With the many grottos popping up around town, the classic family photo opportunity returns.
There’s also plenty of other fun festive things to do with the kids too.
If you’re looking for a Santa to whisper your festive wants to, or other fun events for families, here are the best grottos and festive family things to do in London.
Set within a magical book-themed grotto, children and adults can meet Father Christmas, hang out with his elves and decorate their own Christmas decorations. Tickets also include discounts for the station’s restaurants and retailers including Hamleys, Hatchards and Searcys.
Dates: November 17 – December 17, Friday – Sunday
Address: The Grand Terrace, St. Pancras International Station
The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City returns to showcase great design and baking minds. An utterly charming – and edible – exhibition for adults and children, the fantastical city is where imagination and innovation meet to become a canvas for future-forward city planning, that is completely edible.
When: December 2 – January 7, 2024
Tickets: From £18.50/£12.50
Address: 6-7 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8JU
Every day is like Christmas at world-famous toy shop Hamleys, but that doesn’t stop Santa setting up a workshop there for the festive season. The big man will be surrounded by elves busy at work who will have games and activities for children, and if parents tell them before hand, their favourite toys on hand. Best suited to kids aged 2-8.
Dates: November 20 – December 24
Tickets: From £55
Address: 188-196 Regent Street W1B 5BT
Aiming to change the narrative of Christmas, Noir Kringle comes with a Black Santa and the smells and sounds and Christmas spirit that encapsulates Black British Culture. It comes with story telling, and elf school, as well as letters, presents and Christmas stockings.
Dates: December 16-20
Address: Crooked Billet Yard, Shoreditch E2 8AF
Covering 21,332 sqm, this brief pop up boasts to be UK’s largest indoor winter experience when it opens. It will have an ice skating rink, fairground rides, and ice trail, circus performance, alpine stalls and two food and drink villages, and it’s easily reached on the Elizabeth line.
Dates: December 8 to January 7, 2024
Opening Hours: 10am – 8pm, seven days a week, closed Christmas
Tickets: From £5.50
Address: Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway E16 1XL
The East Court will be transformed into a festive grotto where little ones will get to meet Santa, have their photo taken and will receive a small gift. Currently slots are sold out, but Santa’s helpers are working on extending his Alexandra Palace stay for a few days so head to the website to find out when tickets are back on sale.
Dates: December 1-23
Address: Alexandra Palace Way N22 7AY
The all-singing, all-skating Disney extravaganza returns to London for a festive family night out. The Christmas season staple will see a host of talent perform world class ice skating routines and dazzling stunts to a mash up medley of all the favourite Disney stories in this ultimate feel-good production that captures the magic of Disney’s immortal tales.
Date: December 21-31
Tickets: From £41
Address: Peninsula Square, Greenwich SE10 0DX
Definitely the one-stop-festive-shop, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park has transformed a corner of the royal park into the north pole for young and old to enjoy, and escape the ruckus of the main section. You can see Santa and receive a present, and you can also go on the various kids rides, scoff festive food and partake in an Elf Dance Off where you get to compare your moves to an elf’s.
Dates: November 17 – January 1, 2024
Address: Hyde Park, W2 2UH
Wishmas: A Fantastical Christmas Adventure is a new addition to the festive calendar, created by the Secret Cinema team and directed by Elgiva Field, former Associate Director of the trail-blazing and mind-blowing Punchdrunk theatre company. Wishmas is a fully immersive festive experience, suitable for kids and adults. An “alternative to Winter Wonderland”, Wishmas is set in a magical world which takes about 60-minutes to walk through, meeting Wishkeepers, robins, Father Christmas and magical rooms along the way.
Date: November 14 – January 7
Tickets: From £29
Address: The Old Bauble Factory, 1 Launcelot Street, Waterloo, SE1 7AD
Meet Santa and his Elves, try your hand at some Christmas crafts and climb onboard an interactive sleigh to ring the bell and set its cheer-o-meter on high. Amongst all the festive activity at the museum, there’s also a self-guided family trail, and a winter-themed poster collection too.
Dates: November 24 – December 23
Tickets: Included in entry, which is free for U17s
Address: Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB
Toast marshmallows, admire 25ft Christmas trees, greet Santa, say hello to weird and cool animals and decorate cookies with Mrs Claus. You can also write your own letter and post it to Santa at the polar post room, follow the Christmas sleigh trail and listen to some Christmas themed animal talks.
Dates: December 1-23
Address: Outer Circle, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY
For the first time in nearly a decade, Covent Garden has changed up its decorations, and will dress up the listed Market Building with more than 40 gigantic bells with bows, 12 giant baubles and eight spinning mirror balls bedazzled with more than 29 miles of gold leaf and 275 kilos of glitter. Look out for daily flurries of snow from December, the hand painted, reconditioned 1884 sleigh carriage, and the Christmas Sandwich Festival too.
Date: November 7 -Until January 2024
Even Santa sometimes gets sick of snow and winter. This year, the big man has teamed up with Shrek, the big green ogre, for a swampy grotto experience in Far Far Away, which is actually in South Bank, at Shrek’s Adventure! London. Guests will get the chance to venture through the grotto and pose for a picture with Santa. Shrek will also be in the festive mood and ready to pose with guests, dressed in his finest Christmas outfit.
Address: County Hall, South Bank SE 1
***2023 event details unconfirmed*** Created in collaboration with Underbelly, this traditional Grotto comes with al fresco seating, festive food and drink and a Bavarian curling rink. A Fir tree-line path takes you to the Chelsea Christmas Grotto, for story time and for meeting Santa. Children will receive a small gift by Santa’s elves and adults can bask in the scent of it all, which is brought to you by renowned parfumerie Diptyque.
Address: Sloane Square, London SW1W 8
***2023 event details unconfirmed*** Settle into a very special storytelling session with Father Christmas, held in the resplendent Royal Albert Hall. The venue’s porch has been transformed into the North Pole, where children will be greeted by Father Christmas and his head elf and will receive a gift at the end of the session. This year, Father Christmas reads one of his favourite stories, Tiny Reindeer.
Address: Kensington Gore, South Kensington, SW7 2AP
***2023 dates unconfirmed*** There’s a flurry of festivity happening at Brent Cross Shopping Centre. As part of the mall’s Winter Festival, you can say hello to Santa in his 20-foot tall light castle, go for an ice-skate and help Santa’s reindeer search for the missing key to Father Christmas’s sleigh.
Address: Prince Charles Drive, NW4 3FP