A Nutcracker of a Christmas
One of the highlights of the Christmas calendar is when Botany Bay opens its doors to its magical Christmas shop and this year is no exception, writes Emma Brereton. Photography: SusieQPhotography.co.uk
I don’t mind admitting I am one of these people who can’t wait for August to finish so we can start to see all the beautiful festive decorations hit the shops. One of my favourite places to go for some Christmas inspiration is Botany Bay. So, when I was asked to come and see its seasonal display before anyone else, I couldn’t wait for my first taste of Christmas 2017.
The Botany Bay Christmas shop takes over the whole of the fourth floor of the former cotton mill and as I left the lift, I was instantly filled with the magic and nostalgia the season brings. Completely different to last year, I was greeted with a Dickensian street, complete with Victorian shops showcasing some of the retailers in the mill – perfect inspiration for gift ideas.
This year’s centre piece is an ice rink with seals, penguins and a polar bear in a cabin selling tickets for the ice skating attraction. After just a few minutes walking around, I was impressed with how the team at the 150-year-old mill was able to design a fresh shopping layout that is completely different to previous years.
One of the best days to visit, to get you into the spirit, is the official grand launch on 30th September. The Christmas shop launch kicks off the festive season and the event is set to be bigger and better than ever.
“We’re really looking forward to this year’s launch,” says Michelle Scott marketing manager. “The whole of Christmas 2017 is themed around the story of The Nutcracker and this ties in with our key displays and our official launch.”
On 30th September, visitors will be greeted at midday by a troop of LED drumming Nutcrackers, putting on a lighting and musical display to get everyone in the mood. The Sugar Plum Fairy herself will also be there and children can meet her and enjoy a ballet performance or two.
“We’re also planning to have an outdoor ice rink to tie in with the centre piece in the Christmas shop, with free face painting and Christmas treats galore along the way.”
And if that’s not enough, there will also be a mini Christmas market around the ice rink with stalls selling hot chocolate, mulled wine, hog roast and winter accessories like hats and scarves.
All of this is in preparation for Father Christmas’ arrival which will take place on 25th November. That might seem a long time to wait, especially for little ones, but don’t worry Botany Bay has a plan to keep the children entertained as well as the chance to win a fantastic Christmas prize.
“This year we will be running a Nutcracker Trail,” says Michelle. “After collecting a Nutcracker booklet from reception, or downloading it from our website, you need to find several life size Nutcracker Kings who are guarding various locations around the mill.”
“You take a note of their name, complete the booklet and post it in the Mouse King’s Mailbox located in the Christmas Shop for the chance to win a family day out worth over £1,000.”
The prize is for a family of four to take a trip to London to see The Nutcracker at The Royal Albert Hall. It’s a premium package so includes food, drinks and exclusive photo opportunities with cast members. The trip is set for 30th December and travel is included so there’s no reason to worry about getting there and back.
It’s a great way to keep the kids occupied while you do your Christmas shopping, after all the mill is filled with independent stores selling everything from traditional sweets, jams and preserves to clothing and furniture.
The Christmas shop is truly beautiful. It’s taken a much more traditional approach this year and even has a life size nativity scene which brings home the true meaning of Christmas.
Michelle adds: “The nativity scene is in a place where shoppers can take a moment to look around and think about why Christmas started all those years ago.”
Botany Bay is located off junction 8 of the M61 at Chorley. The Christmas shop is open now but officially launches on the weekend of 30th September. Save the date in your diary because it’s set to be a spectacular day out.
Canal Mill, Botany Brow
Chorley PR6 9AF