Liverpool’s Famous Grotto to set up shop at St John’s Market

Re-live the history of Liverpool's Famous Grotto, as it set to grace its new home of St John's Market.

Liverpool’s Famous Grotto to set up shop at St John’s Market

by Culture Liverpool

This page is from 2017 and has been archived.
Please be aware that the information may be out of date.

In December 1879, a retail entrepreneur from Liverpool called David Lewis, opened the world’s first Christmas Grotto in the heart of the city at Lewis’s department store. His vision was to create an enchanting Christmas experience, in order to thank his customers for their loyalty.

The grotto was initially titled “Christmas Fairyland” and it provided children with their first ever opportunity to meet Father Christmas and his elves. The experience captured the imagination of a generation, and it soon became an annual tradition for many families. The grotto ran at Lewis’s department store for over one hundred years. During this time, the grotto evolved and featured new themes including Christmas on the Moon, Traditional Fairy Tales and Muffin the Mule. Its reputation attracted visitors from across the country.

When Lewis’s store went into administration in 2007, Mike Done, a photographer at Lewis’s, offered to run the grotto until the store closed its doors in 2010. With the grotto’s future in jeopardy, Mike felt he had to act fast and acquired the historic grotto in order to keep the festive tradition in Liverpool.

For the following seven years, Rapid provided a home for the famous grotto until the store announced its closure in 2017.

Mike had reached a crossroads. He wanted the magic of the grotto to continue for future generations to enjoy, but it meant finding and moving the 5,000sqft grotto to yet another location. At the same time, Guy Fennell heard of Mike’s dilemma after reading a public appeal in the Liverpool Echo and contacted Mike. They both shared the same passion for Liverpool and the Christmas grotto and it was agreed that Guy would find Father Christmas a new home. After a city-wide campaign to find a new location, David Whiteman of St. John’s Market came forward and suggested that the market in the heart of the city centre, would be the ideal site for the grotto. Mayor Joe Anderson offered his full support to the project and was integral in orchestrating the opening of the famous grotto to the public this festive season.

St John’s Market will host Liverpool’s Famous Grotto for at least the next five years, securing the magical Christmas event for Liverpool and yet another generation.

Liverpool’s Famous Grotto comes to St John’s Market on Saturday 18 November until Christmas Eve. Dates, times and prices available to view on the below poster.

For all group bookings, please email [email protected].

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