Six of the Best: Santa’s Grottos in Yorkshire

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Santa has a busy schedule this time of year but he has still found time to fit in a few visits around the area. Ranging from a cosy corner in a mansion to heading 420ft underground there is a grotto for every adventurer.

NATIONAL COAL MINING MUSEUM

Santa is going underground. Meet Father Christmas in one of the more unusual locations - 420ft below ground in a former colliery. Before descending to his grotto, visitors need to be kitted out with a helmet and lamp then they can make their way 140m underground, along a special ‘snowy’ walkway to meet Santa. Everyone who makes the descent and visits the grotto will receive a certificate and gift. To celebrate the festive season under 5’s will be allowed underground to visit Santa. Places must be pre-booked, tickets are £6 for children including certificate and gift and £5 for adults. ncm.org.uk

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EMBSAY AND BOLTON ABBEY SANTA’S SPECIALS

Santa will be steaming into the station at Bolton Abbey inviting people aboard for a special festive train ride. See the station decorated for the Christmas season with a roaring fire and a refreshment room full of mince pies and festive fare. Santa will be on the hour long ride giving out presents to all the boys and girls who have been good throughout the year. Santa’s Special trains are only at Bolton Abbey. Embsay station will be closed while they are running. Booking is essential. £13 for 3-15 year olds, £7 for 2 years and under, £13 all other fares. www.embsayboltonrailway.org.uk

YORK’S CHOCOLATE STORY, KING’S SQUARE, YORK

Visit Santa’s old fashioned sweet shop in his traditional wooden grotto and design your own chocolate bar. Designs are then posted to the chocolate room at the North Pole where Santa’s top confectioner elf, Joseph Pinetree will pick a winner. The prize is an invitation back in the New Year to make their bar a reality. Then meet Father Christmas himself for that special request and leave with a photo and special present. No booking, admittance is first come first served. £9.95 per child and £7.95 per additional siblings. For opening times www.yorkchocolatestory.com

SANTA EXPERIENCE, LIGHTWATER VALLEY

The Polar Lightwater Express is ready to take visitors on a wintertime train ride to Father Christmas’s cabin. Once there they will enjoy a fireside story with Santa and his elves before refreshments for everyone and a very special Christmas present. Although the full theme park is not open there is plenty to enjoy with a special festive UV puppet show and fairground rides including Young Fun rides, Carousel, Skyrider, Angry Birds Activity Park and Angry Birds Space. £10 for adults, £12 for children under 12 with children under 1 going free. www.lightwatervalley.co.uk

NOSTEL PRIORY MEET SANTA

Find Santa in his cosy decorated grotto and tell him what you would like for Christmas. Every visitor gets a gift from his sackful of toys and the chance to chat with Santa. Outside the grotto take Christmas card trail around the gardens and explore the amazing adventure playground. There is no need to pre-book to meet Father Christmas buy tickets at reception for a time slot. Garden entry tickets are needed for all members of the party (National Trust members free)with Santa tickets £7 per child. www.nationaltrust.co.uk/nostell-priory-and-parkland

ABBEY HOUSE MUSEUM MEET SANTA

Santa will be adding some festive magic to museum visits. Write him a letter telling him what you would like for Christmas before meeting the man himself in his grotto and receive a small Christmas gift. Entry £4. There is also a special Relaxed Santa session on Dec 12 for children who may find meeting Santa a little overwhelming. Santa’s elves will be around to help children with craft activities and Santa will be in the Victorian Streets so children can choose how and when to approach him. Session is free but booking is essential.

Museum entry ticket is needed for both. www.leeds.gov.uk

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