Your guide to the best Christmas Grotto experiences - from chatting with the big man about a gift, to visiting the 'Reindeer Hospital' and meeting the elves

Your guide to the best Christmas Grotto experiences – from chatting with the big man about a gift, to visiting the ‘Reindeer Hospital’ and meeting the elves

As Christmas approaches, many families organize a trip to Santa’s Grotto to make the most of the celebrations, but it can also be a costly affair.

hey Irish Independent has compiled a list of Christmas events taking place across the country this year, featuring a range of activities for all ages, including a one-on-one visit with the great man himself, a special gift and a walk through a winter wonderland.

Counties Donegal, Galway and Clare offer some of the most expensive Santa experiences, with prices ranging from €100 to €168 for a family of four.

Meanwhile, in Dublin, Arnotts is offering the cheapest experience at a price of €10 per family to meet Santa in aid of St Vincent de Paul and the Children’s Health Foundation.

The Christmas Experience at Nore Valley Park in Co Kilkenny is also good value at €34 total for a family of four. This includes a visit to Santa Claus, a gift, hot chocolate and a printed photo.

The average cost for a family of four in grottos across the country is €75. Some offers include an individual visit to see Santa, while others offer a group visit or none at all. Pictures are generally not included in the price.

Some grottos in malls across the country charge €10 per child for a Santa visit, while adults are free. Here are 25 Christmas experiences across the country to make your Christmas extra magical:

Arnott’s (sold out)

Tickets are €10 per family to meet Santa in his grotto – with all proceeds going to St Vincent de Paul and the Children’s Health Foundation.

“Green” Santa Experience at Belvedere House, Mullingar, Co Westmeath

The ‘green’ Santa experience at Belvedere House includes a holly in a pot for each child in lieu of a gift from Santa. It costs €5 for adults and €9 for children, or €28 for a family of four.

The Christmas Experience at Nore Valley Park, County Kilkenny

Includes a visit from Santa, a gift for each child, hot chocolate and a printed photo. Adults travel for free, the first child costs €19 and each additional child €15 or €34 for a family of four.

Crescent Shopping Centre, Limerick

Includes a visit to Santa Claus and a gift. €10 per child and adult are free. Photos cost €7 for one, three for €10 or five for €15.

The Santa Experience – Santa’s Magical Cabin

Includes gift and Christmas shopping mall visits in six locations: Cork, Ennis, Limerick, Portlaoise, Kilnamanagh and Ilac Center in Dublin. Adults €6, children €13 – €38 for a family of four. Photos cost €16 for the first and €28 for two.

Wexford Winterland – Santa’s North Pole Experience

Described as an “immersive adventure” that includes a visit to Santa and Mrs Claus and a gift. Children can also create a range of reindeer treats and receive a ticket to the North Star cinema. It costs €10 per adult, €18 per child or €56 for a family of four.

Santa’s Grotto Experience at County Arms Hotel, Birr, Co Offaly

Includes a visit to Santa Claus, a photo, a visit to the elf workshop, plus children’s meals and a hot chocolate. €25 per child and €15 for children under two years old.

Castleview Open Farm, Co Laois – Christmas Wonderland

Includes meet Santa and Mrs Claus, gift, hot chocolate, unlimited open farm stay and mini golf. €25 per child and €8 per adult or €66 for a family of four. Children under 1 year free and receive a free gift.

Christmas Wonderland at the Farm, Cork

Includes a visit to Santa and the elves, a train ride and a gift for each child. €12.50 per adult, €25 per child, €10 for children under 2 years old or €75 for a family of four. Pictures €15 for two.

Winter Wonderland Westport, Co. Mayo (Sold Out)

Includes a visit to Santa and Mrs Claus, a train ride, face painting, and food and drink. Adults €15, children under 16 €35, children under 2 years €15, babies under 1 year old are admitted free. Photos cost extra.

Outpost at Cork’s North Pole

Described as an “immersive theatrical experience,” children receive a private visit with Santa, a gift, and a photo. Adults €19, children €28.50, children under 2 years €14 or free entry without a gift. A family of four costs €95. Pictures are extra.

Elf City Galway

This 2-hour experience includes a visit to Santa Claus, Mrs Claus and the elves. Children also receive a gift pack and meet the reindeer. Prices vary depending on the date – from 40 to 47 euros per child, 25 to 32 euros for adults and 9.95 euros for babies. There is also a booking fee of €2.50 per person. That means a family of four pays from €140 including the booking fee.

Santa Winter Wonderland at Crag Cave, Co Kerry

Visit Santa Claus, walk through the winter wonderland, animated reindeer ride and an hour in the soft play center. €10 per adult and €25 per child or €15 for children under one year. That means a family of four pays 70 euros. Photos cost extra.

Santa’s Grotto at Castle Oaks House, Limerick

Includes a visit to Santa Claus, a cup of hot chocolate and a present. Children 22 euros, adults 6 euros, so a family of four 56 euros.

Santa’s Underground Grotto, Arigna, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Roscommon

Includes meeting Santa and his elves in their workshop, with gifts for the whole family and an entertainment show. It costs €15 for adults, €25 for children and €15 for children under 2 years old. A family of four pays €80.

Wildlands Winter Wonderland, Galway

Includes meeting Santa in person and sending his letter to the North Pole, as well as meeting Mrs. Claus and the elves, visiting the reindeer hospital and receiving a gift. Gifts are all sustainable. Adults €20, children €34. A family of four pays 108 euros.

Santa Express, Oakfield Park, Donegal

Includes a visit to Santa and the elves in their workshop, plus a puppet show and train ride. Tickets are sold in blocks of four and cost around €100-140 depending on the time.

Causey Farm, County Meath

Includes various Christmas-themed rooms, from the stable to the elf workshop, and a personal visit to Santa Claus. €29 per child and €19 per adult. A family of four pays 96 euros.

Leahy’s Open Farm, Cork

During this Santa in the Barn experience, Santa will chat with children and adults, presents will be provided and photos can be taken with Santa. Includes a trip to Mrs. Claus’ cottage and the elves’ workshop. It costs €26.50 for children and €18.50 for adults. A family of four pays €90.

Tayto Parks Christmas Experience, Ashbourne, Co. Meath

Includes a visit to Santa Claus and admission to Tayto Park.

It costs up to €32 per child over the age of five and €15 per adult. The cost for two adults and two children is up to €94.

Aerodrome, Dundrum, Co Dublin (Sold Out)

Includes a private group visit with Santa, gift, carousel ride, hot chocolate and ice cream. €23.50 per child, €13.50 per adult. A family of four pays 74 euros.

Luggwood’s Enchanted Forest Trail, Dublin

Tickets are available from €23.95 per child and €15.95 per adult, i.e. €79.80 for two parents and two children. Includes a personal visit to Santa Claus. Children will also encounter a number of festive characters.

Rathwood, Tullow, Carlow

“Magic train ride”, musical performance and a meeting with Santa Claus. €23.95 per child, adults pay €14.95. €77.80 for a family of four.

Santa’s House Express, Palmerstown, County Kildare

Includes a personal visit to Santa Claus and a family amusement park. Up to €27.50 per child, up to €19.50 per adult and up to €10 per infant. A family of four pays €94.

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