Santa has touched down in Hastings and will be welcoming families at Toitoi - Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre including in low-sensory sessions for sensory-sensitive people.
As part of the council's Arts, Culture and Events Covid Recovery Plan a Santa's grotto has been created in the Functions on Hastings space and is currently seeing school groups before opening to the public next Monday.
"This year has been a challenging year for everybody," presenter services community manager Daniel Betty said.
"It's a project that we want to give back to the city. The council and the councillors feel very passionate about celebrating Christmas this year because we are able to."
Manager Megan Peacock-Coyle said, "Post-Covid, Christmas was an opportunity for the community to really join together, around the country everybody has gotten so festive so early.
"We just really wanted to be festive and get as many people in and celebrate the fact that we can."
Currently, school groups are visiting the grotto with about 1800 pupils expected to come through. From next Monday it will be open to the public and there will also be low-sensory sessions available to book.
The purpose of the low-sensory sessions is to provide the Christmas experience to those who find environments with lots of noise and lights challenging, something Peacock-Coyle said she is "very excited" about being able to offer.
She said this will mainly be led by the families allowing them to do what works for them such as choosing not to have light, or watching a recording of Santa instead of seeing him in person.
There will be two low-sensory open sessions for families with special needs who are okay with crowds from 4pm until 5pm on December 7 and December 19.
Families can also book in for 15-minute low-sensory sessions from noon until 12.45pm on December 5 and 12, and from 9am until 9.45am on December 19 by calling Toitoi.
Not only is Santa here, but he's joined by some Toitoi elves who are facilitating the children's experience.
On Tuesday morning, Hastings Central School, Camberley school and the special needs unit from Havelock North High School attended the grotto.
During the school sessions pupils are greeted by the elves before six students are appointed, chosen by the schools, to have roles helping them.
They then get ready to welcome Santa who tells them a story about his trip to Aotearoa. During this, they get involved with sound effects using musical instruments.
"It was important that we made it different to being in a classroom," Betty said.
Prior to schools arriving students did a piece of colouring in for a gift to Santa and wrote a letter for him.
When it is open to the public, kids will also have the opportunity to write and post a letter, do some colouring, and get a photo with Santa either on their own device or a $2 Polaroid photo to take home.
Whānau are also encouraged to bring unwrapped gifts and long-life food items for the Giving Tree which will be given to Hastings Women's Refuge.
"We would really love for the community to get behind us with that," Betty said.
"Women's refuge always step up in the community and I think too the connection that we have being in close proximity to them, we felt that it was a worthy place to provide something special for."
Santa's grotto is open to the public from 1-4pm starting next Monday November 30 then December 1, 5, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15 and 19.