Youngsters queued to meet Santa when he opened the doors of his igloo at Northfield Shopping Centre.
The busy shopping centre has been transformed into the North Pole, with animated winter wildlife and Eskimos helping Santa to greet children.
For Chloe Ward, the magical encounter was a dream come true for the four-year-old, who attends The Oaks primary school.
Mum, Vicky Ward, said: “She’s been asking me for days now when she will be able to meet Father Christmas, so when we came to the shopping centre today she was thrilled to bits to see he was actually here. It was a lovely surprise for us and it’s a great centre piece for the centre.”
She and Chloe were out shopping with Chloe’s dad Ryan and older sister Rylie.
The grotto is open Friday to Sunday through December and then from December 19 to Christmas Eve, 11am-4pm.
Northfield Shopping centre Pete Barber said: “The igloo is proving very popular with children – it’s lovely to see their faces light up when they spot Santa.
“We’ve also invested in new lights and decorations for Northfield, which are helping give a great festive feeling.”
Young Northfield mum, Hannah Miller, who lives just down the road from the shopping centre, said her daughter Eliza Hone, three, loves the grotto.
“She keeps asking if she can go up and see the moving figures even when Santa’s not there. It is a real attraction for youngsters,” she said.
Andrea Nichols, of Redditch and her assistant Akilah Forbes, of Harborne, run the VIP outlet next door to the grotto. Manager, Andrea, said seeing the happy children’s’ faces really made their day.
She said: “It is lovely to see them waiting in line, all excited and to hear them telling Santa all the things they want for Christmas. It has helped put us all in a festive mood just as we start December.”
Kim Dalton, assistant manager at Ponden store, also near the grotto, said there had been a noticeable boom in business since it opened.
“It has put everyone in a good mood and brought in quite a few more families, not to say excited children,” said Kim, of Sellyoak.
Delighted to have her picture taken with Father Christmas was Maisie Smith, three, of Rubery, who attends Cotton Tails 2 nursery in Rubery.
Her mum Nora Corrall laughed: “She was so excited. She wants just about everything possible for Christmas.”
Little Princess Olivia Davies, four, of Sellyoak, told Father Christmas of her wish for a set of fairytale dolls.
“They’re all on a princess theme,” said her mum Anne, who was at the shopping centre with Olivia’s dad Anthony and sister Niamh, one.
Two-year-old Arthur Canning, wanted his dad Jamie to be able to meet Father Christmas too as he asked him to grant his Christmas gift wish for a Hot Wheels Track toy.
Elf Ruth Opie, 22, of Walsall, said it was good to meet Arthur and all the other children. “I’m loving my job this year,” she said. “It’s so great to see all the children smiling and excited. Hopefully all their Christmas dreams will come true. I must be in the happiest occupation ever!”
Northfield Shopping centre is home to more than 40 stores, from fashion, health and beauty to services and food and drink, and has more than 650 parking spaces. More details at www.northfieldshopping.co.uk.