Families booking Santas grottos months in advance as parents say the Christmas

santa and child Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Mr and Mrs Claus at Selfridges department store, where tickets for their ‘Breakfast with Santa’ sold out in 48 hoursCredit:Selfridges & Co “I think we all understand in the world we now trade in is that social media is king. You have to be engaging with your audience online. Everything is so instant now, posting on Instagram and Facebook. It’s very powerful.”One mother wrote on Mumsnet: “I booked a slot for [our son] to see our (admittedly amazing) local garden centre Father Christmas on the runway before our plane took off to bring us back from Spain. In September. It sells out super quickly and it’s become our tradition.“It’s absolute madness really.”Several months ago, another parent complained that they did not get their first grotto choice last year, “so I am on top of it this time.”The rising cost of traditional grotto visits was a notable issue for many parents, with one saying: “We went to a local wildlife centre the first year they did it and it was magical and not busy at all. Now it is chaos as it is so busy and you can’t pre-book. I just checked the cost of the Santa train near us last year and it would cost us £85 – bonkers!” The Castle runs an ‘Audience with Father Christmas’ event for £25 per child, which completely sold out within one week of tickets going on sale at the beginning of September.For parents not lucky enough to secure a place, there was always the Castle’s ‘Enchanted Evening with Father Christmas’ event which cost £75 per child. However, this sold out within three weeks.John Hye, the CEO of Castle Howard, said: “The trouble we always have is finding more slots. We have been sold out every year for the past few years. We are at full capacity. Parents looking to take their young children to a Santa’s grotto for a festive experience are being forced to book tickets months in advance, as events are selling out in a matter of days.The annual tradition of meeting Mr Claus has become so popular amongst middle-class families that many are booking tickets as early as August and some venues are struggling to keep up.Parents have complained that they cannot even get into the grottos in their local garden centre’s, with one mother writing on Mumsnet: “What happened to the good old days of rocking up to a garden centre and queuing for half an hour?”Some parents replied to the message that was posted in August, saying they had already booked their tickets to a Santa’s grotto for this weekend, just in time for Christmas.In October, Selfridges released tickets for their ‘Breakfast with Santa’ event where families could enjoy “a decadent festive breakfast and receive a gift bag full of surprises” whilst meeting Mr and Mrs Claus for £55 per child and £45 per adult. Taking your child to a Santa’s grotto is a “magical” experience that many parents are willing to organise months in advanceCredit: Jeff Gilbert santa “If you are a parent, you want to see your children happy. We do see parents getting emotional when they visit our grotto’s because they see their children completely blown away when they met Father Christmas. It’s very special.“Parents want to feel that it is a sincere and genuine gift, that they are doing something that their children will enjoy. It’s a magic experience to be a parent and take your children to a Santa’s grotto.”Mr Hye said the growing role of social media is one of many factors influencing the large numbers of families visiting the Castle for their grotto experience, adding: “People share pictures on Instagram and Twitter and the other mums will think ‘oh I have to try that’. Their London store sold out within 48 hours, whilst their Manchester and Birmingham branches sold out within one week.Castle Howard, a stately home in North Yorkshire, has seen around 1000 families visit them this Christmas, with most booking tickets up to 14 weeks in advance. read more

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