There’s a new giant Santa in town – and he’s finally taken his place at a new festive location on Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens.
The huge, LED-lit Father Christmas figure has replaced the popular Zippy Santa sculpture this year, and sits aloft a giant, twinkling Christmas present right in the middle of the public gardens.
His appearance comes just a day after Zippy, who used to preside over the Christmas Markets on Albert Square, was revealed at a new home this year, at the Kellogg’s factory at Trafford Park.
The new 12-feet high Santa was being assembled by council bosses throughout Monday on the rain-lashed Piccadilly Gardens, ready to be fully “turned on” for the first time at 4pm, after a slight delay to his arrival this year.
He forms the centrepiece of the new Christmas Lights trail around the city this year, which includes a number of spectacular light sculptures on Piccadilly Gardens itself, as well as an LED bee outside Manchester Central Library, in association with the Lightopia festival which has launched at Heaton Park.
His appearance, with a rather impressive twirly white moustache and belted red suit, sees a return to a more traditional Father Christmas image after the cartoonish contours of the old Zippy Santa.
READ MORE: Look back at Manchester’s big Santas over the years
The old Zippy Santa was sold off by Manchester Council earlier this year, after bosses decided he was too heavy – at six tonnes – and costly a proposition to keep lighting up each year outside the Town Hall, which is currently being refurbished.
The new Santa figure is thought to weigh in at a rather lighter 2.3 tonnes in weight and is covered in low-energy LED lightbulbs to power up his illuminated form.
Santa’s new location comes as part of the extension of the Manchester Christmas Markets into Piccadilly Gardens for the first time this year.
The new markets area includes a giant snow globe bar selling hot gin toddies, LED light sculptures and a raft of new food and drink stalls, including quirky new treats buntzels and s’mores marshmallow treats.
Council bosses say this year’s festive scheme is made from biodegradable sugar cane and recycled aluminium, which means they can be completely recycled at the end of their lifespan.
Meanwhile Zippy Santa‘s transfer to Trafford (pictured below) has come with a rather lovely festive story – as council bosses have revealed the sale to Kellogg’s was in return for donations of the cereal-maker’s goods to Manchester’s food banks to help those in need.
Cllr Pat Karney told I Love MCR at the weekend: “There is not a big market for six tonne Santas, so we are pleased that Kellogg’s took ownership of Zippy Santa. In return they will provide Kellogg’s products for our food banks.”
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