Organisers of Taverham Santa's grotto benefit from acting on criticism

A family in their car at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Daniell

A family in their car at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

After an opening two days fraught with traffic issues and complaints over performers, the organisers at the Santa's Grotto drive-thru at Taverham Hall have very much got their act together.

Accessing the historic venue was difficult in torrential rain, but the bright purple sky above the estate was a welcome sign that we were close to our destination.

The Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

The Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

On what was a dark, gloomy night elsewhere, entering the grounds was like a different world. Multicoloured lights lit up the skeletal outlines of the trees lining the route, providing much-needed colour in miserable weather.

The pouring rain certainly did not dampen the enthusiasm of those performing along the colourful route. Actors, singers and dancers all did their jobs with admirable effort - I couldn't help but feel bad in my warm, dry car, tucking into the refreshments handed out along the way.

Santa greeting people at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Daniell

Santa greeting people at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

A quartet of carollers, hiding under the refuge provided by a doorway at the hall, greeted us as we entered before a brief stop off at 'Lapland', where a rather thinner-than-expected Santa Claus enquired whether I had been naughty or nice.


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After being declared nice following a brief but cheery exchange – though I doubt his conclusion – it was on to Mrs Claus for cookies.

Mrs Claus giving out cookies at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture:

Mrs Claus giving out cookies at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

A nice gesture, and the use of hand sanitiser between each car was a reassuring touch. Though, the treats did resemble, and taste like they may have been purchased from a popular high street sandwich shop chain rather than handmade as advertised.

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After complaints were made by parents about a "creepy" Scrooge and three ghosts, those parts had been recast in an effort to be more family-friendly. Dickens' character had been replaced by 'Mr Grumpypants' – his words, not mine – the chief elf who still had a slightly malevolent demeanour about him.

Santa and his helper greeting people and handing out presents at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Ta

Santa and his helper greeting people and handing out presents at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

After watching his elvish subordinates perform a pleasant dance routine, it was a short trip down the lane to be handed a complimentary cup of hot chocolate, before arriving at the exit.

For the price it felt rather short, but it was clear from the very start that early criticism and feedback had been acted upon. It was a little congested, but overall it felt like a well-designed, enjoyable, safe experience.

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