The best Santa’s grotto near me, here in Northamptonshire, is without a doubt the one at Riverside Hub. However, there are some other pretty good places to meet Santa in Northamptonshire, and further afield in nearby Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.
Given tickets to Santa grottos usually sell out pretty quickly I thought I’d round up the best ones. There’s only a 22-month age gap between my two children, who are now 2 and 3, so I’ve seen a fair few over the last four years. We often visit more than one a year.
Santa’s Grotto in Northamptonshire
1. Christmas at The Hub
Riverside at The Hub, 7 Carousel Way, Riverside Park, Northampton, NN3 9HG. From £3 for babies, £16 for children and £4.50 for adults.
If you want the full Christmas effect, head to Riverside Hub for Christmas at The Hub. The fun and lively Santa experience includes a festive disco, biscuit decorating (and eating!), Christmas games and the chance to meet the main man. Little ones get a present take home.
The grotto staff are what makes this one of the best Santa grottos in Northamptonshire. They’re lively, bonkers for Christmas and make sure that everyone joins in. You can’t help but smile.
There are three separate events to choose from depending on the age of your child – a tailor-made Santa’s grotto if you like; babies, toddlers and family.
A ticket to the Christmas event also gives you access to everything at Riverside Hub, which includes one of the biggest soft play centres in the UK, a vintage carousel, ride-on motorbikes and more. It’s a whole fun family day out in Northampton.
Ignore the image on the website, as the Santa has been a lot more realistic in the past few years. There are a few better pics on the actual event pages. In terms of your own photos, you’ll be offered an official photo with Santa (for an extra cost), but you can also take your own ones.
Still not sure? We’ve been for the past four years, which speaks volume in itself and tickets usually sell out.
Tip: The weekend slots sell out very quickly, so book in September when they go on sale.
Recommended Reading: The Best Events in Northampton (for the Whole Year)
2. Meet Santa at Northampton & Lamport Railway
Northampton & Lamport Railway. From £5.50 for infants, £12.50 for children and £11.50 for adults.
Come and meet Santa at Northampton & Lamport Railway. Not only do little ones get to meet Santa, they also get to enjoy a short train ride on a heritage locomotive, along with a drink and biscuit. They, of course, get a little present to take home too.
Better yet, parents get a glass of sherry (or a soft drink) and a mince pie.
3. Delapre Abbey Santa
Delapré Abbey, London Road, Northampton, NN4 8AW. From £5 per child.
If you’re after a classy event head to Delapre Abbey to meet Santa by the fireside. Little ones get to chat to Santa and as usual, a little present to take home.
Pair your visit with a walk in the beautiful gardens and grounds or a cuppa in the beautiful cafe.
Parents may prefer the Downton at Delapre Christmas Experience, that shows the upstairs/downstairs of the Abbey, whilst munching mince pies and sipping mulled wine. It’s quite unique, so thought it was worth mentioning.
Recommended Reading: 30 of the Best Things to Do in Northampton
4. Santa’s Grotto at Dobbies Garden Centre
Dobbies Garden Centre (formerly Wyevale), Newport Pagnell Road, Northampton, NN4 6HP. From £11.99
If the present is important to you this Santa’s grotto in Northamptonshire may be what you’re looking for. Presents are guaranteed from a selection of well-known brands, such as Lego and WOW Toys, and you can select your age-appropriate choice when you buy the tickets online.
The festive experience includes meeting Santa in a magical setting. Want to take it one step further? Why not try their Breakfast With Santa event.
5. Further Afield From Northamptonshire
An hour away you’ll find the Christmas activities at Blenheim Palace, where children can follow the pretty festive lights in the beautiful grounds. We’ve been the past few years and really enjoy it.
A bit closer, you’ll also find lots of magical Christmas fun at Waddesdon Manor, including illuminations, letter writing to Father Christmas, lantern making, Christmas market stalls and more. We’re heading there this year after plenty of recommendations from friends.
Milton Keynes Santa
1. Christmas at Frosts Woburn Sands
Frosts at Woburn Sands, Newport Road, Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes MK17 8UE. From £6.99 for babies, £16.99 for children and £4.99 for adults.
When I first started in the Santa grotto circuit this was one of the best places to meet Santa in Milton Keynes. Even at a 40-minute car journey from Northampton it was worth it.
The set-up has changed over the last few years, but normally follows a visit to a number of Christmas-themed rooms where Elves get the children to make reindeer food, dance and sing. Little ones listen to a story from Santa, have the chance for a quick photo and then get to choose a present to take home.
During my last visit I found the staff let it down a bit. The Santa part is a bit rushed and some of the staff seemed a little overworked. However, that might have been a one-off.
Oh and don’t miss the life-size singing reindeers and other fun decorations in the shop. Free fun!
Are you a dog-lover? You might want to take a look at their Santa Paws event, where you can spoil your pooch with a visit to Santa. And no, I’m not joking!
2. A Vintage Milton Keynes Santa Grotto
Bletchley Park, The Mansion, Bletchley Park, Sherwood Drive, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK3 6EB. From £7.50 per child, free for adults with a park entrance ticket.
Have you ever visited a 1940s vintage Santa’s grotto? Head to Christmas at Bletchley Park and you can enjoy just that.
There are craft activities to entertain children whilst they wait to meet Santa, including making a pop-up Christmas card, an Origami Father Christmas and a festive puzzle. The ticket includes a chance to meet Santa and a gift to take home.
There are also autism-friendly slots available.
Recommended Reading: Over 80 Cheap Gifts for Children Who Love to Travel
3. Thrift Farm
Thrift Farm, Buckingham Road, Milton Keynes, MK17 0EQ. From £9.95
Double up a visit to Santa with a visit to the farm. A trip to this Santa’s grotto includes the chance to make reindeer food, decorate a cookie and of course, a present from Santa. The ticket includes free child admission to the farm so you can make a day of it.
4. Further Afield from MK
Happy to travel a bit further? 40-minutes from Milton Keynes you’ll find The Panto Express. It’s a full Christmas experience, including a 30-minute festive panto and a ride on a vintage train. Children meet Santa on the train and get a present to take home.
Another option that’s 40-minutes from Milton Keynes is Farmer Christmas Land. Gone is the sleigh – Father Christmas rides a red tractor at this fun family day out! Little ones get to sit in the tractor when they meet Santa, as well as the opportunity to search for gold tokens in Santa’s Snowpits, walk through the Enchanted Forest, meet Christmas animals, make a star for the Wishing Tree, and feed real Reindeer. What a treat!
Santa’s Grotto in Bedfordshire
1. Christmas at Frosts Willington
Frosts at Willington, Sandy Road, Willington, Bedford, MK44 3QP. From £6.99 for babies, £16.99 for children and £4.99 for adults.
Essentially the same Santa’s grotto as the one mentioned in the Milton Keynes section, but at a branch in Bedfordshire.
Children are hosted by the elves who get the children singing, dancing and making reindeer food. Little ones listen to a story from Santa, have the chance for a quick photo and take home a cuddly toy, as well as a present.
2. Santas Grotto in Bedfordshire at Poplars
Poplars, Harlington Road, Toddington, Dunstable, LU5 6HE. £10 per child, free for adults.
A visit to this Santa’s grotto includes a gift from Santa, a bag of reindeer food to leave out on Christmas Eve, a real life ‘magic growing’ miniature Christmas tree and a child’s hot chocolate, topped with cream and marshmallows.
£1 from every ticket is donated to the local NSPCC branch, which is a nice touch.
3. Further Afield From Bedfordshire
It’s worth mentioning the Christmas event at Whipsnade Zoo, which is about a 45-minute drive away from Bedford.
Children get the chance to meet both Mr and Mrs Claus, join in with crafts and receive a Christmas gift.
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