Have you heard the bad news? Father Christmas has crash-landed in York. But the good news is that he’s hiding away while his sleigh is fixed, and he’s keen to meet the children of York and hear their festive wishes while he’s here. While the reindeer are being looked after in the countryside (Castle Howard, apparently), Father Christmas is making himself at home in the attic of Treasurer’s House, the beautiful National Trust property next next to York Minster. We were invited along to meet the man himself – and his very jolly elves – to experience this relatively new York grotto for ourselves. Treasurer’s House is a lovely house for families to visit at any time of year, but it’s absolutely stunning at Christmas, bedecked with gorgeous garlands and twinkling trees.
Our Father Christmas adventure began in the dining room, where we met the chief elf. He introduced himself to us and stunned the children by knowing their names and the things they’re interested in (I didn’t break the magic by telling them that I’d provided that information in advance). We then headed up the stairs and into an area that’s normally off-limits to the public. After donning a hard hat – ‘elf and safety and all that – we had one last short flight of stairs to climb to reach the roof.
The view from the roof is a real treat and something that you would never normally get to see.But there was no time to linger as two friendly elves were beckoning us into the attic – again, all decked out with rich greens, reds and golds – to meet Santa. The only problem was that he was snoring. Yes, it seems that Father Christmas has well and truly settled in. Once we’d woken him up, he had a long chat with the children about what they would like for Christmas, where he should put their presents on Christmas Eve and what we should leave him and the reindeer to eat and drink. He was jolly and funny, and even our four-year-old, who sometimes worries about meeting Santa, relaxed and joined in with the conversation. He then read us a story – The Night Before Christmas – and we all sang a Christmas song before the children received a gift and it was time to say a festive farewell.
Predictably, the wrapping was off the presents faster than you can say ‘why don’t you save it for Christmas?’, so I can tell you that they were all really pleased with what they were given; a magic toy for the 9 year-old, a sciencey gift for the 6 year old and a cuddly hedgehog for the little one (that she’s slept with every night since). We couldn’t resist a visit to the cafe in the basement for a hot drink and a delicious slice of cake, and there are Christmas crafts during the weekends too.
Father Christmas at Treasurer’s House is a lovely festive experience for adults and children alike, and going behind the scenes makes it feel really special. Catch it before the sleigh is repaired and Santa flies back off to the North Pole!
Treasurer’s House, Minster Yard, York YO1 7JL – Meet Father Christmas at weekends until 16th December – Suitable for ages 5+ and you’ll need to wear a hard hat to avoid banging your head! – £7.50 per child and one adult free (doesn’t include admission to the house) – Book on 01904 624247 or drop in – Visit the Treasurer’s House website