Santa Claus Land and the Aviemore Highland craft centre – the latest addition to the Aviemore Centre – were opened on Wednesday by Sir Andrew Gilchrist, chairman of the Highlands and Islands Development Board.
The new projects were the idea of Mr Morris Marshall, Managing Director of the Centre. Open all year round they will be added attractions at the holiday complex.
Both were given financial backing by the HIDB, and were described by Sir Andrew as an important step in the development of Aviemore.
He said he was sure that Santa Claus Land would be an automatic success with visitors bringing their families to the Highlands.
Sir Andrew commented: “A facility such as Santa Claus Land is to be considered as an asset to the valley as a whole, and not merely to Aviemore.”
It was appropriate, he added, that the craft centre should be developed in Aviemore because for the past five years it had been the venue for the Highland Trade Fair – an event which no commercial buyer of crafts could afford to miss.
The idea behind Santa Claus Land is to bring alive the marvel of Christmas morning to its visitors. Santa is in permanent residence.
Other attractions on the six-acre site include a grotto, sleigh rides, drive- yourself veteran cars, a doll’s house, toy factory and a gingerbread house, Santa’s “Ok Corral” pony ride, cowboy trail with cacti, totem poles and longhorns, an official post office, a “North Pole” permanently ice-covered, a fairyland and crazy golf.
The Aviemore Highland craft centre is in two-storey buildings in the form of a village square following architectural tradition, with stepped gables, and harled in Skye marble chippings to emphasise the old effect. It has 13 shopworkshop units, and six modern two bedroom flats above the shops.
The intention of the Craft Centre is to maintain the ancient skills and heritage of the Highlands.
In it resident craftsmen will be seen working at various trades and crafts such as metalwork, weaving, jewellery, wood carving, engraving and pottery. Its products will be for sale.