I had the pleasure of taking two little adventurers (age 3 and nearly 3) to find Father Christmas!
We arrived at Lancaster Park and Animal Farm and bought our tickets to the grotto. The children were super excited to see some animals along the path to the grotto and even more excited to see a “girl elf”.
The elf was great with the kids and welcomed them in to what is like a maze of decorated tunnels leading to different places. The first elf took us through the tunnels to a room where we met Mrs Clause. She was sat in a chair and read us a story. The children sat on hay bales and mostly listened intently. They occasionally pointing out things they had spotted around the room but Mrs Claus didn’t mind.
When the story ended, another elf came to show us through more Christmassy corridors, to a room where the children could write Christmas letters. There were tables and small chairs, pencils and Christmas paper. When they had finished “writing” their letters, my little adventurers had great fun posting them into the magical post box!
The next elf took us to a waiting room. My little explorers did not mind waiting because they were suitably impressed with the lights and Christmas tree. They enjoyed dancing to the music and climbing on the low hay bales.
When it was our turn, an elf came to take us to see Father Christmas! The room was nicely decorated and Father Christmas was great with my little adventurers. He spent as long as they wanted talking to them, giving them high fives, letting me take photos and giving them presents. They were suitably impressed!
We left Father Christmas and came to a small room with a giant happy Christmas photo frame to take pictures behind.
The last room we were taken to was by far not the least! It contained a large sleigh that you could climb in for pictures.
The grotto was great, it took us about half an hour to do all the activities and we were not at all rushed. My little adventurers absolutely loved it and didn’t stop talking about it all morning.
Taking a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to the Christmas grotto at Lancaster Park and Animal Farm?
The grotto was not at all busy when we visited at 10:15am. Even if it was busy, the way it was designed meant that children probably wouldn’t notice they were queuing and the people would be spread out throughout the rooms.
There were definitely sensory elements to the grotto, including lights and sounds.
The music was not too loud.
Father Christmas was very patient and had a lot of time for the children.
There are a lot of decorations in reach.
The bonus of this grotto is that it is on an animal farm so you can combine a visit with seeing animals.
Lancaster Park and Animal Farm is located in Chadderton. The Christmas grotto is open on 23rd and 24th December 10-3 if you want to squeeze in a last minute visit! There is no need to book in advance.
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