THEY SAY: York’s three-time award-winning Christmas attraction. Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland is home to the North of England’s largest and best-loved outdoor ice rink .
WE SAY: If you enjoy skating, this is magical and makes a nice Christmas treat. Open November – January.
There’s something quite magical about ice skating in the open air – and when there’s a huge Christmas tree in the centre of the ice it’s certainly very festive too.
The Ice Factor forms the main part of Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland which is open every year from November until January at the McArthurGlen York Designer Outlet.
The rink is surrounded by an illuminated forest, log cabins and a newly extended viewing platform and café. We skated in the afternoon, but as we left we saw the dusk sessions which looked even more magical.
It’s fast become the North of England’s largest and best-loved outdoor ice rink, along with the alpine-themed café and vintage fairground rides and of course, an enchanting Santa’s grotto.
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I used the Winter Wonderland as a bit of a bribe for my six and three year old – if they were good inside the outlet (where there’s 120 shops), they could have some fun outside – and it worked!
My six-year-old was quite nervous and for a long time he didn’t want to let go of the side, but he really enjoyed himself once he got into it.
One of the staff members held his other hand as we skated and really took the time to help him find his balance which was a huge help.
Skating sessions last an hour and there’s limited space per session so the ice will never get too overcrowded. Pre-booking is recommended to make sure you get the time you want.
The rink is suitable for people of all ages. Skate hire is included in the price of the ticket and sizes range from a child size nine to an adult size 15. There are also special ice blades for toddlers which slip on over their shoes. You can also hire helmets if you wish.
If you children are young, get them a snowman or a penguin aid to help them keep their balance. If you aren’t overly confident yourself you can stand behind them and lean on it as you push them around the ice. It’s so much easier than just holding their hand because if they struggle they can bring you down too and no one wants to see mummy fall over!
Afterwards we went into the Papa Kitchen for a hot chocolate and the entire heated chalet had that apres-ski feel to it. It’s complete with cosy furs, rustic wooden tables serves everything from mulled wine and Prosecco to hot dogs and loaded nachos.
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There’s even an outdoor heated terrace to allow café spectatos the chance to get closer to the action and they even provide blankets!
Next to the rink you will find the rides where we enjoyed the dodgems, an original 1930s speedway, the traditional carousel and the flying chairs. The rides have all been lovingly restored over the last few years by a team of local craftspeople. There’s also game and food stalls.
The Winter Wonderland can operate in nearly all weather conditions so don’t let a bit of rain put you off – it’s well worth a visit.
- Reviewed January 2017
Need to know…
Location: York Designer Outlet, St Nicholas Ave, Fulford, York YO19 4TA
Open: November to January
Prices: In 2016, tickets cost £10.45 per adult and £9.45 per child. A family of four costs £36. Family packages are available for families of three, four or five people. Tickets can be pre-booked online.
Call: 01653 619169.