Watch: Christmas comes early for Elf Factor at Fota Island

Ho ho hold on. It’s still September, but Christmas was very much in the air over the weekend as gangs of mainly teenage girls got into full festive spirit at the Elf Factor auditions.

Hundreds of hopefuls lined up in their festive garb hoping to earn a role as an elf in the ‘Beyond’ Fota Island resort Christmas Experience.

Hayley O’Connell, 16, from Ballincollig, said she was a real candy cane Christmas person, addicted to all the trimmings and trappings of the season. A jitterbugging-to-Jingle-Bells-type Christmas gets under way at her house months before the big day.

“Christmas starts on the first of September and nobody can tell me otherwise,” says Hayley. “I start saving for Christmas early and I have younger siblings so it is very Christmassy in my house.

“My mum is obsessed with Christmas so everything Christmassy we get done. The Christmas tree is up before the first of December if we can get away with it. My step dad is less of a Christmas person but we get around him in the end.”

Paul Morey Stout, 16, from Carrignavar, has already caught the acting bug and

is a member of the Performers’ Academy run by Dane O’Sullivan and Irene Warren.

“I am a Christmas person and I am good with kids,” he says. “This would be my first Christmas job but I am already after getting a job with the Halloween Nightmare Realm. If I get this I will be so happy.”

Gavin Foley, 16, from Douglas, said the Dancing with the Elves audition was a “new experience” and that he planned to put on his best elf scene and to sing his heart out.

Aoife Hennessy, 16, said she was a “Christmas 24/7 person” and that her strategy was to sing every song she could think of in order to land her dream festive job.

Aoife was joined by four friends who claimed that it wouldn’t be a case of handbags at dawn if one member of the group gained the title of elf at the exclusion of the others.

Decked out in their Christmas best, the pals planned to head to the city centre after the auditions and were keenly anticipating confusing members of the public with their seasonal outfits.

Last year, more than 120 elves found gainful employment in Santa’s East Cork Christmas Wonderland, with similar numbers expected to be recruited this season.

With blasts of ‘Santa
Claus is Coming to Town’ being audible from the street outside the hotel, even the curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge couldn’t have been cynical about the event.

Simone Hempel, of the Fota Island Resort marketing team, said the number of elves who will be employed very much depends on the quality of the applicants.

“We are looking for outgoing, bubbly people with serious Christmas spirit. There is great spirit here,” said Ms Hempel. “They are having a wonderful day out at the auditions.”

Now in its fifth year, the woodlands at Fota Island Resort are set to be transformed into a magical Christmas experience for the whole family.

More than 53,000 attended last year’s Christmas experience at the resort. More than 20,000 candy canes were eaten and cold hands were warmed by 21,000 cups of hot chocolate.

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