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20 of the best Santa’s Grottos in Kent & East Sussex this Christmas

Father Christmas Grottos in Kent

There are some super Santa’s Grottos in Kent & East Sussex this Christmas – so how do you decide which one to visit?  With tickets now on sale at many of the locations, it’s time to get your skates on and choose where you want to go, unless you have been an earlybird and booked something already.

****Please note, this blog post is from 2016. Click HERE to find out about the best Santa’s Grottos in Kent & East Sussex for 2020!****

I have put together a blog post with 20 of the top Santa’s Grottos in Kent & East Sussex and info about their ticket availability – I’ll update it regularly over the coming weeks,  but if you do spot anything that needs to be amended (e.g. it has suddenly sold out) please do send me a message in the comments below or by emailing me on clare@mytunbridgewells.com. Also if you have any other recommendations for Santa’s Grottos in Kent and East Sussex, please get in touch too!

Father Christmas Grottos in Kent

#1 Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink

Father Christmas and his friendly elves will be welcoming families visiting Tunbridge Wells ice rink on selected dates from Saturday 3rd to Saturday 24th December at the picturesque natural amphitheatre of Calverley Grounds.

Each personalised family visit will allow plenty of time to talk to Father Christmas before children choose an age appropriate gift and have their photograph taken with Father Christmas as a family memento of their visit.  Booking in advance HERE is strongly advised!

Tickets update: Most dates are sold out now but there is some availability on 16, 19 and 20 December.

#2 Christmas Elfxtravaganza at Groombridge Place 

Groombridge Place will be open to visitors between 10am and 4pm for an exciting fun filled Christmas Elfxtravaganza on 3, 4,10 & 11 December and daily from 17 – 23 December. Enjoy a day full of festive entertainment including joining the elves on a Treasure Hunt to find Jack Frost, running through falling snow, writing letters to Santa and making reindeer food ready for Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve.

Everyone can also visit the Elves Craft Workshop and decorate gingerbread to take home. Festive stalls will be selling mulled wine, candy floss, popcorn and Christmas gifts.  Online bookings will receive a 10% discount. For a small additional charge children can have their face painted. Families can pre-book to see Father Christmas in his delightful grotto including a gift for each child.(additional £11.95 per child).

Tickets update: There are some slots left between 19th and 23rd Dec

#3 Sussex Country Gardener

Father Christmas and his real reindeer will be making their grand arrival at Sussex Country Gardener on Saturday 26th November at 10.30am (though visitors are advised to arrive at 10am). The grotto will be open all day and on Sunday 27th November as well as each Saturday and Sunday in December until Sunday 18th plus Monday 19th – Friday 23rd December.

There’ll be lots of treats available at the grand arrival including hot chocolate, bacon baps, face painting and balloons. There are also Breakfast with Santa sessions taking place in the lead up to Christmas too. We visited this Santa’s grotto last year and it has a marvellous, magical feel to it. We managed to have a great chat with Father Christmas and received a family photo at the end of our visit too which was fab! There’s also a gorgeous cafe and a gift shop with the most delightful decorations – well worth a visit! Tickets to see Father Christmas can be booked by calling 01892 852 828. Visit the website HERE for more details.

Tickets update: Tickets currently available on all days mentioned above

#4 Kent & East Sussex Railway

Take a magical train journey on Tenterden’s Steam Railway this Christmas to meet Santa on board the ever popular Santa Specials – operating on 3, 4, 10, 11, 17,18, 22, 23 and 24 December 2016. On board the festively decorated steam trains, visitors will meet Santa during the 1 hour 10 minute return journey to the “North Pole”.

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 include unlimited rides on the Victorian carousel and a free family photograph in the Snow Globe. Tickets can be booked HERE.

Tickets update: There is limited availability on Thursday 22nd December. All of the other days are sold out.

#5 Hever Castle

The theme for Christmas this year at Hever Castle celebrates the history of pantomime in Once Upon A Castle. There are two ways of seeing Father Christmas there – the first is visiting as part of the ‘Twilight Christmas,’ where guests can enjoy the captivating Jack and the Beanstalk Christmas trail surrounded by sparkling lights and meet characters from the story, as they wander along the snowy path and around the illuminated gardens. However pre-booked tickets are sold out for this. There are number of drop-in sessions available for visitors on the day.

The second way of seeing him is part of ‘Once Upon a Castle’ which takes place during the day. Find out more about all  Tickets are sold out for the pre-booked Father Christmas visits at Hever Castle but there is  a limited number of drop-in Father Christmas slots available on each night during the ‘Twilight Christmas’ sessions.

Tickets update: Pre-booked sessions are now booked up. Some additional ‘drop in’ visits have been added to the calendar. Check out the Hever Castle website to find out more.

Father Christmas Grottos in Kent

#6 Santa at Howletts

Meet Santa Claus in his enchanted forest Grotto at Howletts Wild Animal Park on selected weekends throughout November and December 2016.  Santa will be merrily greeting families and giving away special Christmas gifts to children in his grotto.

Santa Claus will be greeting guests from 10.30am – 4pm. Entry to the grotto is £8 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 an additional charge. Tickets can be booked HERE.

#7 Spa Valley Railway

Bookings can be made online for tickets to see Father Christmas at the Spa Valley Railway known as the ‘Santa Specials’. The Santa Specials start at a festive themed Eridge station. Santa and his elves will be on the train with each child receiving a gift and enjoying entertainment on their journey to Tunbridge Wells.

Father Christmas will transfer to his sleigh in the Victorian engine shed and will be happy to pose for photos with the little guests. There will be other attractions including the Christmas Model Railway, face painting, and Victorian penny slot machines too. The Santa Specials are running on selected dates from Saturday 3rd December to Saturday 24th December. Further info on this lovely traditional Father Christmas visit can be found HERE. Read about our Santa Specials visit last year HERE.

Tickets update: The only date available is 9th December

#8 Brookside Garden Centre

Brookside Garden Centre is back with its multi-award winning Christmas grotto with the first visit taking place on 14th November.

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 has won the ‘Greatest Christmas Grotto’ awards for 4 years in a row alongside the ‘Best Christmas Display Team’ 3 years in a row and are dedicated to continuing this experience. Tickets  to see Father Christmas at Brookside Garden Centre sold out completely on the night they went on sale. I have decided to keep it on here so that  if you happen to look on here when you are booking your tickets next year, you’ll keep this one in mind! We went on Christmas Eve last year and it was super!

Tickets update: Tickets are sold out for Brookside Garden Centre

#9 Royal Victoria Place

Father Christmas has confirmed that he will be back again this year at Royal Victoria Place and will be arriving into town for the Christmas Lights Switch on, on Thursday 17th November! It will be the same Santa from last year and the year before – if you had the pleasure of seeing him before, you will know that he’s an incredibly believable Father Christmas with twinkly eyes and a very convincing beard and demeanour. It does make me wonder…..

Tickets were available for each visit ‘on the day’ last year. I will update this with any further info as soon as I have it!

#10 Drusillas

There’s a selection of magical Christmas Events for children at Drusillas Park’s Winter Wonderland in Sussex from meeting Father Christmas in his cosy Christmas Cottage and receiving an early Christmas gift to visit the Park throughout December and being dazzled by the beautiful Winter Wonderland Illuminations; Look out for the daily light show synchronised to music which brings to life a host of magical creatures in an ice-capped kingdom. And don’t forget to meet the real life Reindeers or Hug a Husky in the Ice Cave!

Visitors can purchase entry tickets to Drusillas through the website HERE anytime up to midnight of the night before their visit to benefit from an online discount. Alternatively they can also pay at the gate on the day. Tickets to see Father Christmas who will be there from Saturday 19th November onwards (weekends only) and Thursday 15th – Friday 23rd December (daily) are only available at the Park on the day.

Tickets update: Tickets can be purchased to see Father Christmas on the day.

10 more Santa’s Grottos in Kent and East Sussex…

#11 Bluewater

This year, visitors are invited to meet Father Christmas in his traditional toy workshop at Bluewater in a brand new log cabin style grotto from Thursday 24th November to Christmas Eve.

You’ll be greeted at the entrance by Bubbles the Elf and guided through the workshop to find  Santa’s keys and meet a very special guest – Paddington™! Only Santa’s elves are allowed inside the toy workshop, so before visitors go in,  they’ll need to be transformed into an elf using a little Christmas magic. Photo opportunities will be available with Santa and Paddington and can be purchased as you leave the Grotto. The Santa’s Grotto experience at Bluewater lasts approximately 40 minutes and each child receives a luxury plush toy at the end of their visit.

Tickets update: Tickets are sold out on Christmas eve but available on most dates before then

#12 Godstone Farm

Father Christmas is returning to his special festive Christmas Cabin at Godstone Farm this December. Mrs Christmas and her team of brilliant Elves will be joining him too, with a sleigh load of pressies to create memories to last a life time.

Experience the magic of Father Christmas from Saturday 3rd December on selected days right up until Christmas Eve when he will be heading off to deliver presents to children all over the world.

Tickets Update: this magical experience sold out last year so make sure you book your time slot early to avoid disappointment.

Father Christmas Grottos in Kent

#13 Kent Life

Santa will be taking time out of his busy schedule to visit Kent Life on 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th and 17th to 24th December. Jump on board the Land Train driven by the head elf and hear the Christmas tales. Meet Father Christmas in his magical grotto and take home a special gift. Grown ups can also enjoy a cheeky mince pie and sampling of hot Cider too. There’ll be real reindeers too plus the opportunity to write a letter to Santa in the playbarn, visit Cuddle Corner and take a trip to the paint pot studio.

Tickets update: Tickets are completely sold out on 11th, 18th & 24th December. Limited availability on 10th & 17th December.

#14 Llama Park

Father Christmas is coming to The Llama Park in Forest Row (RH18 5JN)  starting from 26th November. I haven’t been there but it comes highly recommended by a friend who is going for the second year in a row this year. Tickets can be reserved for your grotto visit and lunch by calling 01825 712 040. There’s a £3 booking fee and pre-booked visits need to take place between 10am and 1.30pm. From 2pm onwards, Santa will be hosting non pre-booked visits on a first come first served basis. Find out more HERE.

#15 Millbrook Garden Centre

The Elves are busy putting the final touches to the Magical Millbrook Grotto at Millbrook Garden Centre in Crowborough. Visitors can expect to be taken on a journey through a magical winter wonderland full of enchanting sights and sounds with fun and games along the way.  When they find Santa’s house, he’ll be there to greet them and ensure that all good girls and boys are given a gift to take home.

The Millbrook Grotto opens on Saturday 26th November and closes on Saturday 24th December. The experience will last approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Tickets can be booked online HERE.

#16 Notcutts Garden Centre

It looks like tickets for Santa’s Grotto have gone on sale for Notcutts Tunbridge Wells, though according to the website, tickets are ‘going live, centre by cente’. There seems to be lots of availability including Christmas eve visits to the grotto at the time of writing this, however I am in the process of double checking this and will update this shortly. I have heard that this is a really nice Father Christmas grotto to visit and there’ll be real reindeer there too. Further info for visiting Father Christmas at Notcutts Tunbridge Wells can be found HERE.

Tickets Update: Some dates have sold out including 10th, 18th and 24th December but there is good availability on some days

#17 Penshurst Place

Children can visit Father Christmas in Narnia at the beautiful Penshurst Place on weekends from 26th November to 11th December and daily from 23rd December.

Visitors will begin their journey in the activity centre, creating festive decoration and letters for Father Christmas and his elves. Once Father Christmas has sent word of his arrival in Narnia, visitors will be guided through the fantasy woodland by Mr Tumnus, before meeting Father Christmas in his sleigh. Tickets include Narnia activities and crafts, plus a candy cane and a present.

Tickets update: There is a very limited number of tickets available

5 more Santa’s Grottos in Kent and East Sussex…

Father Christmas Grottos in Kent

#18 Bewl Water

Father Christmas and his many elves will be welcoming visitors for an enchanting Christmas journey around Bewl Water on 10th-11th December and 15th – 24th December. Visit Father Christmas in his glittering grotto where every child will receive a special Christmas gift from the man himself! The Grotto slots are available from 10am to 4pm. Bookings must be made in advance.

Collect your Magic map from those cheeky elves so you can join our festive treasure hunt. Travel aboard the Santa Express and The Bewl Belle as you follow our special treasure hunting route. For more information and to book your place please call 01892 240567 or email christmas@bewlwater.co.uk.

#19 Ruxley Manor

Visitors can take a very special journey through the magical Christmas Grotto at Ruxley Manor, where they will be greeted by Elves and Mother Christmas who will guide them through the enchanting Christmas experience.

Play a fun bowling game in the Grotto entrance and see how many snowmen can be bowled over!  Make Father Christmas’ very own secret, magical reindeer feed to sprinkle across your lawn on Christmas Eve too. The grotto opens on Saturday 12th November and tickets can be booked online.

Tickets update: There are selected weekday dates available in November and December as well as the weekends of 12, 13, 19 and 20th November.

#20 Salomons Estate

Santa and his elves are bringing some festive cheer to Salomons Estate this December as he opens up his cosy Christmas Grotto! Come and meet him and the elves as they take up residence in this beautiful Kentish setting. The Bistro restaurant will be open to serve delicious Christmas specials and winter-warmer drinks.

The Grotto will be open on 20th, 21st, 22nd and 24th December from 10am to 4pm. Booking is essential and payment must be made in advance. Please call 01892 515152 to book or email reservations@salomons-estate.com.

#21 The Hop Farm

Tickets are on sale now to see Father Christmas at The Hop Farm between Saturday 3rd December and Friday 23rd December.  The visit includes entry to The Hop Farm Family Park (and indoor soft play, crazy golf and outdoor adventure play area). Children get to  meet Santa in his magical grotto and enjoy his workshop with lots of fun Christmas activities taking place.

From Christmas live entertainment to balloon modelling, children can also write their Christmas letter to give to Father Christmas in person beforehand!

Tickets Update: There is currently availability on all days, though there are only a few time slots available on some of the dates.

#22 The Reindeer Centre

A delightful treat of magical experiences for young and old alike, The Reindeer Centre in Bethersden near Ashford (TN26 3EQ) is the home of  England’s original ‘Reindeer Grotto’.

Just to give a bit of background – After importing a few reindeer from Sweden over 14 years ago, the centre now has over 100 reindeer which can be hired out.  The centre is set in 40 acres of beautiful grounds and visitors are invited to walk through 7 beautiful animated scenes before meeting Father Christmas.

Ticket update: Tickets can only be pre-booked for Christmas eve. All other dates from the 12th to the 23rd December are ‘pay on the day’ as normal.


Please note – although I do love to take my kids to different places to see Father Christmas in Kent and East Sussex (can’t you tell I’m a bit of a fanatic?!), I have not had the chance to visit all of the above though maybe I could make that a challenge?.

When you do decide where you would like to go, please do check out the photos and perhaps check the social media of the place you are going to see if there are any pics from last year’s visits, just to give you even more of an idea of what it will be like. Have a wonderful time!