Taking your children to meet Father Christmas has got to be one of those parenting moments where you have to pinch yourself. I’m not sure the magic of Santa ever goes away, not matter how old you are! I was so excited about taking Violet and Pearl for their first visit to meet Father Christmas, even at 22 months and 4 months they are a little bit small, but the magic is still there and it’s creating memories and stories to tell that’ll last forever. It feels like one minute I was the child, meeting Father Christmas – entering his magical grotto filled with busy elves, toys, with the sound of jingling reindeers – now I’m the parent, sharing this magical experience with my children too! I couldn’t be more excited about Christmas with my two little ones this year and as they grow I’m sure it’ll just keep getting better!
For Violet and Pearl’s first visit to Santa’s Grotto we headed down to Churchill Square Brighton, where there is a slightly different take on the traditional grotto as this year it’s entirely made out of lego! The lego grotto named ‘Bricking It!’ has been created to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the lego brick. The girl’s had been pretty cranky all day so I felt like this was going to go one two ways – either a great distraction or a total disaster, so we pushed on, I plied Violet with a continual flow of snacks and once they were there, the lights, colours and decorations were the perfect distraction. PHEW.
We arrived at the Grotto bang on time for opening and were lucky enough to witness Santa himself coming down the escalator with his troop of elves, ringing their bells – this just added to the excitement as children from all across the shopping centre waved and stared in awe.
We were lucky enough to be first in and were greeted by a super, happy elf who lead us round the maze of lego surrounding the grotto, showing us the different activities along the way, like ‘pin the tail on the reindeer’ and where we could take an ‘Elfie!’ Violet was maybe a little too small to completely understand the interactive storytelling part but was intrigued by all the bright colourful lego and absolutely loved the GIANT baubles on the Christmas tree. I think for slightly older children, this section would be fantastic for older children and adds a bit more to the experience than just the grotto visit itself.
Once we’d finished in this section it was time for the big moment! I know it’s silly, but I actually felt a buzz of excitement as we entered into the main grotto and saw Father Christmas sitting there, smiling and waving to us as we entered. Violet didn’t quite have the reaction I was hoping for, she was a bit nervous and clung to my leg. To be fair Father Christmas did have very large beard and deep booming voice so it must be a bit of a surprise! I know she’ll grow to love him and by this time next year she’ll be running in, ready to reel off her Christmas list, I’m sure!
The elves and Father Christmas himself were amazingly friendly and welcoming to us all, they could see Violet was a little shy so they didn’t pressure her to come any closer, they just chatted to her and eventually curiosity got the better of her and she sat comfortably on my lap, next to Father Christmas to talk to him. She stayed silent the whole time just looking and taking it all in, so I put in her Christmas request of ‘anything Peppa pig’ (why did I say that…. I panicked!) It was then Pearl’s turn, she was totally calm and smiled away, holding Father Christmas’ hand.
Once we’d finished talking to Father Christmas we had our photos taken and said our goodbyes, Violet even offered a ‘High Five’ as the nerves had fully gone. We then received our presents. Violet & Pearl both got a book as they are under 3 (over 3’s get a little lego ‘make-and-take set) and we got our photo in a little frame – for a first time, it’s not too bad – I’m sure I just cried the first time!
So, if you fancy a trip to meet Santa at Brighton’s Churchill Square, entry is £7 per child, which includes a meet with Santa, a photo and a present. Opening times of the grotto are on the website, and I’d recommend arriving early as the queues to build up, there was quite a queue forming by the time we left!