Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a visit to Santa.
RAPID, Williamson Square, Liverpool
Where: Rapid grotto, access via third floor of the store in Williamson Square, Liverpool city center.
How much:Entry for all is just 60p, for those wanting a gift it’s £5 and a photograph is £5-plus.
In the grotto: Its second year in its new home, the former Lewis’s grotto is better than ever. Not content with their status quo, grotto guru Mike Done has revamped it to give Santa and his visitors a treat. This year the theme is Alice in Wonderland – Alice being a bear – and brave Alice takes to task the Queen of Hearts who is trying to freeze Liverpool for Christmas!
WHITEFIELD Car Park, Delamere Forest, Cheshire.
How much: £2.50 for children and £1.50 for adults, plus a gift of a Cheshire grown, Forestry Commission tree.
In the grotto: Walking in a winter wonderland… Father Christmas’s grotto is in the heart of the woodland and visitors can walk through magical winter scenes before meeting the man himself to reveal their wish list.
Delamere Forest is also a great place to pick up your Christmas tree.
Opening times: Santa will be settling his sleigh here during the weekends of December 3/4; 10/11 and 17/18, between 9am and 5pm (last entry 4pm). New for this year, too, is a small local crafts market and, back by popular demand is the land train chugging through the forest (£2.50 per person).
CROXTETH Hall and Country Park, Croxteth, Liverpool.
How much: £7.50 per child (which includes a quality gift and a photograph with Santa or a helper) and £1.50 for adults which includes admission to Home Farm where you will be able to see the rare breed animals and a life size nativity scene.
In the grotto: It’s a good job Father Christmas has such a long beard and a warm fleecy suit as they’ll keep him warm in his special log cabin. Wrap up and enjoy this special outdoor treat.
Opening times: The grotto is open Wednesdays to Sundays from November 26 until Christmas Eve, between 10.30am and 4pm (last admission 3.30pm). The grotto is closed for lunch on Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 1pm. The last entry in 2.30pm on Christmas Eve as Santa has to leave early!
DOBBIES Garden World, Speke Hall Avenue, Liverpool and Benthams Way, Birkdale, Southport.
How much: £5 including a gift, photos are £3.50.
In the grotto: He has arrived! Enjoy a ‘woodland’ walk before arriving in Santa’s outdoor grotto (in Liverpool, that’s a real shepherd’s hut). You can also book a special breakfast and supper with Santa and, in Southport, Santa is hosting a special breakfast and Peter Pan panto on December 10 and 17 from 9.30-11.30am for £12.95.
Opening times: In Liverpool: Monday to Wednesday, noon-6.30pm, Thursday and Friday, 12.30am-7pm, Saturday, 10am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-5pm. In December opening hours are extended, check with the store on 0151-728 3070.
In Southport, you are advised to check with the store as times are more varied – 01704 552920.
GORDALE Garden Centre, Chester High Road, Burton, South Wirral.
How much: £4 per child including a gift with all money going to the Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology, the Hospice of the Good Shepherd and Paediatric Oncology.
In the grotto: A Christmas institution on the Wirral, Santa is always happy to make a stop at Gordale and, on the first day of his arrival, his reindeers are set to make a guest appearance.
Opening times: 11am-3pm on November 26 – the day Father Christmas arrives and then 2-5pm weekdays and 11am-5pm weekends until December 23.
ICE Palace, Chavasse Park, Liverpool One.
How much: Advanced bookings, £5.75 (including £1.25 booking fee – you can book online on the Liverpool One website) on the day, £4.50.
In the grotto: Take your little ones to visit Santa in his magical Ice Palace. Join the excitement as you pass through the glistening walkways with animated penguin friends, leading to Santa’s chamber where every child will receive a special gift. And don’t forget – you can take your child’s letter to Santa to post in the Christmas post-box inside the Grotto.
Opening Times: They’re now until December 16, Monday to Friday, 11am-7pm; Saturday, 9am-7pm and Sunday, 11am-5pm. Monday, December 19 to Friday, December 23, 10am-8pm, and Saturday, December 24, 9am- 5pm (last booking 4.30pm).
Please note queuing for this experience is outdoors and may take up to 20 minutes. It’s going to be chilly, so make sure you wrap up warm.
ALBERT Dock – Albert Dock, Liverpool.
How much: Adults, £9.95; children,£7.95; concessions, £8.95 and family, £29 £5 additional child, up to three per family ticket).
In the grotto: Or, rather, the duckmarine! Join Santa on board the special Christmas themed tours, departing daily from Gower Street at the Albert Dock. Children can write a letter to Santa in any venue at the Albert Dock and post it into the little red postboxes situated in the venues (no charge to do this but if mum and dad pay a £5 donation to NSPCC Santa will write back to them personally!)
Opening times: November 25-December 31, starting at 10.30am until dusk. Book 0151-708 7799 or enquiries@ theyellowduckmarine.co.uk
WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre, Fish Lane, Burscough.
How much: £3.50 but Martin Mere has a special deal this year: £8 for admission and a visit to Father Christmas for one adult and one child (an extra child is £3), including a gift for the child, a cup of tea or coffee for the adult and a bag of bird seed. Book for this on 01704 891220.
In the grotto: Santa sits in a special Wetland woodland home. You can make all sorts of Christmas crafts and see an exhibition devoted to the centenary of Scott’s Polar exhibition.
Opening times: December 10/11; December 17-22 between 11am-4pm.
TATTON Park, Knutsford, Cheshire.
How much: Adult £5, Children £4 (includes gift from Santa).
In the grotto: Santa arrives at Tatton Park on Friday, December 9, with a lantern parade between 6-8pm. Children can visit him the following weekends. This year he’ll have Prancer and Dancer with him, two adorable reindeer. All the farm animals, including the donkeys, pigs and horses and Tatton’s famous rare breed animals are on show, while some star in the nativity scene.
Visit Santa in his grotto and receive a special Christmas gift. Plus children’s rides, face painting and story telling.
Opening times: December 10/11, 17/18 and 24. 11am- 4pm (last entry 3pm).
Golden Square, Old Market Place, Warrington.
How much: £4.50 per child, including a gift, and free for adults (limit of two adults per child).
In the grotto: Visit Santa at his grotto throughout December and be transported into his festive world as you listen to his Christmas tales.
Opening times: From Friday, November 25 until Saturday, December 24 – weekdays 11am-5pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday noon-5pm. Open 10am-