Calling all mums and dads, kids, carers and Santa fans. This is the season to meet the original dude, so we’ve rounded up five places that we think offer good value for money and a special experience. If you can face a bit of a journey (and chilly weather), we also recommend Portmeirion’s Santa, (pictured) who you visit by special train (£3 per child). So. First up is (1) Santa at the Chill Factore (£15 per child, pictured), tucked away in a heated cabin on the slopes. There’s the obvious (2) Arndale Centre experience too (£5.50 per child). Just remember – Santa is only going to get busier, so we recommend booking sooner rather than later.

3. Intu Trafford Centre (YouTube link below)
Located in Barton Square, Santa’s arctic world includes CGI whales and sea lions as well as a host of cute animals, including a puppet experience where you get to meet a baby reindeer called Norbert. There’s a Playmobil present for everyone too.
Until Sun 24 Dec, intu Trafford Centre, Manchester, M17 8DA. times vary, £7.50 child, £5 adult. Book online:

4. Quarry Bank Mill
Out of town and atmospheric, Santa is tucked away in the historic textile mill, just near Manchester Airport. Each 30 minute session includes games, storytelling a gift and more. Be warned, this one is nearly sold out.
Sat 2 & Sun 3 Dec dates left only, Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate, Styal, Wilmslow, SK9 4LA, Tel: 0344 249 1895, times vary, £9 per child, adults free,
Booking online essential:

5. House of Fraser Grotto
Manchester’s most elegant department store oozes Christmas cheer, and once again, Santa’s back in his bespoke grotto on the sixth floor. Visits include a meet and greet and a gift.
Until Sun 24 Dec, House of Fraser, 98-116 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2QG. times vary, £10 per child, buy tickets from the Childrenswear Dept on the 6th floor,

Tue 21 Nov - Sun 24 Dec
Ruth Allan
Published on:
Mon 18 Dec 2017