Northampton shopping centre poised to open its most elaborate Christmas grotto yet - complete with 120-tree 'enchanted forest'

Weston Favell Shopping Centre manager Kevin Legg believes this year's enchanted forest grotto could even top last year's edible effort.
Weston Favell Shopping Centre manager Kevin Legg believes this year's enchanted forest grotto could even top last year's edible effort.

A Northampton shopping centre is hoping top last year's edible Santa's grotto by shipping in 120 real life fir trees to create an "enchanted forest".

Last year Weston Favell Shopping Centre claimed to have made history when it opened a 13ft tall installation made entirely out of gingerbread to Christmas shoppers.

The 13ft tall creation at Weston Favell last year was made entirely from baked gingerbread.

The 13ft tall creation at Weston Favell last year was made entirely from baked gingerbread.

But this year centre bosses are hoping to top that feat by creating Santa’s log cabin in the lower mall.

The grotto will consist of 120 real fir trees, grown especially for Weston Favell, and is believed to be the first live forest to be created in an indoor shopping centre.

Centre manager Kevin Legg said: " We wanted to focus our Grotto on tradition, moving away from a world where everything is digital; creating something that would give local children an experience that would look, smell and feel just like Christmas should.

"It has taken a huge amount of planning and engineering, but the result is amazing and will give everyone a place to come and enjoy the festive spirit right up until Christmas Eve.”

This year's idea is the "culmination of the creativity of Weston Favell’s marketing team and the expertise of Yippidoo Grottos," according to a press statement released by the shopping centre. Yippido Grottos will operate the log cabin throughout the festive season.

The forest will be assembled using Norway Spruce-fir trees, ranging in size from 3.5ft to 10ft in height.

About 60 of the trees will be potted and donated to the community after Christmas, with the remainder being supplied to Woburn Safari Park for use as animal bedding.

The grotto, which will have taken four weeks to build when it opens next weekend, will also feature a "forest of memories" where shoppers can leave special messages for loved ones.

The Enchanted Forest Grotto opens on Saturday, November 18, at 1.30pm, following the traditional Weston Favell Carnival and will remain in place until Christmas Eve.