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Value for Money

Monday, 7 December 2009

1. A message from the Northpole:

Having contacted the North Pole personally, Dearbhla asked Santa to send a personal message to our lovely Maura.

The internet people didn't ask Dearbhla to pay for the cost of sending Maura's message so it was really great for Santa to take time out of his day to send Maura a message for free- talk about Value for Money!

And you can do the same by logging onto:


Above is another website run by the very important people at the North American Aerospace Defence. Because these guys have access to incredible satellites, they are able to accurately track Santa's progress throughout the world. They have many features on their website- among them a countdown clock to count how many sleeps are left - and on Christmas Eve, they track Santa's progress throughout the world using Google Earth.

"PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo". - It's that time of the year again and the North American Aerospace Defense Command is getting ready to track Santa! The NORAD Tracks Santa Web site, , is now live and features fun holiday games and activities that change daily. The Web site is available in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese. On December 24, the website will stream videos, captured by NORAD "Santa Cams," from numerous cities along Santa's journey.

This year, children and the young-at-heart are able to track Santa through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and To follow us on any of these Web sites, type in @noradsanta into the search engine and start your tracking!

New this year, OnStar is partnering with NORAD to provide OnStar subscribers with live Santa updates as they travel in their vehicles on Christmas Eve. Subscribers simply push the blue OnStar button to get status reports on Santa's whereabouts.

Also new and beginning at 12:00 a.m. MST on Dec. 24, visitors to the website can watch Santa as he prepares his sleigh, checks his list, and goes through all his preparations to ensure he has a successful journey.

As soon as Santa takes off from the North Pole, children can also track him with up-to-the-minute Google Maps and Google Earth reports.

Santa trackers will begin answering phones and replying to email at 4:00 a.m. MST (6:00 a.m. EST) on Christmas Eve. Children of all ages can call the NTS toll free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or send an email to

The NTS program is carried out with the assistance of many corporate partners. Booz Allen Hamilton has designed the NTS Web site. Other sponsors helping with the event include Verizon, who donates the toll-free number, Time Warner, Avaya and PCI provide communications engineering, while OnStar, 5 Star Bank, Pepsi Distributing and First Choice Awards and Gifts keep the trackers happy with food, beverages and souvenir tracking pins.

The NTS program began on Dec. 24, 1955, after a phone call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The call was from a local youngster who dialed a misprinted telephone number in a local newspaper advertisement. The commander at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo. who answered the phone that night gave the youngster the information requested - the whereabouts of Santa. This began the tradition of tracking Santa, a tradition that was carried on by NORAD when it was formed in 1958.

The NTS program has grown immensely since first presented on the Internet in 1998. The Web site receives millions of unique visitors from hundreds of countries and territories around the world. In addition, the NTS Operations Center will be occupied for 25 hours with over 1,200 volunteers on Christmas Eve, who will be receiving hundreds of thousands phone calls and emails from families around the world. "

3. Meeting Santa Claus

Santa has already visited lots of children all over Ireland but he still has lots more to see, so our Dearbhla takes a look at how much it costs to visit the man himself around the four provinces of Ireland. Of course, there are some with higher prices than others- so, on that note..

We'll start with Munster:-

Places in Cork where the elves don't charge to see Santa:-
. Douglas Court Shopping Centre
. Perks in Youghal
. Douglas Village Shopping Centre
. Blackpool Village Shopping Centre
-You can take your own pictures and in some places the elves treat the kiddies to some sweets!

As part of the Christmas in Killarney festival:-

"The most important free event is our Santa Grotto & The Tree of Giving where the kids get to meet Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas. Whilst they are waiting they get to chat with Mrs. Claus and sample her famous Christmas Cookies. Parents are free to take their own photos and instead of an entrance fee we ask the children bring a gift for the tree of giving. Dates 12th & 13th December and 19th & 20th December 2-6pm.It is hugely popular so please be prepared to queue and there is no pre booking I am afraid. All the gifts collected are given to local charities and hospitals."
:-Emma Phillips
Christmas in Killarney

Santa also visits Bunratty castle in Co.Clare:-
December 4th - 22nd inclusive

Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, a troupe of Elves and a host of other Christmas characters will be among the special visitors to Bunratty Folk Park, Co. Clare, in the lead up to Christmas. This event will operate from December 4th to December 22nd (inclusive) and visitors to Bunratty can experience a magical, festive atmosphere in a unique and traditional village street setting at Bunratty Folk Park.
This is an event for all the family and they can visit Santa Claus & his Elves in the school house. They can also call in to see Mrs. Claus in her Kitchen as she prepares for Santa's trip - making sure his clothes are ironed and he has plenty of food for his journey. There will be an opportunity to listen to the Folk Park story teller as he recalls colourful tales of Christmas long ago. A complimentary glass of mulled wine and mince pies awaits visitors in Corry's Pub.

The village street will be decked with holly, and festooned with fairy lights, and the village Christmas tree will be adorned for the occasion.

The young and not so young will be treated to a puppet show and they can join in the fun by chatting to the surprise Christmas Characters who will be wandering the village street, you might even bump into Scrooge, the Charles Dickens classic character, during your visit. Christmas themed shops selling Christmas fare will ensure that visitors can get in a bit of last minute shopping!
Weather permitting and during daylight hours only, children can enjoy themselves at the activity playground on the village street.

-Pre-booking is necessary on (061) 360788.
-Prices Adult €13.00 and Children €24.00

We then whiz on up to Connaught:-

Athenry Heritage Centre, Galway

According to family website - :-

"Santa's Christmas Winter Wonderland 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th, 19th, 20th December
The award winning Athenry Heritage Centre presents Santa's Winter Wonderland commencing on Saturday 5th of December at 12:00pm.

This popular festive attraction has all the elements of a unique and memorable day for all the family.
Enter through the enchanted forest into a world of lights, angels and festive cheer. The centre has been transformed into a winter wonderland that will appeal to the young and young at heart. Discover a world of fun in the ambient setting of St. Mary's Church. There are things to make, books to read and toys to play with.

Santa's helpers are there just for you. Experience the cavern of delight and get your face-painted too. Let Mrs Claus bring you to Santa in his homely house. He's waiting with a special present for all the boys and girls.

No pre-booking is required choose your day and enjoy!
Opening times are 12:00pm - 5:00pm every weekend. Admission is €10 per child and €2 per adult.
All adult tickets are entered into our fabulous Christmas raffle."

Santa's Castle, Co.Galway

Dunsandle Castle & Woods
2pm-8pm Tuesday to Sunday
Price :- Adults €11, Children €27
Contact - 091 503865
Craughwell, Co Galway

Santa Claus has arrived at Dunsandle Castle, Craughwell, Co Galway a magical 15th century Castle in 20 acres of woodland.

"This exciting experience starts when you arrive in the car park.
Each family is met by the Head Elf who leads them on a thrilling torchlit procession through the woods.

Mrs Claus then gives a warm welcome into her kitchen, where the children receive sweets and the adults mulled wine. Stories are told and songs are sung before being guided up the winding staircase to the Great Hall.

Here each family will spend time with Santa who magically knows all about the kids! A profession photographer will take a family portrait. Then Santa will give each child a special gift.
Elves will next lead the family down to the Art Studio where children can make Cards, Christmas Tree decorations and get their face painted.

The courtyard of the castle is transformed into a Christmas Market with stalls selling crepes, crafts and Christmas fare.
Admission is €27 per child and €11 per adult. Babies are free and a proportion of each admission will be donated to Galway Simon.
Santa's Castle is open from 2pm to 7.30pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December.

The booking line is 091 503865. Or the website is"
REF:Eileen Cameron, Manager
Dunsandle Castle & Woods

Leinster has lots of Santa opportunites:-

Stillorgan Shopping Centre in Dublin is a great place where the Elves are not charging for a visit to see Santa. Kids get some sweeties and a voucher to use later on in the bowling alley.

Santa is in Brown Thomas

He's there every day from 10am to 5pm but takes a break for lunch from 12pm to 1pm.

He will be instore until the 23rd December and there is no need to book, just pop along on the day and the elves can let you know how you long you have to wait if at all. The cost is €5, for 'Fun & Photo's, you get a candy cane and also a photo or two to take away with you.

The full €5 goes to the ISPCC and the Christina Noble Foundation, and Santa is located on the Third Floor of the store in Brown Thomas Dublin.

Stranfield Farm in Dundalk, Co. Louth

This year Dundalk are hosting Santa with some serious flair this year. Thomas the tank engine will take the children to Santa's log cabin in the woods where they will hear a reading of "The Night before Christmas". There is also a petting farm where children can see the animals and take in the lovely crib. The elves charge €15 for children and €5 for adults to see Santa here and all children receive a little present.

Tricky Tricksters Magic Castle- Naas, Co Kildare:-

For the Mondays in the run up to Christmas, starting today-

"This year we decided to bring some Christmas cheer for special needs groups at Tricky Tricksters Magic Castle, Irelands first indoor adventure soft play centre designed by magicians.

We are taking bookings for special needs groups exclusively on Mondays 7th Dec, 14th December and 21st Dec. Groups will be provided with an opportunity to book Breakfast with Santa for a fantastic cut price fee of €16 per child which includes 90 minutes play time, breakfast consisting of hot chocolate, cookies, marshmallows and ice cream snow balls and to put the icing on the cake Santa will be interviewed by magician Billy Bonkers with Larry the puppet during breakfast. A Santa loot bag will be provided for all the children which also includes a special discount voucher to comer on another visit to Tricky Tricksters Magic Castle. This is a 33% discount to our special needs groups that avail of this unique opportunity only on Mondays."

If you require further details on any of the above please call David on 086 2643012 or look us up on the web on
REF:- David Clinton, Tricky Tricksters

And finally, we take a sleigh-ride to Ulster to see where Santa will be visiting up there:-

Santa's Island, Doagh Famine Village, Doagh Island, Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland.

"Our aim is to convince young and old. The entire event takes place at night with lights for special effects. Visitors should arrive 10 minutes before their show begins.

They are taken through to the show house and seated. When the show begins an elf appears and explains the story of Christmas.
The curtain opens and on stage is the Nativity scene including a live donkey. The elf tells how Santa got involved in the story of Christmas.

Santa soon arrives on his sleigh with a loud bang on the roof, even the ceiling seems to shake. On his way down the chimney, he gets stuck and all the elves are needed to pull him out.
Once freed, Santa talks to the children; he knows each one's name and has a present for them all.

When the gifts are handed out Santa exits by the chimney and visitors make their way down to Santa's village.
There they can visit the first Christmas stable, toy factories, post office, toy repairs and elves' house.

A railway tunnel leads them to the elves' village. In the tunnel children can see Thomas the Tank Engine and get photographs taken.

In the elves' village are the elves' houses, Santa's tailors, the reindeers and more.

A magic wardrobe takes them through to a different world - trees, castle, and even Santa's sleigh.
He waits for the children to visit him there. Parents / guardians are advised to take their own cameras.

The entire visit should last approximately one hour. Warm clothes are required as it can get very cold in Lapland.
Shows take place at weekends only and already all Saturdays are fully booked."
Tickets are very limited for Santa's Island but are priced at €15 each - adults and

Santa at Florence Court, Enniskillen
Co. Fermanagh BT92 1DB
Telephone: 028 6634 8249

Florence Court - Magical Christmas
11-13 & 18-20 December, 12noon-7.30pm
Meet Santa and Mrs Claus in the basement of this charming Georgian house and enjoy the amazing Christmas spectacle. Every child receives a beautiful gift.
Booking essential 028 6634 8249
Adult £5, Child £10

There are two great websites for checking out where you can find Santa this year and lots of other family days out:- and

You'll find all sorts of info on here for value days out for the whole family!

It is important to mention that all of the deals discussed were correct at time of going to air, however offers are subject to change by individual company/website.