Thursday 14 December 2017

Updated with interactive map! Midlands grotto guide 2017: where to see Santa this Christmas

* View my new 2018 guide to Santa grottos across the Midlands *

Just like decorating the tree and singing Christmas songs, my bumper guide to where to see Father Christmas, rounding up the best Santa grottos in the Midlands region, has become something of a tradition. 

I love sharing this each year, updating with the latest information and new locations too, and this is my BIGGEST SANTA ROUND-UP EVER, so I really hope that it proves useful to you. We have been to see the man in red several times at various locations across the Midlands so I’ve tagged past reviews where possible and key dates, ticket info and links are all below so you can see the best of what’s around.

So, here it is! My big 2017 grotto guide to the best places in the Midlands to meet the man with a belly that wobbles like a bowl full of jelly this Christmas…

Update! Check out this simply fantastic interactive Midlands Santa Grotto map so you can plot out exactly where Santa can be found across the region, and find out all the details you need about tickets and booking etc.

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor

This one is quite possibly at the top of our list, with a Thomas fan in our house and having visited Thomas Land a couple of times before, we know it’s a great day out. But last Christmas, we has a truly magical time at #DraytonsMagicalChristmas - read all about it here - we can't recommend it enough!

This year, they will be celebrating 10 magical years of Christmas, with live shows, carols, presents, light shows, festive food, Father Christmas and everyday ending with a magnificent fireworks display. Thomas Land and selected family rides only will be open during Magical Christmas plus our 15-acre Zoo and our 4D cinema showing a new addition to Magical Christmas, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas.
A visit to visit the Castle of Dreams to see Father Christmas will see your child receive a gift (and we got a free return ticket too last year) plus there's the Slide & Glide rink in the park as well. 

Dates and tickets: Drayton’s Magical Christmas will be open on selected dates from Saturday 18th November to Sunday 31st December - and for the first time in their 10 year history, they'll be open on Christmas Eve. Prices range from £12-£26, with under 2's free and discounts available online when booked in advance. 

National Sea Life Centre Birmingham

Setting the scene perfectly, pop along to Sea Life Centre Birmingham and explore the underwater world on your way to find Father Christmas. Come to the North Pole of the city in their Antarctic Ice Cave and meet the man himself as you look onto our family of cheeky Gentoo Penguins in the exclusive setting of our breath-taking chilly Ice Adventure area.
Plus don’t miss SEA LIFE’s underwater Christmas tree located in our amazing 360 Ocean Tunnel, and discover how they make sure all of their creatures have a very Merry Fish-mas! 

Dates and tickets: Santa will be at Sea Life Centre Birmingham from 25th November to 23rd December. Tickets include a full visit to the centre and a gift, with discounts available by booking in advance - tickets can start from around £12.75.

West Midlands Safari Park

West Midlands Safari Park - To Become Mum

Out of our many Santa visits three year's ago (when we literally went to about six different places!), one of our favourite, really good value for money experiences was during the Santa Safari at West Midlands Safari Park.

One of our favourite places to visit anyway – we never miss the annual fireworks and love the free return ticket you get when go along at any time – it’s a great place to see Santa too. Adults get a hot drink and mince pie, children get to see Santa and have a photo with him to take home (which you usually pay extra for at other places), plus they have their own choice of present and can enjoy a drink and a cookie. And once you’re done, you can go on the safari or visit the dinosaurs, penguins, sea lion show, lorikeets…

Dates and tickets: open weekends from 12th November and every day from 26th November to 24th December. Prices range from £6.50 for under 3's to £22 for adults. Plus entrance includes a free return ticket (valid until February 2018) OR a safari gift. Find out more here.

Alton Towers

How fun does a Santa Sleepover sound?!Alton Towers is such a propular attraction with families and the Resort's festive themed hotels, Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime and Christmas cinema all make for a pretty fun package. Oh, and there's Santa and his elves in the grotto, too!

Dates and tickets: takes place on 26th November and 3rd, 10th and 15th to 23rd December, visit the website for latest availability and price information.

Intu Merry Hill

We really enjoyed the Santa Grotto at Intu Merry Hill last year. It was a real experience (you can read all about our 2016 visit here) and this year, 
the Intu Merry Hill Wishmas Garden is  open now. Complete with 'real' snow which falls from the ceiling every day, the Wishmas Garden is free of charge to visit, so be sure to visit next time you're at the centre (you'll find it on the lower mall near Holland and Barrett from 10am).

Dates and tickets: watch this space

Magical Lantern Festival

Back for another year, Magical Lantern Festival, is coming to Kings Heath and will be full of things to enjoy and participate in.

Children can say hello to Santa in the magical, fully decorated, timber grotto experience. Every child will be given a present to take away with them as a souvenir of their experience. 

Dates and tickets: the festival starts on 21th November and runs until 1st January and ticket prices range from £5 to £14.92 , with a visit to see Santa costing an additional £10 per child (booking in advance recommended) - find out more here.

Botanical Gardens Light Trail

New for 2017, Birmingham Botanical Gardens will be transformed into a winter wonderland the special light trail event that will include thousands of lights, an LED tunnel and a sparkling path winding through the beautiful grounds.

Whilst there's no grotto, Santa will be there as an installation to say hello to as you walk by - and it's sure to be a really special and different kind of event so I thought it worth including.

Dates and times: from 29th November to 1st January, advance tickets start from £8 for children and £14 for adults, and are available to book here.

Black Country Living Museum


Go on a Santa Hunt and make a trip to see the man in red a fun game for the whole family. It’s like a 
period style scavenger hunt, where you make your way around the museum grounds to finally find where Santa resides. I just love the imagination of this and would love to go this year, as it really brings the spirit of the season to life. We’ve been to one Christmas Evenings in the past and it was a lovely experience.

Dates and tickets: from 25th November on selected dates and times, you MUST check first and book by telephone and be warned, these tickets always sell out early. check online as only certain dates are available already, and pre-booking in advance is essential. Adult - £16.00, Children (3-16) - £10.00, Children (0-2) - £8.00 (unchanged prices from last year).

Blithbury Reindeer Lodge

Blithbury Reindeer Lodge - To Become Mum
We went to the lodge a couple of years ago as they had a Frozen themed event going on and Ethan adores it, like most children - particularly Sven, the reindeer.

He loved seeing and meeting all the reindeer and we had a lovely family photo taken on a sleigh, so I'd certainly like to go back again this Christmas. There's things to make, an Elf School to attend and of course, the main man to visit. 

Dates and tickets: check online for available dates in November and December. Tickets are £15 for adults and £21 for children, and the website shows you availability too which is handy. Sleigh rides cost £7.50 for one child and one adult and can be booked on arrival.

Snowdome, Tamworth

Snowdome's Santa’s Winter Wonderland event is the one place with guaranteed snow every day. The experience lasts approximately an hour and a half and all guests get the chance to play and slide around in the snow. There's a snow trail, Santa Trail and real reindeer too. 

Dates and tickets: everything starts on 17th November and runs until New Years Eve, with ticket prices being £13.95 for children and £19.95 for adultsChildren under two years old go free.

Webbs of Wychbold

I’ve always loved garden centres, particularly at Christmas, and we had a really nice time when we visited Webbs a couple of year's ago (visit the link for a full review). 

The Webbs Wychbold ice rink starts from 4th November until 2nd January and they also have their Christmas Grotto and really friendly Santa’s, who don’t rush you at all and make the children feel very welcome. You can have your photo taken (additional cost) and then there’s a choice of presents too, valued at least £5 – a really nice touch, so your little one can be sure to pick something they like (Ethan could have taken more than one gift if we’d let him!). There's also reindeer food included in the ticket price this year, plus the chance for children to make their own bauble with the Webbs elves.

Dates and tickets: Ice rink from 4th November priced from £4.50 if booked in advance. Santa's grotto opens 11th November, priced £9.99 for one child plus accompanying adult and with everything included, plus you can pre-book or attend on the day (another ticket price that has stayed the same from last year, good to see!).

Severn Valley Railway

Severn Valley Railway - To Become Mum
We 've had a few lovely days out on the Severn Valley Railway, including for Ethan’s second birthday, so a trip on one of their Santa Steam Specials days sounds pretty amazing.

The journey takes you from Kidderminster to Arley and when you arrive at the destination, your child gets to meet Father Chistmas in his grotto and receive a present.

Dates and tickets: various dates in December, check here for departure times. Tickets range from £7 to £18 for family members, and depending on date chosen, and advance booking is essential!

Chasewater Railway

Keeping with the steam train theme, Chasewater Railway is running a series of Santa Specials this season. You can enjoy a ride through the beautiful Chasewater Country Park on the train hauled by one of their vintage steam engines and then visit Santa in his grotto.

Dates and tickets: best visit this link for detailed information about this year's service, but prices are £9.95 for both children and adults. Tickets are selling fast!

Dudley Zoo

Visit the 11th century Dudley Castle, home to Santa this Christmas, and collect a special present before stopping off to see Santa's reindeer. With the ticket including full admission to the zoological gardens too, you can make a day of it and see what the animals are getting up to this festive season. 

Dates and tickets: from 1st December to Christmas Eve, tickets are priced from £10 for children and adults (£4.50 for under 1's), although they do increase the nearer to Christmas you get. 

Umberslade Farm 

This is another place we've visited before. We loved seeing the live nativity, meeting the animals including reindeer, then taking a trip to see Santa. Ethan received a really nice book and it was a really nice day out, not just a quick trip to a busy grotto. 

Keep an eye on their events page for news about this Christmas’ activities - we went and it was a great value day out, Ethan loved seeing the animals and Father Christmas was very friendly indeed. The mulled wine wasn't bad too, either!

Hatton Adventure World

At the Enchanted Christmas Kingdom, you will receive a special golden key to Santa's secret toyshop to choose a special treat to take home. After the grotto, there's also magic shows, quizzes, festive crafts and a fair, plus reindeers, carols and shopping too.

Dates and tickets: open every weekend from 25th November to Christmas Eve, as well as weekdays from 18th to 22nd December. Tickets start from £15.95 for children, £7.95 for under 2's and £10.95 for adults.

Cadbury World

It's been a long time since I went to Cadbury World but maybe we will this year for one of their Christmas Celebration Weekends.

This year, a brand-new pantomime invites families on an enchanting quest as the story of Aladdin comes to life live on stage in Cadbury World’s outdoor marquee. 

Elsewhere in the attraction, the sounds of sleigh-bells and reindeer hooves spell the arrival of the big man himself, who will be flying in to Cadbury World to continue the Christmas cheer.

In between checking his lists, Santa will visit Cadbury World to entertain families with his very own stage show. With a bag full of presents, there’s a gift for every child.

Dates and tickets:  Pantomime shows are every Saturday and Sunday starting from 18th November, plus performances every day on 21st – 23rd December and 27th – 30th December. Be sure to catch Santa every weekend from 18th November plus performances every day on 21st – 23rd December before he flies off for his Christmas duties. Tickets start at £9 up to £16.75, but booking in advance  online saves money.

Magic Alley

Children can collect a Frostmakers Passport from the elves before they meet Father Christmas at Magic Alley in Stratford-upon-Avon and together, you can help to solve the mystery of the missing Frost Phoenix. in this unique Christmas experience.

They will also be gifted a specially commissioned storybook for you to read together at home on Christmas Eve, called The Frost Phoenix. Babies aren't left out and in a lovely touch, they will receive a small golden 'Christmas Guardian Angel'.

After seeing Santa, use the Frostmakers Passport to enter the Enchanted Manor and follow the Christmas trail, solving puzzles as a family before entering the Snow Room where you'll be able to throw snowballs at each other!

Dates and tickets: from 23rd November to Christmas Eve, tickets cost £8 per person and under ones go free, with pre-booking essential.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

A lovely venue in the city, you can enjoy twinkling lights, piles of ‘snow’ and Santa at the BMAG Christmas grotto this year, plus there will be plenty of turn-of-the-century inspired decorations and vintage gifts and fayre available in the Edwardian Tearooms. 

Dates and times: open weekends from 2nd to 17th December, costing £5 per child and including a gift and photo - find out more here.


Hopefully that’s plenty of Santa inspiration for you and if there’s anywhere else in the Midlands that you would recommend, let me know and I’ll keep this post updated. As more locations confirm their grotto plans, I will add to this round up. Please note, I have made the list and checked it twice, with all details correct at time of publishing.


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