Can you hear the sleigh bells ringing yet?
This week we’re talking all about Santa’s grottos. Meeting Santa might be the highlight of Christmas for many kids, but for children with special educational needs the bright lights, music and crowds can be really stressful.
Thankfully, more and more venues now realise they must make adaptations to attract families with additional needs. Every year more ‘relaxed’ sessions pop up for children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to visit Father Christmas.
Like everything else, it’s a bit of a strange one this year. We had actually booked a Santa visit for late November but it was cancelled due to lockdown 2.0. Although some venues have decided to skip the grotto this year, other places are determined to bring Christmas joy to all, with some very inventive ideas taking place.
So here are 6 of the best relaxed Santa’s grottos around Leeds this Christmas. I’d love to know which grotto – either in this region or further afield – is your favourite in the comments below.
1. Lotherton, Leeds
Over the last few years, Lotherton’s Christmas experience has become one of the must-see attractions over the festive period. We had a lovely time when we visited for the first time last year.
This year, the venue is hosting a relaxed visit to Santa for young people with additional needs on Tuesday December 8. You can meet Santa and join his elves under the wishing tree in a friendly and accessible experience. Slots are between 3pm and 6pm.
Don’t forget to bring your letter for the man himself. Call 0113 376 0318 to book your slot.
Visit the Lotherton website for more details
2. Stockeld Park, Wetherby
Charity Autism Angels is once again partnering with Stockeld Park in Wetherby to offer Santa visits structured to fit the needs of children on the autism spectrum on December 5 and 6.
Tickets are £12.50 per child for the grotto. Access to other Stockeld events have to be booked direct with Stockeld Park.
As part of this experience the sound will be lowered and visitors will be supported by Autism Angels’ team of trained volunteers so everyone can have a relaxing, supported experience for the whole family.
For more information and to reserve a space, read and fill out the booking form
3. Brimham Rocks Activity Farm
Due to popular demand, Brimham Rocks Activity Farm has added an SEN Christmas Experience date to its festive celebrations..
It will take place on Friday, December 11 with time slots starting at 4pm
The elves take you for a magical walk through the tunnels to meet Father Christmas in his grotto before entering his Christmas village filled with Christmas cheer.
The village is full of busy elves trying to get everything ready for all the good boys and girls before Santa sets off on his busiest night of the year so help them decorate some gingerbread in the elf kitchen and sit down and relax whilst Mrs Clause reads you a traditional Christmas tale in her cosy living room.
Go into the forest to meet Santa’s real-life reindeer and help the elves finish planting all the Christmas trees before it’s too late.
All activities will follow government guidelines to ensure the experience is safe for all involved, face masks will need to be worn by all over the age of 11.
Please book through Facebook or phone for this specific Christmas evening.
4. Harlow Carr, Harrogate
This is one of our favourite Santa’s grottos. Sadly Stories with Santa isn’t happening this year but all is not lost – you can receive a personalised Christmas message from Father Christmas and a singalong session to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.
5. Home visit, Leeds
Children’s party supremo Susie Sparkles is organising Santa visits to homes during December. He will pose for photos (whilst keeping a subtle but significant distance), bring a little present and an abundance of Christmas cheer whilst his chief elf Sparkles plays pranks and sings Christmas songs with her ukulele. You never know he may even bring snow…According to Susie, Santa has lots of personal understanding an experience of autism.
The experience costs £30 per household and slots are booking up fast so visit the website for all the details. Letter from Santa, video call and personalised video also available.
6. Doorstep Santa, Leeds
Can’t get to Santa? Let Santa come to you. If you live within postcodes LS16, LS18 or LS19, Santa will make a socially distanced visit to your house from £10 per household. The first present is free. Discounts apply for multiple bookings on the same street.
This one was shared by Santa’s wife in the ZigZag Leeds Autism Facebook group recently. Apparently he is also a childminder with lots of experience with autistic children and children with additional needs.
For enquiries and bookings, call 07828 821784
- Is your favourite Santa’s Grotto on the list? Let me know where your favourite ‘relaxed’ session is in the comments below.
- If you enjoyed reading The Best Relaxed Santa’s Grottos around Leeds this Christmas, read: Lapland With Autism: Our Christmas Adventure
This is such a helpful post. It’s so hard to know which events are appropriate for our kids when you haven’t been before x
That’s the thing, isn’t it? Sometimes you don’t need the SEN session but other times it’s the only way you’re able to go and enjoy it.
It’s great to see so many places supporting additional needs. Agree you need to think about these things early, a lot of the popular grottos sell out in early October
I know! For the really popular ones I’ve been known to put a note in my diary for 1st September…
We’ve never got into doing the whole grotto thing, but if we did, we would definitely need one that is more relaxed and suitable for our son’s need, so posts like this are super helpful! x