Seven of the most unusual places to meet Father Christmas

Whether or not snow is falling all around you, there’s something for everyone in our round-up of the seven most unusual lottery-funded places to meet the big man (or woman) this Christmas.


Whether or not snow is falling all around you, there’s something for everyone in our round-up of the seven most unusual lottery-funded places to meet the big man (or woman) this Christmas.

The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways
When in the Welsh Highlands, Father Christmas likes to travel by train. Join him and the elves on the special Santa Trains running on both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Steam Railways. This is the oldest railway company in the world still running trains. You'll enjoy magnificent views of Snowdonia and a few festive surprises (including mince pies).www.festrail.co.uk

Wallington, near Morpeth, Northumberland
Sure, Father Christmas is great, but at Wallington this Christmas kids can get cosy with Mrs Christmas as she reads them stories from her favourite books (we’re picturing by the fireplace, but you’ll need to pop along yourself to find out). The event is free, but normal admission prices to the venue will apply. All children must be accompanied by an adult. www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Painshill Park, Cobham, Surrey
Prepare to be dazzled in Santa’s sparkling crystal grotto – one of the fantastical 18th century follies you’ll find at Painshill Park. Wander along the Christmas trails until you find yourself in the Christmas Wishing Tent – where Santa and his elves will be waiting for you. www.painshill.co.uk

W5, Belfast
This Christmas jump on board the Winterland Express for a magical journey through the enchanted forest. The miniature train will take you to Winterland Castle where surprises await. www.w5online.co.uk

Eden Project, Cornwall
According to TripAdvisor, the Father Christmas at the Eden Project is all about "… putting the magic back into Christmas" and he wants to meet you! Santa needs help finding the essential ingredients at Eden for his reindeer cubes. The elves have written a special letter with a map guiding you around the gardens and Biomes to help you on your way. The reindeer will be ever so grateful. www.edenproject.com

Dudley Castle & Zoo, Birmingham
Come and see Santa’s grotto in the stunning gardens of the 11th century Dudley Castle. After receiving a special gift from Santa, head off to the fun-filled Christmas Glow in the Dark Puppet Show then go to visit the red pandas and other animals at the Zoo next door. www.dudleyzoo.org.uk

Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
It’s lucky Santa is a hardy chap, because this year you’ll find him hanging out at the Royal Botanic Gardens. To be fair, he will be making the John Hope Gateway visitor centre his base so he won’t get too chilly and neither will you and the children as you pose for photos. No booking required. www.rbge.org.uk


National Lottery players help support over 31,000 heritage projects across the UK – making sure Santa and his reindeer have a great place to set up the Christmas grotto. Merry Christmas and thank you!

Credits: National Trust Images.

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