This article is sponsored by London Transport Museum.
Santa's Grottos and meet-and-greets with Father Christmas are big business in London these days, and hugely popular. If your children want to meet Santa, his elves and his reindeer in London for Christmas 2022, get booking as tickets will sell out fast.
1. Santa's Grotto at Hamleys 2022
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OBVIOUSLY, Santa has to visit the world's most famous toy store as he preps for Christmas. In fact, he's setting up an in-store grotto, and will be meeting members of the public in between supervising the elves as they make toys. Take your own photos as your little ones meet the man in red, or purchase a professional shot. There's a treat waiting for all children, of course.
Santa's Grotto at Hamleys. £50 for up to three people, £15 per additional person (groups of up to six people). 12 November-24 December 2022.
2. Santa Land at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2022
Winter Wonderland doesn't just have a grotto — it dedicates an entire corner of the Hyde Park event to Father Christmas. Santa Land bustles with family-friendly rides, attractions and activities, as well as the Grotto itself, plus 'Santa Parades' at 7pm on selected days, where everyone can wave goodbye to the big man as he heads homes in his sleigh to see Mrs Claus.
The good news for parents is that this one's completely free, and all kids get a small gift. The bad news is there's no booking, you just turn up and take your chances. Be warned: the queue has been several hours long in past years, and they do close it when it gets too long.
It's also worth noting that for 2022, Winter Wonderland has retained its entry fees and the requirement to book your entry to the site in advance. If you can visit on a weekday morning in November or early December, entry is free, but other than that, you're looking at a minimum of £5 per person to enter the site.
Santa Land at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Free, no booking (but book for Winter Wonderland itself). Grotto open daily from 18 November 2022, 10am-6pm. The queue may close earlier than this to make sure everyone is seen.
3. Breakfast with Santa at Jungle Cave (previously Rainforest Cafe)
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Just off Piccadilly Circus, themed restaurant Jungle Cave (previously the Rainforest Cafe), hosts breakfast with Santa at weekends throughout November and December. The Amazonian jungle theme remains, offering a tropical backdrop for the 90-minute experience. Tuck into a full English, a veggie breakfast, or pancakes, as Santa and the Jungle Cave mascot circulate among the tables, posing for photos and handing out goody bags to younger diners.
Breakfast With Santa at Jungle Cave. From £17 per person, 19 November-18 December 2022
Santa lands his sleigh at London Transport Museum
Thought Santa flew a regular sleigh? Pah! He's bringing his Routemaster-inspired sleigh to Covent Garden’s London Transport Museum this Christmas. He flies in from 25 November, taking up residence in the museum’s twinkling winter wonderland, where you can climb aboard said sleigh for a festive selfie, before meeting Santa and his elf.
And that's not all. Other festive activities at the Museum include family craft activities and a wintery quiz trail — answer all the questions for a chance at winning a mini London Underground lightbox. And don't forget to visit the Museum's shop, ideal for gifts for the whole family — think festive decorations, wooden train sets, transport-themed knitwear and beautiful vintage posters.
Meet Santa at London Transport Museum daily, 25 November-23 December 2022 — check the Museum's website for timings. All Christmas at the Museum activities, including meeting Santa, are included in museum admission and don't need to be booked separately (kids go free to the museum too!).
4. Meet Santa at ZSL London Zoo
ZSL London Zoo's Meet Santa experience is back for 2022, inviting kids to chinwag with Father Christmas in his grotto, located in the heart of the zoo, and receive a special gift. There are various upgraded/VIP experiences available but the 'standard' one costs £15, and runs weekends from 3 December, then 10-24 December. It's part of The Magic Of Christmas, a whole programme of activities including Christmas crafts, festive animal talks, and a chance to write and post your all-important Christmas letter in the Polar Post Room.
Meet Santa at ZSL London Zoo. From £15 per person, weekends from 3 December, then 10-24 December.
The Magic of Christmas at ZSL London Zoo, 26 November 2022-3 January 2023.
5. Storytime with Father Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall
Father Christmas returns to his 'top-secret London headquarters' at the Royal Albert Hall for Christmas 2022. Kids are invited to wander around a North Pole street, meeting various festive characters. The man himself will appear too, reading children's book Tiny Reindeer by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, before giving each child a small gift to take home.
Storytime with Father Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall, £21.50 per child (adults free, max. two per child). 2-20 December 2022.
6. Santa's Grotto at Alexandra Palace
Santa Claus sets up camp in the East Court at Alexandra Palace, with families invited to meet him in his grotto. There's a chance to have a photo taken, and of course, children on the nice list receive a small gift to take home.
Santa's Grotto at Alexandra Palace, £15 per child (adult tickets free), 2-23 December 2022.
7. Meet Father Christmas at Fulham Palace
Father Christmas pitches up in the luxurious surrounds of Fulham Palace for a selection of meet and greet sessions. The whole place is fantastically festive, with roaring fires, a Christmas tree, and an elf on hand to teach you how to do Christmas crafts, while you wait for your all-important appointment. Kids can share their Christmas wishes with Santa, have a photo taken, and leave with a little gift.
Father Christmas at Fulham Palace, 9 December | 10 December (update: now sold out) | 11 December (update: now sold out) 2022. Tickets available from mid-October.
8. Breakfast with Santa at the Hard Rock Cafe
London's OG Hard Rock Cafe on Piccadilly hosts Breakfast with Santa for one day only. Tuck into unlimited breakfast and join in with festive games before the man himself drops by for a meet-and-greet and photos.
Breakfast With Santa at Hard Rock Cafe London. £6.95-£18.95 per person, 11 December.
Santa's a busy man, and some of his London appearances — including at Fortnum & Mason — have already sold out for 2022. Get yourself on the mailing lists to hear when tickets for next year go on sale. If it's Harrods you're after, you need to have spent at least £2,000 in the store this year to be invited to apply for tickets (!)