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event planner: Santa is the biggest star in the world - he's even more famous than Britney!


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An elf shows you Santa’s mailroom with letters from all over the world

An elf shows you Santa’s mailroom with letters from all over the world

Santa will light up the faces of his online guests

Santa will light up the faces of his online guests

An elf will give a tour of the toy factory

An elf will give a tour of the toy factory

The elves will be online for the Santa show

The elves will be online for the Santa show

Mrs Claus will be online for the Santa show

Mrs Claus will be online for the Santa show

Corkman James Hyland

Corkman James Hyland

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An elf shows you Santa’s mailroom with letters from all over the world

He's worked with everyone from Bon Jovi to Justin Bieber and Britney Spears - but Corkman James Hyland has told how Santa Claus was his most demanding client yet.

Since setting up Global Tour Creatives in 2010, marketing guru James has helped music stars, including Jennifer Lopez and the Eagles, pack out arenas around the world.

Now the Midleton native is putting the spotlight back on the man in the red suit in Santa - The Experience, and he admitted he was terrified of making a snowballs of the festive spectacular.

"Santa is the biggest star in the world," jokes James. "He's even more famous than Britney!

"For me, it's a harder job because you can't get anything wrong. If you do anything wrong on a tour, you have an opportunity to fix it. If you do anything wrong when you're dealing with kids' imaginations, you're in trouble."

Running right up until Christmas Eve, when Santa sets off on his round-the-world voyage, the online experience is set to transport kids and parents all the way to Lapland without leaving the house.

But entertainment boss James said it's Poles apart from other virtual grottos out there this festive season.

"There is a lot of online Santas," says the LA-based entrepreneur. "But there's no-one doing what we're doing - there's no one giving a magical elf-guided behind-the-scenes tour before the experience.

"At the start of your call, you get greeted by a flight control centre elf who transports you to the North Pole on a sleigh ride," he explains. "After the sleigh ride, you're greeted by an elf who brings you around behind the scenes, including Santa's mailroom, the toy factory and reindeer stables.

"Then you get to hang out with Mrs Claus for a little bit before your live video call with Santa.

"Kim Kardashian, Mario Lopez and the Backstreet Boys have all done the experience," adds James. "The reaction I'm seeing in the kids [is that] it's more magic for them. We get all the personal information in advance, so seeing their face light up when Santa says their name and what they want for Christmas, or mentioning the dog's name, particularly in the world we're in now, is amazing."

GTC co-founders Russell Treacy, Lee Walsh and James got their big break with Cirque du Soleil a decade ago. Today, the Irish pals work on almost 60 per cent of concert tours in the US, including Lady Gaga's upcoming Las Vegas residency - and it started with what they thought was a "prank call".

"One of the biggest early clients for us was Lady Gaga in our second year," recalls James, who has also worked closely with Ozzy Osbourne, Usher and Cher. "We got a call to go to her hotel room - one of her songs had just leaked and she needed to get an alert video out overnight.

"At first we didn't believe it was them calling us because we were dealing with lower-end clients at that point. We went to the hotel room with a computer, and she stayed up the whole night editing everything to make sure it was live the following morning - her attitude was, 'If you're awake, I'm awake'.

"[Stars] are more hands-on than ever before because it's everything to them," continues the tour director, who predicts a return to live gigs next autumn. "Don Henley from the Eagles will review every single edit that you make and make sure that he's comfortable with it.

"For Aerosmith, we went to Steven Tyler's house and redesigned the whole logo for their Vegas residency.

"There isn't a whole level of starstruck or anything like that." ."

Starting at €29.95, in the meantime, families can now snap up a front row ticket to see Santa Claus on SantatheExperience.com.

But the only review that matters is that of his sons Joshua (5) and Jacob (3) joked dad James.

"They haven't seen it just yet because we're going to get all the relatives from Ireland connected [to the experience] because we had hoped to be home this Christmas. The really cool thing about it is that if you have family in another country, and you can't be together right now, you can still experience it together."

Online Editors


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