Ireland’s first full-time Special Needs Santa’s Grotto will open in Derry this Christmas for children and adults with special needs and sensory issues.
Enchanted Events NI will be making their way to the North West having organised similar events in Belfast for over four years.
Angela Lamont, owner of Enchanted Events, told us how the idea for the grotto came about: “I had been running Christmas Grottos for five years and realised that we were getting very few children with disabilities” said Angela.
“So I did a bit of research and found that it was down to long waiting times, noise and too many bright lights. So I spoke with John Jones, the manager of the Kennedy Centre in Belfast and asked if it was possible to open the centre 9 to1 on a Sunday and he agreed, so I’ve now been running it for four years.
“People traveled from Dublin, Donegal, Derry, Colraine and Ballymoney but to name a few , so I decided that I wanted to open a full-time grotto. I thought, well I’m getting so many from your area, why not take it to them and I was lucky to find Ebrington.”
Santa and his helpers will set up their grotto at 80/81 Ebrington this Christmas from November 22 until Christmas Eve, when he will fly back to the North Pole to get his reindeers ready for the big night.
Angela has been delighted by the reaction so far. “The feedback has been amazing and I have had lots of bookings from groups and families but it has been hard to spread the word as I don’t really have a budget for it as I’m only a small company with a big heart” explained Angela.
“Going by the feedback I have had on Facebook, I knew upon reading them I had done the right thing. A lot of people with adults with disabilities have been ringing and messaging to check if they can come, which they can, and the parents are delighted as they said they didn’t like taking them to shopping centres as people tend to stare.”
Santa’s Grotto for children with disabilities and their families will run from November 22, noon to 5.30pm. In the morning, from 9 to 12, it will be open to local groups or schools which is available at a reduced price. There will also be a special session in the evening time, from 5.30 to 8pm for children who live with anxiety or for children who perhaps might be scared of Santa.
If planning to visit please be sure to book early before maximum capacity is reached. Entry to Santa’s Grotto is £9 per child and £5 per sibling while Parents go free. Book HERE