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Santa's festive grotto bus to roll up at the Riverside Marquee

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

adrianw@baylismedia.co.uk

Once Upon a Bus, the bus-based children’s entertainment company, is throwing a two-hour family-friendly Christmas bash in Bray, December 19-24.

The ‘Yuletide storytelling experience’ will be hosted at the Riverside Marquee in Weir Bank.

There will be a 45 minute interactive show, ‘Scrooge 2’, performed by Arti the Elf and Scrooge, played by Jane Deane (as seen on CBeebies).

This will be followed by a poem recital of ‘The Night Before Christmas’, featuring Santa.The Once Upon a Bus team will be collecting for Thames Hospice during the shows.

Children will have a chance to visit Santa in his grotto on the festive-themed story bus, and receive a present.

There will also be live music with popular carols and cover songs, sung by local singer Emma Jane Kennedy.

A great deal of effort has been put into making the event safe and socially distanced. The live events will take place under the heated cover of the Riverside Marquee, with distanced tables of 4 or 6 people.

“Usually we have the show and grotto all in one on the bus, but we can not do that this year as we would only be able to get 10 people on socially distanced,” said Arti Sharma-Grey, owner and director of Once Upon a Bus.

The bus has been closed since the first lockdown and cancelled multiple events.

“A positive is that the Riverside Marquee would traditionally be rife with Christmas parties but we have been able to secure it for a magical Christmas experience,” said Arti.

When booking tickets, participants are booking a table rather than a seat. Children visit Santa’s grotto individually, and Santa will be behind a protective screen, sanitised between visits.

“Children can touch the screen, which is a bit more intimate than Santa in a mask,” said Arti. “As this event is smaller, it will be a more personal experience this year.”

Maidenhead Big Read are donating decorations and a special present on each table for the children. Adults will receive a 20 per cent discount voucher for Mediterranevm Restaurant at the Bray Marina, which can be used January-March next year.

Given the uncertain times, the team has decided to offer a full refund should lockdown be extended and the event cancelled. Tickets can also be transferred to someone else, if a ticket holder shows symptoms of COVID-19.

“We were umming and ahing about doing a show, but we thought, let’s go ahead,” said Arti. “Everyone is down in the dumps – this is a light at the end of this gloomy lockdown tunnel.”

Mediterranevm will be preparing the food, supplied by J&S Rook butcher and delicatessen in Holyport. The restaurant’s waiting staff will be providing the table service.

“We have got a good network of Bray people putting on this event, with local businesses showing solidarity,” said Arti.

The Yuletide storytelling experience is running from Saturday, December 19 to Wednesday, December 24.

There will be three shows a day: 9-11am, 12.30-2.30pm and 4-6pm.

As the show is limited to 60 people, booking as early as possible is recommended. Tickets and food are bookable via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/127539017635

Once Upon a Bus is planning a series of socially-distant Christmas bashes from December 19-24.

The ‘Yuletide storytelling experience’ will be hosted at the Riverside Marquee in Weir Bank.

There will be a 45 minute interactive show, ‘Scrooge 2’, performed by Arti the Elf and Scrooge, played by Jane Deane (as seen on C-Beebies).

This will be followed by a poem recital of The Night Before Christmas, featuring Santa.

The Once Upon a Bus team will be collecting for Thames Hospice during the shows.

Children will have a chance to visit Santa in his grotto on the festive-themed story bus, and receive a present.

There will also be live music by Emma Jane Kennedy.

A great deal of effort has been put into making the event safe and socially distanced. The live events will take place with distanced tables of 4 or 6 people.

Children visit Santa’s grotto individually, and Santa will be behind a protective screen, which will be sanitised between visits.

“Usually we have the show and grotto all in one on the bus, but we can not do that this year as we would only be able to get 10 people on socially distanced,” said Arti Sharma-Grey, owner and director of children’s entertainment company Once Upon a Bus.

Maidenhead Big Read is donating decorations and a special present on each table for the children.

Given the uncertain times, the team has decided to offer a full refund should lockdown be extended and the event cancelled. Tickets can also be transferred to someone else, if a ticket holder shows symptoms of COVID-19.

“We were umming and ahing about doing a show, but we thought, let’s go ahead,” said Arti. “Everyone is down in the dumps – this is a light at the end of this gloomy lockdown tunnel.”

Bray Marina restaurant Mediterranevm will be preparing the food, supplied by J&S Rook butcher and delicatessen in Holyport. The restaurant’s waiting staff will be providing the table service.

“We have got a good network of Bray people putting on this event, with local businesses showing solidarity,” said Arti.

There will be three shows a day: 9-11am, 12.30-2.30pm and 4-6pm.

The show is limited to 60 people. Tickets and food are bookable via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/127539017635

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