Days Out: Blackthorpe Barn Christmas Visit (Santa’s Grotto, Suffolk)

Today we went on a family trip to Blackthorpe Barn in Suffolk. We have been every year since J, our eldest was a baby. Our tradition is to have a treat in the cafe and then choose a new decoration for tree. We’ve never attempted Santa’s Grotto before as it books up very fast. This year I was prepared and booked early.

We headed straight for Santa’s Grotto as we had booked for 11.20am. We were seen in straight away by Santa’s helper. She asked J to ring the bell to wake Santa up. We were then let into the ‘waiting area’ which was a sensory delight. Honestly can’t praise it enough.

Both boys loved the lights and J had fun exploring the Gingerbread House.

Then there’s another waiting area with a cute little rocking horse and lots of little details to look at. We were then called in by Santa’s elf.

Santa’s little house is adorable, with a warm fire, tree and lights. Father Christmas certainly looks the part and J fully believed it was THE Santa (usually when he sees ‘Santa’s’ he’ll say they are just people in a costume – but not this time). This Santa knew exactly what J had asked for Christmas. He knew that J started school this year. He knew about Baby F.

After a little chat, Father Christmas gave the boys a special book to take home. J is autistic and I wasn’t sure how it would go. On the booking form there is space to write info so the team were already aware. Everything was at J’s pace.

We then headed off to the cafe for a snack. It’s a beautiful cafe, very festive. Husband had a sausage roll and coffee, I had a cheese scone and blackcurrant squash. J had bacon and bread (separate, I explained when ordering that they couldn’t touch. They were really understanding of autism and I wasn’t made to feel daft for asking) and squash.

Afterwards, we had a walk around. It was busy and J was a bit overwhelmed – I think meeting Santa and being around so many people in cafe had gotten to him. We couldn’t stay as long as I’d hoped but we choose this years new tree decorations (the boys choose one each).

It was lovely to just have a wonder around, look at the trees (some were so tall, which really amused J) and feel all Christmassy.

For anyone look at visiting this year or in future years, here’s some more info about the facilities:


There were plenty of spaces for parking today, although it is on grassy patches so was rather muddy and slippy today. There are disabled spaces available which are closer to the barn and you avoid most of the mud.

Getting Around:

There’s one main building which houses the shop, cafe and craft Fayre. We managed to get the buggy through but due to it being a busy weekend, it was a little challenging. Previously we’ve gone on ‘school days’ so it’s quieter. However we got to see everything we wanted to see.

The Santa’s Grotto is in another part and is deceptively larger than it looks from the outside. Past the grotto are the Christmas trees. This is on a stoney area so just be aware if using mobility aids.

There was a couple of outdoor vendors when we were there and picnic benches so if you find indoors a bit ‘much’ then you can enjoy the fresh air.

Toilet Facilities:

These were perfectly useable and we had no issues with them. There’s a standard male, female and disabled toilet (although no Changing Places facilitysorry folks). Everything is sign posted so they’re easy to find (word of warning – go before the cafe as the toilets are a little bit of a walk).

What makes you feel Christmassy? Have you met santa? Let me know in the comments or come find us over on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook x