A special day designed to cater for autistic people is being added to one of the North East's most wonderful festive events.
Kielder Winter Wonderland, run every November and December by Northumbrian Water at its Landal Kielder Waterside holiday park in Northumberland, has become a fixture in the calendar of families from across the region and beyond.
Now, the company has worked with the North East Autism Society to turn one of the event's dates into a "Relaxed Day", where volumes and lighting will be adjusted and special areas created to make a more enjoyable and comfortable occasion for autistic people or those with other additional needs.
Across the day, on Sunday November 17, performances by the ever-popular "Beavers" will have reduced noise levels and ample break-out areas, as well as raised lighting.
A special social story, created in conjunction with North East Autism Society (NEAS), is being made and will be available to download in advance, as well as being accessible on site on the day. NEAS will also be delivering special awareness training to Northumbrian Water employees and the entertainers, in advance of the event. Employees of NEAS will also be on site during the day to give a little extra help.
David Hall, Northumbrian Water's Head of Commercial Strategy and Transformation, said: "This day is being organised because we want everyone to have an opportunity to enjoy Kielder Winter Wonderland. It's become so popular and people get really excited as soon as dates are announced, and we feel that people with an autism spectrum disorder or learning difficulty shouldn't miss out or feel uncomfortable during the day.
"As well as the training, and adjustments to the performance volumes and lighting, we're making sure people feel comfortable coming and going as they please, with special areas and access to sensory equipment that people can use if they just need to take some time out.
"Working with North East Autism Society has given us a real insight into the things we need to consider, and they've also helped us to create an atmosphere that will have none of the fun taken out, while making sure it's a day for everyone to enjoy."
Family Development Manager for the North East Autism Society, Kerrie Highcock, said: "We are passionate about autistic children and their families having the same experiences, the same access to special events and the same opportunities to make amazing memories as their peers do.
"This partnership means families can plan ahead for a magical Christmas experience without the added stress of wondering how variables like sound and lighting, and the unpredictability of a new experience could affect their loved ones. This opens up a new world of festive fun and we're delighted to be part of it."