If you are wondering where to see Santa in Kent and East Sussex this Christmas then look no further! Some dates and venues are already sold out while other places haven’t even started selling tickets yet. There are several options which don’t need to be pre-booked either (Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells for example) so hopefully this blog post will help you in making your decision about where to take the kids this year.
Please note – this post is from 2018 – CLICK HERE to read the 2019 blog post with the top places to see Santa in Kent and East Sussex.
The main part of this guide is in alphabetical order so make sure you keep scrolling to the end and please do check directly on the relevant website for more information before you visit. We have included a little update on ticket availability for each place to visit Santa at the time of publishing this post (mid-October) and will try to update it over the coming weeks as tickets sell out. So here it is…
♥ Bewl Water Christmas Experience
Your adventure begins as soon as you arrive! Families can enjoy festive fun with the cheeky Elves and spend quality time with Father Christmas in his cosy grotto. The magic doesn’t stop there, all the family can skate on the ‘Magic Ice’ rink. The children can make the most of the fairground rides, with unlimited turns and everyone can enjoy warming up by toasting marshmallows and making s’mores at the fire pit.
With the Magic Wishing Tree, Christmas themed crafts, soft play, secret woodland wonderland, and many more photo opportunities this really is the perfect festive experience to create magical memories with your family.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Tickets which can be purchased HERE are normally £35 per child and £18 per adult and there’s an exclusive 10% discount for My Tunbridge Wells readers when purchasing tickets and using the code MyTunbridgeWells10.
♥ Visit Brookside Garden Centre’s Award Winning Grotto
Last year Brookside Garden Centre were awarded the title of ‘The Greatest Small Garden Centre Christmas Grotto’ and they are completely dedicated to providing a magical experience. Visitors are taken on a walk through winding paths full of bright twinkly lights and hidden surprises leading them to meet Santa in his Finnish hut in the Magical Forest.
Brookside Garden Centre are committed to supporting good causes and this year, proceeds from their Showcase Days (for adults only) will go to the charity DEBRA. Plus on Christmas Eve this year, Father Christmas won’t be there as he will be busy getting ready for a long night ahead and pre-booked tickets are not being sold for 24th December, BUT families can turn up and be shown around this spectacular grotto by the elves before getting a few pictures with them.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Tickets go on sale on Monday 15th of October at 17.30 and can be puchased HERE.
♥ Cosy up with Father Christmas at his cabin next to Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink
Visit Father Christmas in his cosy log cabin for an intimate ten minute private experience next to Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink in Calverley Grounds, Tunbridge Wells.
You can visit his cabin in a festive haven set in the trees and snow on selected dates from Saturday 1st to Monday 24th December 2018. Little visitors get to write him a letter and also receive a professionally mounted photograph included in the ticket price.
Why not make a festive family day out of it while there, and go along to the open air ice-rink at Calverley Grounds too? Returning for its 8th successive year, the Ice Rink will be open from Friday 16th November 2018 to Tuesday 1st January 2019 (closed Christmas Day).
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Slots on 16th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th December are sold out. There is decent availability on 1st & 2nd December as well as 20th December and limited availability on the other dates. Bookings can be made HERE.
♥ Experience a Christmas Circus Spectacular at Groombridge Place
Celebrate the timeless magic of the Circus between 20 and 23 December and 27 and 30 December 2018 at Groombridge Place. The festive Big Top circus is free with admission to Groombridge Place and there will be four thrilling Christmas themed family performances each day.
Everyone can share in a truly memorable seasonal experience with audiences of all ages being dazzled by amazing international performers including Acrobats, Aerialists and other Speciality Acts. The all-weather heated Big Top has state of the art sound and lighting technology and seats up to 600 people. Spend the day at Groombridge Place and enjoy Christmas stalls offering a wide range of festive goodies including beer, Glühwein, popcorn, hot dogs and candyfloss with carol singers adding to the festive cheer.
Families who have paid admission to Groombridge Place in advance online can also pre-book to see Father Christmas in his delightful grotto. Each child will receive a gift. Visits to see Father Christmas are £11.95 per child. Adults free with a paying child. Father Christmas visits can be booked for weekends in December and every day between Thursday 20 and Sunday 23 December 2018.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: See the Groombridge Place website HERE for entry prices and more info.
♥ See Santa hard at work in his toy workshop at Hever Castle
Tickets for visiting Santa in his grotto at Hever Castle are now sold out but visitors will have the opportunity of seeing him in his workshop at one of the drop-in sessions. Tickets are £8 and children see Santa on a first come first served basis – tickets can only be purchased at Hever Castle grounds on the day and the toy workshop experience is taking place on 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 22nd & 23rd December.
Hever Castle & Gardens is a magical place to visit at Christmas with plenty of festive fun in addition to seeing santa. Take a tour around the castle adorned in festive decorations, roaring log fires and twinkling lights. Wrap up warm to walk the interactive Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ festive trail through the stunning grounds (on selected dates) and ride the carousel or enjoy vintage fairground stalls on selected dates too. Plus meet characters along the festive trail including Bob Cratchit and Scrooge.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Tickets can only be purchased at Hever Castle grounds on the day and the toy workshop experience is taking place on 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 22nd & 23rd December.
♥ Sunday Lunch with Santa at Hotel du Vin, Tunbridge Wells
Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells will have a very special visitor in the weekends before Christmas. Enjoy an iconic Sunday Lunch, and an early visit from the man himself on Sunday 9th and Sunday 16th December.
Start with a seasonal soup, before helping yourself from the fantastic French Market Table. A stunning centrepiece of Hotel du Vin’s Sunday Lunch, which holds a generous buffet of fresh seafood, charcuterie, pâtés and rillettes, as well as salads, vegetables and freshly baked artisan breads.
Moving onto your main course. A traditional roast, perhaps? Or you might like to try one of our Sunday lunchtime classics, served with Hotel du Vin panache. And if you still have room, the desserts are seriously irresistible. The children’s lunch includes a gift for all the kids, a chat and photo with Father Christmas. Seatings are available at 12pm or 3pm.
♥ Santa Specials on the The Kent & East Sussex Railway
A festive treat for train lovers beckons this December, take a magical steam train journey to meet Santa this Christmas with the popular Santa Special trains from Tenterden to Northiam on the Kent and East Sussex Railway. 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 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. Babies under 18 months of age at the time of travel are free of charge (providing they are not occupying a seat) and there’s a little free gift for them too!
As part of the free activities on the day, there will be a top-secret festive attraction for all the family to enjoy, children can write a letter to Santa and each group will receive one free printed family photo to take away as a momento of the day.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Tickets are selling out fast. There’s a good description of availability on this page(where tickets can be booked too).
♥ Join in the festive fun at Kent Life
Meet Santa in this magical grotto at Kent Life and also jump on board the festive Land Train driven by the head elf. Children can meet the reindeers who will reside at Kent Life during December and can also decorate festive gingerbread. There are mince pies and a spot of cider sampling for grown ups too.
Dates that Santa will be at Kent Life are as follows: 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December. Time slots are from 10.15am and the time you book is the time the Santa experience starts – not when you will see Santa. Allow 30 minutes for all the festive fun and spend the rest of the day enjoying everything else that Kent Life has to offer!
TICKET AVAILABILITY: There is currently good availability for all dates in December. Tickets can be booked HERE.
♥ See Santa at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve or Tyland Barn (Kent Wildlife Trust)
Nature lovers can combine a trip to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve and visit Santa in his nature bird hide grotto hosted by Kent Wildlife Trust! Children will receive a present and can also take part in a craft activity, plus a nature trail. Throughout the day there will be local stalls, carol singing, arts and crafts, mince pies, mulled apple juice, guided walks and much more. Santa will be there on Saturday 15th of December between 10.30am and 4pm. Please book a slot to visit him (for £6) directly on their website.
The very next day (Sunday 16th of December) you can meet Santa in Tyland barn near Maidstone, surrounded by a wildlife garden and his elves. Santa will give your child a present and then they will get to take part in a decoration craft workshop, as well as explore the wildlife garden in the winter! Price and time slots are the same as Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Still wondering where to see Santa in Kent and East Sussex?
♥ Visit Millbrook Garden Centre in Crowborough for some grotto magic
Visit Santa’s house at Millbrook Garden Centre in Crowborough where he will be there to greet you and ensure that all good children have a little treat to take away. The Millbrook Grotto is open from Santa’s arrival (24th November) until Christmas Eve.
Tickets are £11 for a child and £4 an adult (which includes a sweet treat for the adults). The experience will last 20-30 minutes. Make sure that you arrive on time so as not to miss any of the magic!
TICKET AVAILABILITY: There is currently good availability for most dates with just a couple of slots currently sold out on Christmas Eve. Tickets can be booked HERE.
♥ Get away from the high street hustle and bustle and see Santa at Penshurst Place
Penshurst Place have a new theme this year where visitors can meet Santa after visiting his toy workshop and having made some wonderful festive crafts to take home.
You might be able to spot some of Santa’s toy prototypes and keep your eyes peeled for the naughty and nice list too! There’ll be a gift and a candy cane available for each child after Santa has regaled tales of his plans for Christmas and learned a little more about you! Look out for face painting too and don’t forget to check out the gorgeous gift shop during your visit.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Weekend tickets, school holiday and after-school slots are now sold out. There is some availability for weekdays before 3pm. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
♥ Phileas Fogg’s Winter Wonderland Experience
Join Phileas Fogg as you embark upon a magical, fun packed adventure around the world to meet Father Christmas. Starting from Saturday 24th November, the brand new Winter Wonderland Experience based in Brighton runs every weekend up until Christmas (plus Thursday 20th and Monday 24th December).
Ticket Prices include a one hour immersive pantomime experience, gift from Father Christmas and access to the Reform Christmas Grotto! In the live pantomime experience, visitors will board a vintage train at Paris and immerse yourself in a whirlwind tour across five continents until finally meeting Father Christmas himself.
Continue to Santa’s Post Room where you can write a letter to be delivered to Father Christmas by his very own post master. Visitors will also enjoy a variety of fun and games with Peppermint Stix and Shiny Snowball TWO of Father Christmas’ mischievous elves. There’ll be Ginger Bread Decorating and Reindeer Food Making too with a few of of Mrs Claus’ favourite helpers and afterwards, visitors are welcome to relax in the (Fully Licensed) bar or indoor garden room surrounded by lots of Christmas helpers, where Christmas-inspired snacks and drinks can be purchased.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: There is currently good availability for this brand new attraction. Tickets need to be purchased in advance online HERE.
♥ Visit Santa’s Magical Fireside Grotto at Royal Victoria Place
Let your little ones experience the true magic of Christmas with a special visit to see Santa at Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells this Christmas. Santa’s Magical Fireside Grotto will be located on level 1 opposite M&S and open every day between Monday 19th November and 4pm on Christmas Eve.
Visitors can turn up on the day to see Santa or why not be super organised and book your family visit to see Santa in advance? Entry to Santa’s Grotto at RVP is only £5.50 per child including a luxury wrapped gift. To capture the special moment, a photography service will also be available at Santa’s Grotto offering great gift ideas for family and friends.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Tickets have only just gone on sale so at the moment there is good availability. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
♥ All aboard the Christmas express at the Spa Valley Railway
Hop aboard the Santa Specials for some Christmas cheer on the Spa Valley Railway. The Santa Specials only departs from Eridge where you can smell roasting chestnuts and warm up by the roaring fire in the waiting room before boarding your train.
Christmas music will fill the air as the train sets off and every child will get to meet Santa and receive a gift. Journey time is approximately 40-45 minutes. Santa disembarks at Tunbridge Wells West and there will be time for your child to get a photo with Santa and his sleigh in the Victorian Engine Shed. Santa Specials are running on the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December. For timings and prices please check the Spa Valley Railway website.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: There is currently good availability for all dates in December. Tickets can be booked HERE.
♥ See Santa in his Winter Wonderland at Sussex Country Gardener
For 2018, the Grotto Experience at Sussex Country Gardner is moving location within the Garden Centre and will be even larger than before!
Visit a magical winter wonderland and receive a gift for your child as well as an instant framed photo with Santa himself. There’ll be an opportunity to mix up some reindeer food to take home for Christmas Eve too. Why not check out the gorgeous gift shop full of presents, festive decorations, yummy food and more as well as the cafe while there? Running from 24th November until Christmas Eve, tickets are £10 per child and can be booked HERE.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Several of the slots close to Christmas have sold out but there is still decent availability. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
♥ Father Christmas is back at The Hop Farm!
There is lots of festive fun to be had at the Big Red Grotto at The Hop Farm in Kent this Christmas. Your festive experience will include unlimited time in a festive grotto, story telling with Mother Christmas and writing and posting a letter to Father Christmas.
There’ll be balloon modelling, arts and crafts, meeting Father Christmas’ helpers and of course meeting Santa himself too. The Big Red Grotto will be open from the 1st to the 23rd December and you can book your tickets HERE.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Availability is still pretty good with the exception of 22nd December (where there are only a couple of slots left) and 23rd December which is sold out. Tickets can be booked HERE.
Additional ideas for where to see Santa in Kent and East Sussex include…
♥ Enjoy a 4D telling of a traditional Christmas story at Bluewater, meet Mrs Claus and receive a gift from Father Christmas.
♥ Take your little monkeys to Drusillas to visit Santa Claus in his cosy cottage this Christmas.
♥ Combine farmyard fun with a festive adventure at Godstone Farm – enjoy a walk through with the elves, festive fun and a visit with Santa.
♥ See Santa at Notcutts in Pembury. Visit Santa in store or book a special breakfast or tea with him for a fun-filled mealtime.
♥ Meet Santa in his grotto or have a special breakfast with him at Polhill Garden Centre.
♥ Meet Father Christmas in his Grotto at Ruxley Garden Centre.
♥ Have a special family encounter and see Santa with his favourite animals at The Reindeer Centre daily from 11th November. No need to book except for Christmas eve!
♥ Take the kids along to Santa’s grotto at the Wyevale Garden Centre in Tunbridge Wells.Please check your feed, the data was entered incorrectly.
This is a collaborative post.
To see the latest events on My Tunbridge Wells, many of which are taking place in the lead up to Christmas, check out the CALENDAR HERE: