One thing that the children look forward to and really enjoy each winter is going to visit Santa – or his ‘helpers’ at least – and taking part in as many of the festive activities in the West Midlands we can manage.
Where we live there are plenty of places to go and see Father Christmas, with various options in Birmingham and the surrounding area – ranging from a simple grotto visit to a whole festive day out.
I’ve got some fun printable Santa Letters here on the blog – along with all the info you need to get a free reply from Santa.
Here are some of the places you can visit the big man in red this year, with links to some reviews we’ve done in the past too, and some by some local bloggers too…
Where to see Santa in and around Birmingham in 2018
Winter Wonderland at SnowDome, Tamworth
If you are looking for a truly wintery experience then what could be better than going along and playing on a real snow trail? After 30 minutes of sledging and snowball fun, you watch a fun Santa show, followed by visiting Santa’s ‘real’ reindeer. You don’t get any one-on-one time with Santa at this, but each child gets a Thorntons chocolate lollipop and you can buy a photo souvenir in Santa’s sleigh.
Prices start at £13.95 per person and it is on until 31st December. Pre-booking is essential.
Drayton’s Magical Christmas at Drayton Manor Park, Tamworth
As big Thomas Land fans, Drayton’s Magical Christmas is one of the girl’s favourite Santa events in the West Midlands. We were gutted to miss the press day this year and I’m not sure we’ll be able to squeeze a visit in. The majority of the theme park is closed, with just the Thomas Land rides and a few of the additional child friendly rides open. The park is beautifully decorated, and you can spend your day visiting the zoo animals, enjoying the rides, and visiting Santa in the Castle of Dreams. It even snows! The day finishes off with an imagination parade and a fireworks display.
Prices start at £22 per person (£14 for 2-3 years & under 2s free) and the event is on until 31st December (Santa is before Christmas only). Pre-booking is advised for Santa’s Grotto.
Santa Safari at West Midland Safari Park, Bewdley
We have been to the Santa Safari a few times now and it’s always a lovely experience, with a nice Santa Visit and a photo to take home included in addition to a gift that they get to choose. Adults get a hot drink and a mince pie, while the kids all get a drink, cookie, and an activity booklet. Of course, you also get to drive around the 4-mile safari trail and see all of the animals. On some weekends they also have Elf Story Telling, new for this year.
Prices start at £20 per person (£8 for under 3s) and it is on weekends from 17th November and every day from 1st – 24th December.
Santa Boat Trips at Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust
Board a boat and visit Santa in his underground grotto in the Dudley Caverns with the Dudley Canal Santa Boat Trips. Their website promises a “magical illuminated journey” with music, a funny family show, and gifts for all of the children.
Tickets are £12 per person (under 1s free) and booking is essential. Limited dates in December are available.
Enchanted Christmas Kingdom at Hatton Adventure Farm
Hatton is another favourite of ours – both all year round and at Christmas. They have a really lovely festive event with a nice grotto experience complete with a “magic key” and a toyshop where you choose your own gift. The large soft play centre, enclosed animal farmyard and indoor theatre mean even if the weather plays up your kids will stay entertained, and this year they are offering gingerbread making with Mrs Claus and reindeer food workshop. You can squeeze in a bit of Christmas shopping too with the Hatton Shopping Village – including some of the best fudge ever.
Prices start at £15.95 (Under 2s are free to enter but visiting Santa is £7.95) and it is on every weekend until 23rd December, plus weekdays 17th – 21st December. Pre-booking is recommended – and cheaper!
Meet Santa! at Birmingham Sea Life Centre
– 2018 review coming soon!
As regular readers will know we have been Sea Life Birmingham ambassadors for a number of years now and the girls still love going – we visit at least half a dozen times a year and try to go to all of their events. Meeting Santa doesn’t cost any extra on top of your ticket price, all kids get a small gift, and you get to see a special shortened version of The Polar Express in the 4D cinema – complete with the smell of chocolate!
Prices start at £13 and Santa will be there until the evening of 23rd December. Pre-booking is recommended for your entry time and is cheaper – and don’t forget you can buy a combo ticket for the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, which is just across the canal.
Christmas Celebration Weekends at Cadbury World, Bournville
We’ve been to the Cadbury Christmas Celebration Weekends a few times now and the girls always really enjoy the day out. There is a lot going on with a pantomime (this year is is Jack and the Cocoa Beanstalk), and a Santa stage show – complete with elves armed with a sack full of gifts to give out to the children, in addition to Cadbury World itself. The Cadbury Cafe have a yummy Christmas dinner on offer to enjoy and of course you can get stocked up for Christmas at the World’s Biggest Cadbury Shop.
Prices start at £11.88 (Under 4’s free) and the festive activities are running every Saturday and Sunday until 16th December, plus 21st, 22nd and 23rd December.. Pre-booking is advised as it often fills up completely.
Christmas at Twycross Zoo
There is a lot going on this year at Twycross Zoo with Santa’s Story Time, Santa’s Key Tree, Meet Santa & his pets, Santa’s Donkey Walk, and Festive Arts & Crafts. Don’t forget the Great Brick Safari is still on too.
Prices start at £11.87 (under 2s free) and the event is on weekends up to 16th December, plus 20th – 24th December. Pre-book to get the cheaper ticket price!
You can pay extra to have breakfast or supper with Santa although those dates are extremely limited now.
Santa’s Grotto at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is a great place to visit with children, and it is home to the Edwardian Tea Rooms so you can enjoy some lovely snacks. Their grotto is sweet with lovely staff, and each child gets an age suitable gift plus a printed photograph of their visit with Santa.
Entry to the museum is free and the grotto visit is £5.00 per child, and is only open during the first four weekends of December. Pre-booking is strongly advised.
North Pole Adventure at National Forest Adventure Farm, Burton Upon Trent
The North Pole Adventure is 1 hour 45 minute experience where children journey through a magical portal to the North Pole, where they can spend ‘elf coins’ in the victorian high street and sweet shop, help the elves sort parcels, decorate gingerbread men, and of course meet Father Christmas and choose a gift. They even have a talking Polar Bear!
Prices start at £10 for toddlers and £18 for children, and it runs on Fridays and Weekends until Christmas, plus Christmas Eve. Pre-booked is advised and includes a discount.
Santa Steam Specials at Severn Valley Railway
Take a steam train to Arley station, beginning at Kidderminster, where you will enter into Santa’s Grotto to meet Father Christmas. Each child gets a “quality present” which you can open and enjoy on the train ride back to Kidderminster.
Prices start at £15 per person and £7.50 for babies. Santa Steam Specials operate on: December 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd & 23rd. There aren’t many seats left so get booking!
Christmas at the Castle at Kenilworth Castle
Experience some traditional Christmas magic at Kenilworth Castle, with carol singing, storytelling and toy making. Children can have ‘An Audience with Father Christmas’ for an extra charge.
Entry prices are £6.80 per child (5-17 years), £11.30 per adult, or £29.40 for family tickets, and visiting Santa is £5 per child and sold on a first come first served basis. Christmas at the Castle is on 8th & 9th December.
Magical Lantern Festival at Birmingham Botanical Gardens
We visited the Magical Lantern Festival in 2016 and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and again in 2017 when it moved to Kings Heath Park. Although it was enjoyable in both locations, it was so much more magical at the Botanical Gardens due to the beautiful setting. The grotto is back this year as well .
Prices start at £8.50 for entry into the festival, children ages 3 and under go free.
Christmas Lapland Experience at Blithbury Reindeer Lodge
There is a lot going on at the Christmas Lapland Experience – it sounds like a great family day out with lots to do. As well as meeting & feeding the reindeer, visitors can visit Father Christmas in his traditional Scandinavian style Grotto, enjoy the soft play centre, take a sleigh ride, and watch the singing reindeer.
Tickets cost £17 per adult & £23 per child (under 6 months are free), and the event is on every weekend until 9th Dec , plus 15th – 23rd December.
Christmas Grotto at Webbs, West Hagley / Wychbold
Both of these Webbs garden centres have Christmas events on, with an ice rink at Wychbold and real reindeer every day at both centres, too. Both centres offer a grotto experience, with a ‘festive Christmas village’ at West Hagley with some fun activities to get involved in, and a ‘winter wonderland’ at Wychbold.
The West Hagley grotto is £6.50 per child & £2.00 per adult, and the Wychbold one is £9.99 per child & £2.00 per adult. Both are open every weekend in December, plus additional weekday dates closer to Christmas.
Jingle Bells: A Santa Claus Experience at Resorts World
Jingle Bells is ‘a unique, exciting Christmas experience’ created by Escape Live, offering visitors a hands-on grotto experience. It involves a festive puzzle game with Santa’s elves, and of course a meeting with Santa himself, who will be waiting with gifts for your children.
Prices start at £40 for groups of 2-5 people (it’s perfect for families), and is suitable for children aged 3+, teamed with “adults of any age”.
Santa’s Grotto at Dobbies, Atherstone / Gailey
There are two Dobbies offering grottos in the West Midlands where you can meet Santa and choose a gift of your choice, from top brands. They also have Breakfast or Tea with Santa events running, and even a Doggy Grotto!
Tickets cost £11.99 per person and dates and times vary for each store. Advanced booking is required.
Santa’s Grotto at Notcutts, Solihull
This year Notcutts have a magical workshop themed grotto, where children can meet Santa and receive a special gift. Throughout the Christmas season there will also be food tastings, a DJ with festive music, a ukulele band and hot drinks to enjoy. Notcutts also have Breakfast or Tea with Santa events running, and Santa Paws for dogs!
Prices start at £8.50 per child. Advance online booking is highly recommended.
Breakfast with Santa at Brewers Fayre
Many Brewers Fayre pubs have kids soft play centres attached, so this is a fun one for young children – you get a nice breakfast, a chat with & present from Santa, and some time on the play frame.
Christmas Grotto at The Fort Shopping Park, Birmingham
Santa’s grotto is open at the Fort this Christmas, ideal for visiting the big man in red while you are out shopping. Children will receive a gift, and you can purchase a photograph for £3.00
Tickets cost £8.00 and the grotto is open most days until Christmas – check their facebook event page for opening dates & times.
Breakfast with Santa at Selfridges, Bullring, Birmingham
Enjoy a “decadent festive breakfast” as a guest of Santa and his elf at Fumo on 4 in Selfridges, and receive a special personalised gift.
Tickets cost £20 per child & £25 per adult and the event is running every Saturday & Sunday from 1st – 16th December. It’s almost sold out so book quickly to avoid disappointment!
Victorian Christmas at Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge
You can experience “the magic of a Victorian Christmas” at Ironbridge this year, with carol singers, brass bands, hands-on activities, and the Town decorated for Christmas. You can see Father Christmas in his Grotto, get a gift, and meet his reindeer for an additional fee of £3.50.
Prices start at £10.90 and the event runs on 8th, 9th, 15th & 16th December.
Visit Santa at Sandwell Valley
Sandwell Park Farm is opening it’s door for families to visit Santa in his grotto, with additional activities including children’s crafts and circus skills workshops on offer.
Prices start at £5 for under 2s, £11 for 2yrs – 11yrs, and £7 for adults, and is is running every Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 7th December – 23rd December.
Cathedral Christmas Market at Cathedral Square, Birmingham
A brand new outdoor market is opening this year at Cathedral Square, complete with a Santa’s Grotto. The market will have a “festove array” of locally sourced goods, and they are also running a coat donation ‘Wrap Up Brum’ appeal to help the homeless community and those in need stay warm this winter.
Prices are £10.00 for a child + adult, £10.00 per additional child and £2.00 per additional adult, and it is open on selected days from 29th November until 22nd December.
Santa’s Grotto at House of Fraser, Birmingham
The House of Fraser grotto is back this year with £1 from every ticket raising money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital – a cause very close to our hearts. Located on the 5th floor of the department store, their grotto is a popular one for shoppers in the city every year.
Prices are £7.00 per child and £1.00 per adult, and it is open from 30th November until 24th December. You can book online or in-store at the grotto.
Christmas at Waterworld, Stoke-on-Trent
Swimming and Santa may not seem to go together but they do at Waterworld! Visit the Polar Bear King and his family in the artic Ice Cave Ride, and take a stroll through the Tunnel of Lights to Santa’s Grotto. Enjoy unlimited time in the aqua park and lunch in the Winter Wonderland when you book a VIP Christmas Ticket.
Prices vary depending on activity and the Winter Wonderland is open 1st Dec – 23rd Dec, with the Ice Cave Ride staying open until 6th Jan.
Polar Express Train Ride From Moor Street, Birmingham
Vintage Trains are running Polar Express train rides with a “full theatrical re-creation” of the classic Christmas tale on a steam train, performed by professional dancers and actors, with key elements of the story springing to live – both inside and outside the train.. On arrival at the “North Pole” Santa will welcome the train and come on board, and present every ticket holder with a silver bell from his sleigh as a momento of your experience.
Prices start at £25 per seat (children under 3 travel free if they do not occupy a seat) and trains are running from 29th November – 23rd December. Pyjamas are encouraged!
Some other festive events to check out
As well as plenty of places to see Santa, I’ve come across details for some other festive day out ideas…
Elf Hunt at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum
Pick up a finders sheet and hunt for the elves hidden throughout Thinktank for some festive fun as you explore the museum. Once you’ve completed your sheet, take to the shop to receive a prize!
The elf hunt is included in the price of admission (starting at £9.75 per person) and is on from 1st December – 23rd December.
Christmas Concert at St Martin, Bullring
We’ve already got our tickets booked for the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Christmas Concert which takes place in the stunning St Martin church, and features performances from The School of Theatre Excellence and Birmingham Community Gospel Choir as well as contributions from patients and staff.
Tickets cost £5 per child and £12 per adult, with 5s and under free. The concert is on 12th December at 7pm.
ELF – A Christmas Spectacular at Resorts World Area (formerly Genting Arena)
ELF, the hit West End and Broadway musical based on the popular festive film is being supersized into a “Christmas Spectacular” this December, starring David Essex and Martine McCutcheon. It promises there will be original songs, special effects, giant screens and a humongous stage.
Prices start from £25 and performances are on from 20th – 24th December 2018.
Ice Skate Birmingham
Birmingham’s largest outdoor ice rink is back this year at Millenium Point, and is entirely covered this year so you can enjoy skating whatever the weather! They have adult, children and infant ice skates – hire charge is included in the skating cost – and you can hire penguin skating aids for little beginners too. They also have a big wheel so you can look out over the Birmingham skyline.
It costs £9.50 for adults and £7.50 for children (12 & under), and family tickets cost £32. Under 7’s must be accompanied by an adult. The big wheel is £5.00 per person.
Christmas at Midlands Art Centre (MAC)
MAC have a jam-packed calendar of events over the Christmas period, including cinema & event screenings, an arts market, live music, and a couple of theatre shows including Rudolf which we went to see at the weekend & all really enjoyed.
Are you going to be visiting Santa this festive season? If so I hope your children have a magical experience!