Visiting a Santa’s grotto is an essential part of Christmas for many families. I have memories from my own childhood, of travelling to London to see Santa at Hamleys or a visit in a local garden centre.
Since we’ve started taking our children to see Santa, I’ve noticed that the ‘experience’ has grown and grown. There are now many extravagant ways to visit the man in the red suit (with matching extravagant pricetags!)
So when we got the chance to attend a Santa’s Grotto at the Wyevale Garden Centre in Havant, we jumped at the chance. The price tag for each child is £6, so I was a bit apprehensive about what it was going to be like.
A Cabin in the Snow
In actual fact, it was brilliant right from when we stepped through the doors. There were signs pointing the route to the grotto and the start of the garden centre’s Christmas tree decorations. As we followed the route we could see the grotto up ahead – a wooden cabin set in a snowy landscape. with moving polar bears and plenty of Christmas cheer.
Was it the real Santa?
An elf greeted us as we arrived and then it was time to step inside the cabin. It looked really cosy, but without being claustrophobic and Santa was sat on a long bench with lots of room for visitors. The big man himself was very good, just what you’d expect with a jolly red outfit and long white beard.
My children are both quite shy, but Santa was brilliant with them and really patient! There was no rushing through, and it certainly felt like a natural, authentic experience. When we had finished chatting, the children got to choose their own present from a selection. I thought this was a great touch, as there’s nothing worse than seeing your child’s face as they unwrap (and discard) something a bit rubbish.
The choice of presents included a Snowman activity pack, build your own wooden birdhouse or windmill and a range of cuddly Christmas characters. My daughter was so pleased with her reindeer that she carried it everywhere for the rest of the day! Both children also got a certificate, proclaiming that they had been good enough all year (!) to see Santa.
After the grotto, we gladly went inside the garden centre to browse the Christmas decorations and gifts, and test out the cake and soft play.
I would have no hesitation in recommending the Wyevale Santa’s Grotto, it’s not the biggest or fanciest way to visit but it was perfect for us a family and from only £6 each, it’s well worth the money.
You can book your own Santa’s Grotto experience on the Wyevale website. Wyevale are also offering a Breakfast or Tea experience with Santa at selected centres, as well as a Festive Afternoon Tea for grown-ups!