Five Fab… alternative Father Christmas experiences

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If you’re a bit bored of lacklustre shopping centre or department store Santas or can’t face a winter wonderland, here are five alternative ways to meet the big man himself.

The National Trust has myriad santa trails and grottos to explore, usually with a historic twist. I’m loving the sound of Killerton’s Dickensian Santa, dressed in green and the Studland incarnation, who will be taking up residence in a beach hut. From £3 per child.

For a fully immersive experience, Enchanted House at the London Art House comes highly recommended. With three hours of Christmassy play, crafts, dressing up cookery and a festive show in addition to your (no queue) audience with Santa, Scrooges need not apply. From £129 (gasp!) for a family of two.

Many heritage railways run Santa Special trains where you can meet Father Christmas and enjoy a seasonal snack on board a steam train. There is usually some Christmassy entertainment at the stations too. Check out Bluebell Railway, Watercress Line, Avon Valley Railway, Great Central Railway and North Yorkshire Moors Railway to name but a few. Booking is essential. See also The National Railway Museum‘s Santa Adventure.

Zoos are a great place to see the man himself as you may also spot a few of his reindeer. London, Whipsnade, Chester, Twycross and Colchester zoos all have Santa visits and themed events going on.

Some of the country’s more unusual museums put their own spin on the Father Christmas visit. At The National Space Centre in Leicester he’s in a Martian Grotto, you can visit him on a barge at the National Waterways Museum, have the elves tick your name on the good list at Seven Stories and meet Mother Christmas and make a reindeer mask at The Big Pit.

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