READERS NOTE: This is my 2017 guide. Please visit my 2019 guide for up to date information. The information below is out of date!
These do get pretty packed and it’s advisable to book as early as possible, especially if you’re thinking of visiting on a weekend.
Santa’s Magical Candyland at Pugh’s Garden Center
11th November – 24th December
Visit Santa’s Magical Candyland at Pugh’s Garden Center which is a 30 minute journey through 5 magical rooms, culminating in meeting Father Christmas himself. It includes a tasty treat, a free toy and a discounted hot drink for adults in the brand new for 2017 Santa’s Secret Garden. Pugh’s also has a range of shops and things to see and always puts on a beautiful Christmas display. Although it is one of the more expensive of the options listed here, it’s the one we’re personally looking forward to the most.
As each time slot has a maximum of 6 children, these places fill out quickly, but guarantee it won’t be overcrowded. Tickets must be booked in advance, and are priced at £14 per child and £5 per adult. Pugh’s Garden Center has pledged to raise over £11,000 to Ty Hafan, a charity I personally support as well.
Christmas Cheer at Cardiff Castle
Santa’s Grotto will be at Cardiff Castle on the 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th and 19th – 23rd December.
Cardiff Castle always has some amazing Christmas lights, and you could combine this with a visit to the Christmas Market just a few minutes walk away. Santa’s Grotto is in the Black tower, a magical Victorian setting, guaranteed to amaze and delight. Tickets are £11.50 and include two accompanying adults. This price also includes a gift, Christmas crafts, access to the grounds, and seeing the Christmas decorations in the Castle Apartments, so is excellent value for money.
Babies under 1 can attend free, but will not receive a gift.
Father Christmas at Dyffryn Gardens
Father Christmas is making a stop at the National Trust’s Dyffryn Gardens on 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th December.
Priced at £5 on top of regular entry prices (£4.80 child, £9.60 adult, £24 family with Gift Aid) , there are limited places for this visit with Santa and Christmas Crafts. Dyffryn Gardens also has some amazing autumn and winter walks through the extensive gardens, as well as a large historic mansion to explore. Well worth a visit any time of year!
Dyffryn Garden’s is also hosting a wide range of other fun festive events for little ones, including Winter Afternoon Tea, 12 Days of Christmas Trail, Christmas Carol Concert, Breakfast with the Elves and a Wreath making Workshop. No one is going to be bored this Christmas that’s for sure. I’m planning on booking the Winter Afternoon Tea myself, and then checking out the Christmas Trail afterwards as that’s a little treat for us as well as the baby.
Santa’s Grotto at Celtic Manor Resort
Christmas Kingdom is available from 23rd November – 24th December 2017
Celtic Manor Resort, outside Newport and just a short drive from Cardiff, is hosting Christmas Kingdom. It starts with a video message from the elves, includes decorating Christmas treats, writing a letter to Santa and then meeting up. It finishes with a visit to the Reindeer! It’s priced at £13 per child, or from £8 for certain dates for pre-schoolers! I really like that pre-schoolers is a cheaper option and very baby friendly afternoon times, as sometimes it feels a bit silly to pay a full price for William when he’s really not old enough to interact with everything.
As an added treat for the whole family, you can have Santa’s afternoon tea after the Christmas Kingdom, which is £26 per person or you can visit the festive Bratwurst hut for some seasonal drinks.
Tredegar House, Newport
Father Christmas will be here from 23rd November until 17th December.
This year father Christmas will be making a stop in the Stables, at a cost of £3 on top of regular entry prices (£4.60 child, £9.20 adult, £23 family with Gift Aid). No booking is needed for this one and well behaved dogs on leads are also welcome, which means this really is some inclusive family fun. Tredegar house offers walled gardens, parkland to explore and a grand family home to visit.
Tredegar House is also hosting several Christmas Traditions events, where you can deck out the house in lavish traditional decorations and have some festive fun.
Christmas Nights at St Fagan’s Museum
6th – 9th December from 6 – 9pm
St. Fagans Museum is one of my must visit free places to visit in Cardiff but there are also some great Christmas events for both adults and children over the festive season. It has some lovely traditional courses for adults, such as a Christmas Papercraft Course or a Willow Course, as well as some family friendly events such as Christmas Nights. Christmas Nights include traditional Christmas carols, Christmas shopping at the Maker’s Market, story time with Mother Christmas, crafting workshops, writing a letter to Santa and of course the main event, Meeting Father Christmas!
It costs £15 for adults, £8 for children and under 2’s are free. This is quite a limited date event, and is in the evening at 6-9pm so might not be suitable for those with younger families. Booking is available online now!
Santa’s Toy Mine at Rhondda Heritage Park
24th November to 24th December
Rhondda Heritage Park offers an authentic and historic mining experience in a beautiful setting about 30 minutes outside Cardiff. Santa’s Toy Mine at Rhondda Heritage Park is a unique underground Christmas experience for the whole family to enjoy.
The kids will follow the clues, through the toy mine, sweet mine and ice cave, to meet Santa. A gift for children is included, whilst’s adults get a mince pie and a hot drink! Yum!
Prices start at £8.45 – £10.95 for children and £6.45 to £7.45 for adults.
25th November to 23rd December, excluding Mondays.
For something really special, the whole family could meet Santa on board the Brecon Mountain Railway! All children an adults receive a gift, whilst adults are served minced pies and mulled wine. You’ll travel by steam train from Pant Station to Santa’s Grotto in Pontsticill where everyone gets to meet Father Christmas! Children are £12.75, adults are £14.75 and infants under 3 years old are free but pushchairs can’t be taken on board. This sounds like a really magical journey and one I’ll definitely be taking when the baby is old enough to appreciate it although the fact he would travel for free does give it that extra value.