Santaland turns church into a book lover’s dream

Preparations are under way for Santaland which opened its doors last night in Cromwell. Pictured...
Preparations are under way for Santaland which opened its doors last night in Cromwell. Pictured are "elves" Charlie Maddox, 8 (left), and Reuben Brass, 10. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON
It is a book lover’s dream as Santaland brings Santa’s Library to Cromwell Presbyterian Church this weekend, with its latest theme "Santa’s Library" bringing a raft of classic stories to life.

The annual community display transforms the church into a Christmas wonderland, attracting thousands of people from throughout Central Otago and further afield.

Santa’s elves and library assistants are set to bring some extra fun and the jolly man in the red suit will also make an appearance for children — and adults — to get their annual family photo.

Santaland has been a fixture on the calendar for more than 30 years, starting out as Santa’s Grotto, before transforming to its current iteration, committee member Megan Brass said.

"Everyone looks forward to [Santaland] every year. It’s their annual family thing to do just before Christmas and everyone’s genuinely so grateful and so happy ... you can just see on everyone’s faces — the kids are so excited."

The secret behind the event’s longevity was a very dedicated committee of volunteers who were passionate about their community and Christmas, she said.

Many of the committee became involved when their children were young, and were still there after they had grown.

"You kind of get addicted to helping out with something like this ... I love it," Mrs Brass said.

One significant change this year was shortening the event to three days and not opening on Sunday afternoon.

This was solely to reduce pressure on the volunteers who spent days setting up, served over the weekend and then packed up afterwards, Mrs Brass said.

Santaland is open from 4pm to 8pm today, and 9am to 3pm and 4pm to 8pm on Saturday.