Grottos in Kent for Christmas 2018

by Lauren Abbott

The kids may have only just gone back to school but Santa's elves are already busy making plans for Christmas.

A number of grottos in Kent have already opened for online bookings to meet Father Christmas - or are preparing to do so within the next few weeks.

We have rounded up below some of the most popular places to enjoy an audience with the man himself and where and how you can book tickets for your families:

Santa's home by the lake at Bluewater last year
Santa's home by the lake at Bluewater last year

Bluewater Shopping Centre

As tempted as Santa might be to grab some last-minute Christmas shopping in the Greenhithe malls, you'll actually find him and his elves by the beautiful lakes at The Village from November 15 until Christmas Eve.

Bookings have already opened online for both the grotto and neighbouring ice rink (open until January 6, 2019).

Your festive journey to see Santa will begin with a traditional Christmas story presented in 4D, you'll then join Mrs Claus for crafts before meeting Santa.

Further details, prices and to make an online booking click here.

Tickets for the grotto at Leeds Castle will go on sale in October
Tickets for the grotto at Leeds Castle will go on sale in October

Leeds Castle

The Grotto at Leeds Castle opens for bookings on Monday, October 1.

Father Christmas will be at the Kent castle, just outside Maidstone, on November 24 and 25, December 1 and 2, December 8 and 9 and December 15 and 16 at various times.

Tickets, which are £15 a child plus a £1.50 booking fee, will be available to book from 10am on October 1. For prices, time slots and more details click here to visit the website.

Kent has plenty of grottos to choose from but pre-booking is a must for many
Kent has plenty of grottos to choose from but pre-booking is a must for many

Ruxley Manor

Santa's stop at this Sidcup garden centre is always extremely popular with Kent families and many weekend slots have already been snapped up since bookings opened.

The enchanting Christmas experience includes playing games with the elves, the chance to make reindeer food to sprinkle on your lawn, the decorating of elf hats and meeting Father Christmas himself!

A 'My First Grotto Experience' is also available for babies and young children under the age of two.

To learn more or make a booking visit the website.

Children meeting Father Christmas when he stopped at Dobbies last year
Children meeting Father Christmas when he stopped at Dobbies last year


Bookings are already open to meet Santa at both Dobbies in Ashford and Gillingham.

A magical setting is promised at the grottos within the garden centres, which open at the end of November and run throughout December. The online booking system also allows parents to give Santa a little helping hand in picking an age-appropriate toy. All the details and booking options at

Take your family to meet Santa this Christmas
Take your family to meet Santa this Christmas

Brookside Garden Centre

The garden centre in East Peckham is always a popular pit-stop for Santa. His grotto is award-winning and tickets are first made available to local residents.

On Monday, October 15 at 5.30pm remaining tickets will go on general sale online and they are expected to be popular. A visit to the grotto includes a magical walk through winding paths full of bright twinkle lights and hidden surprises before meeting Santa in his Finnish hut in the Magical Forest.

Learn more about the experience and ticket sales by visiting the website.

Hever Castle
Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Nothing says Christmas quite like a visit to find Father Christmas in the picturesque surroundings of Hever Castle.

Children will be enchanted by the magical Grotto where they will be greeted by Mother Christmas and taken by an elf through the snowy forest to meet Father Christmas in his log cabin.

The Grotto is open at weekends between November 24 and December 9 and then daily between December 12 and Christmas Eve.

To see Father Christmas, an admission ticket to Hever Castle is also required and tickets go on sale for both the grotto and Hever Castle's Traditional Christmas Tales event from 11am on September 24.

To learn more about the various ticket prices/packages and Christmas events at Hever Castle, and to book your tickets when they go on sale from September 24, please click here.

Have you got your children's tickets yet?
Have you got your children's tickets yet?

Broadditch Farm

A tractor sleigh will take families to find Farmer Christmas at one north Kent farm!

Broadditch in Southfleet is keeping Santa and his elves cosy in a cabin in its enchanted wood this winter, where storytelling and gifts await.

Bookings for a slot with Santa opened in August.

To make one for your family and learn more about the festive events on the farm visit

Tasty treats and gifts often form part of grotto visit
Tasty treats and gifts often form part of grotto visit

Bewl Water

Festive fun in the secret woodland wonderland, fairground rides, ice skating, Christmas crafts, a magic wishing tree, marshmallow toasting on a fire pit, an encounter with the elves and time with Father Christmas is all included in a ticket to the Christmas experience at Bewl Water this year.

Opening days are listed as all weekends in December and tickets for both adults and children, which are priced differently, are now available to book online.

For all the details and to make your booking visit

Kent & East Sussex Railway
Kent & East Sussex Railway

Kent & East Susssex Railway

Tickets are selling fast to catch a Santa Special service this Christmas.

From Victorian carousel rides at Tenterden Station to festively decorated steam trains the one hour and 10 minute return journey promises a magical experience.

Look out for elf helpers with sacks of presents, there are refreshments for adults and children as well as boxes of festive chocolates for teenage passengers and a little free gift for babies under 18 months who can travel for free (providing they don't occupy a seat).

Standard tickets for a Santa Special begin at £19. For details and bookings click here.

The Grotto at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre
The Grotto at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre

Hempstead Valley

The popular grotto opens at the Gillingham shopping centre on Saturday, November 17 at 2pm. It is then open daily until Christmas Eve. Tickets are £5 per child - and there is no additional cost for adults.

Visitors will be able to book their tickets online at from November 1 (booking charges will apply).

But pre-booking isn’t essential, says the centre, and customers can just queue up on the day to meet Father Christmas.

Christmas at the Hop Farm
Christmas at the Hop Farm

The Hop Farm

Tickets are available now to see Santa in the Big Red Grotto at the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood this December.

Alongside a special meeting with Father Christmas, you'll meet his helpers, enjoy storytelling, balloon models, Christmas tunes, crafts and activity sheets, write a letter to Father Christmas to either post to the North Pole or hand to him personally and receive a free printed photograph for your group.

Ticket prices start at £18 for a child which includes up to two free adults per booking and an infant under one.

Grotto tickets also allow for free entry to the family park and indoor soft play centre.

To learn more about all ticket options available and to make a booking visit The Hop Farm website.

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