With outposts from Chadderton to Knutsford, Father Christmas has, again, opted to spend virtually every crunch-time weekend before deadline entertaining the children of Manchester, with gifts, photography sessions, brunches and even enchanting train journeys all on offer.

Here are some of the best Santa’s Grotto experience around the city between now and Christmas.

Santa in Altrincham | Altrincham | Sat 3 Dec |10am-4pm | £12.45

Promising a specially created Winter Wonderland in the heart of Altrincham town centre, Kids in Cheshire and Visit Altrincham present South Manchester’s biggest festive experience, featuring local pop-up stalls, children’s festive art-making and a meet-and-greet with Santa in his snow-topped igloo, with a small gift included in the ticket price.

104 George Street, Altrincham, WA14 1RF
Christmas on the Farm | Lancaster Park & Animal Farm | Chadderton | Sat 3 Dec - Sat 24 Dec | £6.50-£12.50

Alongside all the usual peerless family entertainment at Lancaster Park – a petting barn, a caterpillar ride, a pirate shootout, mini quad bikes, swings, slides, ziplines and somehow more – the farm hosts a Christmas extravaganza from 9am-3.30pm on selected dates throughout December. With a team Elves on hand along the way, Guests can join Mrs. Claus for stories in her Cosy Cottage, take a seat in Santa’s life-sized sleigh and meet him in person with a small gift included for every child.

Middleton Road West, Chadderton, Oldham, OL1 2TG
Photosession with Santa | Julia Horrocks Photography | Monton | Sat 19 Nov | 9am | £25

A native New Yorker who relocated to Salford to establish Greater Manchester’s pre-eminent film portrait studio, renowned photographer Julia Horrocks hosts a one-day family photoshoot with Santa with very limited spaces on offer. During the private session, kids will spend vital one-on-one time with Santa, informing him of their Christmas list while sharing cookies, before a ten-minute photoshoot which will be uploaded to an exclusive online gallery within 2 weeks.

43 Folly Ln, Swinton, Manchester M27 0DE, UK, Salford, United Kingdom
Santa Specials | East Lancs Railway | Sat 26 Nov - Sat 24 Dec | From £27.50

Offering an enchanting festive ride through the picturesque Irwell Valley with Santa, his elves and a full brass band as fellow passengers, the East Lancashire Railway’s 80-minute Christmas return voyage from Bury to Rawtenstall is the North West’s answer to the Polar Express. Beginning with a Winter Wonderland scene at Bury Bolton Street Station, the journey features a sing-a-long, a choice of soft drinks and a free gift for every child, a choice of somewhat stiffer drinks and a mince pie per adult, and an improved range of kids’ entertainment.

The event also offers tickets to a Christmas Shuttle Bus from Heywood to Bury Bolton Street.

Bolton Street Station, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0EY
Father Christmas at the Farm | Tatton Park | Knutsford | Sat 26 Nov - Tue 20 Dec | 10.30am-2.30pm | £10

Taking places across four weekends with a final two days immediately following on the last Monday and Tuesday, Tatton Park’s Father Christmas on the Farm features ‘roaming entertainers, festive choirs and brass bands’ throughout the park, as well as photo opportunities in Santa’s sleigh, Clydesdale Barn’s Christmas Cafe and, of course, a meeting with Father Christmas and his elves in their festive grotto.

Tickets to see Father Christmas must be booked in advance, and are already selling out – click the link below to book.

Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN (Sat Nav WA16 6SG)
Meet Father Christmas with Bottomless Brunch | Menagerie | Manchester | Sat 3 Dec - Sat 17 Dec | £20 (Under-1s free)

While the event title may seem as though Menagerie has blissfully infused the wide-eyed innocence of childhood wonder with the Mancunian pastime of flamboyant unlimited day-drinking, their Santa meet-and-greet experience keeps it family friendly between 10am-1pm on the first three Saturdays of December. Alongside a brunch plate and as many soft drinks, teas or coffees guests can handle, tickets include gingerbread decorating, photo opportunities in the ‘Bath Tub Grotto’ and a chance for kids to reel off their present requests to Father Christmas himself.

New Bailey, Ground One, New Bailey St, Salford, M3 5JL
Thu 1 Dec - Sat 31 Dec,
Various Venues
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Fri 9 Dec 2022