Dobbies in Milton Keynes has not forgotten children with autism or people with pampered dogs when they planned their Christmas grotto this year.
The area will be designated a special ‘Quiet Grotto’ to help visitors with autism and other sensory needs, and Santa himself will be strictly autism trained.
There will also be a chance for dog owners to join in the festive fun with ‘Santa Paws’ and take their pet to be photographed with the man himself.
The garden centre launched its festive events programme today (Monday) and opened bookings for the grotto.
They are also taking bookings for Santa’s breakfast, a chance for children under 10 to enjoy a breakfast with the family, and a fun games session followed by a visit to the grotto.
Children can walk through the outdoor woodland, spotting Christmas characters along the way before being welcomed by Santa and receiving a special gift. Prices start at £11.99 per child.
Dobbies has worked in partnership with Autism Together to organise the ‘Quiet Grotto’ and Santa visits which are supportive of children with additional needs who are sensitive to sound and visual elements and need help to minimise anxiety.
Michelle Walklett, Head of Autism Together’s autism training and advisory service, said: “As a specialist UK charity supporting autistic people, we’re pleased to be working with Dobbies in Milton Keynes to help enhance their Christmas Grotto experience for visitors with autism and other sensory needs.
“Through this partnership, we’ll also be delivering autism awareness training for Santa and all his elves and helpers in time for the festive season.”
Sarah Murray, Partnership and Events Manager, said: “At Dobbies we want to offer families an opportunity to come together and make memories that last a lifetime. There truly is nothing more magical than Christmas for a child and our range of events helps to bring the season to life for all the family.”
Dobbies’ Milton Keynes Christmas events are available to view online here, with customers requested to book in advance.
Also new for 2021 is the opportunity to add a donation to the price of an event ticket, for Dobbies’ National Charity Partner, Teenage Cancer Trust.
Santa’s Grotto starts on 27 November, while Quiet Grottos will be hosted on 10 December.
Santa’s Breakfast begins on 4 December and is priced at £13.99 per child and from £6.99 per adult.
Santa Paws also starts on 4 December in 23 stores and costs £6.99 per dog.