Running a seasonal business

Alison Battle
- Leadership - Dec 11, 2015

LaplandUK offers a truly unique and enchanting experience, one that children will never forget. Now in our ninth year, the immersive theatre experience offers families a tailor-made, three-and-a-half-hour journey through the mythical Arctic homeland of Father Christmas and his elves. Every year the experience becomes more and more captivating as we develop new characters, and this winter we’ve welcomed even more children to Father Christmas’ snowy UK homeland so they can share the Christmas magic with us.

Myself and my husband Mike developed the idea of LaplandUK back in 2006 out of personal frustration at the lack of good quality Christmas experiences that celebrate childhood innocence and the traditional Christmas values for children here in the UK. Since we first opened the doors, we’ve worked tirelessly every year with a team of critically acclaimed stage managers, set designers, production assistants, and actors to offer families a truly captivating experience to keep the Christmas magic alive.

Running a seasonal business is by no means a part-time job! Whilst there is a slower pace of life in the first few months of the year, compared to the intensity of November and December, there is still plenty to be done. Having built the whole site in October, the entire build has to be taken down again in January to return the pine forest to its natural state. Next we go through an extensive debriefing process with each department, working through our Improvement Log to prepare an even better show for the following year. Myself and Mike also attend many international trade fairs in the early part of the year such as the Nuremburg Toy Fair, to source bespoke products and new props.

We’re also continuously looking to develop and expand the business. Mike takes a strategic business overview, while we both work together on the creative side, developing characterisation and stories. Our long-term goal is to take the business abroad and to develop a bespoke Christmas retail brand. We’ve already had numerous invitations from countries including the USA, China and Dubai but our short-term goal is to open a second event in the UK and are planning this in Cheshire for 2016.

As with running any business there are always positives and negatives that come with the job; cash flow is always to be carefully planned with a seasonal business like ours since the majority of our costs come in the latter part of the year. In addition to this, by making Christmas our business, we inevitably ‘live’ Christmas year round in the planning of LaplandUK, which means the exciting anticipation of the festive season passes us by. However, I consider it an absolute positive to run a Christmas business; what could be better than keeping the magic and traditional values of Christmas alive for children and their families?

If I had to pass on advice to fellow aspiring entrepreneurs I would say that you need to be prepared to take risks and live with uncertainty, but you should always follow your dreams; Mike and I didn’t have any experience in the events sector when we started LaplandUK, just a driving passion to do justice to the Father Christmas myth, belief in ourselves and good old fashioned hard work. Nine years on we’ve been described as ‘second to none’ in London’s Evening Standard. That’s very rewarding!

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