To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at damselwithadulcimer.wordpress.com and my theatre reviews at www.playstosee.com
Published October 12th 2012
From Lapland to London: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
I hate to use the 'C' word at this time of the year, but Christmas is approaching. To use another 'C' word, we all agree that it's vastly over-commercialised, but Father Christmas will be appearing in some of London's stores from the beginning of November. My children are now grown up, so I was surprised to see that he will not be flying in with his reindeer during half term this year, but will spend a little longer at the North Pole before arriving at various London venues.
If your children really must visit the tubby man in the red suit and tell him what they would like him to bring down the chimney this year, here are a few places where they will be able to sit on his knee.
Arguably the most prestigious Santa's Grotto is the one to be found in Harrods. The white haired gentleman will be residing on the fourth floor between 3 November and 24 December. If you think this is showing a certain amount of restraint, you need to bear in mind that the store's Christmas World department has been open on the second floor for eager shoppers since the end of July. Father Christmas will be seeing visitors by appointment only, and the booking system has been open since last month.
Harrods Christmas Grotto (Picture Courtesy of Harrods Website)
Selfridges are mysteriously telling Christmas shoppers that there will be no Christmas Grotto this year, although there will be numerous other festive happenings such as ballerinas and balloon artists. And you could possibly find the red-suited gentleman completing some of his own Yuletide shopping within the store.
Trev M has already written about this year's Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, and the event would not be complete without a visit to Santa Land, complete with the grotto and elves. It will cost nothing to visit Santa once you have paid to get into the Wonderland, and all good children will be given presents.
Santa Land (Picture Courtesy of the Winter Wonderland Website)
If you can't face the thought of dragging into Central London with your offspring, South Londoners will be able to catch Father Christmas at Greenwich Market every afternoon between 28 November and 23 December. Entry to his Grotto will be £4.
For those who can cope with getting to Chelsea, there will be a Santa's Grotto at Duke of York Square, close to Sloane Square. Full details are on the website and bookings must be made online.
Duke of York's Square (Picture Courtesy of the Duke of York's Square Website)
If a mere visit to Santa in his Grotto is not sufficient for your little loved ones, you could splash out £59 or £69 per child for a visit to the Enchanted House in Islington. This encompasses The Gingerbread Kitchen, Mrs Claus's Sitting Room, Santa's Grotto and the Elves Workshop. You'll be able to play in the Garden of Winter Wonder and enjoy a family meal there too. As well as meeting both Mr and Mrs Claus, children will also get the opportunity to take part in an interactive Christmas entertainment and meet Magical Christmas Characters. The experience is suitable for children aged between 18 months and 9 years. Just in case the adults feel left out, they will be able to enjoy mulled wine and mince pies.
The Enchanted House (Picture Courtesy of the Enchanted House Website)
Back again in South London, Santa will be holding court at Kew Gardens, where his Grotto will be in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. If little ones are accompanied by adults, neither will have to pay an entry fee, and visits to Father Christmas will cost nothing either. There will however be chargeable activities such as face painting, and carousel rides. The Grotto will be open every afternoon between 8 and 23 December.
I'm sure there will be plenty of other opportunities for your little ones to meet the big man and tell him what they would like for their presents this year. Feel free to add to this list.