk/whats-on/
14. Slimbridge Wetlands Centre
Breakfast or afternoon tea with Santa
We love Slimbridge anyway, but there are loads of crafts on offer, and it looks like there is a members Santa’s Grotto experience although it looks like it is sold out. Slimbridge also has a breakfast or tea with Santa too which is £19.95 for children, and £12.50 for adults. It looks like some tickets are available on Friday 21st December. www.wwt.org.uk/visit/Slimbridge
15. Toby Carvery
Breakfast with Santa A gift from Santa and a cooked breakfast for £4.99 for kids. It looks like breakfast is served until 11am on the 15th, 16th, 22nd, 23rd December. https://www.tobycarvery.co.uk/offers/breakfast-with-santa
16. Sudeley Castle Enchanted Lights
This looks spectacular!
Experience the night-time magic of Sudeley through this beautiful new illuminated trail. Follow the White Rabbit and discover some of the amazing characters from Alice in Wonderland. Marvel at the glorious Field of Poppies, Meteors, Moroccan Lanterns and much much more!
Tickets are available online to book, and I think there is a 10% saving by doing this, but it does say tickets are available on the day too. www.sudeleycastle.co.uk
17. Cotswold Farm Park
This sounds like a wonderful experience:
Special children’s tickets are available for these days, which include Farm Park entrance, a special time slot to see Father Christmas and their own choice of present from the Toy Room. Children, toddlers and young adults with a Father Christmas booking will also be invited into the elves workshop to make a Christmas Eve box.
Louise from Pink Pear Bear visited the Santa’s Grotto at Cotswold Farm Park this year and has a review over on her blog which is a fantastic read and has some lovely pictures of their visit on her blog.
18. Westonbirt’s Enchanted Christmas
Westonbirt’s Christmas lights are renowned for being spectacular, and book up well in advance each year.
It does look like there are tickets available for Monday the 17th of December though!
Local blogger Mrs Magovern visited Westonbirt in 2016 – here’s a link to her Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum review
19. Regent’s Arcade, Cheltenham
It looks like Santa and his elves will be back at the Regent’s Arcade in Cheltenham too, every Saturday from the 24th of November and then every day from the 17th – 24th December. I can’t see any information as to if you can book or if there is a Grotto and present.
20. Cavendish House, Cheltenham
At the time of writing there are slots left every day until Christmas (including Christmas Eve).
Looking to next year’s visit to Father Christmas…
In Gloucestershire and the surrounding counties certain Father Christmas experiences book up pretty much as soon as the tickets are released. Most of the above to book up early for weekends, but Santa Grotto’s and experiences I’ve heard book up straight away are:
- Westonbirt’s Enchanted Christmas
- Santa’s Specials at Cheltenham Race Course
- Evesham Light Railway at The Valley Country Park
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 the lead up to Christmas day,