Bramley grotto1

First Bus backs Bramley Christmas lights show as Santa gets on board for ‘unique’ children’s  experience

  • Festive lights switch-on returns after break of 3 years
  • Bus grotto is a first for event volunteers and visitors
  • Leeds Rhinos players to join in the fun

First bus has supported organisers to bring back a much-loved Bramley Christmas lights show after a 3-year break.

The bus operator provided £1,000 in funding and a double-decker to be transformed into Santa’s Grotto at the event, which was held at Bramley Shopping Centre on Monday 27 November.

Visitors were entertained on a main stage with appearances by Leeds Rhinos players, the Christmas Lights switch on and a firework display.

The grotto was hosted by Bramley Care Bears, a local group running foodbanks, homework clubs, a woodworking group and garden makeovers.

Event organiser Helen Garrand, who began the show in 2012, said: “We’ve usually had Santa’s Grotto in a spare space at the shopping centre, but this year we wanted to think differently after the long gap in holding the event.

“We thought using a bus would be an unusual and intriguing way to do this and were delighted when First Bus said it would help and wanted to be more involved.”

Angela McConnell from the Bramley Care Bears, added: "We do all kinds of volunteering all over Bramley for children and adults, but the bus grotto is a first for us.”

Helen has worked with ward councillor for Bramley and Stanningley, Councillor Caroline Gruen and the Breeze Team and Leeds City Council to stage the event, which included Christmas stalls from a range of 10 independent retailers and businesses.

The show saw performances by choirs from Whitecoat Primary School and Raynville Primary School, Dazzle Dance Troupe and the Churches Together Choir. A lantern procession by Creative Leeds, a social enterprise, made its way to the event from Bramley Park.

Councillor Caroline Gruen, said: “I know that I speak for my two ward colleagues, Councillors  Kevin Ritchie and Tom Hinchcliffe, as well as myself, when I say how pleased we are to be involved in this creative collaboration between community volunteers, First Bus and the council.

“The initial idea of using a bus as our Santa’s Grotto has been transformed into reality by the wonderful Bramley Care Bears and First Bus colleagues. 

“I am delighted to have brought back the much missed Bramley Festive Light Switch-On and this amazing bus grotto really gives it a unique Christmas experience for the children. I hope they enjoyed it and wish everyone a happy festive season."

Angela McConnell added: “We have really enjoyed developing the ideas about how to decorate the grotto and I think the finished product shows how creative our volunteers are. We are really proud of what we have come up with and  families were excited to see their children's reaction to it."

Picture captions:

Bramley grotto1: Helen Garrand (centre) with (from left) Angela McConnell, Cllr Caroline Gruen, driver Tracy Aitchison, the Bramley Care Bears team and Father Christmas prepare to welcome visitors to the bus grotto.

Bramley grotto2: Helen Garrand (second right) with Cllr Caroline Gruen (second left), driver Tracy Aitchison, a member of the Bramley Care Bears and Father Christmas prepare to welcome visitors to the bus grotto.

Bramley grotto3: A young girls gets to meet Father Christmas.

Bramley grotto4: A family is all smiles after visiting the bus grotto.

Bramley grotto5: A young boy gets to meet Father Christmas.

Bramely grotto6: A family brings toddler to meet Father Christmas.


Notes to editors

Media enquiries to Richard Harrison, PR Manager, First Bus North & West Yorkshire 07973 668116  

About First Bus 

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks.

We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland. 

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