James is 3 ½ now and really ‘gets’ the idea of Christmas, he’s *CONSTANTLY* singing Christmas songs that he’s learning at nursery, and has his Christmas list committed to memory, ready to rattle it off to anyone who will listen. I’m very much looking forward to sharing Christmas with him this year! No child’s Christmas would be complete without a trip to see Santa, so when intu Lakeside offered James and I a trip to their Christmas Street Grotto, I was happy to take a trip to Thurrock to have a look!
I’ve taken G to see Santa at intu Lakeside a few times, it’s usually a good experience, the Grotto in previous years was located in the centre, but this year, to make it more of an ‘experience’ Santa can be found in ‘Christmas Street’ – which is a small Christmas Market area outside the centre.
At the far end lies Santa’s Grotto, a MASSIVE Gingerbread House.
Once inside, there are lots of little bits and bobs for Children to play with, and cheery elves to chat to the children, it’s probably a way of slowing down the flow of people when the Grotto is busy. James’ favourite machine told him if he’d been ‘Naughty or Nice’ – he’d been nice (obviously), so that made him happy before heading off to see the ‘big man’.
It was time for us to see Santa – I think James was a little shy, but thankfully Santa seemed to get him to tell him exactly what he wants for Christmas, and the offer of a gift for being good for Santa was quickly taken up. A quick photo was taken and we were ushered out by an elf into the ‘gift’ area, where your photo with Santa could be purchased (for £6) and also turned into all manner of gifts too. I grabbed our picture, James was more interested in tearing open his present..
In the olden days a trip to see Santa at intu Lakeside was free, but now you have to pay £6 per child, it’s not extortionate and there’s a free gift included – you can book tickets online and there are still plenty left between now and Christmas. You’re strictly forbidden to take your own pictures with Santa, so buying their’s is the only option, again £6 isn’t bad for a photo (although the option of a digital download would have been better!). Regardless, it’s a good way of seeing Santa and nice experience to boot, the staff / elves were all very nice, as was ‘Santa’, so no complaints at all! James, as you can see from his reaction after was pretty happy too! Thanks intu Lakeside!
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