We went to the Bentalls Christmas Grotto in Kingston and absolutely loved it. This isn’t just your standard walk in – say hi to Father Christmas – take a picture and leave situation, which we unfortunately experienced for my son’s first Christmas – This was four fantastic rooms of festive fun!
When you enter, the first room is a winter wonderland! A mirrored room, filled with snow, trees and where you meet Snowflake, a friendly elf that introduces you to a singing reindeer. She also very kindly offers to take family pictures whilst you play in the snow, or children ride the vehicles parked around the room.
Next, you enter a gingerbread house where another elf helps you ice designs on your gingerbread before adding sprinkles and sparkles.
You then go into Santa’s workshop where a variety of elves show you their department, from receiving children’s letters to boxing the presents ready for delivery. You also get to sort out some toys that went wrong in the process – my son loved the dinosaur with a baby’s head!
You then get another photo opportunity as you can ride a ginourmous sleigh before the elves take you to meet Father Christmas!
My little one was a little apprehensive at first, but he was so kind and the elves were really supportive, which led him to warm up and go and sit on his knee for a picture and a chat. The elf took my phone and took loads of pictures and videos without me asking which was really lovely too!
The experience doesn’t end there, as included in the price of the ticket is a mulled wine (or alternative hot drink) with a mince pie for the adults and hot chocolate and cake for the children in the Bentalls cafe. It was a delicious way to wind down after a truly magical afternoon.
Tickets are £12.50 per person and have to be booked in advance, which I would say is the only downside to this experience, as it can be rather pricey, especially for larger families.
Children under 2 are free but therefore do not receive anything. It was rather quiet when we went on a Monday afternoon in term time and the grotto experience took us in all 35 minutes.
I would say it is worth it, as now getting a hot drink and cake alone can sometimes cost nearing £10, and it is such a lovely experience in all.