It isn’t Christmas without paying a visit to Santa. Part of the magic of the festive season is taking your little ones to meet Father Christmas, seeing their faces light up and letting them tell him everything on their Christmas list. Luckily, in the run-up to his busiest time of year the man himself is taking some time out to stop by some Greater Manchester Grottos, so you won’t have to travel too far to find him.

Here are the Santa's Grottos and Father Christmas experiences you can have safely in Manchester this Christmas.

Girl with Santa

Santa Special at East Lancashire Railway

Jump on board the Christmas train at East Lancashire Railway. Bury Station will be turned into a winter wonderland with singing polar bears, a magic tree, elves and of course Mrs Claus. As you enjoy a festive journey through the magical Irwell Valley kids can meet their favourite Christmas characters and sing along while they wait for Santa to make his way to your carriage and bring them a very special gift. There will also be mince pies and festive treats for the whole family to enjoy.

The East Lancashire Railway Santa Special will take place on weekends between Saturday 26 November and Saturday 24 December. Learn more.

Breakfast with Santa at The Stockport Plaza

Santa has been joining families for breakfast at The Plaza Café in Stockport Plaza since 1944, and it’s become a local tradition. Kids and grown-ups can enjoy a delicious breakfast while they wait for Santa and his little helpers to arrive. Make new friends on shared tables and spread some Christmas cheer. Then little ones can go to Santa’s Grotto and receive a special gift from Father Christmas himself.

Breakfast with Santa runs each Saturday in December from 9:30 am – 11:30 am. Learn more.

Visit Santa at Knowsley Safari

Between Saturday 19 November and Friday 23 December, Santa will be at Knowsley Safari ready to meet families and make Christmas extra special. With glistening lights leading the way to Santa’s Grotto, you can enjoy a magical day out. Daytime experiences can be tied into a general admission ticket to Knowsley Safari so you can spend a whole day exploring the park, while nighttime visitors can combine a Santa experience with admission to Enchanted, Knowsley Safari’s magical light trail. Learn more.

Christmas on the Farm at Lancaster Park and Animal Farm

Lancaster Park and Animal Farm in Chadderton, Oldham is full of magic this festive season and is even hosting a grotto where Santa will be making himself at home. Kids can follow Santa’s elves to visit Mrs Claus in her cosy cottage for a special Christmas story, then write a letter to Santa in his log cabin, take a seat in his life-size sleigh and finally meet the man himself and receive a Christmas present. It’s a traditional and wonderful Christmas experience. Plus, kids can enjoy all the usual fun of the farm, with a petting barn, animals to feed, rides, mini quads and swings, slides and ziplines.

Visit Santa at the Farm on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December, Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December and from Friday 16 December to Saturday 24 December. Learn more.

Father Christmas at The Farm Tatton Park

Families can visit Father Christmas and his elves at Tatton Park’s festive grotto this year. With entertainers, live music, choirs and brass bands, this is no ordinary visit to Santa, it’s full of Christmas cheer. Kids can also take a photo in Santa’s sleigh and make magical reindeer food in the Mill to take home in preparation for Christmas Eve.

Tickets must be booked online in advance and timeslots run from 10:30 am and 2:30 pm on various weekend and school holiday dates between Saturday 26 November and Tuesday 20 December. Learn more.

Deck the Halls Santa’s 747 Experience at Salford’s City Airport 

Bored of taking the little ones to the same old Grottos every year? Well, you’re in luck as this year Santa is test-driving a new form of transport and is stopping by City Airport in Eccles. That’s right Santa is test-driving a 757 this Christmas. He’ll be bringing along Mrs Claus and his elves to a festive-filled hangar full of Christmas games, songs and fun including time to write a letter to Santa so he doesn’t forget what kids would like to wake up to on Christmas morning. Santa will be waiting on the aircraft and kids can get photos in the flight deck.

Deck the Halls Santa’s 747 Experience will run on various days between Saturday 19 November and Wednesday 21 December. Learn more.

Cruise with Father Christmas on Manchester River Cruises

For another twist on a Grotto, why not join Santa for a cruise on the Manchester Ship Canal and make this Christmas one to remember? He’ll be bringing his Grotto on board so you can enjoy the magic of Christmas while sailing Manchester’s main waterway. An hour-long trip includes mulled wine and mice pies for adults, cookies and juice for kids as well as fun-filled activities. There’s a chance to meet Santa and get a special gift. The cruise will depart from Salford Quays under the Millennium Footbridge.

The cruise will sail on various dates between Sunday 27 November and Friday 23 December. Learn more.

Farmer Christmas at Reddish Vale Farm

Your passport to the North Pole is waiting at Reddish Vale Farm this festive season. Kids will have to complete a quick training course at The Elf Academy to become a Workshop Elf and then they’ll be qualified to head to Santa’s Workshop and build a Christmas friend. They’ll then have the chance to write to Santa, visit Elfsville and stop by Mrs Claus’s Kitchen to decorate a festive treat and enjoy a special story. Next, they’ll stop by Santa’s stable to meet some farmyard friends before meeting the man himself in this truly magical festive experience.

Farmer Christmas at Reddish Vale Farm starts on Saturday 3 December and ends on Saturday 24 December. Learn more.

Christmas at Cockfields Farm, Oldham

Cockfields Farm in Oldham is ready to help your family make some fabulously festive memories. Santa, his reindeer and some exceptional elves will be waiting to take you on a magical journey. First, you’ll need to pick up a passport at the North Pole check-in so you can collect stickers on your adventure, and then you can visit Santa in his magical Grotto. After that, you can visit the Toy Soldier in the Toy Shop and pick a special gift. Then visit the elf village, Mrs Claus’s Kitchen for a yummy hot chocolate and visit Santa’s reindeer for a Christmas story in the stables. Plus many more surprises, it’s a full family day out.

Christmas at Cockfields Farm runs on weekends from Saturday 26 November to Sunday 11 December and then all week from Saturday 17 December to Saturday 24 December. Learn more.

There are plenty of opportunities to meet Santa in Greater Manchester and give little ones a truly magical day out in the process.

To learn more about festive fun across Greater Manchester visit our Christmas in Manchester page or for general activities, visit our What’s On page.