How to see Santa in a pandemic: The 11 best experiences for 2020

From Zoom calls to drive-in grottos, these Santa experiences that will bring plenty of joy this festive season
How to see Santa in a pandemic: The 11 best experiences for 2020

One of the ways to 'meet' Santa this year: driveinsanta.ie. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Santa’s Virtual Workshop at Aillwee Cave

Aillwee Cave
Aillwee Cave

Santa Claus is coming to ... zoom! Santa’s magical workshop at Aillwee Caves is going online this year, giving everyone a chance to experience the wonder of Aillwee Cave this Christmas.

Holly the head elf will take guests through the cave in search of Santa and his workshop where children will chat with Santa about their year, topped off with a visit to Mrs Claus to meet the resident birds of prey — you’ll even get a virtual picture with Santa to mark this memorable year.

December 3-23. Tickets cost €12 per child with adults going free

aillweecave.ie

Elf Town Galway Zoom

Elf Town
Elf Town

The team behind Elf Town in Galway has been working hard to create a virtual Santa experience for the whole family so festive experiences can still be enjoyed from the comfort of your home. Running on every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from November 28 to Christmas, guests will be guided through a snowy forest before each child will get the opportunity to chat with Santa and his head elf. Initial ticket costs €34.95 and €14.95 for every additional child;

elftownzoom.com

Santa’s North Pole Experience at Home

 Wexford Winterland
 Wexford Winterland

Light the fire and snuggle up around the computer to chat with Santa thanks to Wexford Winterland. Wexford Winterland has jumped hurdles to make sure that the most wonderful time of year is not lost. Starting from December 6, Santa’s North Pole Experience at Home includes a special Christmas envelope delivery with an official 'Nice List 2020' certificate and a pouch with magical reindeer food to leave out on Christmas Eve.

Winter Wonderland will run Lámh Sessions on Sat, Dec 12 and 19 for those with communication or hearing difficulties.

Tickets cost €17 and €10 for each child after that with no limit on the number of people who can join the call

wexfordwinterland.com

Santa Experience

SantaExperience.ie
SantaExperience.ie

With this Santa Experience you can choose from a range of Santa options, including a live chat with Santa via Zoom, a personal video message from Santa to watch in your own time, and a personalised letter and a 'Nice List' certificate from Santa.

While these experience will mainly run online, there is hope of a couple of in-person experiences available in Limerick and Cork — restrictions dependent. Tickets start at €23 for the virtual experience for two adults and one child running daily from November 20

santaexperience.ie

Santa Online

SantaOnline.ie
SantaOnline.ie

Not only can you book your children in for a video chat with Santa on this website, but you can also book in your dog for their very own dog visit. Presents will be shipped in advance of the call, with a special dog treat delivered for your four-legged friend, and you open them while on the call with Santa. Santa Online is operating seven days a week from Nov14, with group booking options available too. Tickets start €30, with the option to add in a dog ticket for €10;

santaonline.ie

Santa’s Grotto Christmas Drive-in, Dublin

Santa Claus drives into the RDS Simmonscourt Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Santa Claus drives into the RDS Simmonscourt Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

In what is probably the most innovative idea for Santa Experiences to date, Santa’s Grotto at Simmonscourt RDS has made a few adjustments to become the first drive-in Christmas Grotto.

In an effort to keep all visitors safe, the visit is divided into a series of Christmas scenes, each carefully created to be provide a magical experience and which children and parents can view from their car, before meeting Santa himself at the end of the journey. This will certainly be a Santa visit not to forget. Starting on December 2, tickets cost €49 per car

driveinsanta.ie

Rathwood Express, Carlow

Santa Train Rathwood
Santa Train Rathwood

While many have taken to virtual experiences for this year, others are determined to keep their traditions alive and Rathwood Express in Carlow has meticulously planned to ensure the health and safety for all visitors this year. Santa’s train will take families through Rathwood’s festive forest where you’ll get to see some of Santa’s biggest helpers, the reindeer, followed by an incredible show from Santa, Mrs Claus, and the elves. Family groups will be designated a carriage pod for the duration of the experience and visits with Santa will be at a two-metre distance. Running from Dec 7-24. Tickets cost €23.95 for children and €13.95 for adults

santatrain.ie

Santa’s Enchanted Forest, Luggwoods

Luggwoods
Luggwoods

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Luggwoods is going above and beyond to make it feel that way at the Woodland Walk of Wonder. On selected dates from Dec 4-23, the open-air Santa Experience will take family pods on a guided tour, encountering many magical fairy tale characters before arriving at Santa’s. Should restrictions prevent a visit, Zoom meetings with Santa are also available along with the choice to opt for a personalised video message from Santa too.

Tickets cost €24.95 for children and €14.95 for adults with Zoom calls costing €35

luggwoods.ie

Santa’s Grotto, Epic CHQ, Dublin

Epic CHQ Dublin
Epic CHQ Dublin

Restrictions permitting, Epic CHQ will be welcoming visitors to Santa’s Grotto on selected dates from Dec 5-23. Your visit includes a picture with Santa in your family group, a trail pack containing ‘Christmas Traditions around the World’ and entry into the Epic Museum. If you can’t visit for any reason, Santa will chat to you on Zoom and you’ll get a ticket for you and your family to visit Epic in 2021.

Tickets are €22.50 for children and €12.50 for adults

epicchq.com

Ardmore Open Farm and Mini Zoo Winter Wonderland

Ardmore Farm
Ardmore Farm

Keeping the Christmas spirit alive, Ardmore Open Farm & Mini Zoo will run their award-winning Winter Wonderland from December 5, and this year will be running overnight stays in their glamping pods — a chance to truly get into the Christmas spirit at Ardmore. Visitor numbers will be restricted to allow for social distancing but there will be plenty of opportunity to see the animals and chat with Santa making it a magical experience for the whole family.

Glamping for two adults and two children costs €140

ardmoreopenfarm.ie

The Farm, Grenagh 

The buzz for visiting Santa is alive and well in Cork with tickets for Leahy's Open Farm Winter Wonderland selling out in record time, but there is still time to nab tickets to see Santa at The Christmas Wonderland at The Farm, Grenagh with bookings opening on November 20. Running from Dec 5-23 your ticket includes a trip on the Christmas Wonderland Train through The Magical Forest to the North Pole where you can have a socially distant chat with Santa and meet his friends along the way. 

Tickets cost €19 for children and €10 for adults

visitthefarm.ie

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up