In November my son turned 11 and I thought this would be our last chance to squeeze the last drops of Christmas magic out of his childhood; so I booked us tickets to go to see Father Christmas at The Secret Sorting Office in Whaley Bridge in the Peak District.
The Secret Sorting Office is about a half an hour drive from our home in South Manchester. We arrived a couple of hours early. This gave us the chance to explore this picturesque little village, and grab a hearty lunch in a pub.
I’d heard good things about The Secret Sorting Office in a couple of groups on Facebook. I’d checked out the website too and decided that this would be the place to go to visit Father Christmas this year.
Booking tickets was easy. I’d followed them on Facebook; so when they opened the booking window, I spotted the announcement and jumped straight in. I found the date and time I wanted and booked the tickets. Two adult tickets and one child cost me £27.85.
The Sorting Office is right opposite the train station, which is handy if you’re arriving on a train. I kind of wished I’d known about that earlier, because I could have spun some kind of Polar Express train journey out of it.
The Secret Sorting Office is up a little staircase in a little shop in Whaley Bridge. You are asked to arrive a little early for your slot. You’re met by a nice lady who tells you all about The Sorting Office and gets you ready to see Father Christmas. You do go in with a few other people, so it’s not a private audience. I did think it would be nice to be able to book that as a premium option.
Once the previous group leave, everyone gets the chance to ring a bell and then go through to see Father Christmas in his sorting office. He is a casually dressed Father Christmas, which I liked.
The children are invited to sit on cushions in the floor and he talks to them for several minutes; asking questions, making them laugh and letting them know they’ve made it onto the nice list this year. He then tells them a story about the special present he is about to give them. Each child is then given a velvet bag with a very special object inside. I won’t tell you what it is, but we thought it was very lovely and a nice keepsake of the day.
There’s then a chance to take photos with Father Christmas before you say your goodbyes and head home.
It’s a short but sweet visit lasting around 15 minutes. The sorting office is very well done and once you’re in the actual sorting office, it feels very cosy and magical. It’s a small venue, and I did feel a bit close to and wedged in with strangers; even though most of us were wearing masks. They did try and make it as covid safe as possible; but I think a couple of open windows might have helped.
My son loved it, he was enchanted by the stories Father Christmas told. He was a very friendly Santa and seemed to be genuinely pleased to receive letters and drawings from the visiting children; so do take them along if you visit him.
A visit to The Secret Sorting Office costs £15.95 per child, £5.95 per adult £2.95 for babies accompanying a full paying child. Cost-wise it’s quite reasonable and it is definitely magical and lovely. I think if this is our last year of believing, then we’ve ended our run on a high. I’m so glad we booked tickets and spent the afternoon in Whaley Bridge. It’s a definite recommendation from us for next year.
For more information about The Secret Sorting Office, visit their website.