Ho ho ho: Santa's Grotto opens to Romford children for 20th year

Christmas Grotto

From left to right: Aaron Teoh, Miiya Alexandra, Cllr John Mylod, Santa Claus, Ian Courtier (the resident nutcracker). - Credit: Chantelle Billson

A popular Santa’s Grotto has reopened for its 20th year in a Romford shopping centre.  

Today (November 15), Santa’s Grotto was officially opened in The Mercury by the mayor of Havering, Cllr John Mylod. 

The mayor was joined by Queen’s Theatre's Aladdin pantomime cast members Aaeon Teoh, 32, who plays Aladdin; and Miiya Alexandra, 28, who plays Princess Jasmine.  

Mayor opens grotto

Cllr John Mylod officially opened the grotto on November 15. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

Celebrating its second decade in Romford, Father Christmas at the grotto said the public in Romford are "some of the nicest people we meet”.  

The grotto will be open daily between 10am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday and between 11am to 4pm on Sundays - with lunch between 1pm to 2pm - until Christmas eve. 


Santa has plenty of gifts to give out to his visitors. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

Centre manager of The Mercury, Spencer Hawken, said: “It’s great to have the grotto back for its 20th year and it just goes to show that people will never tire of seeing Santa.

"We will try to make this year as exceptional as we can.” 

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Cllr Mylod emphasised the importance of shopping local and said the grotto is a great addition to The Mercury's offerings.  

He said: “As an old Romford resident I have come here with my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and I’m hoping now that Covid is over, business in the area will pick up.

“We need local shopping and as good as Amazon is, you’ve got everything you could ever want at prices you can afford in Romford.  

“Plus, you can try on what you buy. If we don’t support our local businesses, it will affect Romford and the economy.”  

Christmas Grotto

Santa with the resident nutcracker. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

Santa said he is excited to be back following last year’s grotto, which was restricted due to Covid.  

He added: “We’ve been doing the grotto for 20 years and it’s the only grotto in the area where you can come without having to book first.”  

Charlotte and Isabella

Charlotte Hudson and her daughter Isabella visited the grotto on November 15. - Credit: The Mercury

Charlotte Hudson, who visited the grotto with her 20-month-old daughter Isabella, said: “Obviously after a few technical difficulties last year we couldn’t wait to make a return visit to see Father Christmas again!” 


Two-year-old Darcie Angel-Amoros was one of the first children to visit Santa after the grotto was officially opened on November 15. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

Courtney Davey from Chadwell Heath visited the grotto with her two sisters and niece. She said: “It’s the first time visiting with my two-year-old niece, I couldn’t recommend it enough and will certainly tell all my friends."