From a working farm to a steam train, here are six strange places to see Santa

Up and down the country, there are plenty of more magical ways to meet the jolly old gent – especially when mulled wine is on tap for Mum and Dad.

From steam trains to boats, and forests to farms, check out our pick of the most memorable ways for the kids – and adults – to meet Santa.


The Polar Express, Birmingham Moore Street Station, November 29 – December 23 (selected dates): Hit the rails with the classic children's tale performed by professional dancers and actors on a mainline train.

On the journey from Birmingham city centre to the North Pole, scenes from The Polar Express movie come to life as dancing chefs and waiters arrive serving cookies and hot chocolate.

Key elements of the story spring to life inside and outside the train.

On arrival, Santa will welcome the train with his sleigh, a bag of toys and a giant Christmas tree.

Tickets from £25 per person in standard and £35 per person in first class, at:

Santa and Steam at Churnet Valley Railway, Staffs, December 1-23 (selected dates): Now in its 23rd year, the annual Santa and Steam event at Churnet Valley Railway is a favourite Christmas experience. As the Santa Express steams through the picturesque Staffordshire moorlands, Father Christmas strolls through the train bearing gifts for each child. Adults can relax with a mince pie and sherry. Balloon artists will also be on board to impress with their festive creations.

Tickets from £17 adult, £12 child, £7 under-2s. See or call 01538 758 491.


The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, November 17 – December 24 (selected dates): Visitors to Marsh Farm start their magical journey in Elf Academy before travelling to the Snow Fairy show.

Next stop is Mother Christmas' Kitchen, to decorate gingerbread, before heading to meet the big man himself, who gives each child a heart to take to the Teddy Bear Workshop. Here, the children make their own teddy, adding cuddly filling and the heart to create a friend for life. Children receive a "snowie", the elf currency, to buy a gift from the toy shop.

Tickets start from £12 for adults and £23.95 for children. See or call 01245 321 552.

Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom, Shrops, December 1-24 (weekends and Christmas week): Book a private audience with Father Christmas in his grotto at Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom before visiting the Elf Village to meet his reindeer. Entry to the farm is included in the admission price so children can visit all the other animals and exotic creatures after telling Santa their wish list. All children over two years old receive a gift.

Tickets £8 adults, £12 children, under-2s £5. See or call 01952 677 917.


City Cruises Poole: Sail with Santa, Dorset, December 8-24 (selected dates): Leave land and join Santa in sailing from Poole quay for a festive journey that passes the famous Brownsea Island. While on board, children can enjoy a 30-minute magic show and balloonmodelling, plus biscuits and a soft drink, while adults relax with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. Santa will be delivering presents to children as he makes his way around the boat.

Passengers sail from £16.50, under-1s free, dogs £2, cycles £2. See or call 02077 400 400.


Blakemere Village Christmas Woodland Experience, Cheshire, December 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 and 24: This festive treat is a real family adventure through the woodlands of Cheshire to find Father Christmas with the help of his forest friends. See the captivating Snow Princess and her muchloved unicorn, Snowflake. Visitors will meet Father Christmas and receive a gift, as well as having their photo taken with Snowy the Owl. Upgrading to the Ultimate Santa Experience gives you gingerbread decoration, seasonal refreshments and unlimited ice skating.

Tickets are from £19.95 for the Santa Experience and £27.50 for the Ultimate Santa Experience. Under-3s go free. See or call 01606 883 261.

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