Where to see Santa in Cambridgeshire for Christmas 2023
Father Christmas will be out on his sleigh visiting plenty of places around the county over the festive season. If you’d like to take your children along to see him - or fancy saying hello to yourself - here are a few options in and around Cambridge.
Santa’s Grotto at Lion Yard
A little piece of the North Pole is coming to Lion Yard this Christmas where Santa Claus will be in his Arctic outpost meeting all the children who pass by.
It’s free to visit Santa in his grotto in the main atrium of the Cambridge shopping centre. Every child who visits receive a small, free wrapped present - a little token of the holiday season from Santa’s magical workshop.
A Lion Yard spokesperson said: “We believe that every child deserves the chance to meet Santa and have a quality, memorable experience. That’s why we’re proud to host this free grotto experience, making it accessible to all families in our community.
“To ensure that every child has a chance to meet Santa, please be prepared for potential wait times during busy periods. Our aim is to provide a magical and memorable experience for your family, and we look forward to seeing you this Christmas!”
Dates: December 1-3, 8-10, 14-24.
Times: Mon-Sat 10.30am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm, Christmas Eve 10.30am-2pm.
Also at Lion Yard, there will be a chance to meet a polar bear, who will be posing for photos, and enchanting visitors of all ages on December 21, from 11am to 4pm.
Scotsdale Garden Centre, Horningsea
Santa can often be found hanging out at Scotsdale Garden Centre, where he has his own festive grotto. There’s no need to book, but Santa does take his lunch from 1pm to 1.30pm. To ensure the experience is enjoyable for all, it is suggested that groups should be no more than six people.
Dates: Dec 2-3, 10-11, 17-18, 22-24.
Times: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, 10am-3.30pm Sun
Tickets: £7, includes a present of child’s choice. Under 18 months go free without a present but please purchase a child ticket if you would like your baby to receive a gift from Santa. Adults go free (but sorry, you don’t get a pressie...).
The Santa experience at Scotsdales in Great Shelford is already sold out.
Cambridge Biomedical Campus Christmas Market
Father Christmas will be making a special appearance at the Biomedical Campus Christmas market this year on Friday, December 1 and children will be able to see him in his grotto.
The market is free to attend and open to all. It will start at 2pm but Santa will arrive in his grotto at 5pm. There will be choir singers and charity stalls selling home goods, fragrance, food gifts, art, trinkets, holiday cards and more. Try some festive food and drink, including mulled wine, minced pies, sausages, waffles and crepes. Plus there will be a kids’ arts and crafts stall beginning at 4pm. The market finishes at 6pm.
Date: Dec 1
Location: CRUK/JCBC site
Cambs Youth Panel Winter Fair
There’s a chance to meet Santa at the Cambs Youth Panel Winter Fair on Sunday, December 17 and organisers are asking families to book a slot with him. The event is set to be free to attend and inclusive of all ages. The Youth Panel’s aim is to ensure all families enjoy some festive fun. Organisers promise arts and crafts, musical activities, food trucks and Father Christmas.
Date: Dec 17
Location: Westminster College, Madingley Road Cambridge CB3 0AA
At the John Lewis store in Cambridge’s Grand Arcade in the run-up to Christmas, children are being challenged to complete a mission by working their way through an interactive grotto before meeting Santa Claus. Afterwards, there is an opportunity to have a photo taken with the big man and receive a special gift.
Tickets: £20 per child, which includes a plush toy worth £10, plus there is a £2 booking fee. It costs £2 per adult plus a 20p booking fee. Professional photos are available to purchase separately.
Audley End Santa Express
The Santa Express at Audley End promises to be a magical experience. With Nutcracker’s help, this winter you will board the Polar Express and journey deep into the Enchanted Woods on Audley End’s miniature railway to visit Santa’s winter workshop. Together, with her very helpful elves, Mother Christmas is ensuring all the toys are ready for Christmas Eve while Santa comes to visit the carriages with a gift for every child.
The booking time is when your train ride begins, so be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before your slot so you have plenty of time to park your car and check in.
After the train ride, Snowberry the frost fairy will guide visitors through the illuminated woodland walk to meet reindeer keepers Logan and Thorn. Here you can create your own reindeer feed bags to leave out for Rudolph on Christmas Eve.
Hazel the postal elf will give children everything they need to write a Christmas letter to Santa, including a fast track stamp and the location of the on site special-delivery letterbox where you can post your letters.
Holly the Christmas fairy will also be waiting in her tipi tent to read you all an interactive Christmas story.
Tickets: Adults and over 92cm – £18-£30, children under 92cm – £9 to £15, child under 1 year - free.
Father Christmas in Cambourne
Santa and his magical fairies and elves will be touring around Cambourne, weather permitting, for four days – from Monday, December 4 to Thursday, December 7.
The organisers say: “If your little ones would like to give their letters for Father Christmas to his fairies and elves and any member of the SLAM crew, whilst they are visiting Cambourne, please don't forget to pay £1 and write your address clearly for a reply from the big man in red! We will be collecting donations of gifts (ie toiletries, toys, clothes) for Cambridgeshire Domestic Violence Refuge and funds for The SLAM Project, Each and Willows Edge Angling. All donations will be gratefully received. On each evening we will be doing a live feed so you will know we are on our way and where we are.”
The following routes have been announced:
Monday, December 4. from 6.30pm – Great Cambourne: From The Monkfield Arms, along Monkfield Lane, Greenhaze Lane, Jeavons Lane, Sitch Road, Mayfield Lane, Jeavons Lane, High Street, Back Lane, Osier Way, New Hall Lane, Back Lane, De La Warr Way, Broad Street, High Street, finishing back to The Monkfield Arms.
Tuesday, December 5, from 6.30pm – Lower Cambourne: From The Monkfeild Arms, along School Lane to Apley Way, Swansley Lane, Merle Way, Woodfield Way, School Lane, Brookfield Way, back up School Lane to The Monkfield Arms.
Wednesday, December 6, from 6.30pm – Upper Cambourne: From the Co-op along Mosquito Road, Sterling Way, Lancaster Gate, Oxford Way, Brace Dein, Beaufort Road and Gladiator Road, back to The Co-op.
Thursday, December 7, from 6.30pm – West Cambourne – route to be finalised.
Santa in Huntingdonshire
Huntingdon and District Round Table have teamed up with the jolly fellow himself to bring his sleigh to a host of places, including Papworth and Godmanchester.
Dates and locations: Dec 3 - Hemingfords to be confirmed; Dec 5 - Wyton on the Hill; Dec 6 – Buckden; Dec 7 - Brampton; Dec 8 - Godmanchester; Dec 10 – Houghton and Wyton; Dec 11 - Brampton; Dec 12 – Papworth; Dec 13 – Sawtry (new condensed route); Dec 14 – Godmanchester; Dec 15 – Hartford; Dec 17 – North Oxmoor and Sapley; Dec 18 – Alconbury Weald; Dec 19 – Stukeley Meadows; Dec 20 – Huntingdon town centre and South Oxmoor; Dec 21 – Hinchingbrooke
Ely Rotary Club
For children who would like to see Santa in his sleigh, he will be touring the streets of Ely once again this year, beginning on Monday, December 4 through until Tuesday, December 19.
His sleigh will also be appearing in the High Street on Saturday, December 9 and Saturday, December 16, and outside Tesco on Wednesday, December 20, thanks to help from his friends at Ely Rotary Club.
You will be able to see exactly where Santa is on any given evening between 5.30pm and 8pm by looking at www.elysantatracker.co.uk – go to the ‘planned route’ page and follow the link.
The Rotary Club is accepting donations for The Rotary Club of Ely benevolent fund en route.
Winter Wonderland at Cambridge Country Club
Cambridge Country Club presents a Winter Wonderland with a chance to meet Santa, and enjoy a bouncy castle, arts and crafts from Princess Elsa.
Crafty young hands can fashion Christmas baubles at an arts and crafts table, and there will be mince pies, steaming hot chocolate and mulled wine for the grown-ups.
Tickets are for a one-hour visit. Every child will leave with a gift from Santa
There is free parking on the grounds of Cambridge Country Club.
Dates: Dec 9-10
Location: Cambridge Country Club, Toft Road, Bourn CB23 2TT
Tickets: Adults £8, children £12.
Shepreth Wildlife Park’s Santa Experience
Visitors to the wildlife park can book a visit to Santa’s Grotto, which includes five minutes with Father Christmas plus a gift and a Child Winter Zoo Pass valid for one future visit between October 1 and March 31 any year.
The cost is £10 per child and pre-booking of a time slot is required. The grotto is raising money for SWCC Hedgehog Hospital and the fee is payable on the day in cash.
Father Christmas in Fen Cottage at Wicken Fen
Join the elves of Wicken Fen to make a Christmas decoration and collect a take-home Christmas craft pack, then make your way to Fen Cottage to meet Father Christmas and receive a present. This very popular event must be booked in advance.
Tickets: £12.75 per child.
Father Christmas at Sacrewell Farm
Step into Santa’s traditional farmhouse, hop on board Santa’s sleigh – the original sleigh from ‘Santa Claus: the movie’, say hello to Santa’s helpers and enjoy a one-to-one encounter with the big man himself.
Open the door to the packed present room, where each child can choose a gift.
Prior booking to meet Santa is essential. Book December admission via the farm’s website and then choose Meet Santa as an add-on. Under 2s and child pass holders require a child Santa ticket, adults do not. The times slots are for meeting Father Christmas, not entry to to Sacrewell, which can be visited all day.
Dates: December 9, 10, 16-24.
Tickets: £8 per child plus the December admission price.
Location: Sacrewell, Thornhaugh, Peterborough PE8 6H