We were invited to see Santa at The Royal Mint in exchange for this review
Santa at The Royal Mint Experience in Llanrtisant is a wonderfully magical and charming experience that offers something a little different to the usual festive meet and greet.
The Royal Mint has been the place that makes all the gold coins that find their way into stockings for hundreds of years, so it makes sense that Santa Claus would want to meet the children of South Wales here.
Read on for our full review, plus head to the Cardiff Mummy Says Instagram page where I have two video Reels on our visit.
As soon as you arrive, it’s clear Christmas has taken over the entire venue, with snow and festive characters adorning the courtyard outside, and the reception area home to a beautiful sleigh, giant bauble and huge tree. On the day we visited, a brass band was in the café area playing carols and festive songs, plus there was also a market selling gifts and food. It instantly put us in a Christmas mood.
The Santa experience starts with a warming video message from the man himself before we are taken to the magic post box where children can post their Christmas letters (bring one with you, although it doesn’t matter if you don’t) and then you are guided across a snowy path and into the mail sorting room. Those who have been on The Royal Mint Experience tour before will remember this room as being full of information and artefacts about how coins are made. Well, every Christmas it is taken over by the elves as the sorting office for all the Christmas letters arriving. It’s so beautifully decorated with sacks full of letters, Santa’s desk, pictures on the wall and so much more.
Next up, we enter the gallery which overlooks the factory floor where the coins are made. Again, it’s so wonderfully decorated with stockings, Christmas pictures and more; it looks very different to when you go on the regular tour. Due to security reasons of it overlooking the machines that make the coins, photos are not permitted in this area.
Here, as in the previous room, we are given lots of information and facts about how the history of The Royal Mint (which has been in operation for more than 1,100 years), how The Royal Mint helps Santa at Christmas and also stories about the history of Christmas, such as where the tradition of stockings comes from. It’s all fascinating stuff. Very young children may well be more interested in what’s around them rather than the stories but for older children (my three are now 12, 11 and 8) and even the grown ups, it’s very genuinely interesting and informative and something a little deeper than the usual Santa visit.
The next stop on the tour is the chance to press the button of the coin press and mint your very own coin (for an additional cost). This year’s coin is a limited edition 50p celebrating it being 25 years since the publication of the first Harry Potter book. The coins are placed in a special presentation package – and as they are uncirculated and limited edition coins, perhaps they will one day be worth a small fortune!
From there, it’s time to meet Santa Claus himself, sat next to a fireplace scene, a huge tree and looking exactly as you would want him to look, with a beautiful red costume, real beard, and such a kindly face.
He really took the time to speak to each family separately and to offer some lovely words of wisdom. You may well have already seen my Instagram Reel where he spoke to my children about how Christmas is important for grown ups too – such beautiful sentiments and far much better than just asking if we were going to leave him a mince pie. We were given plenty of time to take our own photos and a lovely keepsake coin gift.
The Santa tour took around 35 minutes, after which you are free to explore the museum area of The Royal Mint Experience at your own pace. We’ve been here a few times previously but my children still love looking at different coins from around the world which are made at the Mint, as well as the Olympic 2012 medals, the old machines used to make coins, and so much more. There are hands-on exhibits, an information video, wall displays and lots more. There are also Christmas colouring sheets and pencils available; you could easily spend a good half an hour here.
There’s a gift shop selling coin-related merchandise – some of the rarest collector edition coins are costly but there’s enough pocket money-priced stuff too. There’s also a café serving hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and snacks on site too.
This is the second time we’ve visited Santa at The Royal Mint Experience and although it’s similar to last year, we still found ourselves enchanted throughout. There’s a lot of thought and effort everywhere you turn, the whole place looks beautiful, there are lots of festive photo opportunities, and for older children it works especially well, offering interesting anecdotes and festive tales alongside the traditional meet and greet.
Santa at The Royal Mint Experience runs daily until Saturday 24 December.
Children £15, adults £10, family of four £45, babies under 18 months free.
For more information, visit The Royal Mint Experience website here.