Event type
Event status
25 November - 24 December
See prices below

Christmas at Whipsnade Zoo 2023 has now passed

If you'd like to be the first to know about Meet Santa at Whipsnade Zoo for 2024, please complete the form below. 

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Christmas activities in 2023

As well as three reindeer talks per day, throughout the Christmas period we highlighted a selection of Whipsnade’s other special animal residents. On all meet Santa dates, kids were able to get stuck into themed crafts and hear from Whipsnade Zoo experts in talks as they gave enrichment specific to each animal.

Freshly armed with that knowledge, children were then able to enter a competition to design enrichment for one of the featured animals and if their design was chosen by our keepers, they won a return trip to make it for real and give it the animals!

Weekends from 25 November, then 16-24 December. Crafts were in the Learning Hub (River Room); other activities, including competition entry, were at animal exhibits.

The schedule for the daily talks was:

  • 25th and 26th Nov – giraffes
  • 2nd and 3rd Dec – cheetah
  • 9th and 10th Dec – hippos
  • 16th Dec – chimpanzees
  • 17th Dec – tigers
  • 18th Dec – penguins
  • 19th Dec – African wild dogs
  • 20th Dec – lions
  • 21st Dec – red pandas
  • 22nd Dec – lynx
  • 23rd Dec – white rhinos
  • 24th Dec – otters

Each talk happened at 11:30 on the species' given day/s, with the three reindeer talks at 12:30, 13:30 and 14:30.

Sold out sessions

Meet Santa – £15.50 SOLD OUT FOR 2023

Santa stopped by Whipsnade Zoo’s cosy Lookout Lodge this year. Little ones joined in with festive crafts before meeting Santa in his magical grotto and receiving a very special early Christmas gift to take home.
Weekends from 25 November, then 16-24 December 2023.


Meet Santa Relaxed Sessions – £15.50 SOLD OUT FOR 2023

These sessions included the same experience as standard Meet Santa sessions, but with dimmed lighting, quieter sounds and other sensory stimulation to make the area feel more relaxed, specifically designed for those with additional needs.
2 and 21 December.

We asked visitors to please be considerate of their fellow bookers and only book these sessions if they needed them as there was strictly limited availability.


Meet Santa Animal Gift Giving – £40 Child / £12.50 Adult SOLD OUT FOR 2023

For an additional treat before meeting Santa, kids could join our elves to make tasty gifts for some of our zoo residents, and then head on a tour to deliver their gift and watch the animals get stuck in.
Weekends from 25 November, then 20-24 December. Most suitable for ages 5 and over.


Breakfast Storytime with Santa – £40 Child / £19.50 Adult SOLD OUT FOR 2023

A little extra Christmas sparkle for your morning! Kids could join Santa and his elves for breakfast and a special festive storytelling session, all about how Santa and the elves make Christmas magical for the animals. All participants enjoyed a warming cooked breakfast and there were craft activities for little ones too, before each child met Santa and received a special early Christmas present.
Weekends from 3 December, then 20-24 December.


Important Information

  • Members, Fellows and Patrons were granted Zoo entry on arrival simply by showing their membership card. Child members wanting to see Santa needed a Meet Santa ticket. Membership alone only provided access to the Zoo.
  • All other visitors, including Under 3s and any non-members accompanying members, needed a valid Zoo ticket in addition to any Meet Santa ticket in order to enter the Zoo.
  • A Meet Santa ticket alone does not include Zoo admission.
  • For Meet Santa a maximum of 3 children could be added per booking onto a single time slot. If you required more than 3 Meet Santa tickets, you needed to book more than one slot to allow everyone to have enough time with Santa. If two slots were booked within the same session time, you could all still enter the grotto together.
  • A maximum of 2 adults per booking could accompany children into the grotto.
  • Babes in arms were welcome with their parent/guardian/carer – no ticket was required. However, if you wished for them to receive a gift or participate in the experience in any way, you must have booked them an Under 3s Meet Santa ticket.
  • Zoo admission T&Cs apply.

A visual story was available for our Christmas activities. 


Meet Santa 2023 Frequently Asked Questions

Please note, this event has now passed.

What dates are available for Meet Santa this year?

Meet Santa runs on weekends and school holiday dates between 25 Nov and 24 Dec at Whipsnade Zoo. Upgraded sessions, breakfast storytelling and relaxed sessions are available on a limited number of dates. Please check higher up this page for full details and the latest availability. 

Will there be any Gold member, Fellows and Patrons exclusive or preview dates for Whipsnade Zoo’s Meet Santa event?

Gold member, Fellow and Patron exclusive sessions were available and the links to book these were sent out via email. From Thursday 16th November, all remaining unbooked Gold member, Fellow and Patron exclusive session bookings were closed and moved to Meet Santa sessions. 

What Meet Santa session types are available at Whipsnade Zoo?

Please see descriptions and latest availability higher up this page.

What is a relaxed/quiet Meet Santa session?

We appreciate that the Zoo and our events can be quite loud or overwhelming for some visitors. Our Meet Santa Relaxed Sessions offer visitors with additional needs a more comfortable experience. This may mean less lighting, reduced noise, and off-peak times to limit the number of visitors on site.

Is there a maximum number of children I can book onto the Meet Santa event?

There’s a maximum of three children per booking, but if you wanted to book for more children, you’d just need to make two online bookings. If booked into the same time slot, we’ll do our best to allow the children to enter together; the limit per booking just allows us to manage the time slots and capacities of the event.

How many adults can accompany the children taking part?

At Whipsnade Zoo, due to limited space around the grotto cabins there is a maximum of two accompanying adults per booking. Please add your free adult tickets when you make your Meet Santa booking.

I’ll be bringing an under 3 along but I don’t want them to meet Santa or receive a gift. Do they need a ticket?

If you don’t wish for them to meet Santa or receive a gift (e.g. babes in arms), they do not need a ticket. If you wish for them to participate in the experience in any way, you must book them an Under 3s Meet Santa ticket.

Do I need a Zoo entry ticket alongside my Meet Santa ticket in order to access the experience?

The Meet Santa ticket alone does not include Zoo admission.
Members, Fellows and Patrons will be granted Zoo entry on arrival simply by showing their membership card. Child members wanting to see Santa will need a Meet Santa ticket. Membership alone only provides access to the Zoo.
All other visitors, including Under 3s and any non-members accompanying members, will need a valid Zoo ticket in addition to any Meet Santa ticket in order to enter the Zoo.

Will this experience take place outside or inside?

The Meet Santa experience at Whipsnade takes place at Lookout Lodge. Although the Meet Santa experience itself is indoors, there may be a short wait outside while waiting for your grotto timeslot and other elements of the Christmas experience are outdoors. While offering a magical location amongst woodland and with beautiful views, being on a hilltop it can also be exposed to wind, so please dress appropriately for winter weather.
Breakfast storytelling will take place in the Base Camp restaurant. Participants will be able to park in the nearby railway/Basecamp car park where they will be met by an elf.

How do I get into the Zoo early for Breakfast Storytelling or the animal gift-giving sessions?

Since these sessions start before normal zoo opening time, if you have a booking for these sessions you may drive into the zoo and park at the nearest car park to the activity – the Base Camp/railway car park for Breakfast Storytelling and the Europe car park for animal gift-giving. Please have your tickets ready for checking at the gate by our friendly security staff. Zoo staff will be on hand to give directions from the entrance and greet you where you park. Please arrive approximately half an hour before the start time for your Christmas activity.

How long will the Meet Santa experience last?

Meet Santa and Meet Santa relaxed sessions will last 30 minutes in total, during which time each booked group will have their own exclusive meeting with Santa. Upgraded Meet Santa sessions will last approximately 1.5hrs.

Is the Meet Santa event wheelchair accessible at Whipsnade Zoo?

Meet Santa is accessible, with ramps leading into the event area and the room with the grottos. There’s also accessible toilets and a changing facility located nearby. As part of the Enrichment/Animal Gift-Giving experience, there is a tour lasting up to 15 minutes. It’s not yet confirmed which animals will be a part of this tour, so we can’t yet confirm if enrichment sessions are fully accessible.

Why do you ask for additional information about my child(ren) during booking?

We want to make the Christmas experience as magical as possible, and just one or two bits of information can help the conversation with Santa be more tailored to your child.

I couldn’t see the date/time I wanted. Will you be releasing any more tickets?

Once a session time has sold out, unfortunately we won't be able to release any more tickets for that session. On rare occasions we may be able to add extra dates and if we do so, these will be available on the same booking links – please check this website for any updates.

I’ve booked Meet Santa tickets for the wrong Zoo. Can I just show up to the other Zoo or can you exchange the tickets for me? 

Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. Tickets are only valid at the Zoo the booking was made for. 

There's a carer in my group who has received free zoo access. Do they need a separate ticket for the Christmas experience?

If that person is accompanying purely to assist in a carer capacity they do not need a separate ticket. However, if they intend to actively take part in the experience in their own right, alongside the person they care for, then they will need to buy an experience ticket.  

Please see general admission terms and conditions for more information on zoo entry with a free carer ticket.

I’ve made my booking but haven’t received a confirmation email or my tickets yet.

Confirmation emails can take a little while to come through so please be patient and check Junk or Spam folders. If there’s still nothing, you can access your booking details and download your tickets using your booking number and email address through the SEE Tickets customer support centre:

I have a question or problem regarding my tickets. Who should I contact?

If you have already made a booking and have a query about your booking, please quote your booking reference in the SEE Tickets Customer Service portal: 

If you do not already have a booking and your question is not answered in the FAQs, contact ZSL’s Supporter Contact team on 0344 225 1826 or [email protected]