Santas secret workshop grotto

A Santa’s grotto visit is an annual event for us and we usually do one at our local garden centre. I must confess to be quick to accept the grandparents offer to take my two! As much as lots of effort is made queuing for what has been hours amongst the Christmas decorations and spring bulbs is one trip I will happily take a pass on! A few weeks ago we were invited to visit Santa’s Secret Workshop Grotto at Intu Trafford Centre so we headed over after school to Barton Square – where the Sea Life Centre and Lego Discovery Centre are located.

I must confess I didn’t have any expectations at all, but I was genuinely amazed at just how good the whole experience was. I was genuinely brilliant, very well thought out and there was a real sense of Christmas magic. My kids, Diva G aged 6yo and Mr H 8yo adored it and it really kicked off the anticipation of Christmas. I’ve told so many people about this already and a couple of pals have gone on my recommendation and returned giving this a big thumbs up too. So let me tell you what’s there and why it is ace!

First off you the queuing thing, relax, you can book a time slot online minimising waiting and whilst you are awaiting your time with the big man himself there are lots of activities to keep children of all ages entertained. Everyone gets a passport and you earn a stamp for completing each activity. When you have all the stamps you submit your passport to see Santa in his grotto.

So once you have your passport issued you head off in a magical labyrinth of mirrors to the workshop which had my two heading the wrong way and back again and in fits of laughter by the time they reached the Elf who welcomed us to the Grotto.

Santa's grotto arrival maze

The Elf explained that some of the Elves were sick and they need Mr H and Diva to help to sort and load the presents for Santa – my two did not need asking twice and set about sorting and weighing the piles of presents, ensuring there would be no sleigh overloading!

Santas parcels

Sorting presents in Santa's workshop

Sleigh o meter

Then there was reindeer menu’s to prepare – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen all have different preferences. Who knew?! The children sorted the carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, chicken, corn, bread etc into the right buckets for the reindeer’s supper.

Reindeer Flying fuel

Reindeer flying fuel menus

Next there was secret magic reindeer food to prepare for Christmas Eve. Armed with paper envelopes they set to filling their own bags. We have them all ready for the magical night in just 24 sleeps from now!

Reindeer food mix

Reindeer food mix more

There is a craft station in the middle for making decorations if there are a few minutes to wait, but for us it was straight off to meet the big man himself and what a lovely twinkly grotto Santa has too.

Meeting Santa

with Santa Claus

The whole journey through the workshop and activities takes around 20 minutes and I have to say is a very reasonable £6 for kids, £3 for adults. The kids were really pleased with their gifts – Mr H received a light up parachute thing and Diva G a paint your own wooden horse kit. You can book a specific time slot online for £2.50 booking fee which is per transaction not per ticket.

This is the Grotto experience I was looking for, step into a magical wonderland and fantastic value for money. We loved it!

Ticket prices:
Children £6, Adults £3
A single booking fee of £2.50 will be added per transaction (not per ticket)
Opening Times: 30 November – 24 December
Monday-Friday 9am – 9pm
Saturdays 9am – 9pm
Sundays 10am – 6pm
Christmas Eve 9am – 5pm

Find out more and to book tickets visit: