Thursday 22 November 2018

The big Midlands grotto guide 2018 - where to see Santa this Christmas

*Updated* I've been making my list, and checking it twice, to bring you my round up of some of the best places in the Midlands to see the man in red this Christmas, 2018. Whether you call him Father Christmas, Santa or jolly ol' St Nick, this is one place you can find information on the best grottos in and around Birmingham and the West Midlands.

It's a tradition of mine, just like decorating the tree and singing Christmas songs, and this is my fourth bumper guide to where to see Father Christmas in the region. It takes time, but I love doing it and find that my past posts on grottos are some of my most popular - so I really hope it's useful.

This is going to be my BIGGEST SANTA GROTTO ROUND-UP YET, with new info and locations added as and when I have it. Now, some are so popular, they sell out long in advance, but I hope these links help you find out more and choose a fun festive day out for your family.

Enjoy, share and let me know if there's anywhere else I should be adding to my 'nice' list... 

I will keep this post updated with new events, and every attraction featured is based on my own research and no content has been sponsored.

Jingle Bells Escape Room Experience at Resorts World Birmingham

We went along to be one of the first families to experience this new grotto activity, and we had such a fun time! You can read our full review of Jingle Bells at Resorts World Birmingham but in essence, you get to help one of Santa's elves solve some clues so you can unlock the door to see Santa - all whilst the clock is ticking!

Dates and tickets: A family experience for a group of up to four people will be priced at £40 Monday-Friday and £45 at weekends. Jingle Bells opens on Monday 12th November and will run throughout the Christmas period. Experiences must be pre-booked and can now be made at the Escape Live website,

East Midlands Designer Outlet

Grab your coats, scarves and Santa hats as McArthurGlen Designer Outlet East Midlands transforms into a snowy winter woodland, with the arrival of Father Christmas himself to turn on the Christmas lights in a flurry of snow, tinsel and ho-ho-hoing from November 15th. Whether guests are looking to find the perfect present, enjoy the festivities or explore this season’s new store openings such as Joules, Crew Clothing and Charles Tyrwhitt, there has never been a better time to visit.

Families will be thrilled to see the Grotto return to the centre, hosting Santa every day from 1st to 24th of December [10.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays] . Free for all, the children will leave with a chocolate treat and a framed photo to cherish the moment they met Father Christmas – special for all children whether it’s the first or tenth time!

House of Fraser Grotto

Patients from Birmingham Children’s Hospital were amongst the first to enter House of Fraser’s magical Christmas grotto when it opened its doors for the festive season; £1 from every ticket purchased will go towards Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s Moments of Magic Christmas campaign.

Open until 3pm on Christmas Eve, House of Fraser’s much-loved winter wonderland is located on the fifth floor of the department store, and every child that enters the grotto will have the opportunity to meet Santa and his elves and take home a present.

Liam Harford, Store Manager at House of Fraser, said: “We are delighted to bring back our magical grotto this year for its eighth annual year, especially after the brilliant news that our iconic store is staying open.  The grotto at House of Fraser brings back so many memories for people in the city, including the wonderful days of Rackhams, and year after year we get such great feedback from parents and children. Christmas is all about spreading goodwill and we are very proud to be supporting Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity during this festive period.”
Serena Daw, Public Fundraising Manger at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We are incredibly grateful to House of Fraser for once-again choosing to support us in this magical way and donating £1 from every ticket purchased to our Moments of Magic Christmas campaign.

“Moments of magic happy every single day at our hospital – be it a ground-breaking piece of medical research, the sound of our patients giggling or the sight of them playing with their families – but we’re on a mission to make sure that we can create even more for each and every one of our sick kids and their families.”
As well as meeting Santa, the £7 entry fee includes a quality gift for each child. Entry for adults costs just £1 which also goes to the children’s hospital. There is also a chance to purchase professional photographs, photo books, frames, and baubles to capture the memories and as well as sharing their Christmas wishes, children are also encouraged to bring a letter to post in Santa’s post room. 

The House of Fraser grotto will be open from 11am - 5pm all week until Christmas Eve when it will open from 10am-3pm. There will be extended hours on some days, details of which can be found at along with details to book tickets.  For more information on Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity visit or to buy tickets visit

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor

We have a Thomas fan in our house and having visited Thomas Land several times over the past few years, we know it’s a great day out. But two years ago, we had a truly magical time at #DraytonsMagicalChristmas - read all about it here - we can't recommend it enough!

Dates and tickets: Drayton's Magical Christmas opens on Saturday 17th November and is open for selected dates right up until Monday 31st December, with so much to see and do. Worth noting that Father Christmas is only with them until 24th December and then it is park only from 27th - 31st December. 
Prices range from £14-£28 per person, with under 2's free and discounts available online when booked in advance. 

National Sea Life Centre Birmingham

Come to the North Pole of Birmingham and visit National Sea Life Centre's Antarctic Ice Cave and meet the man himself as you look onto their family of cheeky Gentoo Penguins in the exclusive setting of our breath-taking chilly Ice Adventure area. Enjoy the smell of chocolate in their 4D cinema, showing The Polar Express and the little ones will, of course, receive a free gift from Santa!

There's plenty to enjoy here, and you'll discover how they make sure all of their creatures have a very Merry Fish-mas. 

Dates and tickets: Meeting Santa and receiving a free gif
t for children is included within all admission tickets. Santa will be at Sea Life Centre Birmingham from 24th November to 23rd December. Discounts available by booking in advance - tickets can start from around £13.

West Midlands Safari Park

West Midlands Safari Park - To Become Mum

Out of our many Santa visits four 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. You can enjoy the four mile safari, walk through the Discovery Trail that's transformed into a winter wonderland and then go see the man himself and his elves by climbing aboard a sleigh all the way to the North Pole.

Dates and tickets: The Santa Safari is on during selected dates in November and daily from 1st to 24th December. adults receive a visit to Santa, a hot drink and mince pie, whilst children get a photo to take home, a choice of present, drink and cookie, all included with the admission ticket. Under 3's and concessions are £8, 3-15 year olds £20 and adults £24, with upgrades available for those with annual passes or return tickets.

Alton Towers

How fun does a Santa Sleepover sound?!Alton Towers is such a popular attraction with families and the Resort's festive themed hotels, Alice in Wonderland 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 25th November and 2nd, 9th and 14th 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 time we went. It was a real experience (you can read all about our 2016 visit here) and for 2018, 
the Intu Merry Hill Wishmas Garden is open. 
Make all your Christmas dreams come true; see a shooting star, write a letter to the North pole and speak to Santa on the phone at the centre's free Christmas wonderland experience. Plus see Santa and his trusty chief elf every weekend until Christmas.

Dates and tickets: The Wishmas Garden is open on the lower mall near H Samuel from Saturday 2 to Thursday 28 December, 10am – 7pm weekdays, 11am – 4pm Saturday and 11am – 4pm Sunday.
All money raised will go to The White House Cancer Support. View their calendar events here

Magical Lantern Festival at Botanical Gardens Edgbaston

Brighten up your winter by visiting these special seasonal illuminations. This year’s Christmas themed Lantern Festival will illuminate the gardens turning it into a spectacular fusion of dual culture, vibrant colours and artistic sculptures. Prepare to enter a magical experience and discover life-sized and large-than-life lanterns in all shapes and forms.

Dates and tickets: The festival is open Thursdays to Sundays each week and then open every day during the school Christmas holidays from Friday 21st Dec. Opening from 5pm to 10pm each day with last entry at 9pm. Children aged 3 and under enter free and do not need tickets,tickets otherwise range from £9.75 to £14.06, and tickets must be booked in advance.

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: all sold out unfortunately!

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. 
Whether it’s a day out with the family to the Christmas Lapland Experience or an evening out with friends to enjoy ‘Reindeer by Night’, there are an array of activities on offer to get involved with for all ages.

During the countdown to Christmas, depending on the event you choose, visitors can meet Father Christmas in his grotto, feed and fuss the reindeer, watch their singing reindeer, join in Storytime, experience a traditional reindeer sleigh ride and burn off any left-over energy in the indoor soft play area. Don’t forget to visit Comet’s Christmas shop filled with beautiful gifts, decorations and handmade items created from antlers dropped by the reindeer. Pop into Mrs Claus's Christmas Store to see her variety of sweets and festive treats she has to offer.

The changes that are new for 2018 include:
  • New soft play area
  • New indoor feeding area
  • New Catering Facility
  • New Licensed bar area
  • New Video Screens
  • New souvenir photo opportunity
  • New singing reindeer!

Dates and tickets: check online for available dates and the full range of experiences, as there's different options to choose from.

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, an all new winter wonderland show and real reindeer too. 

Dates and tickets: everything starts on 16th November and runs until New Years Eve, with ticket prices being £13.95 (saver) and £17.95 (standard)Children 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). 

Meet the elves in the workshop, explore a winter wonderland and finally emerge into Father Christmas’ cosy house to meet the jolly fellow himself. During this fantastic festive experience, children can look forward to visiting the elf workshop, creating reindeer food to sprinkle on Christmas Eve, decorating a wooden Christmas tree decoration, exploring the Winter Wonderland, meeting Father Christmas in his cosy cabin AND choosing their own gift from the Toy Warehouse.

Dates and tickets: The Webbs grotto opens on 10th November, can be booked in advance and is £9.99 per child and £2 per adults.

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.

Travel by steam train in a vintage carriage from Kidderminster to Arley where the children, and the grown-ups, will have the thrill of meeting Father Christmas in his grotto. Their historical Stations are dressed for the occasion, with plenty of photo opportunities both on and off the train. 
When you meet the man himself, Santa will have a present for all fare-paying children, and you'll be able to open it up on the steam train of your choice back to Kidderminster, with the option to break your journey at the beautiful riverside town of Bewdley. 
Dates and tickets: Santa Steam Specials operate on: December 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd & 23rd.Trains depart from Kidderminster at 9.45am, 10.15am, 10.45am, 11.15am, 11.45am, 12.15pm, 12.45pm, 1.15pm, 2.00pm, 2.30pm, 3.00pm, 3.30pm & 4.00pm. Tickets range from £15 to £20, depending on date, and be sure to book soon.

Chasewater Railway

Dates and tickets: best visit this link for detailed information about this year's service, tickets sell fast!

Dudley Zoo

Dudley Zoo's Winter Wonderland package includes a visit to see Santa in his grotto set within the walls of 11th century Dudley Castle. After receiving a special gift from Santa it’s off to see Santa’s Reindeer as they prepare for their busiest night of the year before taking a walk around the site.

The festive package includes admission to DZG and a chance to see you favourite species and find out what they’re up to this Christmas.

Dates and tickets: from 1st December to Christmas Eve, tickets are priced from £12 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 toy shop 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 24th November to Christmas Eve, as well as weekdays from 17th to 21st December. Tickets start from £15.95 for children, £7.95 for under 2's and £10.95 for adults and can only be booked online.

Cadbury World

We went to Cadbury World over summer and had a really fun time at one of their character breakfasts, and Christmas looks just as packed.

As well as admission to the chocolatey attraction, the Santa experience is packed full of festive fun and music the whole family can enjoy. Armed with a sack full of Christmas gifts for his elves to hand out to visiting children, the exclusive Cadbury World Santa Show is not to be missed.

Each year they also feature a brand new pantomime. As well as a visit to see the jolly man himself, your family will be able to enjoy our very own panto Jack and the Cocoa Beanstalk this year, included in the ticket. 

Dates and tickets:  Discover their chocolatey zones and whole host of seasonal activities for all the family, every Saturday and Sunday from 17th November till 16th December... PLUS 21st, 22nd and 23rd December. Tickets include entry to the pantomime and a visit to see Santa in his exclusive stage show. Show Times: 12pm, 12:30pm, 1pm, 2pm, 2:30pm, 3pm & 4pm. Advice: book your Santa Show slot at least 30 minutes prior or 2 hours after your Cadbury World tour time.

Magic Alley

This is a really special event in Stratford, with a Christmas Quiz Trail and snow room and new experiences to enjoy in 2018.

Dates and tickets: visit the website for latest information and to book tickets - pre-booking essential.


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 over the coming days and weeks. 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 but do always check with the venues.


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