Grotto likely to draw crowds

ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012
Abigail Warrington
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
FROSTY DISPLAY: Abigail Warrington, 17, sets up the ‘‘snow scene’’ at Spreydon’s Christmas Grotto Experience.

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Spreydon's Christmas Grotto Experience has come a long way from its humble beginnings, and is this year expected to attract crowds of up to 34,000 people.

Linda Hills started the Christmas-themed attraction with her brother, Edward Warrington, in 2001, after noticing a lack of other similar displays in Christchurch.

"We thought, ‘Goodness me, there's nothing like that left in the city'," she said.

"We did a little one and it went down really well so we kept it going."

In 2001 the attraction cost $1600 and attracted a modest crowd of 1600 people.

Last year's grotto cost $60,000 and had about 33,000 visitors.

Since then an entry fee has had to be introduced to help with operational costs.

Run entirely by volunteers, Hills and her helpers work almost year-round in their spare time to get the displays ready for public viewing.

"Most of us work full time so it's quite demanding, but we enjoy it. It's our hobby."

Visitors will get to have a peek at Santa's Workshop, Candy Land and an animated Teddy Bear Nativity.

The Christmas Grotto Experience opens from 9.30am till 9.30pm on Sunday and runs until 11pm on Christmas Eve, at the Spreydon Baptist Church.

Entry is $3 per person. Kids under 3 are free.

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- The Press

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