Although I live in Cork City since 2009, a special part of my heart lies in Waterford. It’s where I was born, it’s where I spent the Summers and weekends of my teenage years. It’s where a whole lot of my family live. I may have been brought up in County Wexford, but Waterford was MY home. On our visits home I love to share this love with E, which I’m hoping will become more frequent when I’m fully road legal! I love coming to Waterford City for Winterval, the Winter Festival which has been a massive success in recent years. Although we were down to see the festival last year, this is the first year we’ve been down to visit the Winterval Santa Grotto in the Medieval Museum. I think I was looking forward to it more than the child! Here’s how we got on….
The booking system for the Waterford Winterval Santa Grotto is simple. You can book online at Winterval.ie, in person at our Box Office in the Theatre Royal or by phone at 051 856516. I used the online system, where I was able to see all available slots for the Winterval Santa Grotto. Tickets for the Winterval Santa Grotto visits are €16 for each child, with adults going free. This price includes a present from the elves, a present from Santa and a photograph as well as entry to the experience.
We went in through the Theatre Royal entrance. The entrance has a beautiful exhibition from the Grow Project of Creative Christmas Trees on display at the moment. Eliott was a big fan of one in particular which was designed like a pinball machine. Lots of “Wow!” and excited noises about that one! We headed in through the big doors to the hallway. To the right of the stairs (the Toy Museum is upstairs), the desk with a very attentive lady took details of our booking and got us checked in. We were given a ticket with our slot number and advised to make our way through to Santa’s Workshop where we would be entertained until the big man was ready to see us. We went in through the lit up tunnel, through to the courtyard and into Santa’s Workshop.
The Workshop was filled with activities and entertainment for smallies. Manned by some very helpful elves, E loved it. We played Giant Jenga, he discovered the joys of a floor keyboard (a bit too happily, am glad he’s not figured out those are a thing we could have at home because he’d want it!), and the balance bike. We got to see the elves sleeping quarters, and had the opportunity to create Christmas decorations if we so wished.
The elves handed over a gift from themselves, a beautiful Winterval jigsaw, with assurances that Santa would have an extra surprise for any good girls and boys! This was a touch I really liked and it was completely unexpected. I wanted to get some pictures of us in the big red armchair but E wasn’t a fan of sitting up there. He far preferred to be on the move! The elves offered to take any photos we wanted, which was great. They were really attentive which added to the experience. Soon, it was our time to go in!
Once our slot number was called, we were guided in through to Santa himself. In a cosy room, he sat in a big chair and chatted to us. Eliott wasn’t scared or upset at sitting next to the strange man dressed in red, but he did want me in beside him just incase. Santa asked if he was being a good boy, to which Eliott answered yes, he’s a big boy – right answer! We got a photo taken which was presented to us afterwards. Santa was chatty and friendly but not overly so – just right! E was handed a gift classed as Boy 3-6 years which I initially pondered as potentially being too old, but once it was opened we saw it was some more of the pull back cars he loves.
Thoughts On The Winterval Santa Experience
This is the first year that E has understood the whole Santa thing. I was really hoping that this would be a magical experience for him. Having eyed up various other Santa experiences between Cork, Wexford and Waterford, from the outside it certainly looked like the best value. For €16, we enjoyed 20-30 minutes in Santa’s Workshop, which was just right for his attention span, followed by a good visit with the man himself, a photograph, a gift from the elves and one from Santa himself.
I thought this was fantastic value, in particular as one or two experiences I looked at cost the same if not more and didn’t include the photo. Lots of them also banned taking your own photography. It was an easy going experience which suited us down to the ground. I was really happy with it, and will definitely be looking at visiting the Winterval Santa next year too.
Winterval continues until the 23rd of December with lots of fun festive activities for the whole family, we’ve tried out a few which I’ll be writing more about over the coming days. I wasn’t paid or given anything in return for writing about this Winterval Santa experience. I just found it to be a fantastic choice and hope others will too!
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