steve goldby

Christmas will probably never be the same again for me after this incredible gig and the memories it provided.

Forty-five days, thirty-eight performing days with between fourty to sixty performances per day to a countless number of children who will never, ever forget me but never recognise me if I walk past them in the street.

And this was no ordinary Father Christmas gig. This was Lapland UK in Ascot, the biggest and by far the best Christmas event in Britain and to say I felt privileged to be playing the main man is an understatement.

father christmas

It all began back in October when I secured an audition in Putney, London for the role. I was sent a fact sheet to learn with eighteen items including how old is Father Christmas, how does he manage to deliver presents to every house in the world on Christmas Eve and how many elves are there? These were questions that I should expect to be confronted with if I landed the gig.

I learnt the facts word for word and spent two whole days watching every Father Christmas movie that I could find online. This was essential because my knowledge of FC was nil to minimal at this stage and that research obviously paid dividends as you can see from the photos on this page.

father christmas

Lapland UK began in 2006, when husband and wife team Mike and Alison Battle developed the original and innovative idea of recreating Father Christmas' mythical Arctic homeland here in the UK.

The company was born out of their personal frustration at the lack of quality magical Christmas experiences on offer to their own four children in the UK when first venturing into the world of Father Christmas visits with their young sons.

It was disappointing and frustrating to Mike and Alison that nowhere in the UK was really catering for the needs and wishes of parents by offering a magical experience where both children and their families could celebrate the joys of childhood innocence and traditional Christmas values in a charming, high quality and authentic way for those few wonderful but fleeting years in a family's life when children wholly believe in Father Christmas – "Christmas Magic".

father christmas

Now in its ninth year, award winning Lapland UK has entranced and captivated thousands of young children receiving national and international acclaim for its unique Christmas experience and is described by Mumsnet founder Carrie Longton as "the Rolls Royce of Christmas experiences".

Lapland UK is where the celebrities bring their children and this year we were visited by Elton John, David Beckham, Zara Phillips and their families plus many, many more.

A survey of customers revealed that 92% said they would be returning and 97% believed they met the real Father Christmas.

father christmas

After a booking is made the children are sent a personalised invitation by Father Christmas and the whole experience lasts three-and-a-half hours and includes an audience with Mother Christmas, a visit to the toy factory where the children help with the toy making, a stay in the village where several activities including ice skating are on offer and they get to spend time with the huskies and reindeer too.

Everything leads up to the main event which is a personalised audience with Father Christmas. A typical visit lasts six to seven minutes if the script is rigidly adhered to but this was rarely the case as you are handed a card with snippets of personal information on which you work into the script. The look on the children's faces when you drop this info in is something to behold.

father christmas

Some children were so in awe they were unable to speak while other children were just ridiculously excited or even unruly in some cases. Each one presented different challenges and it is satisfying knowing that almost every single child left with a huge smile on their face.

The vast majority were a credit to their parents but there were some exceptions to this.

father christmas

I could write pages and pages on the whole experience and wax lyrical on some of the more memorable visits but to sum it all up, Father Christmas is on a par with God to most children and that's a powerful role which carries a lot of responsibility.

Due to the professionalism of my elfish colleagues and the quality of the whole setting, there are now literally thousands of children out there whose belief in the big man is preserved and thousands of Mums and Dads who can be satisfied that they gave their little ones the best possible Christmas experience.

And now, for me, it's time to do something completely different...

father christmas

"Great production, thanks Santa."
Sir Paul McCartney

"Had a great day with sister's kids at LaplandUK, so excited meeting Santa."
Cheryl Cole

"We had the best time! Thank you so much."
Tamara Ecclestone

Click here for the Official Lapland UK site          Click here for Steve Goldby index page.