WANT to meet Santa this year? Of course you do.

You are in luck because Father Christmas will be rocking up to a number of grottos across Essex.

You can also meet the big guy this weekend at the Billericay Christmas Market, which will take place in the High Street on Sunday.

This charity colossus of a festive event attracts more than 20,000 people each year. Market stalls galore will pack the High Street while the day will also include live stage entertainment, carols and the famous Santa’s parade.

There will even be flash mob demonstrations and a circus troupe. Everything to get you in the festive mood – plus the chance to snap up some unique gifts.


Meanwhile, here’s our guide to Santa’s grottos this festive season...


Southend Adventure Christmas Wonderland, Adventure Island, Southend seafront.

When: November 24-Christmas Eve , 11am-6 or 8pm daily.

Entry: £35 online, £40 on the day. Additional adult £10. Cheaper prices for annual pass holders.

Venture into the elf-guided ‘Christmasville’ grotto where you’ll meet Santa Claus, then enjoy fun-tastic rides and soft play as Adventure Wonderland becomes packed with magic especially for the Christmas season. While you’re there there’s also the chance to help Mother Christmas make some delicious reindeer food for Rudolph and his friends. Good boys and girls will be given a special magic star, which can then be taken to the Toy Factory to choose your own special gift. www. adventureisland.co.uk/adventure-wonderland/


Magical Christmas grotto at Cressing Temple Barns near Braintree

When: Daily from December 1-23

Cost: £24.95 per ticket which admits one child and two adults

The award-winning grotto experience is back at Cressing Temple Barns throughout December. Join you elf in a magical adventure to meet Mother Christmas and of course, the big man himself. Visit the reindeer, write your own letter to Father Christmas, take part in some festive crafts www.visitparks.co.uk or call 0345 603 7624


Santa’s Grotto, the Eastgate Shopping Centre, Basildon.

When: November 17-Christmas Eve

Entry: Free

The shopping centre’s magnificent indoor grotto is always a big draw and will be back again for the season.



An Audience with Father Christmas at Audley End House and Gardens, Saffron Walden.

When: Saturday December 1 and Sun December 2, 10am-2.30pm

Entry: Usual entry fees plus an additional £5 to meet Santa.

This festive experience brings the chance for youngsters to meet Father Christmas as he tells festive tales amidst the historic mansion’s yuletide decorations. The additional charge of £5 includes a small present.



Santa’s visit to Mr Toad’s caravan, Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre, Downham, near Billericay.

When: Saturday December 8 and Sunday December 9, 10am-3pm - and then weekends throughout December.

Entry: £10 per child

St Nic is coming to visit Mr Toad. Follow a trail through the wintery woods before returning to find Santa in Toad’s Caravan with a Christmas gift for young visitors. The event also includes Christmas craft in the visitor centre. Allocated time slots throughout the day.

Book via 01268 71100.


Santa’s Reindeer Grotto Experience, Thurrock Garden Centre, South Ockendon.

When: Saturday November 17 - December 23

Entry: £8 includes admission for one child and one adult to see the reindeer, animals and Santa and to receive a gift.

Additional adults £1

The garden centre’s magical Christmas grotto and animal farm is one of the highlight’s of the festive calendar. The unique experience features plenty of real life animals and, of course, the bearded-bringer-of-gifts. each.www.thurrockgardencentre.co.uk


Meet Father Christmas at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, Purleigh, near Maldon

When: Every Saturday until Christmas Eve, starting December 1. 10.30am-2pm

Entry: £5 for adults, £27.50 for children

Father Christmas will be arriving by plane (weather permitting). Have your picture taken in his sleigh with two of his trusty reindeer, and take part in various craft activities including decorating a tealight holder and a Nativity puzzle cube before meeting the big man himself. During the day, there will also be festive stories taking place and children can help themselves to one of the festive freak shakes.



Santa Special at Mangapps Railway Museum, Burnham-on-Crouch.

When: Every weekend throughout December up to Christmas Eve.

Entry: Adults and children £13 each. Under 3’s: £8.

Get into the seasonal spirit with a train trip to see Santa in his newly decorated grotto. As well as the train ride, entry includes a children’s gift, seasonal refreshments and access to the large indoor museum.

Booking via 01621 784898 or mangapps.co.uk


Santa’s Castle Grotto at Colchester Castle Museum, Colchester

When: December 8 - 23

Entry: £6.50 per child

Visit Santa in his wonderful grotto, receive a gift and whisper your Christmas dream into a shell for the castle Wishing Tree and festive elf.



The Father Christmas Experience, Marsh Farm, South Woodham Ferrers

When: November 17 - December 24

Entry: Different pricing packages are available

From passport control at the start of your journey, it’s time to learn your elf-abet and graduate through the Elf Academy. Next stop is to meet Mother Christmas to decorate a gingerbread before entering the Snow Show for a flurry of surprises. As the children enter Father Christmas’ Grotto they’ll have to be checked on the Naughty or Nice list before meeting the real Father Christmas all the way from the North Pole. But the excitement doesn’t end there. The children then enter the toy workshop to make a special furry friend to take home before more surprises in the Toy Shop in the farm’s Elf-ville.