If you have small kids and are wondering about the best places to see Santa this Christmas, the good news is that there are lots of choices on offer. The festive season is the perfect time to see how other countries and cities celebrate Christmas, and you’ll be delighted by the smiles on your kids’ faces when they encounter the jolly man himself.
It doesn’t matter whether your little ones have been naughty or nice, they’ll definitely have the experience of a lifetime when they meet Mr Claus. Are you ready to ‘shake your belly like a bowlful of jelly’ with the big guy? Here are just a few suggestions to get you planning your Christmas holidays with us.
Macy’s, New York City
Macy’s in Herald Square stages a wonderful Santa Experience each Christmas, and it makes the perfect opportunity for your kids to see Santa if you are here in December. This is one of the biggest and most elaborate grottoes in the city, and there’s always a queue of families waiting to see the great man, so get there early.
Christmas in New York should be on everyone’s bucket list, and we highly recommend this Santa experience if you love the bright lights and the beat of the big city. Our advice: Book early, as hotels in New York fill up very quickly during the Christmas period.
When: End of November-Christmas Eve
Cardiff Castle, Wales
Cardiff Castle is one of Santa’s alternative homes when he’s away from Lapland, and over the festive season the Black Tower is transformed into a huge grotto to mark his residency. It’s a fabulous place to bring the kids and enjoy traditional Christmas fun and games. If your little ones have been especially good, they can get a picture with Santa – proof that the big man really does exist.
When: Weekends from 3 December-Christmas Eve
Winter Wonderland, London
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is one of the best places to see Santa this Christmas. It’s definitely the most festive place in London at this time of year, with everything from ice skating and traditional market stalls to fairground rides, live music and, of course, Santa in his grotto. The kids will absolutely love Santa Land and you’ll enjoy seeing their beaming faces as they receive presents and meet his reindeer and elves. This is a great choice if you’re on a budget, as entry is free. Grown ups should keep an eye out for the mulled wine: it’s delicious, it’s warming, but it’s pretty potent, so soak it up with some Christmas cake or hot chestnuts.
When: 20 November-3 January 10.00am-6.00pm
Walt Disney World, Florida
When he’s not in Lapland or flying around the world distributing presents, Santa likes to stop off at the greatest theme park in the world, Walt Disney World, Florida. As with all things Disney, this is a masterclass in over-the-top awesomeness that’ll leave kids wide-eyed with wonder, and even remind grown-ups of the true magic of Christmas. Cinderella’s Castle is transformed into a winter wonderland, and you’ll get to meet the entire cast of Frozen, as well as that red-suited fella and all his little helpers. Our advice is to book early, as Christmas in Walt Disney World is incredibly popular.
When: From Mid-November onwards
Probably one of the very best places to see Santa is at his own home in Lapland. Both kids and adults will enjoy the experience of visiting this truly magical part of Finland in the Arctic Circle, and seeing Santa in person. This is a real winter wonderland that offers a great range of winter activities too, including dog sleigh trips, skiing and reindeer rides, so you can combine your visit to Santa with other fun things that all the family can enjoy together. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and a chance to create some precious family memories.
The capital of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi, is Santa’s official home, and you can also travel while you’re here to Luosto to see the Northern Lights.
Santa’s Snow Grotto, Manchester
The Chill Factore in Manchester is home to the longest real snow slope in the UK and is also one of the best places to see Santa this Christmas. Every year Santa’s Snow Kingdom attracts young families from across the UK and beyond, looking to combine a visit to Santa’s grotto with lots of indoor skiing fun. If your family group includes older children then this is a great spot to visit. While the little ones hit up Santa for this year’s must-have toy, the older kids can hit the slopes and try their hand at snowboarding.
When: 7 November-Christmas Eve (weekends in November, each day in December)