Ruxley Manor Christmas Santa’s Grotto – Would you pay for a newborn to visit Santa?

I’d drafted up a post about how magical Christmas is and how excited children get when they visit a Santa’s Grotto in the lead up to Christmas, but quite frankly I’m so annoyed at one of the local Grottos that has just released their tickets for this year, Ruxley Manor, that I’m just going to vent.

Normally, each year my Grandad treats P1 to a visit to see Santa at his local garden centre, it’s simple but still quite magical and she always has a lovely time. I was also taken there by Nan and Grandad as a child. She’s been collecting the free Christmas tree she gets each year and P2 received her first one last year too. They charge just £6 per child who will receive a present and tree. No fee for the adult attending.

Ruxley Manor takes a drastically different approach. They charge £4 per adult going through the grotto, £9.99 for the over 3s and £6.99 for under 3s! The slot is for an hour and there’s plenty to do on the way round the grotto. Visiting Santa for us (2 adults, 1 over 3 and 1 under 3, plus 1 newborn) this year would cost nearly £27 or so I thought…

When you dig a little bit deeper into the whole thing, and I give my thanks to the lovely lady who posted about it on the local Mums Network Facebook group, it comes to light that there’s some very strict rules regarding admission. The under 3s rule is valid for all children from the very first breath of life right up until their third birthday. This shocked me and has left me so angry. How can they warrant charging £6.99 for, in our case, an 8 week old baby who will most likely be asleep the whole time and even if awake have zero memories of the event. Even by charging a £1 would be ridiculous for any aged baby in arms. I could understand being asked to leave a buggy outside or whatever but £6.99!!!!!!

Not only that, admission is on a pre-book basis only which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it means your slot is your slot, no queuing. With said issue above it means that if you were to turn up to the event with your precious bundle, in our case after paying nearly £27, an adult would be asked to stay outside with the baby as they do not allow you to buy extra tickets on the door on the day. Nowhere on the site explains all of this so I can imagine plenty of frustrated, angry parents with tiny babies being left outside for an hour missing out on seeing their older children’s little faces light up when they see Santa. Not to mention the situation of a single parent, what will happen then? Be turned away after promising and paying for their child to see Santa. Oh and by the way, you only have 48hours to make any amendments on your tickets, despite booking months in advance.


It’s apparently all due to insurance purposes. I don’t quite understand how an insurance company would need a newborn to pay to be there?! I do understand there being a list of children or visitors being marked down for insurance purposes but not charging, not even a penny. I can’t be the only one to think that Ruxley Manor have got this whole thing wrong and have lost the whole meaning and magic of Christmas.

Money grabbing and completely inconsiderate event at Ruxley Manor that we’ll be staying well clear of. We’ll be travelling back to Essex to see Santa at a more family orientated venue. All for £12. Then visiting our local nature trail with family who have also been rather upset by Ruxley.


(I personally spoke to someone on the phone at Ruxley Manor who confirmed the above to being true. I’m completely disgusted)

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  1. You only pay 6.99 if you want a gift if not under 1 year is free a Ruxley

  2. Too much moaning 🙁 we went last year it was a wonderful experience worth every penny.

  3. I am looking to change our venue this year. Normally I go to the Hop Farm and the Father Christmas is great there but I got to say the last few times they have promised a Christmas Market and there has been nothing and not very Christmassy. The first year I could understand as there was a storm but last year no excuse and makes travelling for 40 minutes with a charge of £12.50 per child not really worth it. Now I find out this year they are charging for adults at £2.00 each.
    This is all getting on my nerves now, why they charge for adults is very disappointing like you would send your child in without witnessing their delight of the experience so now all just a money grabbing scheme.
    Can I ask as haven’t been to Ruxley for over 6 years years, does your child get a one to one viewing time with Father Christmas or is it still a group session with him?
    Has anyone been to Leeds castle or could you recommend any where else as I live in Bexley. Thanks

    • Ruxley have 30 people in in a group at a time (including adults)…… time slots every 15 minutes from 9.30am to 7pm.

      120 people per hour x 9.5 hours a day = 1140 people through that grotto every day that it’s open.

      And each one paying a minimum of £4.00

  4. That a lot to see Santa Hawley Garden Centre i go each year least year 2014 was great and Santa was so good sure be booking this year and may just be two adults in a family but we just paid for children we went FREE

    • lifewithpinkprincesses

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. We will be steering clear of Ruxley Manor this year.

  5. That does sound like a lot for a newborn. I think I’d rather go elsewhere than pay that much for a baby who, as you say, will probably just sleep through it all anyway.

  6. Are those above pics from Alton Garden Centre – looks very familiar!
    I have a similar issue with Sealife centre. They do theirs by the over 90cm rule.. Which in Converse, O is! He isn’t a confident walker outside of the home (cause of his giant size 8 flippers!), he is only 18m, he doesn’t talk and I begrudge paying for him when he’ll sit in the pushchair most of the time. But he looks like a 2 and a half year old so always gets charged! X

    • lifewithpinkprincesses

      The ones with my Grandad are of Alton yes 🙂 Awwww P2 is only a size 4 shoe and P1 is a 8.5!!!

      • Thought so.. I took O there last year for his ‘first trip to Santa’ – I like it there, we did lunch and I did a bit of shopping.. I’m literally just down the road so it’s convenient. Lovely coffee in there too!
        Oh I know, he’s got massive feet! They just don’t stop growing! But he’s a boy so I guess it’s okay! X

        • lifewithpinkprincesses

          I have no issues with paying for P2 because she received a gift. But to pay for a baby who’ll be asleep, and not receive anything…. Really!?

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