Expensive energy cuts short free visits to Belgium's 'Garden of Santa Claus'

LA BRUYERE, Belgium, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The Belgian "Garden of Santa Claus", which every year offers a free visit to Santa's office, bedroom, train and sleigh, will be open only 23 days this year instead of the usual 34 days because of a surge in energy prices, its organiser said.

The work of a Belgian aeronautical engineer, Serge Hennebel, 54, the "Garden of Santa Claus" is a seasonal entertainment venue located in a small village of La Bruyere, in central Belgium, 38 km (24 miles) south-east of Brussels.

Lit by more than 52,800 lights, it attracts visitors from across the world who can enjoy a walk in the village, crossing the path of a giant snowman and taking souvenir photos next to Santa's sleigh and Santa's Train.

Energy prices in the euro zone were 35% higher in November than 12 months earlier, boosting the costs of powering the venue and forcing the earlier closure, Hennebel said.

Reporting by Yves Herman, writing by Jan Strupczewski, editing by Alex Richardson

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