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Santa Spotting

A visit to Santa's Grotto is one of the highlights of the festive season... but there's also nothing more boring than a department store. So, we've come up with five exciting, alternative and quirky places to visit Father Christmas in the UK this year.

Santa Fun Run

Santa Fun Run

Ullswater Steamers, Lake District: Drop off your present list while taking a steam train ride through the Lake District. Father Christmas and 'Happy Elf' are set to board the train on Dec 19 and 20 from Glenridding and (for £15pp) they will be happy to offer children gifts and adults with a glass of mulled wine. The price includes the train ride.

National Cole Mining Museum, Yorkshire: Santa and a troupe of reindeer will be nestled 140 metres underground at the National Cole Mining Museum this year. As well as a subterranean grotto, the museum has organising Santa's Reindeer Hunt. The bearded present giver has lost a reindeer and children have to follow the clues to find it.

Santa's On The Run, Nationwide: Watch hundreds of red-robed Santas run through the streets on this annual series of fun runs. Runners in costume are set to cover a 2-5km distance in aid of children hospices. Click the link above to find your nearest run - there are 19 events across the country.

Santa's Secret Village, London: Set on the Southbank, Santa's Secret Village is made up of a clutch of brown chalets in the midst of a festive market. We're not entirely sure what makes it a secret, but it's a cute set up: kids can book into storytelling sessions in which Father Christmas regales them with tales of the north pole; there's a post story Q&A and present giving. Lovely.

Santa's Magical Kingdom, Kent: Hop Farm in Kent is playing host to a magical festive kingdom this year, complete with an Elves Forest Of Lights, Santa Post Office and Reindeer Land. You travel through the kingdom via train before reaching Father Christmas himself, waiting for you in his study with a hot drink and bag of presents.

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