I love a good Santa Grotto, to the extent that I think my children might be a little confused, because I try to go to at least one a week in the build-up to Christmas. Totally for the kids, you understand! I’m a bit cruel though, because I don’t allow them to open their presents – they have to go under the tree for Christmas morning. That way we have four extra presents under the tree, and we’ve had fun experiences throughout Christmas time. Clever, no?

Anyway, if you can’t make it all the way to the North Pole, there’s always the Busy Bee Garden Centre in Ryde, Isle of Wight for their Santa’s Grotto experience and we can highly recommend it. Busy Bee Garden Centre

The Busy Bee Santa’s Grotto is set in the Christmas department, so it’s filled with festive cheer the moment you walk in, complete with lights and jingles, Santa displays and flying decorations, festive tableware and every Christmas village display you could ever want. At the back of the Christmas department a cheery elf meets you – it helped that we were the only people booked on our time slot, so he was able to welcome the children by name.

Once you enter the grotto, you’re transported to a world of ice and snow and Christmassy animals and beauty. It’s very lovely. It is rather smaller than we anticipated, but the children didn’t notice that – they simply loved spotting all the animals, before our elf reappeared to usher us in to Santa’s living room. Busy Bee Garden Centre

What a cozy space they have created for Santa! It is simply beautiful. There’s the obligatory Christmas tree, a chimney, bookshelf and sofas. It’s like walking into a well lived in and well loved lounge.

The Santa we had was also fantastic. He listened to the children, chatted with them, asked them questions and answered theirs. It felt like he had nothing but time for them, and it was truly one of the best Santa experiences we’ve been lucky to have.

To find out about future Santa’s Grottos sign up with Busy Bee’s newsletter, visit their website, or follow them on Facebook.

You can also watch the Busy Bee Santa’s Grotto promotional video here.