Christmas cancelled at Jenners as festive grotto axed

Father Christmas with a grateful audience in Jenners
Father Christmas with a grateful audience in Jenners
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IT is one of Edinburgh’s longest-running Christmas traditions, and something youngsters look forward to all year long.

But after years of making spectacular entrances on Princes Street to kick-start the festive season, this year it seems Santa Claus will not be coming to town.

Jenners is set to break from decades of tradition this year after revealing it would not be hosting its famous Santa’s Grotto –with disappointed children instead set to be faced with rails of clothes.

Bosses at the store have decided to axe the annual festive fixture due to a lack of space following a redesign of the childrenswear ­department.

Generations of city kids have eagerly waited their turn to sit on Santa’s knee and pass on their Christmas wishes in a tradition dating back to the 1930s.

However, this year they will have to make do with a flying visit in the run up to Christmas.

City resident Robert Glen said of the news on Twitter: “@houseoffraser So, no Santa in Jenners this year - explain please or get it sorted now.”

Last year those wishing to visit Santa were charged £4.50 to receive a present and £5 for a picture.

However, a spokeswoman for Jenners’ owner House of Fraser was keen to stress that the decision was in no way “financial”.

She said: “The festive season is a very important period for us and we want our customers to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere as much as we do when shopping in our store.

“Jenners will have a 40ft Christmas tree in the Grand Hall as well as Christmas decorations and festive music playing throughout the store.

“Santa will be paying us a visit between 17 and 23 December, however due to a change in the store layout in the childrenswear department, there will unfortunately not be a Santa’s Grotto this year.

“In terms of events, we will also have school choirs and a piper performing on selected Saturdays. We have worked hard to ensure our customers have the best possible shopping experience during the Christmas period.”

The city’s festival champion councillor Steve Cardownie said: “It’s a pity that Jenners have axed Santa’s Grotto because it was so well known in the city. However, I think that there is now an opportunity for some one with an entrepreneurial spirit to step in and roll out the welcome mat to Santa Claus.

“It would be unthinkable to not have somewhere for the kids to go and meet Santa in and around the city centre.”

Those wishing to pay Santa a personal visit to deliver their Christmas list can still do so at Ocean ­Terminal.

Deputy centre manager Michelle MacLeod, said: “The Ocean Terminal Santa’s Grotto will be open on Saturday 24 November and as usual it will be the 
centrepiece of our festive family fun.”

At least you won’t be pining for the tree

WHILE Jenners has not been able to find space for their Santa’s Grotto this year the store has reassured customers that it will be sticking to another famous Christmas tradition by installing a 40ft tree in the Grand Hall.

The tree is the centrepiece to its Christmas decorations although getting it in place requires a great deal of effort.

As well as the difficult matter of getting it into the building – which requires the removal of doors at the South St David Street entrance – there is also the challenge of securing it in place.

The store does not take any short cuts, however, having brought in a real tree since 2007 after customers said they did not get the same feeling from the fake tree the store had been using.

The giant Norwegian spruce requires special aerial teams using ropes and harnesses to decorate it with as many as 9500 lights ahead of a grand switch-on ceremony.