Words by Ed King / Pics by Connor Pope
On Saturday 2 December, the big man in red and white will be setting up a FREE SANTA’S GROTTO at Erdington Library at the end of Erdington High Street – inviting local children and families to meet him and his elves as they prepare all the presents for Christmas Day.
A queue system will be in place, getting people in to meet Santa first come first served, with Santa’s elves on hand to help keep the younger ones occupied with special Christmas crafts and fun.
Plus, the main library will be open with all it’s fantastic books and resources. And if the FREE SANATA’S GROTTO is especially busy there are a host of cafes and shops near to the library where you can grab a quick drink or bite to eat, or make a last dash for those special gifts ahead of the big day.
Organised by the Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID) and supported by local businesses and retailers, the FREE SANTA’S GROTTO will help take the financial sting out of the festive season – offering Erdington families a free way to meet Santa and join in on the winter celebrations.
Erdington Town Centre Mangere, John Hodgkiss, told: “With the challenging year which we have all had, it’s that time again when we focus on Christmas and maximising on footfall in Erdington Town Centre throughout late November and December.”
He added: “Everything is totally free to attend, paid for by the BID and supported by the local shops and businesses. In these difficult times we still want people to be able to together and celebrate our wonderful Erdington community.
“Winter brings the longer nights and colder weather, but we look forward to welcoming local families, residents (and even the occasional reindeer who might fly by) for a bit a festive fun to brighten up the darker days. See you all on the High Street.”
On Saturday 25 November, Erdington High Street celebrated the official Christmas Lights Switch On event – where local Councillor Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative) and BBC WM Breakfast presenter Rakeem Omar kicked off the festive season and High Street illuminations, joined by a host of other familiar faces and family fun.
All EBID Christmas activities in Erdington Town Centre are supported by local retailers and businesses, who pay a yearly levy for bring services and activities to encourage people to use Erdington Town Centre.
Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID), for example, pay for the Street Wardens who patrol the High Street and act as an immediate line of defence against shoplifters – often in the absence of any effective police presence, and with community police resources having been significantly stripped back over recent years.
Erdington once had one of the busiest High Street’s in Birmingham, with a thriving market community and a bustling variety of independent traders and shops.
But the Covid pandemic, rising cost of living, rising energy prices, and increase in online retail hass seen shops across the country pull down their shutters and the culture of High Street shopping and community diminish.
Organised activities such as the FREE SANTA’S GROTTO and Christmas Light Switch On event hope to encourage more people to visit Erdington High Street and support the local shops and businesses there.
Erdington Town Centre Manager, John Hodgkiss, added: “The festive period is a crucial time for retail in general, so once again, we want to focus on showing Erdington in its best light and provide family entertainment to increase footfall from the end of November through until New Year.”