Santa Claus has well and truly come to town!
And with so much fun and festivity to choose from, I’ve made it my mission to keep things simple for you, with a round-up of some of the best grottos in the region.
December has only just begun and I’ve already visited more grottos than I can count with my little two-year-old expert. One of our favourites so far has been Meadowhall’s Magical Kingdom; an incredible 20 metre-tall castle with beautiful lights dancing above it. We were met by elves and fairies, who gave Immy a crown to wear before playing lots of little games and quizzes with her - including asking her to shout what she’d like for Christmas into Santa’s special trumpet. After a machine confirmed she’d been nice - and not naughty - it lit up to show us the way to Santa’s cosy grotto where the big man in red was waiting to hear all about how Immy was enjoying the festive season and what she’d like for Christmas. After lots of high fives, and a souvenir photograph, she received a lovely little gift.
One of my favourite things about Meadowhall’s grotto this year is their use of the ‘myMall’ app which made parts of the grotto, including Immy’s crown and the frame of our souvenir photo, come to life - thumbs up team! Be sure to pre-book!
- Santa is back at Weston Park Museum, which has seen its Arctic World gallery transformed into Santa’s North Pole ho-ho-home, where he’ll be every weekend throught December, and Monday to Friday the week before Christmas.
- Christmas at Wentworth Castle Gardens is set to be truly magical, with a Christmas-themed trail, and a chance to write a letter to Santa before paying him a visit. Plus you can enjoy the spectacle of the parkland’s deer being fed each day at 1.30pm. Tickets include full admission to the gardens and Christmas activities, plus hot drinks or mulled wine and a festive cake for the adults. Pre-book for your visit every weekend throughout December and every day from December 21.
- Brodsworth Hall has been transformed into a winter wonderland, so wrap up warm and wander the enchanted garden trail with colourful displays and twinkly lights. And come with hungry tummies to make the most of the festive food! Enjoy yuletide stories with Father Christmas before receiving a present. Between 4.30pm and 8.30pm until December 23, last admission is at 7.45pm.
- Enjoy the award-winning Santa experience at Worsbrough Mill, where children can write a letter to Santa and take a peek inside his workshop to see what the elves are up to before finally meeting the man himself.
Booking is essential.
- Santa has found time in his very busy schedule to visit Wigfield Farm and spread some festive cheer. He will be at his grotto on the farm on Saturday December 12 and Sunday December 13. Enjoy free arts and craft activities while you wait.
- Santa will be riding Elsecar Heritage Railway this year on December 10 and 11, and December 17 all the way up to December 21.
Good boys and girls from across the region are welcome to join him for a ride on the train, where they will receive refreshments and a present from Santa. Adults are looked after too - don’t worry! Booking is essential on the dedicated Santa line: 01226 610700, open 10am until 3pm and 7pm until 9pm everyday.
- Santa Claus is on a mission at Atkinsons in Sheffield this year - with a very special gift for St Luke’s Hospice.
For the second year running, proceeds from every visit will be going directly to the city hospice.
St Luke’s community fundraising assistant Victoria Turton said: “This will be a truly magical way to support Sheffield’s only hospice and give the youngest members of the family an unforgettable start to Christmas.
“We’d like to thank both Atkinsons and Santa himself for giving St Luke’s this very special gift.”
Santa will be bringing his festive sparkle to Atkinsons until December 22 - open from 11am-3pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10am-5pm every Saturday, and 10.30am-4pm every Sunday.
At £5 per child, each young visitor receives a gift from Santa and an ‘I’ve visited Santa’ certificate. Additional keepsakes will be available to buy.
- ‘Santa, Elves and Sleigh Bells’ will be at the Tropical butterfly House every weekend throughout December, and every day the week before Christmas, when visitors can expect a magical family day at the zoo, complete with free tractor sleigh rides through the wintery woods on their way to meet Santa.
The Elf Workshop will be offering crafts and games for children of all ages, including writing a letter to Santa, and there will be daily children’s fancy dress competitions. Adults that arrive at the centre in a Christmas jumper will be entered in to a prize draw to win a meerkat experience for four people in the New Year.
The South Yorkshire centre also has a Festive Afternoon Tea and plenty to see and do once your Santa visit, including the amazing twice daily free-flying bird and animal display, which is based around the tale of Scrooge!
- Cook up some seasonal magic when you visit Santa at Crystal Peaks this Christmas.
This year, the shopping mall’s grotto will have a little extra flavour, with a Candy Can Kitchen theme, which will see young visitors able to create their very own edible Christmas treats before going on to meet Father Christmas himself and receiving a special gift and a commemorative certificate.
The grotto, situated in the East Mall, will be open every day in the run-up up to Christmas Eve.
Admission is £5 per child and £1 for every accompanying adult.
- More than 20,000 people have already visited Sheffield’s first custom-made outdoor grotto in the Peace Gardens.
Complete with 10,000 twinkling lights, a small forest pine trees, and tons of snow, it’s a magical experience for all ages - complete with Santa himself!
And Santa will be giving away 100 Christmas trees at the grotto until it closes at 1pm on Christmas Eve. The trees, ranging from 3ft to 7ft, which have been used to decorate the inside and outside of the grotto, will be allocated on a first come first served basis. The grotto will be open daily until Christmas Eve, with 50 per cent of the profits going to charity.
- Netmums has voted Eureka’s enchanted grotto one of the best places to be in the region this Christmas. Watch the ‘Snow Day’ show, and visit the big man in red at what’s being called ‘the friendliest grotto!’ until December 23.
- Skate with Santa at IceSheffield on December 17-18. Chill out and glide with Santa at a festive ice skating session where you can enjoy plenty of magical and festive family fun.
- A welcoming Santa’s grotto is to provide some special Christmas magic for autistic children and their families in Sheffield.
The Sparkle Sheffield charity is keen to see that children who have autism are able to access a grotto, and this one will have its own team of ‘autism aware’ Santa and elves.
Sparkle’s own sensory pod will be available for young visitors to relax in. Even Santa pups will be there to add a helping paw to the proceedings, thanks to Support Dogs, and the atmosphere will be entirely autism-friendly.
A spokeswoman for Sparkle Sheffield said that the event is in very high demand.
She said: “The idyllic Christmas fantasy, that society has been brought up to expect, isn’t always the case for everyone. At Sparkle we like to see a future where no-one is excluded due to a disability, and all our children can still take part.
“We are trying to make this a reality, firstly, by running our own Santa’s Grotto with a carefully controlled environment, longer time allowances, and special consideration given to children’s sensory needs.
“Next year we hope to expand our seasonal activities to meet the demand, with more Grotto sessions, and more events.”
To make these dreams happen for children with autism, the charity needs funding. Help Sparkle Sheffield by texting ‘SSHF15 £2’ to 70070, to donate £2 and help them continue to do amazing work.
Sparkle’s Santa’s grotto opens on December 17 at 9.30am, with Sheffield’s Lord Mayor in attendance.
It will be at Sparkle’s headquarters, 4 Norfolk Park Road, Sheffield, S2 3QE.