If you want to bring the children (or dog) to meet Santa Claus (and maybe indulge in the festivities too), check out these seven Santa experiences around Ireland
Christmas is a time for families and friends to spend quality time with one another. Why not do so with Santa Claus and his elves too?
Here we're rounding up seven magical Santa experiences around Ireland.
Aillwee Cave, Co Clare
Santa, Mrs Claus and their happy elves are once again returning to Aillwee Cave in Ballyvaughan for Christmas. The man in the red suit has been working very hard to ensure a special, personalised visit for each child – with lots of exciting entertainment for all the family.
In addition to face painting, a puppet show and carnival fun, elves will guide the boys and girls along the cave passageways singing Christmas Carols all the way. Here, Santa Claus will meet and chat with each child (of course, providing a present for everyone). Meanwhile, Mrs Claus will greet the grown-ups with a glass of her special Hot Punch and mince pies.
Organisers promise that a visit to Santa’s Workshop will be a unique, thrilling, and fun-filled day out for every generation of your family.
For children with sensory issues, a magical Sensory Day will be held in Santa’s Workshop on December 6. "We hope to create a safe and happy environment to enjoy with friends and families," says Santa and his helpers.
For more information on opening times and ticket prices, visit aillweecave.ie/santas-workshop.
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Airfield Estate, Dublin 14
This winter, Dublin’s Airfield Estate presents The True Spirit of Christmas Past, a seasonal experience that reflects upon the original values of Christmas – family, charity, goodwill and happiness. What's more, we're thrilled to say it embraces and encourages an environmentally friendly festive celebration.
On arrival, children and parents can immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere of the Log Cabin, where little ones can pen their postcard to Santa. Not only that, but Santa Claus will be on-hand for any children who would like to whisper a special request. Elves will tell stories and all children will receive a sustainably-sourced gift in a reusable cloth bag.
Next, take a family photo with Santa before moving along to his Magical Alpine Potting Shed to plant a keepsake bulb. Throw in a ride on the Victorian carousel, face-painting, and arts and crafts – and you've got a wonderful day out.
What’s more, there will be a Deaf and Hard of Hearing session at 12 pm on December 15, with trained Irish Sign Language Interpreters on-site.
For more information about opening times and ticket prices, visit airfield.ie/santa-experience-dublin
Bunratty Castle, Co Clare
The most magical time of the year has commenced at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in Co Clare. Not only can visitors enjoy breakfast with Santa, but families can also visit Santa’s Grotto, the Christmas Village and take a ride on the Polar Express Train.
Of course, as with any visit to Santa, a gift will be provided.
Some other notable attractions include an ice rink, carousel rides, puppet shows, magic shows, face-painting, a toddler play area and a festive fairy trail.
Children can also meet with special Christmas characters on the Village Street, while complimentary mulled wine and mince pies are provided for the adults.
For more information on availability, visit bunrattycastle.ie/christmas.
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Causey Farm, Co Meath
Located near Navan, Co Meath, Causey Farm transforms into a winter wonderland this Christmas. Each of the sheds will host different Christmas-themed events, with engaging experiences for all the family.
Visit Santa’s House and help Mrs Claus pack for the journey on Christmas Eve. Slide down into the toy workshop and play with the toys Santa has ready for packing.
Next, make your way through the elves’ door to Santa’s Parlour. Can you hear footsteps on the roof? He may have just arrived with parcels for the children.
Causey Farm will also have a 'Bethlehem Trail' leading to the stable where Mary and Joseph are taking care of their new arrival (watched over by cows, donkeys, sheep and lambs, no less). Don't forget to visit the reindeer, too!
Before you call it a day, pop into the Christmas Cottage to experience 'an old Irish Christmas' (pudding and all!).
For more information on opening times, visit causey.ie/causey-events.
Fota Island Resort, Co Cork
For festive magic, snowy surprises and yuletide cheer – visit 'Wonder' in the woods at Fota Island Resort, Cork.
Join in the Christmas festivities and make it a memorable experience for the whole family. From Mrs Claus' kitchen to Santa's log cabin, there are lots of activities to explore and enjoy. Organisers say, "Expect to be entertained for one hour to an hour and a half."
When visiting Santa, a family portrait will be taken by an official Elf Photographer. Meanwhile, additional photo opportunities will be made apparent on the day. Children of all ages will be presented with an age-appropriate gift (even babies will take home a token memento).
For more information, visit fotawonder.ie.
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Amber Springs, Co Wexford
Santa Claus is coming to town. Gorey town, to be specific. This winter, Amber Springs hotel will welcome families to its magically festive Santa experience.
Lasting over an hour, it includes hot chocolate and brownies for the children (and tasty mulled wine for mum and dad!). Enjoy storytelling, courtesy of the Snow Princess, as well as an opportunity to meet with Mrs Claus and Santa's elves.
Children will also be given the chance to write a letter to Santa, which will be delivered to the Village Post Office. Next, board the 'Amber Express' to Santa and Elves' Village, north of Gorey Pole.
Here, families can see the elves hard at work in the Toy Shop, before making a personal visit to Santa Claus himself (we hear he has a special gift for all boys and girls who visit).
For additional details, visit ambersprings.ie/christmas-hotel-wexford.
Santa Paws, Belfast
Is your dog like a child to you? Is he/she naughty or nice?
This Christmas, a Belfast pub called the Dirty Onion is giving dogs an opportunity to meet Santa (not to mention have a photo taken with the big man himself). For more information, visit the-dirty-onion/santa-paws.
Can’t make it that day? Another Santa Paws event is taking place at Castle Ward, Co Down this winter. Here you can treat your special pup to a Christmas surprise, including a walk on the dog-friendly trail and a special visit to Santa. Pups will receive a gift from Santa himself, with extra special prizes for dogs who arrive well-dressed.
For more information, visit nationaltrust.org.uk/events.
Feature photo: Miracle on 34th Street, 1994
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