Site logo

Where to see Santa in and around York 2023: Our guide

Santa's Grotto in York 2019

Nothing gets the Christmas magic flowing quite like meeting Santa himself, and he’s going to be popping up all over York this festive season. Whether you’d like to meet him on a boat with City Cruises York, in the Christmas Village at Mother Shipton’s or in the woods at Northwood Trail, find out where to meet Santa in York this year. Most of them do need pre-booking, so do plan ahead unless you want to find yourself on the naughty list…Take a look at our pick of the best places to meet Santa in York below. And if you’re looking for more things to do in York this festive season, click here to take a look at our guide to Christmas in York 2023. You’ll find York’s best shows and pantos, festive days out and info on York Christmas market.

Castle Howard Story Craft

Santa’s Grotto in the Courtyard at Castle Howard

Share a laugh and photograph with Santa in Castle Howard’s Courtyard Grotto this Christmas. Enjoy a short show by Story Craft Theatre bursting with puppetry, energy and Christmas joy, before that all-important meeting with the man himself. All paying children take home a gift. Tickets include access to Santa’s Grotto with Story Craft Theatre in the Stable Courtyard. Tickets do not include access to the main House or Gardens.

Selected dates in December 2023 – Visit the Castle Howard website to book tickets

North york moors santa special

North Yorkshire Moors Railway Santa Special

The ever-popular North Yorkshire Moors Railway Santa Special is back this Christmas! Join Santa and his special team of elves at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from either Pickering or Grosmont Station before a magical adventure aboard the Santa Express which will take you on a festive journey you won’t forget! There’ll be enchanting activities and onboard entertainment throughout the hour-long journey. Every child will have the opportunity to meet the one and only Santa Claus! Watch their eyes light up with joy as they receive a special gift from the jolly man himself.

Selected dates in November and December 2023 – Visit the North Yorkshire Moors Railway website for details on the Santa Specials

Mother Shiptons Christmas

Meet Santa at Mother Shipton’s Christmas village in Knaresborough

Santa is flying to see you at Mother Shipton’s! Let the twinkling lights draw you into the wonder of Mother Shipton’s magical, memory-making Christmas experience. Enjoy a personal family visit with Santa in his grotto, gather around Holly Berry, the enchanting storyteller, as she weaves tales of wonder and merriment, create your very own bag of reindeer food and find the Snowy Owl Sorting Office and send your heartfelt wishes to Santa himself. Stamp, seal, and imagine your letter soaring through the night sky. Venture into the depths of the woodland and discover the cave, the legendary Petrifying Well, and the Wishing Well. Pre-booking required.

Selected dates in November and December 2023 – Visit the Mother Shiptons website

City Cruises York Santa boat

Meet Santa on the river with City Cruises York

Explore Santa’s North Pole grotto and then step onto the most festively adorned boat in York, accompanied by one of Santa’s elves and St. Nick! New this year, why not book a festive package to enhance your experience? For the nice (kids): Receive a card in the post from Santa with photos taken on the day of your cruise to open on Christmas Day. For the ‘nauti’ (adults): As in NAUTI-cal, receive a gift-wrapped bottle of prosecco to take away for a Christmas treat! Selected dates in November and December 2023 – Visit the City Cruises York website.

Murton Park Santa

Meet Santa at Murton Park

Tickets for Murton Park’s Christmas events are now on sale and, for the first time, there are two experiences for you to choose from! First up, Tea with Santa – You’ll enjoy a one-to-one with Santa and a delicious one-course meal at The Yorkshire Barn Café. For the original experience, book Christmas at Murton Park, an enchanting experience in Santa’s village, including meeting the big man in red, a train ride with Mother Christmas and much more. Selected dates in December – Visit the Murton Park website

Christmas York 2023

A Christmas Wish with Father Christmas at the Hospitium

Father Christmas is visiting the Hospitium this year and spending some time with the children to find out what their Christmas wishes are. Children will arrive at the Hospitium and enjoy some self-led craft activities before one of the elves calls them up to visit Father Christmas as a group. There will be songs and wishes, a chance for a photo and a gift. £12 per child/£2 per adult. 9th & 10th December – For more information or to book, please email yorkvenues@ymt.org.uk​​​ – Visit the website


Make chocolate with Santa at York’s Chocolate Story

Join the ‘Chocolate making with Santa’ experience where you’ll meet Santa and make delicious chocolate lollies with him and his trusty elf. This guided tour experience will take you on a journey through the rich history of chocolate. You’ll be amazed by fascinating facts and interactive exhibits, and then get stuck into some chocolate-making. Each guest will receive a special hand-delivered gift from Santa and have the opportunity to snap a photo with the jolly man himself.  1st to 26th December 2023 – Visit the York’s Chocolate Story website for details

Santa's Singalong York Stage

Santa’s Sing-a-long with York Stage

Join York Stage for a show filled with the magic of Christmas, as we join Mr and Mrs Claus in their busy home as they prepare for the big day. Being the wonderful hosts they are, they always have time to entertain the children and love a good sing-a-long, so expect Christmas stories, interactive wonderment and Christmas songs to join in with! Families can sit back and enjoy a brilliant 45-minute interactive audience with Santa as he talks to the younger ones and delves into his book of who’s been naughty or nice and checks in with what children are asking for this Christmas. He has a Christmas book for every child to take away to read on Christmas Eve. 19th December 2023, 5pm – Theatre@41 York – Visit the website for more details

Piglets York Santa

Piglets Adventure Farm Magical Sleigh Ride

All aboard Santa’s sleigh for an unforgettable Christmas adventure at Piglets Adventure Farm! Check-in at Elf Airlines before setting off for Santa’s Woodland Village. You’ll be guided through snowy trees and twinkling lights to arrive at Santa’s village where you’ll be greeted by elves. Meet Santa himself before collecting a magic key which you can use to unlock Santa’s toy shop and choose your favourite gift from a huge selection. Selected dates in November and December – Visit the Piglets website

Yorkshire Air Museum Santa

Meet Santa at Yorkshire Air Museum

This Christmas, Father Christmas is flying into the Yorkshire Air Museum with a host of festive fun for the whole family. Get your ticket to Santa Airlines and you’ll be able to visit the grotto, meet Santa and receive a gift. Each visit lasts up to an hour and includes storytime in the Departure Lounge (but as with all airlines, you’ll need to check in before departure time). Santa will be at the museum on December weekends and pre-booking is requiredVisit the website to book.

Lotherton Santa 2021

Meet Santa at Lotherton’s Christmas Experience

There’s a variety of festive experiences on offer at Lotherton’s Christmas Experience for 2023, from a one-on-one meeting with Father Christmas to a shorter experience for younger children or just a Christmassy day out including a new winter woodland walk. Booking is required for all elements. 25th November 2023 to 7th January 2024 – thechristmasexperience.co.uk

Northwood Trail Christmas

Meet Father Christmas in the woods at Northwood Trail

Northwood Trail is hosting a Santa experience with a difference: no red-suited ‘ho ho ho’s here! Expect a more natural, wholesome and enchanting experience with stories, candles and imagination. Dressed in green, Northwood’s St Nicholas mirrors the Father Christmas of the past. Enjoy a glass of hot punch (alcoholic/non-alcoholic), before being taken to the woodland grotto to make a wish with Lady Winter and listen to a short story with St Nicholas. Children will receive something symbolic to take home, and a chocolate coin too. Selected dates in December 2023 – Visit the Northwood Trail website

The Ice Factor at Yorkshires Winter Wonderland

Get your skates on and meet Santa at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland

Why not visit Father Christmas as part of your trip to York Designer Outlet this Christmas? Head to Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland and follow the path through the snowy enchanted woodland to find his cosy log cabin and collect a special gift. Selected dates in November, and daily in December until 24th December 2023. Visit the Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland website.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter


The best of York and beyond for families, Straight to your inbox every week.

Subscribe now