When sorting out Christmas activities and fun, I'm sure most people's first thoughts are where they are going to see Father Christmas himself. This year we were lucky enough to be invited down to Santa's Grotto and the Christmas Village at intu Lakeside!
The Christmas Village is located outside by car park 3 near House of Fraser. It includes a covered ice rink, Santa's Grotto, Christmas Market as well as a few kiddy rides. We visited the ice rink just before it opened and it's fantastic. Unfortunately only Jack went on the ice (children have to be over 4 to go on), but he had loads of fun regardless!
We arrived just before our slot at 10.30am (along with about 6 other families it seemed!), and was welcomed in by a lovely 'Elf'. There's a buggy park to leave pushchairs which is helpful - although it is unmanned between two sets of doors so you of course leave at your own risk. Each child was soon given a token to use on one of the interactive games through the grotto - Chimney Drop.
There were games and interactive elements throughout the queue to keep little ones entertained. I did think this was a bit of a strange system though. There were lots of families so it was hard to actually play on any of them - you either were waiting, or worried that you were hogging it so it felt very rushed.
I assumed each family got to go through this bit separately, to be able to have the experience. So this was definitely disappointing. Especially when we were having a lovely time interacting with the 'make a wish to Santa', when we were then quickly rushed off (before even getting to look at the last interactive section!).
The trip to Father Christmas was definitely worth it though. This was Indiana's fourth year visiting him, and the first she hasn't cried - now if that isn't a good review I don't know what is! He was lovely and chatty, and even though Indiana was a bit shy he didn't stop asking questions. He even knew what Paw Patrol was which made Indie smile.
Parker was a bit scared, but after receiving his gift he managed a high five with Father Christmas. The presents I was really impressed with - both littles received a Playmobil figure which they've enjoyed playing with a lot since.
Although pricey at £7 we decided to buy the photo (you can't take your own), as it's actually a pretty good one!
Overall we were happy with our visit to Father Christmas this year. I do think the queue system is a bit flawed, and pictures are pricey, but Father Christmas himself was fab - and that's what it's all about really! Tickets to the Grotto are priced at £6 per child (including gift) with accompanying adults free of charge.
Disclosure - We received entry to the Grotto free of charge for the purpose of this review, in association with intuVIB.