About Santa's Grotto 12 December
Best availability 12-15 December; we are now sold out on 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, and 23 December.
We’re elf-static that Father Christmas is coming to CFT! We’ve been tinkering away with Master Elves, Tinsel, Beau and Buddy, for a brand-new family experience.
Believers get to go behind-the-scenes at the Elves’ Workshop, where creativity and craft combine to make Christmas magic happen, take an ‘elfie with Father Christmas himself as well as getting an early present.
Simply book a slot below or check our Santa's Grotto collection for other dates and times.
Pricing: £12 per child. Remember, book one place for each child (adults go free) and let us know the children's names and ages so the elves can prepare for their visit.
Elf update...Slots are filling up fast but if you have a specific date or time in mind, it might be worth contacting our lovely Box Office elves to check if we can squeeze you in. Not always possible but definitely work asking.
Our elves can’t wait to welcome you. If you do have any questions first take a quick look at our FAQs below. Email us at email@example.com if you can't find your answer and we'll ask the big man in red!
How many children can I book for?
You can book up to 6 children per 20 minute slot - subject to availability. If you need to book for more than 6 children at one session, please do call our Box Office elves on 01243 781312.
Who do I need to book a ticket for?
Adults don't need a ticket and can go in the Grotto for free with their children, but we do ask you to keep adults to a minimum where possible as space will be limited.
Do newborn babies count as a child ticket?
It depends. If coming with other children, babes in arms (under 12 months) can go free but they will not receive a present. If they are the only child in the party, they will need to book a ticket to see Santa.
Can my children all go in at once?
Absolutely, if they have all booked in the same time slot.
You’re sold out; are there any more tickets?
Keep checking our socials for any further release of availability nearer the time; but to avoid any disappointment we recommend you book asap. We all know how busy Santa is this time of year and we expect him to have a full diary when he visits CFT.
How will I receive my tickets?
Your tickets will be sent by email.
We also recommend adding your mobile number to your CFT account so we can text your tickets to you the day before your visit.
E-Tickets don't have to be printed, just show them on your smart phone at the Theatre. If you can't find your tickets, they can be downloaded from your CFT account at anytime, just login and click on E-ticket. You can choose to have your tickets sent to you by post (for a £1.50 delivery fee).
When should I arrive?
Please arrive 10-15 minutes before your ticket time - we don't want you to miss any of the fun!
It's worth checking what else is happening in the Theatre that day as the car park can get super-busy (especially as we get closer to Christmas!).
Where do I head to on the day?
When you arrive at CFT, you will see the Grotto and our super-duper elves will direct you to where you'll wait before your visit with Santa.
What if I’m late?
If you are late for your allocated slot, unfortunately we cannot offer a refund or guarantee entry into the Grotto. Please do contact a member of the Grotto team on your arrival to check availability.
Is a photo included?
No but you are more than welcome to take your own ‘elfie’!
Is there somewhere I can leave my pram?
We’ll have a buggy park available but advise you not to leave anything valuable in there while you’re busy seeing Santa.
Is the Grotto wheelchair friendly?
Yes, our Grotto will be wheelchair accessible, as is the Café on the Park and toilet facilities. If you do need any further assistance our team will be happy to help.
Are there any SEN performances?
Yes! Sessions on Wednesday 13 December (Morning Slot: 10am-1.30pm) and Thursday 21 December (Afternoon Slot: 2.30pm-6.30pm) are available for anyone who would benefit from a more laid-back environment - particularly if your child is an autistic or neurodivergent person or has a learning disability - these sessions are for you.
There will be smaller number of families within these sessions and we'll make small changes to create a more comfortable environment. To book or for more information, call the Box Office on 01243 781312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there parking at the Grotto?
Yes, Northgate pay and display car park is right next door - click on the Your Visit tab to find out more about how to get here and parking etc.
Santa's Grotto is located on Oaklands Park next to the Festival Theatre. If you're arriving from Northgate car park, just follow the path that runs between the two buildings and look for Santa's elves.
Family friendly spaces
Toilets and baby change facilities
Toilets, washrooms, bathrooms or loos - whatever you call them, it's likely that you'll want to visit ours while you're here.
There are baby changing facilities in two fully accessible toilets in the Festival Theatre Foyer (one on each side), plus in the ladies on the Cafe on the Park side and the gents on the Foyer Cafe side. In the Minerva Theatre there are baby change facilities in the accessible toilets on both levels.
Coffee or need something more?
Our Café on the Park is an ideal place to take your pre-schoolers and catch up with some parent pals before savouring a barista coffee, delicious cake, pizza or sandwich; there are also healthy snacks and drinks for the kids available. We're open Monday to Friday from 10am and on Saturdays from 9am (for ParkRunners and families).
Whether you're stopping for a cuppa or would like a three course meal, head over to our Food and Drink page to find out more.
Enjoy our Families area next to the welcoming Café on the Park where children can discover toys, colouring-in, chalkboards, fancy dress and books in our nooks.
On Thursday and Saturday mornings we extend the family spaces at our Pop-Up Family Fun so even more families can have fun.
We can't wait to welcome you. But a quick request, once you've finished playing, please have a little tidy; it means more families can enjoy their time here at CFT! Thank you.
We're breastfeeding friendly
Mums should always feel comfortable breastfeeding while out and about, and we're a proud member of The Breastfeeding Network. If you and your baby need a boob break you can do so with confidence at CFT. Plus our spacious foyers (easy to navigate with a bulky pram) have baby changing facilities, free water stations, high chairs and plenty of comfy seating available – not to mention cracking cakes and coffee.
Bringing a buggy or pram?
There's step free access to the café and toilets, foyer and Festival Theatre which are all at ground level with no steps to negotiate.
During shows for little ones, a Buggy Park will be set up somewhere handy. We just ask you to ensure any valuables are taken with you into the show.
In the Minerva building, the Theatre and Minerva Bar are on the first floor - once you go through the doors, head behind the stairs to find a lift ready to take you up a level. Our Buggy Park is usually set up on the ground floor to the right side near The Brasserie.
For more information on accessible facilities and performances, take a look at our Accessibility page.
We're dog friendly
Outside of performance times, our foyers are officially Dog-Friendly following a request from one of our regulars. Assistance Dogs have always been welcome but we hope this change will mean that even more of you can enjoy a cuppa in our café with your four-legged friends. Why not enjoy the green open spaces of Oaklands Park, which is right on our doorstep and then bring them in for a free doggy treat (available from the Café counter)?
By public transport
To plan your journey from door to door on public transport visit traveline.info for the quickest route.
Chichester Station is a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute taxi ride away, with regular direct links to London Victoria, Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Gatwick Airport. Connect to London Waterloo trains at nearby Havant. Visit nationalrail.co.uk or call 08457 484950 for timetables, restricted services and other details.
Walking directions from the station (20 minute walk):
Head out of the main entrance towards The Foundry Pub, walk past the pub with it on your left and straight up South Street until you come to The Cross (stone monument) which indicates an intersection of four streets. Continue straight ahead up North Street. At the top of North Street is a ring road, take the pedestrian underpass to North Gate Car Park and continue through the car park to reach the Theatre on the far side.
The number 60 Stagecoach bus stops near the Theatre. Visit the Stagecoach website for more information.
The M27 and A27 run along the coast, linking Hampshire, Sussex and Kent. The M3, A3, A29, A259 and A24 connect Portsmouth, Southampton, Mid-Sussex and London. Use the map above for directions to Chichester Festival Theatre. It's also worth looking out for scheduled roadworks on the West Sussex Council website.
We'd encourage you to think green and minimise car travel where possible but recognise that driving may be your only travel option. If so, you have the option to carbon-offset your journey for £1, when booking your tickets. This £1 goes directly to Ecologi to support carbon-offsetting projects and international tree-planting programmes. Read more about this partnership here.
Northgate Car Park (PO19 6AA) is a 900-space council-run pay and display car park right on our doorstep, which charges from 8am until 8pm Monday - Saturday and 10am until 5pm on Sundays. You can pay by cash, card and contactless and the MiPermit app - chichester.gov.uk/mipermit
As we're so conveniently located, the car park can get very busy with city centre shoppers as well as our audiences. Allow plenty of time to park (especially if you're coming to a matinee!) and consider alternative car parks in Chichester. You can find all options at chichester.gov.uk/parking.
Parking for disabled patrons
If you have a Blue Badge you can park anywhere in Northgate Car Park free of charge. There are 9 non-reservable spaces close to the Theatre entrance. Visit Chichester District Council for other available car parks.
We have a 'drop off' area in front of the Theatres, which you can access from the Broyle Road entrance.
Coming with a large group? The coach drop-off point is outside the Festival Theatre with a coach park in Via Ravenna.
We're linked to the city’s cycle lane network and our bike park can hold 26 bicycles. It's right next to the Pimlott Building by the park, just off the Theatre’s access road. chichester.gov.uk/cycling
Toilets, washrooms, bathrooms or loos - whatever you call them, it's likely that you'll want to visit ours while you're here.
We have two fully accessible toilets in the Festival Theatre Foyer (one on each side) and another in the Festival Theatre (auditorium left, adjacent with row L), plus one on each level of the Minerva Theatre.
We also have two sets of ladies and gents in the Festival Theatre and another two sets in the Minerva (offering a total of 63 cubicles, four of which are ambulant, and 27 urinals), so there's no shortage of places to spend a penny.
For wheelchair users or people requiring step-free access
- There is level access across the CFT site with lifts available to other levels.
- The Café on the Park and our restaurant, The Brasserie, are fully wheelchair accessible and offer brilliant coffee and great dining experiences.
- 16 wheelchair spaces are available across two levels in the Festival Theatre and we have two spaces in the Minerva Theatre. Call or email Box Office on 01243 781312 or email@example.com to book your space (or register as an Access member to book online).
- Want to transfer from a wheelchair into a theatre seat? Let us know in advance when you book and we can help you.
- Wheelchairs are available to borrow if you need one when you get here; email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve yours in advance.
- Not in a wheelchair but have limited mobility? Walking sticks, crutches and walking aids can all be taken into the theatres and if you can't fit them safely under your seat we'll store them for you in a safe location. We'll do our best to get them back to you swiftly at the end of the performance but please allow extra time in case our Front of House team are busy elsewhere.
If you find an area of our building where access is restricted (unfortunately there are a few), our Box Office and Front of House team members have all completed accessibility training so have a chat to them. They'll happily answer questions or take on feedback to share with the rest of the organisation.
For people with visual impairments
- Audio described performances provide friendly live commentary over discreet headphones. Pick up your headset from our cloakrooms in the Festival Theatre or outside the Minerva auditorium. (And as an added bonus, we'll share a "pre-description" with you before the show just to give you a taste of what's to come.)
- Free touch tours are available 90 minutes before audio described performances so you can explore the set and costumes. Make sure you book your space in advance.
- All seat row ends and individual seats have Braille signage and we can provide a Braille or large print cast list for all Festival season productions.
- Our season brochures are available in large print or audio format (we're on Soundcloud or contact email@example.com and we'll send you a CD).
Can't make our audio described dates? Let our House Manager know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll see if it's possible to arrange an alternative.
For those who are D/deaf or hard of hearing
- At BSL interpreted performances a British Sign Language interpreter stands on or at the side of the stage and interprets the spoken word and sound effects.
- Stagetext captioned performances provide English subtitles either on a screen above or to the side of the stage, or on a personal tablet in specific seats. Our Box Office can make sure you're booked into a seat that gives you a good view of the captioning units so contact them on 01243 781312.
- We record and caption many of our pre-show talks and make them available on YouTube.
- Both theatres are equipped with Infra-Red audio enhancement system and you can pick up a headset at our cloakrooms before the show for free.
- Hearing aid user? Switch to the 'T' position once inside the auditorium to use our induction loop system. Handy tip: this system works best if you're sat in the centre of the auditorium so chat to our Box Office (01243 781312 or email@example.com) when booking if you'd like to use this service.
- We have a chat function available on the website and can answer questions via email if helpful at firstname.lastname@example.org
We carry out regular checks on these systems but sometimes technology unfortunately fails us. If you're having any difficulties whatsoever, make sure you speak to a member of staff as soon as possible so we can try to fix the problem.
In the Festival Theatre, seats vary from 500mm wide to 560mm wide. In the Minerva Theatre they are either 515mm wide or 520mm wide. All our seats have fixed armrests. Click here to download plans for both venues showing the widths of the different seats.
Santa's Grotto is running from 12 - 23 Dec. Take a look at the other dates here.