Santa at the QVB

‘Come and sit on Santa’s knee’.  And that wasn’t Santa talking to me, that was Santa talking to my mother.

When I was growing up in New Zealand there was a department store that we called ‘Kirks’ because it was short for Kirkcaldie’s.   Every December my mother would squeeze us into her tiny Escort and take us to Kirks to see Santa.  As children we were oblivious to the going’s on but the Santa was a uni student who behind the beard was incredibly good looking and beyond that red suit was rather red-blooded.  He used to look down the line of mothers queuing with their children and he would pick the ‘yummy mummies’ he wanted to sit on his knee.

The QVB with the Christmas tree towering from the ground floor to the central dome.

Without fail, my mother would be one of those selected and she would say, ‘Oh, it’s okay thanks, I think it’s the children who would like to sit on your knee’.

‘Oh no’, he’d say, ‘You’re the mother of these fine girls.  You must come and sit on Santa’s knee.  Now come over here.’

The trunk of the Christmas Tree made from Swarovski crystals.

And one of those young ‘Santa’s elves’ would hurry my mother over to Santa’s knee and there she would have to sit while Santa’s arm would come around her waist and give her a big squeeze.  She called him ‘Groper Santa’.

Climbing the stairs 007 style to see Santa

This Santa quickly became the talk of the town (amongst the housewives) and at every Christmas function the conversation amongst the housewives was, ‘Have you been to see Santa at Kirks?  Did you get asked to sit on Santa’s knee?’  But it was a very bad moment for the poor housewife who had to confess to her yummy mummy friends that it was only her children who had been on Santa’s knee.

The top of the Christmas tree

These days nobody sits on Santa’s knee.  That’s just not politically correct.  Santa’s seat is wider and has room for children to sit beside him rather than on him.  And Santa doesn’t have his hands on anyone!

I still make my children visit Santa; even the teenagers.  They hate me for it.  But the photos I have of all the visits to Santa are a wonderful record and although not the best family portraits, the images are treasured and are the source of many laughs.

The star on top of the tree reaching to the dome

I’ve done the recce on the best place to take your kids to see Santa and hands down it’s the QVB (Queen Victoria Building).

The QVB is spectacular without Santa sitting in a Swarovski Crystal Garden but the QVB gives you more than just Santa with a Christmas tree that stretches from the ground floor to the top of the dome.  The tree stands at 24mtrs (80ft), has 60,000 lights and is decorated with 144,000 Swarovski crystal ornaments.  The tree takes 40 hours to install and has been put together by a team of 72 people.

This Christmas, for the first time ever, the central dome of the QVB, will be transformed into a giant, real life snow dome as snow falls from the ancient stained glass ceiling.

Proving that sometimes seeing really is believing, snow will cascade beautifully onto the Christmas Tree during select times.  The snowfall will enchant children as they wait to visit Santa and will remind us all of the magic of Christmas.  (It’s not actually real snow – we don’t have that in Sydney).

Regarding Santa, here is something I’ve taken straight from the QVB website:

Due to unprecedented demand, Santa is experiencing wait times of between 1 to 3 hours. A buzzer system is being utilised to allow you to wander and enjoy the QVB rather than stand in line. The Santa Set is available for viewing during centre opening hours, so children can still see and wave to Santa even when the photo queue has reached capacity for the day.

Santa’s first ever appearance at the QVB takes place in the sensational Swarovski Crystal Garden. Framed by a delicate paper cut-out trellis, the garden is inspired by Victorian whimsy, twirling wrought iron and traditional 19th century Christmas cards.

Santa in his crystal palace

This frosted folly features sparkling mushrooms, flowers, butterflies and a dramatic Swarovski crystal encrusted throne set beneath a glittering ceiling of suspended Swarovski crystals. A wonderland for children, the garden offers portraits with Santa, and is a place to be dazzled and dream in the heart of the city.

This Santa has a real beard and is highly sought after. The queues can last for hours.

Photo packages with Santa begin at $27.95.

I’ll definitely be taking my three to see Santa at the QVB.

Ready for your business!

Queen Victoria Building

455 George Street, Sydney.  Ph:  9265 6800



  1. I won’t be surprised if he asks you, yummy mummy, to sit on his knee!

  2. Oh gosh! I feel so bad for your mum! Being groped by the ‘creepy’ Santa! Glad those days are over now 🙂 And hopefully it wont happen again ~ wow you have to pay to get your photo taken with Santa? Because I thought it was free when I was a kid..but i guess everything costs money now hehe

    Can’t wait to see the pictures your three kiddies take with Santa!

  3. That dome reminds me of the dome at Galleries Lafayette in Paris, just beautiful. I don’t recall many visits to Santa so I can certainly appreciate your dedication to keep a memory photo of each year. And I really think that if Arabella didn’t love this tradition as much as you, she simply wouldn’t participate. What a lovely tradition.

  4. If your flock hates you for still taking them, do you think they will carry on the tradition or adopt the “won’t do that to my kids” approach?

  5. Bad Santa! That is hilarious! I haven’t taken the kids in a while. I do love the pics from when I did. The QVB sounds like it will be a glorious display!

  6. That’s a long wait to see Santa. And that whole story about the Santa of yesteryear is just so, ummmm, unsettling.

    The tree is lovely as is Santa’s meet-and-greet area. So opulent.

  7. OH HO that buzzer system is an excellent way to ensure you get ALL your shopping done in their building while you wait.. inspired.. what a glorious building.. c

  8. hahahah. I wanna see a pic of this hot santa! And of your mom back then! 🙂

    • Funny how things like that were put up with back then. They certainly make enough palaver about it nowadays to make up for the lack back then… quite rightly. The Jimmy Saville (shocker? Maybe not so much) scandal is pretty awful to hear about, as well as what happened in Jersey, but your mum’s story makes me laugh! She sounds like she was a lot of fun – and better she than the kids!

  9. Boy, we have come a long way. Thank goodness, although the Groper Santa story made me laugh. I’ll bet, like someone else mentioned, that your own kids will carry on the tradition–and treasure the memories and photos. Oh, Charlie, in case you didn’t see my response on my last post, those were purple tomatillos, not tiny eggplants–I can imagine you don’t see many of them, though who knows, as they are cousins to gooseberries.

  10. Naughty Santa! Haha…I’m glad we have come a long way from groping Santa’s, but that is just hilarious!!!

  11. Aaah your mother has quite a story to tell indeed… Freaky groping Santa… But QVB looks spectacular – after my exams finish I am so there 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. LOL! Groper Santa! Even though it is a bit creepy, how flattering:) That tree is gigantic!

  13. Lol! My mum was one of those yummy mummy’s! Unfortunately for her he was a creepy old Santa! :0
    Lol about the wait time for Santa at the QVB!

  14. Hehehe! Santa now has a buzzer system! How times change… Brilliant strategy though.

  15. I love that star on top of the huge tree! Santa’s crystal palace sounds delightful. I like that you still make your teenagers visit Santa. What a great set of photos to have!

  16. He is a very authentic looking Santa no wonder he’s in demand, I want a photo with him!
    I wonder what groper Santa is doing now? It’s a little bit sad that you can’t sit on Santa’s knee anymore though, I still remember it from when I was little. I loved it an my sister used to scream blue murder. I never understood how you could be afraid of someone who brought you presents.

  17. How cool where we live in NZ, Santa sits in a chair with a boring tree behind him…..

  18. I really want to have a photo with Santa this year to use in a funny Christmas card, but I’m scared of such things. You never know these days 🙁 One I saw at a Christmas in July do this year groaned in my ear during a photo – so slightly scarred.

  19. What a cute story. I had such a difficult time with Christmas when I first moved here. First it was light until 9pm and it was hot. It just didn’t feel like Christmas. I’d come from cold and dark by 5pm with luminaria lighting the neighbourhood streets starting at 6pm. Salads and cold seafood for Christmas took some getting used to but you only need to cook a “traditional” Christmas dinner once to know the salads are the go. I DO cook Thanksgiving dinner and never turn the air conditioning off.

  20. I bet most mums said they were asked to sit on Santa’s knee- even if they weren’t just to avoid humiliation 🙂
    I think that is totally the best Santa display I’ve ever seen here, and the buzzer system is a great idea! By the time kiddies have waited in line for an hour or so they are cranky, need to pee, and are bored- Santa needs to watch out!

  21. That has to be one of the most stunning Christmas displays I’ve seen (well, seen online:) I’ve got annual Christmas photos.. but stopped when the kids got into their teens. I wish now that I hadn’t. I’m not surprised Santa wanted you to sit on his lap:)

  22. Oh sheesh! For the more innocent days! Never sat on dear Santa’s lap myself, [was asked and I truly wondered why, idiot!!], but sure have a lot of ‘kiddie’ photos when my daughters were the appropriate age!! Hope with lovely memories! You would never believe I truly was such a dumbcluck, I’d sit next to whoever on a bus seat and think it an accident when a hand seemed to come across and end in a most peculiar place!!!!!

  23. I agree with Celi. The buzzer system will make sure you won’t waste time standing in line. You’ll spend your 2 or 3 hours shopping. Brilliant! As for that Santa, you Mum needed a hat pin. Santa would have thought twice before getting all touchy-feely with another mother.

  24. I think it’s for the best that things have changed in Santa behaviour 😉

    My mother was just like you – we got taken for Santa photos until we were nearly adults. I wasn’t impressed either but the photos are a good record now (if a tad embarrassing in some years!). The QVB set up looks fantastic.


  26. Your mum must have been a real spunk in her day.

  27. I love the fact you still take everyone to see Santa. I remember when one of the Glam teens was little his Grand father was Santa for the local town Rotary Club. There was much confusion as to why Santa sounded like Grandpa! GG

  28. Lol what a creepy Santa. Hopefully the newer ones have classed up a bit since then.. lol

  29. I get freaked out when I see Santa directing a comment at me. I can’t imagine how others would feel. Although it is pretty funny if you think about it. Always tug on the beard – hahaha!

  30. I really want to visit Santa this year! I planned to last year but ran out of time. LOL at your mum. Now, will there be a photo? 😉

  31. The QVB looks spectacular! Do you really still take your kids?

  32. Groper Santa! That’s just too funny, Charlie. I’ll have to notice this year how our Santa’s “handle” the sitting on Santa’s lap dilemma! I haven’t paid attention! I think we want to see a picture of you with your children this year! 🙂 A crystal palace would be something to see, for sure, and I think this may be the most elaborate I’ve ever seen. Wow!

  33. While disturbing, bad/dirty old Santas always make for a good story. 🙂

  34. Haha, excellent 😀 I do think santas should be big wobbly, jolly old men though, instead of young “hotties”.

  35. What a spectacular tree, and an authentic looking Santa!

  36. How gorgeous is that tree and Santa – he is the ultimate! I love it there and I desperately wanted my guys to have their photo taken but when we went last year, we got there just before lunchtime and Santa was booked out for the entire afternoon!. Love that photo of your little elf hunter lol xx

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