Fancy meeting Father Christmas this year? Here are some of the top Santa Grottos in Essex in 2018 – remember to check back for regular updates! To add a grotto contact us here.

We also have listings for pantos, Christmas markets, and Christmas lights switch on events in Essex.

North Essex 2018

 

Magic of Christmas at Colchester Zoo
Maldon Road, Colchester
Dates: 24/25 November, 1/2, 8/9, 15-24 December 2018
Add a spark of magic to your festivities this Christmas! Meet Santa’s beautiful reindeer in their stables throughout the day, get crafty at the Elves’ Workshop, listen to tales from one of Santa’s elves and enjoy tasty treats from the Elves’ Kitchen! PLUS don’t miss out on the magical Santa Experience (£7) which is sure to get everyone in the festive spirit!
Times: 9.30am-4.30pm
Price: See website for details
Tel: 01206 331292
Website: www.colchester-zoo.com

Breakfast with Santa at Colchester Zoo SELLING FAST!
Maldon Road, Colchester
Dates:  8/9,15/16, 20-24 December 2018  (0nly 8th & 9th Dec remaining)
Join Colchester Zoo this Christmas for a truly magical experience with ‘Breakfast with Santa’. Please note this event has to be pre-booked by contacting the Experiences Reception on 01206 331292 extension 232 or 237. Places are allocated on a first come first served basis.
Times: 8.00-9.00am
Price: £10.00 – £45.00
Tel: 01206 331292
Website: www.colchester-zoo.com

Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas at Wyevale Garden CentresSELLING FAST!
342 London Road, Stanway, Colchester, CO3 8LT
Dates: Various dates between 25 November and 21st December 2018
Enjoy a meal with Father Christmas! Plus a special present, biscuit decorating, and fun festive activities.
Times: Various
Price: Meals cost between £5 and £10.95
Website: www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk

Santa’s Grotto at Poplar Nurseries
Coggeshall Road, Marks Tey, Colchester
Dates: 17/18 & 24/25 November and 1/2, 8-24 December 2018
Our elves will be on hand to guide you through our magical winter wonderland. No booking required.
Times: Various. See website for details.
Price: £8 per child
Tel: 01206 210374
Website: www.poplarnurseries.co.uk

Festive Day Out With Thomas and Santa at East Anglian Railway Museum
Chappel and Wakes Colne Station, Wakes Colne, CO6 2DS
Dates: 9, 15/16 & 22/23 December 2018
Lots of festive fun with Thomas and his friends. Children also get to visit Santa’s Grotto. Calling all little engineers! Join Thomas, the number one blue engine, as he visits the East Anglian Railway Museum for a festive day of family fun. The Fat Controller will also be on hand to make sure that Thomas is being a really useful engine whilst Rusty and Dusty, Sodor’s Station Sweepers will be causing mischief.
Times: Trains run 10.00am to 4.30pm
Price: £14.00 adult; £10.00 child (2-15); Family £44.00; Under 2’s free; Gifts from Santa for an additional charge of £5 per child and must be pre-booked.
Tel: 01206 242524
Website: www.earm.co.uk

Steam with Santa at Colne Valley Railway
Castle Hedingham, CO9 3DZ
Dates: 8/9, 15/16 & 21-23 December 2018
Join the heated special train as it gently steams along our one mile of line whilst Santa delivers a present to every child on the train.
Times: Various (see website for details)
Prices: £12.00 adult; £12.00 child; £5 0-2 years
Tel: 01787 461174
Website: www.colnevalleyrailway.co.uk

Reindeer Experience at Hearts Delight Garden Centre
Long Road, Lawford, Manningtree, CO11 2EF
Dates: 18, 24 & 25 November and 1/2, 5/6, 8/9, 12, 15/16, 19 to 24 December 2018
Experience the magic at Hearts Delight as soon as you walk through the door. Take a journey through their Alpine Resort and visit with 3 beautiful reindeer in Santa’s Barn. See them, stroke them, and even feed them – be sure to bring your camera! Then say hello to the Hearts Delight Labradors Martha & Prudence, before meeting the man himself.
Times: Various
Price: from £14.99 to £29.99 for one child & two adults
Tel: 01206 392539
Website: hearts-delight.co.uk

Acorn Village Christmas Market & Winter Wonderland
Acorn Village, Clacton Road, Manningtree (Mistley), CO11 2NJ
Dates: Saturday 17 Nov 2018
Join us on the 18th November for our annual Christmas Market & Winter Wonderland. With our magical themed ‘Winter Wonderland’ made by adults with learning disabilities, Santa’s Grotto with Mr & Mrs Christmas, goodies, games, scrumptious Coffee Shop & lots of stalls to start your Christmas Shopping.
Times: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Price: Entry by donation.
Website: www.acornvillages.com

Santa’s Grotto at Ramsey War Memorial Hall & Recreation Ground
Wix Road, Ramsey, Essex CO12 5EX
Dates: Sunday 16 Dec 2018
Your chance to meet Santa in his grotto, receive a small gift and the opportunity to take a photo. Each paid ticket admits one child, you are booking in an hour session and will be allocated a 10 minute slot within that session. Families with more than one child will be given the same visit time. Craft activities included. Refreshments on sale.
Times: 11.00am – 4.00pm
Price: Ticket only – entrance by pre-paid ticket £3.50 per child.
Website: www.facebook.com/events

Santa’s Coming to Town at Harwich & Dovercourt Christmas Light Switch On
Dovercourt Skate Rink, Lower Marine Parade, Harwich CO12 3ST
Dates: Friday 7 Dec 2018
Join this FREE extravaganza of Christmas at the Town’s Annual Light Switch On. Come and see Santa and his real reindeer. Local displays. Craft stalls. Children’s rides. And lots more.
Times: 5.00pm – 8.00pm
Price: Free entry.
Website: www.facebook.com/events

Santa at All Saints’ Church Christmas Fair
All Saints’ Church, Main Road, Dovercourt, Harwich, CO12 4LN
Dates: Saturday 24 Nov 2018
Christmas Fair with craft and gift stalls, raffle, refreshments, games. Santa will be be visiting and giving out gift stockings.
Times: 11.00am -34.00pm
Price: Free entry.
Website: www.facebook.com/events

Santas Grotto at Jimmy’s Farm
Ipswich, Suffolk
Dates: 1/2, 8/9, 15/16 & 22/23 December 2018
Father Christmas elves will be on hand to meet and greet your little ones while they wait too! Each child will receive a gift.
Time: 10am – 3pm
Price: £6.50 per child
Tel: 01473 604206
Website: jimmysfarm.com

 

Mid Essex 2018

 

Santa Visits Toad’s Caravan at Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre
Hawkswood Road, Downham, CM11 1WT
Date: 8, 9, 15 & 16 Dec 2018
Santa has come to visit Mr Toad! Follow a trail through the wintry woods before returning to find Santa in Toad’s Caravan with a Christmas gift for you! Includes Christmas craft activity in the visitor centre. Allocated time slots.
Price: £10 per child includes present and craft activity.
Times: 10.00am-3.00pm
Email: hanningfield@essexwt.org.uk
Website: www.essexwt.org.uk

Museum of Power Christmas Fair
Hatfield Road, Langford, Maldon, CM9 6QA
Dates: Sun 9 December 2018
Come and meet SANTA in his Grotto, enjoy a miniature steam train ride and meander through our Christmas stalls and join in with our fun entertainment and children’s rides. ‘ASTARIA’ model village and TEAROOM OPEN. ‘Marshall’ the Lilleshall pumping engine will be run by compressed air and other oil / diesel engines will be running.
Tel: 01621 843183
Times: 9.30am-3.30pm
Price: £10 per person, includes 1 free train ride, other rides £1 per person. The £10 per person includes a gift for children 12 years old and under.
Website: www.museumofpower.org.uk

Visit Santa at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome
Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, Hackmans Lane, Purleigh, Near Maldon, Essex , CM3 6RN
Dates: 1, 8, 15 & 22 December 2018
Father Christmas returns to Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome this Christmas – hopefully arriving by plane! Have your picture taken in his sleigh, with his trusty reindeer, or take part in craft activities before meeting the big man himself. There will also be festive stories and help yourself to one of our festive freak shakes or check out the three exhibits on site as well as photo opportunities in front of our festive aircraft.
Times: 10.30am –  2.00pm
Price: £27.50 per child (includes freak shake), adults £5 (includes Tea or Coffee).
Email: info@stowmaries.org.uk
Tel: 01245 429134
Website: www.stowmaries.org.uk

Santa’s Enchanted Village at Meadows Shopping Centre, Chelmsford
Old BHS Unit, Meadows Shopping Centre, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 6FD
Dates: 18 to 24 December 2018
Festivities for all the family including ‘FROST’ a Narnia themed unique pop up Grotto, entertainment, rides, games, a kids Christmas ‘pop up’ Escape room, mulled wine, food and magic for everyone.
Time: Various times
Price: From £12.00 per child.
Contact: Online form
Website: www.frostchristmas.com

Magical Grotto at Cressing Temple
Witham Rd, Braintree, CM77 8PD
Dates: 1/2, 8/9, 15/16, & 20 to 23 December 2018
Join Cressing Temple Barns elf in a magical adventure to meet Mother Christmas, the reindeer and, of course, the big man himself!
Times: 10am-4pm (timeslots must be pre booked)
Price: £24.95 per ticket which admits one child and two adults.
Website: www.visitparks.co.uk/events

Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas at Wyevale Garden CentresSELLING FAST!
Cressing Road, Braintree, CM77 8DH
Dates: Various dates between 30 November and 24 December 2018
Enjoy a meal with Father Christmas! Plus a special present, biscuit decorating, and fun festive activities.
Times: Various
Price: Meals cost between £5 and £10.95
Website: www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk

Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park
Marsh Farm Road, South Woodham Ferrers, Chelmsford, CM3 5WP
Dates: 17 November to 24 December 2018
They’ve added even more magic and more surprises to The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm this year.  Our elves, Father Christmas and all his family and friends look forward to sharing an awe-inspiring experience with you. Annual Pass Holders and disabled guests with accompanying carers please call 01245 321552 to book.
Times: Various
Price: £23.95-£49.95 per child; £12.00-£19.95 per additional adult; Under 1’s (observers) free.
Website: www.marshfarm.co.uk/events/father-christmas-experience

Santa at South Woodham Ferriers Christmas Fayre and Light Switch On
South Woodham Ferrers Town
Dates: Saturday 17 Nov 2018
Christmas Fayre being held on Saturday 17 November. Details TBC.
Times: Various
Price: Further information from the Town Council 01245 429443.
Websitewww.southwoodhamferrerstc.gov.uk

Santa at Hyde Hall Christmas Shopping Evening
RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Creephedge Lane, Rettendon, CM3 8ET
Date: Wed 14 & Thurs 15 November 2018
On this exclusive shopping event you can enjoy 20% off all purchases* from our shop, including fabulous Christmas decoration and gift ranges. There’s also a Christmas market featuring local crafters, a chance for the little ones to meet Santa, and festive foodie treats. Escape the hustle and bustle of the high street and take pleasure in a more relaxed way of gift shopping.
Time: 5.00pm – 9.00pm
Price: Free entry.
Website: www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/hyde-hall

Magic of Christmas with Santa at Hyde Hall
RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Creephedge Lane, Rettendon, CM3 8ET
Date: Fri 30 November to Sun 2 December and Fri 7 to Sun 9 December 2018
Celebrate the Magic of Christmas at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, with a special visit from Santa. Enjoy a festive story before you meet Santa and his elf in his garden grotto in the Hilltop Garden. As well as meeting Santa, get creative and make your very own Christmas crafts to take home with you. Booking essential – call 020 31765830.
Time: 10.15am–11.45am, 12noon–1.30pm, 2.15pm–3.45pm
Price: Normal garden admission applies (members free), plus £8 per child to meet Santa
Website: www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/hyde-hall

Santa Specials at Epping Ongar Railway
Epping Ongar Railway, Ongar Station, Station Approach, Ongar, CM5 9BN
Dates: 1/2, 8/9, 15/16, 20-24 December 2018
Bring the family to see Santa on his special train with the fantastically festive Epping Ongar Railway Santa Specials! All children will receive a present from Santa, and adults can enjoy a free drink and Christmas treat.
Times: Various (see website for details)
Price: £17.50 or £20.00 each; Children under 18 months with no seat or gift go free.
Email: enquiries@eorailway.co.uk
Website: eorailway.co.uk

Mince Pie Specials at Epping Ongar Railway
Epping Ongar Railway, Ongar Station, Station Approach, Ongar, CM5 9BN
Dates: Fri 28 to Sun 30 December 2018
Get away from the repeats on TV and take the family to the Epping Ongar Railway for a great day out with the family. Every adult receives a complimentary mince pie!
Times: Various (see website for details)
Price: Adult £14; Concessions £13; Child £7; Family (up to 2 adults and 3 children) £36.
Email: enquiries@eorailway.co.uk
Website: eorailway.co.uk

 

West Essex / South Essex 2018

 

Meet Mrs Claus and the Elves at Chicken and Frog Bookshop
7 Ongar Road, Brentwood, CM15 9AT
Date: Sat 24 November 2018
It’s the Brentwood Light Up! Meet Mrs Claus in her special grotto. There’s a free gift for all children under 12 who visit Mrs Claus while stocks last.
Times: 1.00pm-3.30pm
Price: FREE
Email: events@chickenandfrog.co.uk
Website: chickenandfrog.com

Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas at Wyevale Garden Centres SELLING FAST!
Langford Bridge, Ongar Road, Brentwood, CM15 0LB
Dates: Various dates from 1 to 23 December 2018
Enjoy a meal with Father Christmas! Plus a special present, biscuit decorating, and fun festive activities.
Times: Various
Price: Meals cost between £5.00 and £10.95
Website: www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk

Santa Express at Barnards Miniature Railway SOLD OUT
Barnards Farm, Brentwood Road, West Horndon, CM13 3LX
Dates: 1/2 & 8/9 December 2018
Father Christmas will again be visiting the BMR and handing out presents to good girls and boys. Good Mums and Dads get refreshments in the barn. Book online at santaexpress.eu from October 14th.
Times: Various (see website for details)
Price: TBC
Website: www.barnardsminiaturerailway.eu

Christmas at Barleylands Farm SELLING FAST
Barleylands Road, Billericay, CM11 2UD
Dates: 1/2, 8/9, 15/16, 20-24 December 2018
Meet Father Christmas and his elves as he takes time out of his busy schedule to meet you and your little ones. His elves will greet you on arrival, ready for your visit with Father Christmas himself! Take a trip to the toy shop and exchange your token for a gift. Two festive experiences to choose from.
Price: Either £14.95 or £19.95 for children (over 2 years), adults £9 each.
Times: Various (see website for details)
Tel:
01268 290218
Email: farmcentre@barleylands.co.uk
Website: www.barleylands.co.uk

Twilight Christmas Experience at Barleylands Farm SELLING FAST!
Barleylands Road, Billericay, CM11 2UD
Dates: 21 to 23 December 2018
New for 2018. Children are invited to meet Father Christmas in his grotto, where they can put in any last minute present requests, before choosing a special gift from his toy shop. Have a festive family photo taken in the giant snow globe, then enjoy a hot chocolate and delicious mince pie. This event does not include entrance to the Farm Park. Instead each paying visitor will receive free ticket to return within the next 12 months (excluding special events).
Price: Child £29.95, Adult £14.95, Spectators under 1 year go free
Times: Various (see website for details)
Tel:
01268 290218
Email: farmcentre@barleylands.co.uk
Website: www.barleylands.co.uk

Santa’s Grotto – The Party Kingdom at Props and Frocks SELLING FAST!
Unit 1 Rectory Lane, Battlesbridge, Wickford, Essex SS11 7QR
Dates: Various dates throughout December 2018
Enter The Party Kingdom and your children visit another world of make believe and fantasy. Themed kids parties and experiences are based around fun activities, stories and songs.
Times: Various (see website for details)
Price: Snowman Experience – £15.00 per child; Elf Experience – £28.50 per child; Reindeer Experience – £39.50 per child. Tickets included up to two free adults.
Website: thepartykingdom.co.uk

Santa at Alton Garden Centre
Arterial Road (A127), Wickford, SS12 9JG
Dates: 11th November to 24th December 2018
Whether marking a child’s first Christmas or honouring a family tradition, a visit to Alton’s Christmas Grotto is the perfect way to start the festive season, as well as an opportunity to make special memories that will be remembered forever.
Times: See website
Price: £8.00 on all Nov dates; £10.00 on Dec weekday dates; £12.00 on Dec weekends and 18 to 24 Dec
Website: www.alton-gardencentre.co.uk

Breakfast Workshop with the Elves at Meadow Croft Garden Centre
Woodham Rd, Battlesbridge, Wickford, SS11 7QU
Dates: Sunday 2 December 2018
Go on a magical journey with the Elves and St Nicholas in our German Market inspired workshop.  Here you’ll learn how to make a real fir table -centre for Christmas, make and decorate special elf boots for St Nicholas to fill with chocolate and listen to the story of St Nicholas. When St Nick comes to say hello, we’ll learn who made the nice list and then enjoy a lovely breakfast of sausage hot-dogs or hand-made waffles topped with treats or an afternoon light tea of the same.  All led by the mischevious Meadow Croft Elves.
Times: 9.00am-10.15am
Price: £12.99 per ticket
Website: www.meadow-croft.co.uk

Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas at Wyevale Garden CentresSELLING FAST!
Nags Head Lane, Upminster Common, RM14 1TS
Dates: Various dates in December 2018
Enjoy a meal with Father Christmas! Plus a special present, biscuit decorating, and fun festive activities.
Times: Various
Price: Meals cost between £5.00 and £10.95
Website: www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk

Adventure Wonderland at Adventure Island, Southend
Western Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1EE
Dates: 24/25 November and 1/2, 8/9 & 13-24 December 2018
From all the fun-tastic rides and soft play of Adventure Inside to the incredible “Christmasville” grotto where you’ll meet the big man himself, Adventure Wonderland is packed with Christmas magic every good boy and girl will love.
Prices: From £35.00 for non-pass holders, £28 for Sealife pass holders, £15 for Adventure Island pass holders. One adult goes free, charge for additional adults.
Website: adventureisland.co.uk

See Santa for Free at Sea-Life
Sea-Life Adventure, Eastern Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2ER
Dates: 1 to 24 December 2018
Make sure you have written your Christmas letter to give to Santa and check to see if you are on the good list! Santa will be free of charge and anybody with children can visit Santa. Santa loves to see all good children, whether or not they are planning to visit the aquarium (Sadly the aquarium is not free also – Santa has to save some presents for Christmas itself!).
Times: During opening hours
Price: FREE
Website: www.sealifeadventure.co.uk

Santa’s Grotto at Romford Shopping Hall
43 Market Place, Romford, RM1 3AB
Dates: Every Saturday and Sunday from 17 November and then every day from 17 December until 24 December 2018 (closing at 1pm on Christmas Eve)
This fabulous grotto includes a present from the Big Man himself. You may take as many FREE photos on your phone as you like! Santa looks fantastic – simply magical!
Times: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Price: £6 per child, you are welcome to take your own photographs. As of 1st December £1 for every child will go to the RAF Cadets F6 Squadron.
Website: www.romfordshoppinghall.com

Farmyard Festivities at Wellgate Community FarmSELLING FAST!
Wellgate Community Farm, Collier Row Road, Romford RM5 2BH
Date: Sun 16 December 2018
This year the animals are the stars of the show as children (and adults too) take part in a variety of activities around the Farm. Each session lasts 2.5 hours and includes a cart and pony ride to Santa’s Grotto.
For more information and to book contact the farm directly on 01708 747850 or info@wellgatefarm.org
Time: 4.00pm to 8.00pm
Price: £15 per child (under 16)
Website: www.wellgatefarm.org

Santa’s Grotto at Hornchurch Christmas Light Switch On
Final Checks Makeover & Photography Studio, 159 High Street, Hornchurch, RM11 3YD
Date: Sat 17 November 2018
Our Santa is coming from Harrods for this one weekend only…. A Santa not to be missed!!! His favourite princess will be joining him and creating face paints for all the young children. Every child receives a present from Santa.
Time: 11.00am to 4.00pm
Price: £5 per child
Website: www.facebook.com/events/466940797139491

Free Santa’s Grotto at Barking Christmas Light Switch On
Barking Town Centre
Date: Sat 1 December 2018
The sleigh bells will be ringing and there will be plenty of festive joy around Barking Town Centre when the Christmas lights are switched on at the start of December. There will be a free Santa’s grotto (pre-booking only), free Santa gifts and meet REAL reindeer. The Christmas tree lights will be switched on with Paw Patrol. Mr Incredible and Baby Jack Jack from ‘The Incredibles’ and Bing Bunny will be present and there will be prizes for the best Christmas fancy dressed.
Time: 11.00am to 5.00pm
Price: Free (must pre-book via Eventbrite)
Website: www.lbbd.gov.uk/barking-mad-about-christmas

Father Christmas Experience at Audley End Miniature Railway NEARLY SOLD OUT
Audley End Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 4JB
Dates: 24/25 November and 1/2, 8/9 & 15-24 December 2018
Enjoy the most magical Christmas Experience with your family at the Audley End Miniature Railway. Take our Santa Express deep into the woods of the Audley End Estate where you will arrive at Father Christmas’s Winter Wonderland! You will meet the big man himself, along with his VERY cheeky Elves, receive a special gift and also watch a crazy Christmas Dance!
Times: Trains run from 11.00am – 4.40pm
Price: £11.00 to £15.00 per person depending on the date you decide to attend. 0-24 Months and Carers travel free.
Tel: 01799 542134
Website: audley-end-railway.co.uk

An Audience with Father Christmas at Audley End 
Audley End Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 4JB
Dates: 1/2, 8/9 & 15/16 & 22/23 December 2018
Join in the festive fun with the man himself at Audley End this Christmas. Meet Father Christmas as he tells festive tales amidst the yuletide decorations.  Pre-booking essential. Please note max 2 adults per child in each session.
Times: 10.00am, 10.30am, 11.00am, 11.30am, 12.00pm, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.00pm, and 2.30pm.
Price: £4 per child to see Santa, plus entry fee for non-English Heritage Members – £11.80 adult, £7.10 child 5-15 years, £10.60 cons, £30.70 family ticket.
Tel: 01799 522842
Website: www.english-heritage.org.uk