Start date: 18 November, 2023
End date: 24 December, 2023
All-day event
Location: Stanley Palace - 83 Watergate St, Chester CH1 2LF



Remember what Christmas used to be like? We do!

Experience the sights and smells of a Victorian Christmas, set within one of Chester's hidden gems.

Join us at Stanley Palace, Watergate Street over the festive period, where we’ll be hosting the original Father Christmas and Mother Christmas. Come and meet them in their enchanted Dickensian grotto, complete with traditional toys and festive drinks of good cheer.


Stanley Palace
83 Watergate St,
Chester CH1 2LF

Stanley Palace, Cheshire

Dates and opening times

Our grotto will be open from Saturday 18th November, then every Saturday up to and including 17th December from 2pm – 6pm.

Then from Monday 18th December we will be open every day from 10am to 6 pm, with the last chance to meet Father and Mother Christmas on Christmas Eve from 10am to 5pm.

Entry fee -  £10

(includes traditional Christmas present*)

Your visit

Father Christmas and Mother Christmas appear in traditional nineteenth century clothing as they would have done in the time of Charles Dickens.

Each ticket includes a traditional gift. Please note

If meeting Father Christmas himself seems a bit daunting , there is the option for shy or nervous children, or those who'd simply like to meet the real boss, to visit Mother Christmas instead.


Time slots are every fifteen minutes.

Each ticket entitles one child to a present.  Additional children will be allowed entry to the grotto at no extra cost.
*Presents will be given out on a strictly one per ticket basis.

For those wishing to visit Mother Christmas' grotto instead, please specify when purchasing your ticket purchase.

Visitors with disabilities, seeking a quieter grotto experience there will be four time slots, available on each day that we are open - please specify in advance if this is of interest.

Pre-booking is essential to guarantee a time slot and if we are fully booked walk-ups will be refused entry. If there is space available you will be able to book on the day, however there may be queues, especially at busy times, so we strongly advise pre-booking to avoid disappointment.

Proof of ticket purchase will be required before entry to the grotto. You’ll be asked to arrive at least ten minutes before your allocated time slot.

If you miss your allocated time slot, we’ll do our best to fit you in, however this will only be possible if there is space and you’ll need to wait until a time slot becomes available.

Tickets are non-refundable.

Tickets now available from WebTicketManager

Regular sessions

Quiet hour/Disability sessions

Did you know?

Father Christmas used to change his fashion every few years to keep up with society? Although now he’s almost always seen in red, it only really became his go-to colour in 1931. This was due to a marketing campaign, in which Santa was depicted by American Illustrator, Haddon Sundblom, drinking cola. He was obviously taken with this new look! Beforehand, his wardrobe was much more colourful.

To compliment our Dickensian theme, Father Christmas has decided to dust off his old green kit, which has been hanging at the back of his wardrobe for around two centuries.

Why Dickensian?

Charles Dickens first visited Chester on 13th August 1858, where he gave a reading from his festive book 'A Christmas Carol' at the music hall (formerly St Nicholas' Chapel) on St Werburgh Street. It is for this reason that Stanley Palace has created a Dickensian grotto in memory of this, featuring the man who inspired Dicken's 'Ghost of Christmas Present'...Father Christmas!


Terms & Conditions

By purchasing a ticket, you agree to abide by rules of Stanley Palace and its staff.

Please take care and behave responsibly when moving within Stanley Palace as it is set within an old building.

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