The Entertainer has teamed up with Mattel to deliver its biggest ever Santa’s grotto experience this Christmas.

After the success of last year’s virtual experience, the toy chain received feedback that this format was much preferred by families compared with meeting in person and has therefore once again partnered with Mattel to bring Christmas cheer to families and nurseries across the UK.

Groups will be invited to Santa’s grotto digitally and given a virtual tour of his North Pole home. This will include the kitchen where Mrs Claus will be preparing for Santa’s voyage, the workshop to say hello to the elves and the letter-sorting room, topped off with a face-to-face meeting with Santa himself in his own supersized, spectacular festive headquarters.

From late November, competition winners and children chosen by charity partners will have the opportunity to speak to Santa one-on-one, learn about his life in the North Pole and tell him what they hope to see under their Christmas tree this year.

The Entertainer and Mattel will help host more than 90 groups at the North Pole. At least 45 will be part of the Salvation Army’s Enabled project: a group of nurseries which support children and their carers living with disabilities as well as Salvation Army supported preschools, foster carers, and childminders.

Children will be invited to win a visit in store, through The Entertainer’s Letters to Santa initiative and online at Parents will be asked if they would like the visit to be recorded, providing a seasonal memento.

Geoff Sheffield, chief commercial and marketing officer at The Entertainer, said: “Many of our customers missed out on a traditional Christmas with family and friends last year. ‘Making Memories this Christmas’ is our mission and we’re pulling out all the stops to make this Christmas truly unforgettable for our lucky competition winners and Salvation Army Nurseries and families. The Virtual VIP Meet & Greet with Santa is an experience we are delighted to be able to offer in partnership with Mattel. We can’t wait to welcome more groups than ever into Santa’s home and help make their Christmas wishes come true.”

Eirian Jones, head of customer marketing at Mattel, added: “We are thrilled to be partnering with The Entertainer again this year to bring families this magical experience. As part of our support, we are also delighted to be donating to The Entertainer’s annual Toy Appeal with 131 toys worth £2,700 including favourites such as Barbie, Fisher Price and Thomas.”

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