Every Christmas for the past few years I have visited most of Oxfordshire’s various Santa’s Grottos, which become bigger and busier each time. We meet Santa for a few minutes, which is very pleasant and of course fun for the kids, but this year I felt we wanted something different. Christmas is becoming more commercialized every year, and it pleased me to find that Stories with Santa provided the perfect antidote to this with a haven of traditional and simple entertainment.
The show consists of sitting with Santa and his elf in the New Theatre's Piano Bar, listening to Santa telling stories such as The Night Before Christmas and participating in festive songs (including us parents having to do the actions to all Twelve Days of Christmas!). Santa also tells jokes and interacts with the children throughout the show. At the end there is time for each child to meet Santa and have individual interactions with him, and a small gift is also provided.
Santa is played just right - showing a good sense of humour with jokes to appeal to all ages, he was also warm and fun-loving but not over-the-top. The set is simple: a chair, a tree, Christmas gifts - it’s all sparkling and pretty but maintains a homely feel to it, plus it is not overly crowded (even with maximum seating filled out it would still be quite a small group) so it feels like quite an intimate, special moment.
The show appeals to all ages but I think is particularly suitable for 1-4-year-olds; my little one loved interacting with Santa and found the story where the kids had to keep shouting ‘ho ho ho’ hilarious. It was relaxed and the kids were free to potter around, lie down, pretty much ‘chill out’ with Santa!
If I had one suggestion for change it would be to perhaps make the show slightly longer, with maybe one more story, but I appreciate that it is aimed at young children who may not have the staying power for a longer show.
Definitely one to watch this season - and it is playing frequently so one could even just pop in whilst shopping in Oxford for a slice of magical Christmas cheer.