Christmas is never too far away but no more so than when you are deciding where to visit Santa.
Some places are so popular that they book up months in advance. However, if you plan ahead and book early you will not regret it, as you will be giving your children some wonderful memories.
Below are our top five favourites but as they are all so different they are not ranked in any particular order:
Causey Farm - Causey Christmas Experience
Causey Farm is situated between Kells and Navan not far from the M3. It is a working farm that specialises in educational group trips but over the last few years have extended into children’s entertainment.
One of their most popular events is the Causey Christmas Experience. The trip takes up to 90 minutes and is filled with lots of fun and wonder.
Each shed has a different theme and the group moves through the scenes including visiting Mrs Clause, the stable in Bethleham, the workshop and finally Santa’s parlour, who makes an entrance your children will never forget!
Tayto Park - Christmas at Tayto Park
Tayto Park is such an undervalued place but where children love to visit. The park is spacious so never feels too busy and there are plenty of things to do.
Yes, it can be frustrating for a parent to have to pay for extra theme park attractions once inside but it is a place where the kids will have an absolute blast.
Christmas at Tayto is great if you are already a member as you only have to pay for the kids but is still good value if you are lucky enough to be able to spend the day in the park.
The Santa visit itself is good but short - his grotto is based on the top floor of the lodge and the kids will really enjoy it as part of a great day out in the Park.
Aillwee Cave - Santa’s Workshop
One of Ireland’s oldest caves is located in the heart of the Burren and provides the location for a magical Santa experience.
Visitors have plenty of things to do; a Santa train will take you to the Birds of Prey Centre, there is face painting, a puppet show, games and the award winning Farm Shop until it is your turn to enter the cave.
Santa’s elves will guide the family through the cave until you meet Santa who has a personalised greeting for every child. An unforgettable experience.
Steam Trains Ireland - Santa Special
Every year the Royal Preservation Society of Ireland runs the Santa Special steam train in Dublin. It is a return journey of about two hours from Connolly to Greystones with plenty of fun and a special visit from the man in red.
The kids love being on an old steam train and the visit of Santa makes it all the more special. They do run some Diesel ones that are less popular but as it is only run over three weekends the steam train trips do book early.
The RPSI is an entirely volunteer run society with people giving up their free time to operate the trains. It is well worth the hassle if you are lucky enough to find tickets.
Bunratty Castle - Santa at Bunratty
The castle tour itself is a brilliant day out but when combined with the festival atmosphere in the Bunratty Folk Park it makes for a truly wonderful Christmas experience. The folk park has a traditional village setting and all the houses have a different theme.
One has a story teller recalling some fantastic Christmas tales, another has Mrs Claus preparing for Santa’s big trip, there is a puppet show and you might also bump into some brilliant characters on the streets outside - be careful of Scrooge though!
And of course the kids get to meet Santa and his elves in his Grotto. Give yourselves at least an hour for the Folk park and wear warm clothes. Stay in the Bunratty Castle Hotel across the road and combine it with a visit to the castle for a fantastic Santa experience.