Father Christmas at the Halls (review)

In this theatrical walk-around event, children will encounter a range of magical North Pole characters in various spaces of the Hall on their way to meet Father Christmas himself. In this fun and festive experience, they’ll discover the stories and characters of Christmas’ past through engaging puppetry and live music, and will even gain some secret elf knowledge with the chance to make and bring home their very own stuffed toy!

Tickets are £39.24 per child (3yrs+) and includes entrance to the Father Christmas at the Halls experience, a goody bag from Santa and a Plush toy that your child will stuff during the end of the experience.
You can book your tickets using this link. 

It runs from Thursday 5 – Sunday 22 December 2019

Our Verdict

Getting There

The venue was pretty easy to get to – a 20ish-minute bus (number 52) from London Victoria stops directly outside the venue and even though there were building works going on outside the signs were very easy to follow.

We ended up getting there half an hour early and after a very quick bag check we headed to the little cafĂ© inside the venue beside the entrance (door 12). The prices were what you’d typically find in theatre venues and a bit on the pricey side but you do get a 20% discount included within your ticket so I made use of it and splashed out on a Christmas cookie (£2.32 with discount) and a fruit juice (£2 with discount) which my son found delicious. We were then called through and directed to the coat check where we were able to leave our bags, buggies and any other bits and bobs for free. Other facilities I noticed were accessible toilets and lifts just in case… Oh, and don’t forget the gift shop.

Storytelling Session

After a few minutes we were then collected by an ‘elf’ (he looked more like a traditional elf than the colourful kind were used to) and taken to an area where he and another gentleman played Christmassy music on a ukulele and a violin (which was so beautifully played – I’ve never heard on that up close and personal before and all I can say is wow!) which began our Christmas storytelling adventure…. We were introduced to Albert the cat, who essentially recruits us to find the mouse and keep her in check whilst Santa is visiting. Sounds simple enough… We then began our hunt, finding mouse prints and cheese blocks along the way.

Upon finding the mouse we were shown the view from one of the Royal Albert Hall boxes (not one for the faint of heart) which was breath-taking, then taken to a room to design a card for Santa – I found this to be the most boring part of the tour if I’m honest. My LO was briefly entertained for a little while but the colouring activity just seemed like an afterthought and it just wasn’t enough as a standalone activity. Maybe next year they’ll incorporate more activities into this part as it seemed to drag (some gluing activity maybe?) – even more so because somehow everyone seemed to push in front of us leaving us last to see Santa. That’s another thing I hope will be more organised next year – a proper queuing system when seeing Santa (maybe give out number in order of arrival) and for the staff to take charge and tell the bigger kids to let the smaller ones actually see what’s going on (during our experience we had this obnoxious posh cow actively telling her bratty 10 year old girl to push in front of the littler ones with her younger brother so I doubt my son could see half the time).

The tour itself lasted about half an hour all-in all (not including the colouring part) but be warned, in between areas there are a few stairs to go up and down but not enough for me to complain about, even my lazy 3yo didn’t seem phased. To be quite honest I liked the idea of moving around a bit because there’s nothing more annoying than taking my LO to an event and having to stand around awkwardly. Overall, the story was pretty well thought out and made sense – it didn’t seem as though we were aimlessly wondering around killing time until our visit to Santa. It was quite (dare I say it…) fun! Well, actually I say that but like I said the colouring did seem to go on forever! There’s only so long some felts and a piece of paper will keep any LO entertained.

Santa’s Grotto

Oh my goodness! No expense was spared! This is hands down the most authentic looking Santa I’ve ever seen in my life! He could give Harrods and those pricey grottos a run for their money! He reminded me of the Santa characters you’d see in the American movies that pop up and save Christmas by dishing out some helpful information to the damsel in distress. I even think his beard was real and not one of those cheap synthetic looking ones on elasticated string. If Santa was real, he’d be this guy. He embodied Santa. Is it weird that his American accent made him seem that much more real? He wasn’t as chatty as some of the Santa’s we’ve visited previously but that may have been because my LO was pretty shy.

Let’s talk about the gift. You get a lovely red drawstring bag with ‘happy helper’ written across the top in capitals, filled with a Christmas sticker activity book, crayons and a small pack of Haribo. But, the most exciting gift is your very own Albert the cat to personalise and take home. After seeing Santa you’re directed down some stairs to a lovely Christmassy chill out area, pictured below, (where you can also collect your coats) filled with books and some seats while you wait for your turn to pick out a special Christmas hat for Albert and stuff him by pressing a lever with your foot (with the help of an elf).

Below are the photo prices. I was told by the staff member serving me that downloads are just an add on and you can’t by them singularly (weird, because in most grottos you get them free) but that when purchasing one photo it’d get a digital download of both. Unfortunately, when I got home o found out that this was in fact a lie and I only had one of the digital downloads – if I’d have known I’d have purchased both as I wanted both photos… The photo is slightly over exposed – most grotto pictures are.

Was it worth it?

So, the burning question you’re all asking – is it worth it? Yes, for me it was and I’m most probably going to come back again. It worked out relatively cheap because I only have one little one. The story was funny and engaging and the Santa was spectacular! He was 10/10 in appearance. Although an arrogant family put a bit of a downer on our visit, we still thoroughly enjoyed it – my son hasn’t put Albert down since getting home and is so proud of himself for ‘making it’. The every single staff member (whether a part of the experience or not) couldn’t do enough for us and were so friendly. So yes, I recommend it (if you don’t mind a bit of walking). You can find a video of our visit here

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