Bristol Zoo Gardens – Santa’s Grotto Visit! 

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Bristol Zoo Gardens – Santa’s Grotto Visit! 

Hey and welcome! It’s December! The year has flown by and in two months I will have a ONE year old boy! A whole year! I can’t believe Lew has been here nearly a year now. The time really has flown by. And this will be his very first Christmas. I am super excited for him to experience and enjoy all the lights, tinsel and sparkles. So when we were invited to Bristol Zoo Gardens, with a trip to visit Santa too, we were really excited!

Feeling Festive!

We’ve been to Bristol Zoo a few times now, for review visits and then days out which we’ve fully paid for. You can read about our visit with B when he was about three years old, and see a pic which we took on a visit when he was two. Way before the blog started. He was so grumpy that day! And also our trip last year for Halloween.

But for this visit, we were invited to meet Santa and his elves in the brand new Santa’s Grotto. It’s open from now, until December 23rd. Be sure to book a time slot before your visit too so you don’t miss out!

The grotto experience starts at the theatre which is just off the main walk way once you enter the zoo. You’ll pass the flamingos, fruit bats and red pandas, and wander through the nocturnal house. You’ll see a number of signs pointing to the grotto.bristol zoo garden review - santas grotto sign

On the way to the grotto you pass the lions. B absolutely loves playing with this water sprayer. It basically mimics a lion, spraying! If he could, he’d stand there all day. He’s more interested in this than the blinking lions! Which are beautiful of course. You could hear their roars across the whole zoo.

bristol zoo garden review - boy pressing lion water spray

Enter the Grotto!

So after seeing some the amazing animals, it was our time to head to Santa’s Grotto. Get there about 10/15 minutes before your allocated time slot.

When we entered, we gave our name and filled out a short form about the kids – names, age and gender. While you wait for the elves to take you over to see Santa, there are a number of activities to keep the little ones amused. Make a paper Santa face, get your face decorated as Rudolph, and take a seat in Santa’s sleigh!

bristol zoo garden review - activities in santas grotto

B really enjoyed the sleigh but he didn’t want his face painted and he didn’t want to make a paper Santa face. Oh well.

The theatre is decorated with all things Christmassy and sparkly! It’s truly magical and the kids will love it.

bristol zoo garden review - boy sat in sleigh

We weren’t waiting long before our name was called out. A friendly elf walks you from the theatre across to another building where the big man himself is located. To keep little ones happy here, you can write a letter to Santa, fill the stockings with presents or read one of the many festive-themed books. It’s a really lovely set up with plenty for children to do. We were only waiting five minutes before it was our turn to meet Santa!

bristol zoo garden review - elves and baby

Time to Meet Santa!

And there he was! Complete with Christmas tree, presents, fire, and all the things that make Christmas magical. Now B was anxious about his visit to Santa and he didn’t want any photos with him. I think he feels a bit shy and almost star struck! Lew, however, loved his first Santa visit and even had a little smile! He then proceeded to try and eat Santa’s fluffy cuffs! The boy wants to chew everything at the mo. He has his eye on the present here!

bristol zoo garden review - baby meets santa

Santa had two gifts all ready for Lew and B. Lew received some bath squirters and B got a cuddly penguin. Of which he was super happy about as he loves soft toys!

bristol zoo garden review - baby looking at father christmas

A Magical Experience

Now we’ve visited a number of Santa’s Grotto experiences over the years with B and if you’ve read this post on what it takes to have a magical Santa experience, then you’ll know that there’s the good, the bad and the really ugly! I’m pleased to say that the visit at Bristol Zoo Gardens was brilliant, and we’d definitely recommend it as your Santa visit this year!

bristol zoo garden review - sign and entrance

What makes a visit to Father Christmas special? Here’s what we loved about the Santa’s Grotto at Bristol Zoo this year!

  • You got dedicated, one-to-one time with Santa. There was no shared meetings with other kids. Just you and your family.
  • We didn’t feel rushed and felt we had a good amount of time to chat with Santa. Although to be honest it was mainly me doing the talking as B had gone all shy.
  • Even though Lew is only 10 months, Santa and the elves made it really special for him too. We had many smiles from baby Lew!
  • Waiting time was minimal, and when you were waiting, there were lots of activities to keep the children entertained and happy.
  • The decorations were really beautiful and well thought out. There were lots of lights, plenty of sparkle, pretty decorations and some wonderful Christmas books to flick through.
  • It was well organised, with elves to guide you all the way from start to finish. And finding the theatre was super easy. It was just off the main walkway when you enter the zoo.

bristol zoo santas grotto visit - baby meets elves

Meet the Animals

Of course, no trip to the zoo would be complete without seeing the animals. As I said at the start, we’ve been to Bristol Zoo lots of times. Therefore we know the layout pretty well. What’s great is that many of the animals are inside – so the bug house, nocturnal walk though, the aquarium and the sea life centre. The weather yesterday was freezing cold. It was nice to warm up in the butterfly house and spend a bit longer exploring the fish in the aquarium. Lew loved watching the big fish swim past.

bristol zoo aquarium

Have you been to Bristol Zoo? Have you got a trip to visit Santa planned? Follow us over on social media for Christmas fun, giveaways and more days out this December! Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter!

santas grotto review and visit at bristol zoo gardens

Disclaimer: We were invited to Bristol Zoo Gardens and the Santa’s Grotto experience. All thoughts and opinions are our own and honest. 


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