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Grottos and where to see Santa across Kent for Christmas 2021


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Christmas is coming and there's not long left to snap up tickets to take the family to see Santa.

We take a look at sites across Kent where you might spot Santa this year...

Father Christmas will be in his grotto at sites across Kent
Father Christmas will be in his grotto at sites across Kent

Bluewater

After last year's enforced cancellation the Greenhithe centre will see the return of the Christmas grotto experience but with a difference.

Children will be welcomed into a mystical cavern where they’ll meet one of Santa’s trusted elves, McJingles and the magical talking reindeer, Norbert. They’ll have the chance to make reindeer food in prep for Christmas Eve and even enjoy a one-to-one with the man in red himself. Each child will also receive a gift and the opportunity for a photo.

The Believe experience will open from Friday, November 26 until Christmas Eve and is located outside The Village, near Zizzi’s restaurant. Tickets must be booked in advance here.

Santa tests out Bluewater's Hangloose zipline ahead of his grotto opening Picture: Bluewater
Santa tests out Bluewater's Hangloose zipline ahead of his grotto opening Picture: Bluewater

Christmas at Bedgebury

Full of seasonal surprises and shimmering reflections, the one-mile illuminated trail is choreographed to a soundtrack of festive classics and runs from Friday, November 19 - and includes a chance to see Santa along the way, though visitors will not be able to step into his grotto.

Christmas at Bedgebury will be open on selected dates between Friday, November 19 and Monday, January 3, 2022. Book tickets here.

Christmas at Bedgebury
Christmas at Bedgebury

Father Christmas in Kent

He comes in many forms in Tunbridge Wells. For this year's season, after the success of zoom events, they will continue as well as home visits, alongside the grotto which will be at Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink in Calverley Grounds on selected dates from Saturday, November 27 to Christmas Eve.

A visit will allow plenty of time to talk to Father Christmas and at the end of each visit children can choose an age-appropriate gift. The experience costs £18.50 per child, with adults £3 with at least one paying child. There is a booking fee of £1.50 per transaction. Also on offer is Father Christmas to your Home; Father Christmas to your Street (Tunbridge Wells only) and Father Christmas via Zoom.

Pre-book tickets to see Father Christmas in Kent for 2021 at the ice rink, at home, in your street or via zoom here.

Father Christmas in Tunbridge Wells
Father Christmas in Tunbridge Wells

Hop Farm Family Park

Father Christmas will be back with his renowned magical grotto experience from Saturday, December 4 to Thursday, December 23.

The festive experience includes storytelling with Mother Christmas, craft and activity sheets, balloon models and a Christmas gift from the man himself. Ticket prices include free entry to the Family Park, animal farm and indoor soft play centre and cost £18 with two adults free with every booking. Pre-booking can be done here.

Santa Claus will be visiting soon
Santa Claus will be visiting soon

Leeds Castle

There will be no grotto at the castle near Maidstone but instead outdoor Christmas trails across the grounds.

From Saturday, November 27 to Sunday, January 2, visitors can walk through 12 different artworks representing the Twelve Days of Christmas, such as a lover’s stroll through the turtle dove arch in the woodland walk, seeing seven mirrored swans swimming on the Great Water, or banging 12 drummer’s drums by the play areas. The castle itself will also be dressed with beautiful Christmas décor, with Christmas trees throughout and smaller displays of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Book entry tickets here.

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle

Margate Caves

Father Christmas is packing his Covid pass and jetting in from Lapland to set up a subterranean sparkling snowland hidden beneath Northdown Road in Margate, from Friday, December 3.

Santa and his helpers will be welcoming little visitors to their underground winter wonderland every weekend from then to 3rd to Sunday, December 19.

Children will be able to meet Father Christmas, receive a gift and explore the festively-themed caves. Tickets cost £9.50 per child which includes a gift. Two adults per booking are allowed free, with extra adults costing £4.50. To book click here.

Santa will be at Margate Caves
Santa will be at Margate Caves

The Mall, Maidstone

Santa has settled in to his new grotto in the Mall Maidstone and will be open to meet children until Christmas Eve from 10am to 5pm daily, with a break to feed his reindeer between 1pm and 2pm. There’s no need to book - you can pop along to the grotto on the main level,by the escalators. A visit to Santa costs £5 per child, which includes a gift to take home. Find out more here.

Rare Breeds Centre

Santa will be arriving at the Bethersden site, but only over eight days this year, and they have not been revealed yet. Tickets will go on sale here.

Santa
Santa

Reindeer Centre

Father Christmas and his team of elves will be returning to the centre to meet all the good boys and girls, parents and grandparents on Saturday, November 13, through to Christmas Eve.

Weekdays will be from 10am to 4pm and weekends until 5pm, when visitors are reminded that it may be busy and they may have to queue.

There is no need to book in advance except for Christmas Eve. Children will meet Santa in his magical Christmas cabin and get a gift, before walking through a150ft animated magical grotto with eight scenes, before going to the animal barn.

Tickets start at £12 for adults and £15 for children, including a gift. Find out more here.

Mic-Mac the reindeer from the Reindeer Centre
Mic-Mac the reindeer from the Reindeer Centre

Quex Park

All the good boys and girls are invited to board the Elf Express and depart at the Magical Elf Forest where the elves are waiting with a sweet treat or two before enjoying the Christmas lights all the way to the Elf Tower where Mrs Claus is also waiting. From there, visitors enter the Magical Elf Kingdom where Santa and his reindeer are ready to greet you. Find out more here.

Hever Castle and Gardens at Christmas Picture: Oliver Dixon
Hever Castle and Gardens at Christmas Picture: Oliver Dixon

Hever Castle

The grotto is already sold out this year, but the illuminated lights trail will return along with fairground rides and rooms inside the castle will be traditionally decorated for the season.

The trail will have a Pinocchio theme and run from Wednesday, December 8 to Christmas Eve, with visitors starting at Geppetto’s workshop; seeing a puppet show and spotting Jiminy Cricket. Visitors can give donations to Make a Wish UK. There will be a carousel in front of the castle, big wheel and hook a duck, which cost £2 (by card) each.

Immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit at the castle Wednesdays to Sundays from Saturday, November 20 and daily from Wednesday, December 8 to Christmas Eve and Monday, December 27 to Monday, January 3.
Huskies will also be on site on weekends until Christmas Eve, with donations welcomed for Siberian Husky Welfare Association. Tickets for all events must be prebooked here.

Stuck for ideas? Here's 47 Christmas gifts to try

For more Days Out ideas across Kent click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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