Santa arrives in Sunderland, setting up home in Christmas Grotto in The Bridges

Santa has settled in to his Christmas Grotto in Sunderland for the festive season after arriving with fanfare in time for the lights switch-on in the city.

He arrived at his den in The Bridges on Thursday, November 17, and will be in residence in the shopping centre until Christmas Eve.

The arrival of Father Christmas is part of a day of activities in the city, which will also see the official light switch-on this evening, with Sunderland AFC legend Kevin Phillips doing the honours.

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The Bridges has a full programme of activities in the run-up to Christmas, including Breakfast With Santa events on Sunday December 4,11 and 18.

Santa Claus and his Elf with Ava Hutchinson, 17 months being the first to meet Santa at The Bridges.

The events are being held at Esquires Coffee from 9am until 10.30am on each of the dates where youngsters will be able to enjoy crafts with the elves along with festive story time with Santa.

Children will receive a cooked breakfast while adults will get a breakfast sandwich plus a hot drink and at the end of the session, with the kids receiving a Letter to Santa activity pack to take away with them.

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Tickets for the event are £10 each and available at the centre’s customer service desk.

The Bridges will also be hosting the annual Reindeer Dash on Sunday, November 27, which raises funds for the Foundation of Light and the Red Sky Foundation.

Santa Claus and his Elf ready for visiting children at The Bridges.

Karen Eve, centre director at The Bridges, said the team were looking forward to welcoming families to Santa’s home in the shopping centre.

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“We are really looking forward to getting into the spirit of Christmas,” she said.

“We know how popular the grotto is every year and we can’t wait to see all the children enjoy seeing Santa for the first time.”