While Christmas 2020 might not have been the festive family celebration we all hoped for, SoGlos’s elves have been working hard to help 2021 be the biggest and best Christmas ever – discover exactly where Santa Claus will be across Gloucestershire, for those magical family moments we will all treasure a little bit more this December.
While the elves haven’t been able to find 29 magical places to meet Santa in Gloucestershire just yet, we are continuously updating this hot list with as many special places for children to meet Father Christmas lists and meet the jolly man himself. Ho, ho, ho!
Set in a stunning scenic forest surroundings, Dean Forest Railway – which is approximately four and a half miles long – was founded in 1970 and runs along part of the old Severn and Wye Railway lines, which were first built as a tramroad over 200 years ago.
With everything from Christmas-themed trips to evening specials including Evening Fish and Chip Suppers, Dining Trains, Murder Mysteries and Gin Trains, Dean Forest Railway runs from Lydney Junction Station, with the main station located at Norchard where there is also museum and café.
For more information, visit deanforestrailway.co.uk.
Experience a festive train ride through the forest to see Santa and his elves with Dean Forest Railway. Usually selling-out, the event is expected to be bigger than ever this year with the magic getting underway on Saturday 27 November 2021 until Friday 24 December 2021 – and advance bookings are essential this year.
You can even add on a special Christmas Afternoon Tea with festive treats including turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwiches or visit the cafe which will be offering seasonal take-away refreshments and then head to the steam train shop, which is well stocked with toys and gifts – and plenty of stocking filler ideas!
Enjoy some magic at Slimbridge Wetland Centre when Santa makes personal visits to good boys and girls’ tables, while their family tuck into a tasty breakfast or festive afternoon tea this December 2021.
Little ones will can choose a gift from the man in red himself, with the fantastic backdrop of colourful flamingos, before heading out to make some family memories in Slimbridge’s 100 acres of nature-filled wetlands.
Head to Westonbirt Arboretum this Christmas and help reunite Santa with his lost reindeer, all while experiencing mesmerising light displays and stunning spectacles along the way.
The arboretum’s Enchanted Christmas gets underway this November 2021 and will have visitors embark on an adventure through the illuminated trees, speaking to elves for clues and, if all the Reindeer are located, Father Christmas may even make an appearance.
Little ones can meet Father Christmas at Dean Heritage Centre this December 2021 in the centre’s cosy and festive Forester’s Cottage, where Santa will be handing out presents to those children who are lucky enough to be on the nice list.
There will also be other Christmas-themed events including craft hunts, festive plays, Christmas music and more.
Wander into the magical underground forest at Clearwell Caves this December 2021 and discover how the woodland animals get ready for Christmas.
While you’re there, meet Santa and his elves before enjoying Clearwell Caves’ Christmas stalls, where you are sure to find the perfect stocking filler or decoration for your tree. What’s more, the underground café has delicious cakes and warming winter drinks – perfect for the winter weather. Tickets for this experience need to be booked online.
Ahead of his magical round-the-world voyage, Father Christmas is heading to Cattle Country Adventure Park from Saturday 4 to Thursday 23 December 2021. Families will be able to enjoy a whole host of festive fun including meeting Santa, visiting the elves’ workshop, decorating gingerbread with Mrs Claus and more.
All of the Christmas activities are including in tickets to see Santa which also give visitors full access to the park between 10am and 4pm.
Enjoy the most wonderful time of the year at Blenheim Palace, where more than one million lights, lasers and seasonal sounds will fill the air with festive fun, as well as larger-than-life illuminations. And where you may even be able to catch a glimpse of Father Christmas along the way!
New for 2021, Blenheim’s visitors will be able to explore the Palace rooms, which have each been transformed with everything from the toymaker’s workshop to the candy-cane Kingdom of Sweets – all of which are filled with hidden surprises.
Dive into the festive spirit this December 2021 at Trioscape Garden Centre where there is a range of Christmas events taking place. On Saturday 18 December 2021, the whole family will be able to enjoy breakfast with Santa and his helper, before choosing from a selection of premium gifts. Advanced booking is recommended for this experience.
What’s more, Trioscape’s popular grotto is returning again this Christmas. Every Saturday and Sunday from Saturday 27 November 2021 right up until Christmas Eve, where Father Christmas will be in his grotto and tickets can be purchased on the day of your visit from one of the garden centre’s checkouts.
Venture into a magical wonderland this Christmas with Winter Glow at Three Counties Showground, just over the border in Malvern.
Running across various dates from November 2021 until January 2022, the magical event promises four amazing attractions that are perfect for getting into the festive spirit including the Winter Glow ice rink; the new Winter Glow illuminated light trail; Winter Glow’s brand new giant observation wheel; and Santa Claus himself will be there too!
Plus, personalised Santa experiences are available from Saturday 4 December 2021, right up until Christmas Eve. With the chance to hop aboard the Arctic Express to Santa’s cosy cabin, where each family will have a private visit with Santa Claus, including a gift for each child, and a chance to try one of Ma Claus’s freshly baked cookies.
Wrap up warm this Saturday 20 November 2021 and head down to Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter for its official Christmas lights switch on party. When Father Christmas will be making a whistle stop tour before he switches on the festive lights at around 6.30pm.
Expect everything from carol singing; dancing; circus skills; comedy performances; Silver Sambistas from Ola Samba; music from local boy band The Hornets; as well as the chance to meet superheroes and villains and princesses at the free party.
Not only can you stock up on all your Christmas goodies and presents at King’s Walk shopping centre in Gloucester, from fashion to stocking-filler toys, but SoGlos can confirm that you will also be able to catch a glimpse of Santa himself! From Thursday 9 to Thursday 16 December 2021 you can catch the man in red at the Gloucester shopping centre from 1pm to 6pm and again on Christmas Eve from 10am until 2pm.
Gloucester BID is launching an exciting Reindeer Trail this Christmas, with promises of an appearance from Santa for all those children who have been good all year! The trail will start from Monday 22 November 2021 and more details are coming.
All aboard! Christmas is ‘bigger than ever’ at Perrygrove Railway this December 2021 with two festive experiences for families to enjoy. Hop aboard the Twilight Train where passengers will be taken on a journey through the illuminated woods before stopping off to see Father Christmas at his snowy station.
Or, there is the VIP Father Christmas Experience where up to eight people will enjoy a private meet and greet with Santa as he hands out gifts and gets stuck into some festive crafts, all while you enjoy a steam train ride in your private carriage and tuck into some festive treats.
With venues across Gloucestershire, Dobbies Garden Centre is getting into the Christmas spirit with events including Santa’s Breakfast, where the whole family will be able to join in with games, a visit from Santa and a special gift for every child.
Little ones will also be able to meet Santa in his grotto at Dobbies too, walking through woodland, spotting the Christmas characters along the way, before being welcomed by Father Christmas himself who will give them a special gift. Santa’s Quiet Grotto is also available on certain days for little ones with additional needs.
And it’s not just children who can be treated this Christmas, as Santa Paws is also on hand to make sure good pooches receive a special treat too!
Hop on board a festive train ride with Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway this Christmas 2021. There are two experiences to choose from, including the Santa Express which starts in November 2021 and the Santa Steam Specials which start in December 2021.
Travelling from Toddington Station, both experiences will give children the chance to meet Santa and his elves – and good boys and girls will receive a little something, too – all while travelling on an exciting train and tucking into complimentary mince pies, hot and cold drinks, biscuits and fruit.
On Wednesday 8 December 2021, head to Robinswood Hill in Gloucester where you can enjoy a woodland twilight trail where reindeers have been causing all sorts of mischief on the reindeer trail, before heading to see Santa himself in his grotto. While you’re there, you can also enjoy some festive treats in the café.
Embark on a magical real life reindeer-filled Christmas adventure at Cotswold Reindeer Herd this festive period. From Saturday 20 November to Friday 24 December 2021, families will be able to visit Santa and his grotto near Cirencester.
Receive a special gift from Father Christmas, as well as a professional photo if you wish, before visiting his reindeer where you can treat them to a tasty snack.
For a chance to join in with Father Christmas and his friends in a brand new, festive, interactive musical, families can head to the Bacon Theatre for Santa's Best Christmas Ever on Tuesday 14 December 2021.
From the creators of 2020’s sell-out show Santa's Christmas Cracker, this new show will feature festive favourite songs including ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ and more. With every child receiving a specially wrapped present from Santa himself too.
Families can head to Webbs Garden Centre in Cheltenham where they can wander through a very festive Christmas village where there’s a surprise around every corner.
From Saturday 20 November 2021 until Friday 24 December 2021, children will be able to see the garden centre’s traditional grotto before meeting Father Christmas in his cosy cabin, where they will receive their own Christmas tree sapling, pot and festive stickers to decorate it with.
For two festive days this December 2021, families can enjoy a magical Christmas experience in Cheltenham. The Bayshill Pub is hosting an extra special Frozen Christmas party on Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 December 2021.
Not only will little ones have the chance to celebrate with Elsa, Anna, Olaf and even a mini Sven reindeer, but they will also be able to visit Santa in his grotto.
Head just across the Gloucestershire border to The Gables Hotel on Christmas Eve, where families can enjoy a delicious breakfast where you can enjoy options such as cooked breakfasts, croissants and pastries and more.
After you have enjoyed festive treats, Santa will appear with a small gift for all the good girls and boys with plenty of magical photo opportunities.
For a day out just over the county border in Oxford, head to Westgate this December 2021. This festive period, Westgate is inviting guests to come and experience ‘Believe’ where they will explore a mystical cavern and meet one of Santa’s trusted elves and a magical talking reindeer.
Before they will then be invited to make extra-special reindeer food to take home and leave out to fuel Santa’s helpers on their Christmas Eve journey. Little ones will then venture into Santa’s enchanting grotto to enjoy a one-to-one with Santa where they will receive a gift of a book and the opportunity to snap a photo of the magical occasion.
For four days this December 2021, Father Christmas will be making a special visit to Dinky Street in Bishop’s Cleeve. Tots can visit Santa in his cosy grotto. With magical, make believe play sessions too.
Families can find Santa in his newest grotto when it pops up at Gloucester Carpet Outlet on the city’s Bristol Road, as the space transforms into a festive market for Heart Heroes Winter Wonderland on Saturday 4 December 2021.
Complete with Christmas market stalls, seasonal refreshments and mulled wine for grown-ups, the event in aid of Heart Heroes gives little ones the chance to meet Father Christmas and receive a gift, costing £5 per child with pre-bookable slots available from 12pm to 4.30pm.
An ideal break in between Christmas shopping, children can meet Santa and his elves at John Lewis Cheltenham on Saturday 11 and Sunday 19 December 2021.
Each child can enjoy a gingerbread biscuit and juice presented in a Christmas bag to take home, with the chance to meet the big man and deliver their Christmas letters by hand too. Tickets cost £15 per child, with 50 per cent of ticket sales going to Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.
Mr Mulligans in Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter is giving Gloucestershire families a fun filled morning, with breakfast, crazy golf and a socially distanced visit with Santa – on Saturday 11, Sunday 12, Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 December 2021.
Tickets for children under 12-years-old cost £10 each and include pancakes, fruit juice, one game of crazy golf, a visit with Santa and a gift, with adult tickets costing £12.
Santa is bringing two of his reindeer with him to Daylesford Organic Farm on Saturday 4 December 2021. Dancer and Blitzen will be outside the Cotswolds farm shop, while Santa will be in his grotto waiting to hear what’s on children’s wish lists.
Tickets to see Santa cost £5 per child, with proceeds being donated to local children’s charities and schools, while meeting Santa’s reindeer is free.
Santa will be opening his Christmas workshop at The Old Kennels in Cirencester Park for the first time from Saturday 20 November to Thursday 23 December 2021 – where families can enter the magical toy factory, see inside the Post Room and watch the elves in elf school building train sets, rocking horses and more.
After receiving a gift from Santa, the elves will show visitors into a winter wonderland where Santa’s sleigh is parked – ideal for a festive family photo opportunity – as well as a giant snowglobe where families have the opportunity to frolic in the snow before heading home.
Santa has left his grotto and jumped on a boat! At Saul Junction Visitor Centre, families can enjoy an exciting 20-minute boat trip with the Cotswold Canals Trust Santa Cruises, plus a gift from Santa for each child too.
Taking place on Sunday 5, Saturday 11, Sunday 12, Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 December 2021, the cruises are operated by volunteers and all proceeds go to Cotswold Canals Trust – with adult tickets costing £7 and children’s costing £5.
For more information, visit deanforestrailway.co.uk.
By Maddy Richards
Wednesday 10 November 2021
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