Thursday 23 October 2014

Where to meet Santa in the Midlands this Christmas

If you're like me - hyper-organised and excited about the countdown to Christmas - you'll already be thinking about the big day. Whether you've started (or finished) your Christmas shopping, gathered gift guides or started your online research, you can never start too early in preparing for Christmas.

It's always funny to me how quickly the weeks fly by at this time of year. One minute, you have all the time in the world to prepare for Christmas and the next, all your weekends have been booked up by trips to see relatives, shopping and, if you're lucky, a few Christmas parties. No doubt you're little one will have an even more crammed diary than you!

So, in my need to be prepared and in a bid to help you tick one thing off your to do list, I've been researching the best places to meet the big fella in the red suit this Christmas in the Midlands.

Last year, Ethan visited Santa during our holiday at Center Parcs and although he won't remember it, it was something we really wanted to do. This year, I'm sure Ethan will be much more intrigued and involved in all the excitement of the season so a visit to Santa is right at the top of my 'must do' things in the lead up to 25th December.

But where will Santa be visiting? Which grottos are the best for a family day out? And which ones offer the best value?

Every year, more and more places get in on the grotto act and it seems that this year, there's a whole host of magical experiences to be had. From the conversations I've seen on Facebook alone, I know that many parents feel the pressure to make this time of year extra special and finding THE Santa experience is of utmost importance and this post is well-timed as many people I know are booking far in advance to make sure they have tickets for their chosen event. 

I'm sure to the children, just going along and meeting the jolly old fella and receiving a gift is all they really want, but as parents, we want to do all we can to bring the magic to life. 

So, here's my round up of the biggest and best Santa-themed events in the region with all the links you need, which I hope will save a lot of searching - and be sure to let me know which Santa you'll be going to see this year!

1. Santa Safari at West Midlands Safari Park
I love the West Midland Safari Park and we will be going to their Fireworks Festival on 8th November for the third time as it's always such a wonderful night and the bonfire and fireworks are truly fantastic. And who knew that Santa could be found on a safari? Well, he can as part of the Santa Safari experience. 

You can make a full day of it as the drive-through safari is open and included in the price of your Santa Safari ticket. You can book to see Santa at a time to suit yourselves whilst also enjoying the walk-through Discovery Trail which has lots of various animal features - including a Sea Lion Show and Penguin Cove - before you leave. 

The Santa Safari opens on 15th November and runs until 24th December on selected dates. Prices are £16.99 adults, £14.99 for children (1-15 years) and £7.50 for babies (up to 12 months). Find out more and buy tickets here.

2. Drayton's Magical Chrismas at Thomas Land
A must for any choo-choo fan! There's the Castle of Dreams, where each child is met by the elves and taken to see Father Christmas in his grotto to receive a gift and a golden ticket to return to the park in the 2015 season.

New for this Christmas, there will also be an outdoor ice rink plus you can enjoy the 21 rides and attractions in Thomas Land within the price of your ticket. Before you leave, you must also visit the 4D cinema to enjoy a 15 minute movie experience of The Polar Express.

Guide prices are £20 for adults (12-59 years), £15 (4-11 years and 60+), £10 (2-3 years) and under 2's go free. Find out about dates and further details here - tickets are available to buy over the phone at present.

3. Merry Fishmas at Sea Life Centre Birmingham
Not somewhere I would have first thought of when thinking of Santa grottos but well worth considering as you can make much more of your visit. The National Sea Life Centre Birmingham will be running their Merry Fishmas event from Saturday 13th ro Wednesday 24th December.

Your children can meet Father Christmas in his grotto located near the Penguin Ice Adventure attraction and they'll receive a present if they've been good. And keep your eyes peeled in the Ocean Tunnel, as it will have a special underwater Christmas tree on display.

There's not much information on the website yet but tickets can start from £12.50 if booked online and in advance - take a look here for more information.
4. The Magical Journey at The Belfry
Taking the simple 'trip to see Father Christmas' to a whole new level, there's a special new event coming to The Belfry this winter. Dubbed as 'the ultimate Christmas experience', this is a premium event which does look magical.

Build across two and a half acres of woodland and designed by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, The Magical Journey (see map above) will take you on a tour to help the reindeer find Father Christmas, meeting Mrs Claus and boarding the Father Christmas Express. You'll finally find the man in red at his lodge to receive a gift and meet his real reindeer plus there's a Christmas Market full of craft and food stalls so you can buy some festive treats.

A very different and very detailed experience, which will take up to 90 minutes. It opens on 22nd November and prices range from £10 to £15 for adults and £17.50 to £22.50 for children, depending on the date you choose. Find out more here.

5. Christmas Celebration Weekends at Cadbury World
Chocoloate and Christmas - two things that go hand in hand, so what better place to find Father Christmas? Children can visit Santa at Cadbury's magical themed grotto, and receive the obligatory gift, before enjoying everything else that's usually on offer.

Also, Cadbury's is launching their 'Snow White and the Chuckle Beans' series of pantomime style performances during their Christmas Celebration Weekends, which run each weekend from 22nd November right up until Christmas.

They say tickets must be pre-booked and prices start from £15.95 for adults, £11.70 for 4-15 year olds and under 4's are free. Visit here for more information.

6. Santa Hunts at Black Country Museum

We went along to one of their Victorian Christmas evenings when we were expecting Ethan and we really enjoyed this unique event. If you're looking to meet Santa, the Santa Hunts, which take place on the 29th and 30th November only, are a fun idea. A seasonal scavenger hunt with a prize at the end, children can explore the museum on their hunt to find Santa.

You have to call to pre-book if you want to attend and prices are £15.95 for adults, £12,75 for concessions, £8.50 for 3-16 year olds and £6.50 for 0-2 year olds.

7. Santa's Winter Wonderland at SnowDome, Tamworth
There's one place that can guarantee a White Christmas - SnowDome Tamworth! I've never been but it looks like a lot of fun and the perfect place to go in the lead up to Christmas.

With real snow and real reindeer, plus a stage show and of course, Santa Claus himself, it's certainly worth checking out. Prices start from £12.50 and the Winter Wonderland opens 21st November and runs until 31st December.

I hope that you find this guide to Santa attractions in the West Midlands for Christmas 2014 useful. I complied this myself as I thought it would be helpful to other parents such as myself. Let me know if you book any of the experiences mentioned or if you have any others to recommend!


  1. What a great list, who knew there were so many places. We did Thomas Christmas and it was good (fake snow and all that) but it was a long queue for Father Christmas and a rubbish present.

    Do you know if I can use my Merlin pass at the Sealife centre one - I couldn't see anything?

    Thanks for compiling.

    1. Hi! Glad you found the list useful :) I'm not sure about the Merlin pass so best to check with them by phone / Twitter and see what they say. There's so many places to go, love the sound of the Magical Journey!

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