Home Christmas The best places to see Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex

The best places to see Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex

Christmas family days and events in Kent and East Sussex

There are some super places to see Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex this year! Yes, tickets have sold out for some of the venues already, but fret not, there are still plenty of options to meet the big man during November and December 2017.

****Please note, this blog post is from 2016. Click HERE to find out about the best Santa’s Grottos in Kent & East Sussex for 2019!****

This blog post will be regularly updated with information about ticket availability for these venues. If you do notice anything which isn’t quite up-to-date, please do feel free to email me and let me know – clare@mytunbridgewells.com. Please also note, this post is in no particular order and please also check the venue’s website before your visit.

Whichever place you go to see Father Christmas in Kent & East Sussex this year, I hope you have a wonderful time!

♥  The Spa Valley Railway Santa Specials

best places to see Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex Spa Valley Railway

The Spa Valley Railway Santa Specials start at Eridge station on 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24 December, where visitors are met with the smell of hot chestnuts and a roaring coal fire in the festively decorated waiting room.

Board the train to the strains of traditional Christmas music, then sit back and enjoy a ride through the winter countryside to Tunbridge Wells West. Santa will visit every child on board the train with a gift and they will then have a chance to meet him at Tunbridge Wells West where they can sit on Santas’s sleigh for photos.

Also check out the spectacular Christmas tree, watch the model trains go round, view traditional Christmas shows in the small cinema and play on the Victorian penny machines. Read our review HERE.

Tickets availability: Limited availability on 10th, 16th, 21st and 22nd December. The other dates have now sold out. Tickets can be booked HERE.

♥  Santa’s Fireside Grotto at Royal Victoria Place

best places to see Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex Royal Victoria Place

Santa will be making his grand entrance at Royal Victoria Place on Sunday 19th November with lots of festive family fun (which you can read about HERE).

Santa’s ‘fireside themed’ Grotto will then be open daily from Monday 20th November right up to and including Christmas Eve. Located on Level 1 opposite M&S, entry is just £5.50 per child including a luxury wrapped gift. This Santa is particularly twinkly-eyed and authentic and must be seen to be believed!!

Tickets availability: At the moment there is availability on all dates with the exception of 22nd December. Tickets can be booked online HERE

♥  Brookside Garden Centre’s Magical Grotto

Brookside Garden Centre best places to see Father Christmas in Kent

Brookside Garden Centre’s Grotto is absolutely magical but demand is high for the tickets and they have already sold out for all of the weekend slots as well as daytime slots in December. However there are a few spaces available on weekdays at the end of November which could work for children who haven’t yet started school?

Children and adults can take a magical walk through winding paths full of bright twinkle lights and hidden surprises, leading them to meet Santa in his Finnish hut in the Magical Forest.  Brookside is an award winning grotto and after visiting it two years in a row, I can see why!

Brookside also hosts Showcase Days just for grown-ups, with all proceeds going to charity. Find out more about them HERE.

Tickets availability: There are some slots available during the morning on Tuesday 28th, Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th November. Tickets can be booked HERE.

More of the best places to see Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex

♥  Father Christmas at Calverley Grounds (next to Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink)

Father Christmas at Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink in Calverley Grounds

Father Christmas will be back in his cosy log cabin this December next to Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink in the beautiful Calverley Grounds in central Tunbridge Wells.

From Saturday 2nd to Sunday 24th December 2017, visitors can meet Father Christmas for a truly personalised family visit which includes a meeting with the friendly elves, spending a magical time talking to Father Christmas and receiving a quality gift.

Children will also get to write a letter while waiting and included in the ticket price is a professionally mounted photograph to mark each family’s special visit. This year, there’s also a new ‘Father Christmas’ Sleigh Photographic Opportunity available. Find out more HERE.

Tickets availability: All dates are now sold out

♥   The Christmas Experience at Bewl Water

Christmas Experience at Bewl Water

Celebrate Christmas with a visit to Santa at Bewl Water on 9, 10, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24 December. This year, Santa needs your help too – so hop on the Santa Express train and help the elves find the missing Christmas items, after visiting Santa at his waterside grotto.

Following all of that hard work, you might like to stop off for a luxury hot chocolate at The Waterfront cafe and toast some marshmallows on their fire pit! A visit to the Grotto and Treasure Hunt is £16 per child and £8 per adult.

Tickets availability:  There are still some limited slots available. For more information, call 01892 890 000. Tickets can be purchased online HERE.

♥  Santa’s Grotto at Sussex Country Gardener

Sussex Country Gardener Tunbridge Wells this Christmas

Santa will be arriving in style with his real reindeer at Sussex Country Gardener on Saturday 25th November and will be welcoming visitors on selected dates right up to Christmas Eve.

We love wandering through Santa’s Winter Wonderland at this family run garden centre each year. A framed picture with Santa himself is included in the ticket price too as well as a present.

Look out for other festive events taking place at the same time too (more info HERE) – including Breakfast with Santa, Create your own Christmas Fairy garden and Make your own Christmas sweets.

Tickets availability:   Tickets are available on 21st and 22nd December but the other dates are now sold out. Tickets can be purchased online HERE.

♥   Christmas Magic at Groombridge Place

Groombridge Place at Christmas

Groombridge Place will be open to visitors between 10am and 4pm for an exciting fun filled Christmas extravaganza on the following dates – 2, 3, 9,10, 16, 17, 23 and 24 December 2017.

Families visiting Groombridge Place can enjoy a day full of festive entertainment including joining the elves in their work shop, going on a Treasure Hunt and running through falling snow. There will also be Gingerbread decorating and a chance to make some Christmas crafts as well as several theatrical Christmas shows every day. Everyone can meet Frosty the cheeky snowman too!

In addition to this, families can also pre-book to see Father Christmas (£11.95 per child) in his delightful grotto, including a gift for each child.

Tickets availability: Visit the Groombridge Place website HERE for booking details. Tickets for the Christmas Magic event are available for each day that it is taking place, but tickets to visit Father Christmas while there (which need to be booked separately) are now only available on 23rd December.

Some of the best places to see Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex

♥   The Magical Millbrook Grotto

Millbrook Garden Centre best places to see Father Christmas in Kent

Prepare to be transported to a twinkly winter wonderland at the Magical Millbrook Garden Centre Grotto in Crowborough this Christmas. Full of enchanting sights and sounds, with fun and games along the way, the grotto opens with an awesome arrival from Father Christmas on Saturday 25th November and continues right up to Christmas eve.

Meet some Festive Animals on Saturday 16th and Saturday 23rd December too and drop into the Greencafe throughout December for a delicious festive lunch with all the trimmings.

Tickets Availability: There is plenty of availability on all of the dates, with some slots sold out on 10th, 16th, 23rd and 24th December. Click here for more details and to book.

♥   Breakfast & Afternoon Tea with Father Christmas at Riverhill

Riverhill's Ice Rink

Riverhill will be hosting a truly magical experience for the first time this Christmas with a Skating Rink as well as a visit from Father Christmas.

The man himself will be visiting for Breakfast and Afternoon Tea during December where visitors will be treated to a delicious meal and will then get the chance to meet Father Christmas, who will be giving out gifts to all ‘good’ children. Taking place on Saturdays and Sundays from 2nd to 23rd December, breakfast commences at 9.30am, and seating for Afternoon Tea will be at 12.30pm and 3.30pm.

Tickets Availability: Breakfast and Afternoon Tea is now SOLD OUT on 10th / 16th / 17th / 23rd December. Tickets for the remaining dates (2nd, 3rd and 9th December) as well as skating sessions can be purchased HERE.

♥   The Kent & East Sussex Railway Santa Specials

Santa on the Kent and East Sussex Railway

Take a magical steam train journey to meet Santa this Christmas on the Kent & East Sussex Railway Santa Special trains. At Tenterden Station the beautiful Victorian carousel provides unlimited free rides for the young and young at heart alike. On board the festively decorated steam trains, you’ll meet Santa during the 1 hour 10 minute return journey.

Look out for his elf helpers with their sacks full of lovely presents – every child receives an age appropriate gift from Santa himself whilst teenagers (13 to 15) receive a scrummy box of festive chocolates.  Everyone receives complimentary refreshments too – a mince pie & choice of soft or alcoholic drink for adults and a soft drink & chocolate bar for children.

Tickets Availability: There are several different ticket options, depending on whether you would like to go First Class etc. however there is still Fair / Good availability for the Standard tickets on all dates, with the exception on 10th December where there are just a few. Visit the website HERE for exact info on availability and to book tickets.

♥    Meet Santa and his Elves at Howletts

Howletts best places to see Father Christmas in Kent

Expect some Christmas magic at Howletts this year where you and your little ones can meet Santa Claus and his friendly elves on selected weekends from the end of November into December.  Time slots are every 30 minutes from 10.00am until 4.00pm – Santa and his elves will be merrily greeting families and giving away special Christmas gifts to children.

Entry to the grotto is £10 per child, including a special gift and free admission into the grotto for adults.  A valid Membership or single visit park entry ticket is also required. Souvenir photos are available for a small additional charge.

Tickets Availability: There is availability on all dates (25th & 26th November and 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd December), though some of the slots are fully booked.

More of the best places to see Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex

♥  Meet Father Christmas at Hever Castle

best places to see Father Christmas in Kent Hever Castle

The theme for Christmas this year at Hever Castle celebrates The History of Christmas Carols. The grounds of the castle are magical at Christmas, as is the Castle itself which is adorned in  beautiful decorations with roaring log fires.  Discover the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ trail and wander through the illuminated gardens as dusk falls.

Each weekend and daily from selected dates, ride the carousel and enjoy vintage fairground stalls (£1 per go), meet characters along the trail, hug a husky and take your photo as a memento (suggested £2 donation towards Siberian Husky Welfare Association) and children can join a craft workshop to make an angel.

Although the pre-booked sessions to visit Father Christmas are now sold out,  there are number of drop-in sessions available for visitors to meet him in his Toy Workshop. This is on a first come first served basis and tickets only be purchased in the grounds on the day at the Information Centre or Courtyard Shop on 16, 17, 21, 22 & 23 December

Tickets Availability: Pre-booked sessions are now sold out. See above for drop-in visits taking place on 16, 17, 21, 22 & 23 December. Find out more HERE.

♥   Home Visit from A Christmas Fairy, Queen Elsa or Elf! 

Christmas fairs in Tunbridge Wells

A slightly alternative option (or something to do in addition to seeing Father Christmas) is a home visit from a Christmas Fairy, Queen Elsa or Elf!

Becky Boo Parties can arrange a visit to your home from Monday 27th November to Sunday 24th December, with a very special visitor delivering stories about all the Christmas preparations going on at the North Pole along with a gift for each child. This is a lovely idea and could be combined with a little Christmas party. Find out more HERE.

Tickets Availability: There are various slots available between Monday 27th November – Sunday 24th December. Each 15-20 minute session costing £35 per visit for up to two children and an extra £5 per child thereafter. Please contact Becky on Beckybooparties@gmail.com  / 07840153026 to find out more or to book your session.

Other places to visit Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex this November and December include:

♥  Meet Santa at The Reindeer Centre in Bethersden, Kent – note, you only need to prebook for the Christmas Eve visits

♥  Santa’s Christmas Cottage at Drusillas in Alfrison, East Sussex

♥  Father Christmas’s Festive Christmas Cabin at Godstone Farm

♥  The Penshurst Place Christmas Grotto – this is now sold out but I thought I would include it in case you are wondering if it’s an option…

♥  Santa’s Grotto and Ice Rink at Bluewater 

♥  Meet Santa at Kent Life Heritage Farm Park near Maidstone

♥  Father Christmas and his Grotto at The Llama Park near Forest Row

♥  Santa’s Grotto at Notcutts Tunbridge Wells

♥  Breakfast or Tea with Santa at Wyevale Tunbridge Wells

♥  Sunday Lunch with Santa at Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells 

♥  Santa’s Grotto and Ice Rink at Ruxley Manor in Sidcup, though very limted availability for this popular grotto

♥  Meet Santa ar Polhill Garden Centre near Sevenoaks – weekend dates in December are sold out but there is availability on other days

♥  Father Christmas at The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood

I hope you found this blog post useful. As mentioned above, if you think there are other grottos / and places to visit Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex which you think should be included, please do let me know by messaging me on the Facebook page HERE or you can comment below too if you like!

See the My Tunbridge Wells Events Calendar HERE for more fun and festive events coming up in November & December:





  1. Hi your probably think this a very strange question, My partner was never taken too see father Christmas as a child her wish this year is too go and see him she had a poor upbringing and never celebrated Christmas as a child, is there anywhere that you can suggest I can take her too see a santa claus that will bring her wish true she is 48 years old many thanks for your time regards Clive

  2. Hi Clive. The Father Christmas at Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells is a really lovely man. I bet if you spoke to his elves beforehand and explained the situation, they would be very understanding….Also you could go at a quieter time of the day e.g. on a weekday morning before the schools break up so that it isn’t full of children / families perhaps? I think it’s really nice that you are trying to fulfil her wish. Hope it goes well…

  3. Sorry me again Clive – one of the Garden Centres might be good to take your wife to either – Sussex Country Gardener and Millbrook Garden Centre are both family-run. Again, I’m sure you could call them beforehand and explain that you are taking your wife. I have been to the one at Sussex Country Gardener and it has a lovely little Christmas trail leading up to meeting Father Christmas. It’s also a small private room / grotto where visitors actually meet him and have a chat which may work well…

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