Written by on 20/10/2020

It has now been officially confirmed that Santa Claus will be coming to Torquay this year, against all the odds that Covid-19 has posed. The Father Christmas Grotto located in Fleet Walk shopping centre will be opening 21st November – 24th December, 10am-5pm and is paid for by the shopping centre. It is also 30 years old this year! It is fully animated and this year will have a totally new look. The Covid-19 compliant grotto has been created by Steve Holdup; Torquay’s ‘Market Manager’ and owner of ‘Torbay Display’. He has been given the name locally as ‘Mr Christmas’. Steve has been responsible for successfully arranging the previous Torquay grotto’s for the last 30 years.

The Grotto is run by the Rotary clubs of Sunrise, Tormohun and Ladies Circle, with all proceeds going to local Charities. The in-house collection’s in the buckets and animations will this year go to the Children’s Hospice South West. Fully Covid-19 compliant, this year’s tickets will only be available online through ‘Eventbrite’. ‘Eventbrite’ is an online ticket sales platform that brings people together through live experiences. Tickets go LIVE on 1st November and will sell very quickly, due to the grotto only operating on Saturdays and Sundays each week, then the whole week before Christmas. Generations have been coming back year after year! Steve Holdup said: “I have a great passion to make all these things happen for our Town, something I have done for the last 35 years!”

The Town Centre Partnership has secured Torquay’s Christmas illuminations this year and tested all the equipment on Sunday (18th October), the lighting is ready and scheduled to go up at the end of this month. The Torquay Town centre Partnership have given the profit from Torquay Town Market, which is now running every Thursday and Saturday through to Christmas, to pay for the lighting. Disappointingly, there have been no contributions from the Torbay Council. Torbay Display, Steve Holdup’s company is supplying the lighting and erecting the equipment as he has done for the last 30 years.

The Town Centre Partnership would like to formally thank the Torquay Chamber of Commerce for the use of their catenary wires at no charge. The lights will be switched on Friday, 20st November ‘Live on air’ by Jay Richards, News Director, Riviera FM (and special guests). Riviera FM is a community radio station, 1 of 250 community radio stations across the UK, providing listeners across the Bay and surrounding areas with up to date national and local news, information and great music. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic there will be no public gathering this year, so tune into Riviera FM 107.9MHz to listen to the switch on, which will be broadcast ‘live’ on the community radio station.

Steve Holdup says: “My company was created in the 70’s, and over many years, we have adapted and embraced the changes modern businesses brings us today. The core remit was visual promotion & window display, which soon developed into the huge world of Weddings, Events and Christmas-internal & external.” Steve goes on to say: “We are sure we provide the best service, down to the very last detail all tailored to your requirements. Collectively, our experience and professional training over this period is obvious for all to see in all our work throughout the Southwest”

A lot of hard work and effort has gone into arranging this year’s grotto and Christmas illuminations, especially due to the ongoing daily hurdles that Covid-19 has and is still presenting on an ever-changing basis. It is thanks to Steve’s persistence and great attention to detail that the Town of Torquay has these two attractions this year. Previous years have seen many celebrity’s switching on Torquay Town centre’s illuminations; Luke Friend and Georgia Toffolo, are among the well-known personalities who has switched the lights on in previous years. Unfortunately, there will be no Christmas carnival this year.

Riviera FM

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