Disclosure: We were provided with free tickets to visit Santa for the purpose of this post.
Last weekend we headed in to the City centre to visit Santa in his grotto at the Bullring Shopping Centre. The grotto is actually located outside the main shopping centre; in St Martin’s Square. From the outside, I have to admit it’s not that enthralling – a couple of white tents, a few white deer statues, and some little Christmas trees in pots, finished off with a North Pole signpost & a “Santa’s Grotto” banner attached to the fence.
It is situated to the St Martin’s Square Christmas tree which is a fairly spectacular looking modern tree, which the girls liked the look of. With no covered area to queue, we were left exposed to elements while we waited for Santa. Because we were the first slot of the day, Santa arrived across the square & greeted the girls where they waited by the grotto.
Once inside the Grotto, it was all a lot more magical. One of the elves took the girls tiptoe-ing into the Grotto to wake up a snoozing Santa, and then we settled down onto rugs and cushions inside the grotto to watch the show. 360 degree projections surrounded us, with something going on all around most of the time – the girls loved this aspect of it & it does do a good job of making you feel magically transported from location to location.
You start off in his grotto in Birmingham, and then fly through the sky (via the aurora borealis, which was rather nice) to the North Pole, to visit Santa’s home & the toy workshop. It is all peppered with silly jokes, some of which the kids didn’t really get, and the elves recounting mischievous mistakes, escaped reindeer, and so on. There was a “get up and join in the robot dance” bit, which Georgie and Lydia loved – but it was very short and could have been a bit longer as they were barely up & joining in before the music stopped.
Whenever it was time to change location, Santa & the elves would chant a little magic spell that ended “bish-bash-bosh” – and by the last few incantations Georgie was joining in with the last bit, if only as a little whisper.
The only think I would criticise about our Grotto experience was that there was no moment of the girls getting to talk individually to Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. It is very much a group experience with all the kids in the time slot doing everything together, and then taking turns to go up to collect a present & get their photo taken.
One great thing about this grotto is the inclusion of free downloads of your photos. You get given a card with a claim code to check your photos online, and download them for free. Weirdly, our code included a few photos of another family, but the two of the girls are quite funny!
The gifts from Santa, included in the £7.50 cost, were aimed at their age group, which is always a nice touch. Both girls really enjoyed their presents, which they opened while waiting for lunch later in the day. Georgie got a nice sticker book, and Lydia got a board book about animals. She loves to take books just like that to read in bed, so that was definitely a hit!
Overall it is a fun grotto experience which the girls did enjoy, even if it was a little strange compared to the traditional style & format. With the free photo downloads & decent quality of gift, I think it is worth the £7.50 fee.