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Zooming through the snow: Virgin Media offers FREE video calls with Santa


By Chris Saunderson

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A FREE virtual grotto experience, featuring live reindeer, will be available for three weekends in December following research that 60 per cent of parents won’t take their child to see Santa this year.

Santa Claus speaks to two-year-old Leo via live video stream to launch the Virgin Media virtual grotto experience, which will be available for the three weekends leading up to Christmas. Pictures: Matt Alexander/PA Wire
Santa Claus speaks to two-year-old Leo via live video stream to launch the Virgin Media virtual grotto experience, which will be available for the three weekends leading up to Christmas. Pictures: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

Virgin Media has worked with disability equality charity, Scope, to put special measures in place to ensure the experience is accessible to as many families as possible, with dedicated slots for disabled families and those who are shielding. The launch coincides with Disability History Month which starts today.

Families can apply between November 20-23 for a free virtual visit to Lapland by visiting www.virginmedia.com/santa.

There are dedicated sessions for disabled families and those who are shielding, plus a selection of slots reserved for Virgin Media customers.

Santa is ready and waiting to talk to you.
Santa is ready and waiting to talk to you.

Families can register for a slot from November 20 by visiting www.virginmedia.com/santa

Every child that meets Santa will receive a free reindeer soft toy.

Virgin Media is spreading some much-needed festive cheer by launching the ultimate virtual Santa’s grotto for families across the UK, available free-of-charge.

During the first three weekends of December, families can pay a virtual visit to Santa’s grotto with everything you’d expect from an in-person meet and greet – including a cameo from Rudolph – but without leaving the house.

Amelia, aged 2, and Jacob, aged 4, talk to Santa Claus via live video stream.
Amelia, aged 2, and Jacob, aged 4, talk to Santa Claus via live video stream.

It comes as new research reveals that 60 per cent of parents aren’t planning to take kids to a grotto this year, with almost a third of those skipping a trip to see Santa because they would feel safer staying at home.

As part of Virgin Media’s ongoing partnership with the disability equality charity, Scope, Santa’s helpers have put special measures in place to ensure disabled families and those who are shielding don’t miss out on the opportunity of meeting the main man either.

A poll of disabled parents also revealed that of those who aren’t attending a grotto this year, nearly one in five say that in-person grotto experiences aren’t accessible for their children.

As a result, Virgin Media will provide a sign language interpreter and an audio descriptor to ensure as many families as possible can enjoy the magic of meeting Santa virtually, thanks to the power of connectivity.

To secure a slot in Santa’s busy schedule, families need to complete an online form, which goes live on 20 November, with a selection of video calls reserved for Virgin Media customers.

Visits to Santa's grotto are out this year due to Covid-19.
Visits to Santa's grotto are out this year due to Covid-19.

To make the experience as magical and personalised as possible, families can provide Santa with their child’s Christmas wish list in advance, as well as any fun facts about their kids. Families who are allocated a slot will later be given an opportunity to share a copy of their child’s ‘letter to Santa’ ahead of their session with him, too.

When entry closes on November 23 at 11:59pm, virtual visits to the North Pole will be awarded at random. Santa’s elves will then book in sessions during the three weekends before Christmas, starting December 5.

Cilesta Van Doorn from Virgin Media commented: “When we can’t be together in person, we need to be creative and find new ways to enjoy the festivities while connecting with loved ones online. After an extraordinary year, Christmas couldn’t come soon enough and we’ve had lots of fun ensuring Santa and his elves have all the tech they need for the ultimate virtual grotto experience.

“We want to make sure the experience is accessible for as many families as possible and have worked with our friends at Scope to ensure that it’s a truly magical encounter for everyone as they take a virtual visit to Lapland from their laptop.”

Mark Hodgkinson, chief executive at Scope, said: “Christmas should be a magical time of the year for all families but things can be a lot tougher for disabled families.

“These families often face barriers to joining in with activities and opportunities. This shouldn't be the case. There are 14 million disabled people in the UK.

“We were delighted to work with Virgin Media and to increase the accessibility of their grotto, and are pleased to put them in touch with disabled families.

“We wish all families that take part the best of luck, and those that are successful in the draw a wonderful time. They might be able to take an ‘elfie’ or two.”

The virtual Santa’s Grotto is part of Virgin Media’s ‘Let’s Do Christmas’ campaign which will spread festive joy and see incredible prize giveaways during December.



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