Santa may not be expecting to load up the sleigh in earnest for another six weeks or so, but it’s never too early to prepare for the festive season.

That’s why fans of all things Yuletide will be making a beeline for Knebworth House this weekend.

The stately home’s annual Christmas fair kicks off on Friday and continues on Saturday and Sunday – and as well as getting a chance to have a sneak early meeting with Father Christmas, anyone popping along will also be able to get up close and personal with a real life reindeer.

The event is billed as one of the biggest food and craft fairs for the festive season to be held in the region and, with more than 200 stalls in the estate’s barns as well as marquees, it’s easy to see the background to that proud boast.

It’s overseen by Oakleigh Fairs, which is also behind the same venue’s East of England Food Festival in April and the Country Show in the summer.

A spokesman said: “We are delighted to be returning to Knebworth for the Christmas Fair. It’s a fantastic setting and we really enjoy working with the team there.

“Our events are designed with the whole family in mind.”

The fair is open from 10am to 5pm each day, with last entry at 4pm. Admission is £5 for adults with £4 concessions, and a £3 child’s ticket includes a visit to Santa’s grotto.

Advanced tickets at discount rates are available from