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Sunday 24 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
# ho ho ho
No more sitting on Santa's lap as grotto visits move largely online
Want the chance to see Santa without leaving the house? Welcome to 2020.

TAKING A TRIP to Santa’s grotto this year won’t be as simple as visiting your nearest shopping centre and getting in line. 

Covid-19 restrictions will hinder the annual tradition for many children to visit Santa’s grotto in various locations around the country.

Many shopping centres in Dublin are still finalising their winter plans, while some companies have started to organise online Santa visits. 

A spokesperson for Jervis Shopping Centre said plans are still been finalised at the moment about Santa’s grotto with further details set to be announced shortly. 

Nothing has yet been confirmed for St Stephen’s Green or Dundrum shopping centres either. 

Graham Carroll, co-director of marketing and events agency thinknblink, is tomorrow launching an experience to video call Santa and receive a gift from the elves delivered straight to your door. will give children the opportunity to see the man himself through Zoom from 12 November until 23 December. 

Carroll’s company usually helps retailers manage Santa’s grottos in places like The Square shopping centre in Tallaght, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre and Ikea. 

He said the usual service of providing Christmas experiences for shops and companies has “taken a huge dip” this year due to uncertainty around Covid-19 restrictions.  

From 9am tomorrow, people can book their time slot to visit Santa online. A gift will be dispatched after booking the slot and it will be delivered within three working days.

Parents can then hold onto the present until it’s time for the online Santa visit when it will be presented to the kids.  

“We believe that we’re going to bring the magic through Santa online,” Carroll said. 

Children from different households can attend the Santa Zoom call together with prices reduced the more children booked in.  

“A lot of the visits we get at the physical grottos would have grandparents, aunt, uncles… So Nana and Grandad and the cousins can go as well.”

The price of a visit and a present costs €30 per child. It’s €50 for two children, €60 for three, €75 for four, €80 for five and €90 for six. 

€1 per booking will be donated to the Laura Lynn charity. 

Other options in the works

Aside from Zoom calls with Santa, there could be other ways to keep the Christmas spirit alive for children this year. 

Greg Clarke from the Santa Experience would normally be hosting Santa visits across the country, but has had to rethink plans due to Covid-19. 

Clarke is currently organising two reduced and socially distanced Santa experiences in Limerick and Cork, but said it is “difficult to plan anything at the moment”. 

These visits would be booked in advance and children would be kept two metres away from Santa. 

The company is also offering pre-recorded Santa visits and video calls with Santa with full details published on the website next week. 

However you decide to do it, there are plenty of ways to maintain the magic this year throughout what will likely be a most unusual Christmas season. 

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