Just about every child dreams of meeting Father Christmas – and for many adults we have magical memories of lavishly decorated grottos and an experience that has stayed with us for years. Now, a group of Reading artists and actors are looking forward to creating a whole new set of memories.
Make Reading is coming to the Town Hall area of Reading from November 28 to December 7. The 11-day festival celebrates Berkshire’s best designers, recyclers, art, textiles and handmade and allows people to get crafty, making everything from Advent calendars to papier mache Reindeers.
A pop-up shop will provide vintage clothes for Christmas parties, handmade gifts and a wealth of inspiration and good cheer.
But for children, the highlight will be the chance to take part in The Santa Experience, a specially erected grotto that local arts collective jelly will run in conjunction with Berzerk Productions, a youth theatre company.
Children will be able to enjoy a crafty time making edible tree decorations, enjoying stories, Christmas-themed games and a visit to Father Christmas.
The grotto will be open from 11am to 6pm on Saturday, November 29 and Sunday, November 30 and tickets are just £6.75 each.
Berzerk’s Matt Whitelock explains: “I’m quite excited about it. We’ve created an immersive Father Christmas experience. Before children see Father Christmas, they can enjoy a crafty experience with the elves, making tree decorations, hear stories and play an interesting game.
“Hopefully it’ll be more of an experience for them and send children out full of good spirit.”
This is the first year and Matt is looking forward to seeing how it goes.
“We’re looking forward to doing it,” he says. “Jelly have been fantastic to work with. We’re hoping it goes well and we’ll do it again next year.”
The entry fee has been kept as low as possible – “I can feel a little ripped off from a shop grotto,” Matt says, lamenting some of the prices charged elsewhere. “We’re trying to keep it at a reasonable cost … and have wonderful things to make.
“There’s an outdoor market outside that encourages people to buy locally made presents.
“It’s all about community and bringing people together.”
Jelly’s Suzanne Stallard is also excited about the team-up.
She says: “I am really looking forward to the Berzerk Santa experience, I’ve seen so much of their work over time and all the jelly team are excited by working together to make something magical, which it undoubtedly will be.
“It’s making me think about Christmas through the eyes of a child again and making something very beautiful.”
That sounds like the perfect list for a happy Christmas.
To book tickets, log on to EventBrite’s website.