We are delighted to have a very special Local Hero feature this Christmas, as Father Christmas has taken time out of his very busy schedule to talk to This is Edinburgh. We went down to his grotto in East Princes Street Gardens for a quick chat about why he keeps coming back to Edinburgh for the festive season, his favourite places to relax in the city, and what he really wants for Christmas...
What’s your favourite thing about visiting Edinburgh’s Christmas grotto?
Well I’ve been all over the place, but came to this grotto for the first time last year and enjoyed it so much I just decided to come back. It’s just a lovely place,the children are so nice and a lot of them are very kind and humbling. For me, the children are the most important thing about Christmas and they really matter.
You’ll see around the grotto there are lots of tags with their Christmas wishes, which they get to write when they come to visit. There are all sorts of wishes up there. One little girl asked for the cure for cancer and another little girl asked for a new kidney for daddy so it’s not all toys; they do think really deeply and ask for very nice things.
If you had to do one thing in Edinburgh this Christmas, what would it be?
It certainly wouldn’t be the star flyer as I am far more comfortable with heights on my trusty sleigh with the reindeers! One thing I’d like to do is go for a lovely dinner with Mrs Claus. There’s a little pub on Rose Street called the Kenilworth that does lovely food and has a nice atmosphere.
What do you do once you’ve delivered all your presents on the 25th?
We normally have a rest on Christmas Day but I am involved in a charity called Beach Wheelchairs which provides children in wheelchairs the chance to enjoy the beautiful beaches as some of them haven’t been able to. So, I’ll be seeing some of the children for lunch and making a donation to the charity.
When you’re not busy in the North Pole, where do you like to go in Edinburgh?
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is lovely and some of the theatres are very nice. I enjoy going to the Edinburgh Playhouse and also the Usher Hall for some good concerts.
What’s your favourite thing about the city?
I think the atmosphere is great and the architecture has so much character. It is a comfortable place, where you always feel safe and the people are very friendly, even when I am not wearing my Santa clothes!
What do you love most about your job?
It’s got to be meeting all sorts of different people, mums, dads and children, and seeing the smiling, happy faces. As one little girl was leaving the Grotto yesterday she looked up in amazement and said, “Isn’t this just wonderful?” That reaction makes it all worthwhile.
What’s the most popular request you get?
It varies from year to year, but this year the toys from Frozen and Star Wars Lego have been particularly popular. Of course there are always requests for computer games and XBoxes, and Peppa Pig is always popular with the younger ones.
Have you had any unusual requests this year?
Not so far this year but one of my most unusual requests was a little boy who said he would like bubble wrap! I looked at his mum and shesaid “He just loves popping bubble wrap”. So I said, “Alright, I will bring you a big roll of bubble wrap.” Then I asked if he would like anthing else - and he said “No, just bubble wrap”.
When you hear the words ‘This is Edinburgh’ the first thing that springs to mind is..?
It has to be the festival, the castle and the history.
What one thing would you like to ask for this Christmas?
Just like everyone else, I would like to see peace break out all over the world. We definitely need a lot more love in the world.