Due to international travel restrictions and the cancellation of several festive events, Santa is making fewer London appearances in 2020 than usual. Nevertheless, there are few places where you can have an audience with the man in red. Bear in mind that booking is required and that due to social distancing rules and other government guidelines, experiences may differ from previous years — check with individual venues for full details.
Santa's Grotto Workshop at Hamleys, Regent Street
Where better to meet Father Christmas and tell him your Christmas wishes than world-famous toy shop Hamleys? Step into the Hamleys North Pole where kids can take part in seasonal activities including storytime, meet Santa and his elves, and take home a gift bag. Each session is 15 minutes long and is limited to one family bubble per session this year.
Santa's Grotto Workshop at Hamleys, 21 November-24 December 2020. £45 for a bubble of three people, additional guests £15 each.
Meet Santa at ZSL London Zoo
Santa makes an appearance at ZSL London Zoo as part of The Magic of Christmas. Unfortunately, tickets to meet him are sold out (check here for returns), but there are plenty of other festive activities going on around the zoo. Help Santa and his elves do some research on what the animals would like for Christmas, by following a family-friendly trail around the zoo (look out for his reindeer on the way). New for 2020 is the Sensory Sweet Shop, which features clouds of candy floss, a marshmallow meadow and a forest of candy canes.
Meet Santa at ZSL London Zoo, 5-24 December 2020.
Father Christmas at Fulham Palace
Fulham Palace always pulls out all the stops for Christmas, and that involves a one-weekend-only appearance from Father Christmas. He takes over the Georgian dining room, which is festively decorated for the occasion, and welcomes young visitors and their families. While you're waiting for your audience with the man himself, take part in themed craft activities.
Fulham Palace's Christmas Fair Weekend takes place at the same time, with stalls to browse, food, drink, carols in the courtyard and other festive activities.
The Christmas Grotto at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea
He's famous for wearing red, but maybe blue is Santa's real colour? He's taking up residence in Chelsea FC's stadium for a Christmas grotto experience. Children can take part in festive fun and games in their own private igloo, before visiting Father Christmas in his North Pole chalet for storytime and chance to chat to him one-on-one.
The Christmas Grotto, Stamford Bridge. 28 November-23 December 2020. £180 for up to six people.
Greenwich Market Grotto
A socially distanced festive market and Santa's grotto takes place at Greenwich Market, in aid of Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice. Kids can meet Santa and his elves (from a distance) and leave with a gift.
If you can't make it to Greenwich, Santa's going high-tech and offering virtual meetings with children — they also require advance booking, with funds raised going to the hospice.