Where to see Santa in Manchester for Christmas 2023: Grottos you can book from steam trains to farms
Get writing your Christmas lists because Santa Claus is coming to town.
and live on Freeview channel 276
It's a big decision for parents everywhere - where to take the kids to see Santa in the run up to Christmas.
There's always plenty of choice but beware because the later you leave it, the more some places will book up. So if you're thinking of a festive treat for the little ones, it's best to get it sorted ASAP.
We've rounded up some of the best places you can see Santa this Christmas in Manchester.
East Lancashire Railway – Santa Specials
25 November – 24 December
Bury Bolton Street Station will be transformed into a winter wonderland, featuring a talking Christmas tree, and inviting guests on a special train ride – complete with a visit from Santa straight to your carriage. On the 80-minute to Rawtenstall Station and back, you’ll also encounter other Christmassy characters and listen to your favourite festive tunes performed by an on-board brass band.
The Santa train rides will take place every Saturday and Sunday starting on 25 November up until 17 December and then from 20-24 December. Tickets start at £23 for the earlier dates and can be bought via the East Lancashire railway website.
Knowsley Safari – Santa Experience
Santa will be at Knowsley Safari Park this year from 18 November to 23 December, where you can combine a trip around the park with a visit to Santa’s Grotto. Most weekends in the run-up to Christmas are already selling out, so you will need to move quick on this one. There are daytime and evening packages, but you can only purchase Santa Experience tickets alongside general admission tickets. More information can be found on the Knowsley Safari website.
Lancaster Park and Animal Farm – Christmas on the Farm
Every weekend from 3 December through to Christmas Eve, Santa will be at Lancaster Park and Animal Farm in Middleton. Children can write their letters in Santa’s log cabin, listen to a story from Mrs Claus in the cottage and meet the man himself. There’s no extra charge for photographs, but remember to bring your own camera or phone. Other attractions include the mini quads, animal petting, digger corner and pirate shootout.
Tickets must be booked in advance and cost £10 for adults, £13 for children aged 1-15 and £6.50 for babies under 12 months. More information can be found on the farm’s website.
Tatton Park – Father Christmas at the Farm
Santa will be setting up shop in the Christmas Cafe, complete with roaming entertainers and live music from festive choirs and brass bands. Children can also have their photos taken in a Santa’s sleigh and make magical reindeer food to take home and sprinkle on Christmas Eve.
Time slots will be available every weekend between 25 November 24 December, but some of the December slots are already starting to sell out. Tickets cost £10 for adults and £12 for children, and this include entry to the park. More information can be found on the Tatton Park website.
Cruise with Father Christmas
Father Christmas will be sailing into Salford Quays this Christmas, thanks to Manchester River Cruises. The package includes refreshments for the kids (plus mulled wine and mince pies for the adults) andm of course, the chance to meet the man himself and a receive a gift. The boat will leave from Salford Quays and then take a trip down Manchester Ship Canal. More information can be found on the Manchester River Cruises website.
The Grotto at the Trafford Centre
The Trafford Centre Grotto will be open from 18 November to 24 December on Lower Peel Avenue, by the Dolphin Fountain. The experience costs £25 per child (plus £7.50 for adults) and includes a wander through the Candy Cane Land and Enchanted Forest in search of Santa’s Merry Mailroom, before meeting Father Christmas. There are also ‘relaxed sessions’ with dimmer lighting and quieter music. Tickets go on sale at 2pm on Tuesday October 2017. More information can be found on The Grotto website.