As part of this year's Christmas lights switch-on event in Burnley, Santa will be throwing open the doors to his grotto for children with special educational needs.

The light switch-on will take place on Saturday, November 18 and children will be able to share their Christmas present wish lists and receive a gift from Santa every weekend following, until Saturday, December 23.

Earlier in the month however, the grotto will be welcoming children with special educational needs for one day only, on Saturday, December 9.

Lancashire Telegraph: Burnley's SantaBurnley's Santa (Image: BLC)

And in preparation for the big day, Santa, Mrs Christmas, Buddy and all the elves will be fully trained in Makaton to make sure their visitors enjoy a quieter, calmer experience.

Makaton, or key word signing, is a simple and easy way of communicating using signs, symbols and speech used by more than 100,000 children and adults in the UK as a way of communicating.

There will be a British Sign Language translator on hand too.

This is the second Christmas for the New York themed grotto following its popular debut as part of Burnley town centre’s weekend festivities in 2022, offering a 20-minute experience with fun for all the family.

It is run jointly by Burnley Leisure and Culture (BLC), the Charter Walk shopping centre and Discover Burnley.

Andrea Pollard, BLC’s events and partnerships manager, said: “Santa and his helpers can’t wait to welcome children from all over to their grotto, but they wanted the immersive experience to be inclusive for everybody, so they’ve been working hard to make sure the special needs grotto experience is just that – special in every way.”

Festivities on switch-on day begin at 11am and culminate in a lantern parade around the town centre at 4pm leading into a 5pm countdown and lights switch-on with snow cannons creating extra Christmas cheer.

Before then, visitors will be able to be able to play free crazy golf on Curzon Street from 12pm and see a range of seasonal characters including Anna and Elsa from Frozen, cheeky elves and even a polar bear.

Burnley Alliance Silver Band will fill the air with festive classics, choirs will be performing throughout the early afternoon, while a face painter will be on hand to apply some Christmas creativity.

For details of how to book a visit to the grotto, including a link to the special needs day, visit the Burnley Leisure and Culture website.