If you are looking for a lovely Christmassy place to take the children ice skating then the Ice Factor at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland is ideal. Situated in the grounds of the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet on the outskirts of York it is easy to get to. The car park gets busy but parking is free.
Miss H with a bauble as big as her head!
The Opening Parade
We visited on the first day it opened this Christmas to see the opening parade. We were treated to a performance from Santa’s toy soldiers and a giant reindeer like a Christmas pudding who the children found very funny.
While we watched, elves, fairies and a very impressive snow queen (white witch?) circled. They gave out chocolate coins to the children and happily posed for photos.
Then the big man himself arrived – Santa! The whole procession then paraded around the shopping centre giving out coins and spreading good humoured chaos!
The parade finished outside in the Winter Wonderland as Santa was given an escort to his grotto. I assumed these were giant reindeers but Mr Wonders thinks they were fawns (think Mr Tumnus!).
We took the opportunity to visit and the children chatted to Santa before they were given presents and had their photo taken with him. You can buy your photo when you return outside. There were lots of different photo packages to choose from. I also took my own photographs.
The elves who were helping Santa were all very lovely and made the children feel special.
The path to Santa’s Grotto is lined with snow covered Christmas trees. In fact there are lots of snow covered Christmas trees all around the Winter Wonderland. There are also a series of log cabins with lovely Christmassy scenes.
This year’s theme is The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Ice Skating at the Ice Factor
After we visited Santa, we decided to try some ice skating (do have a look at my festive ice skating in Yorkshire round up here). If the little ones need a bit of extra support (and let’s face it, most of them do!) then you can hire penguins or snowmen to help them stay upright on the ice. It’s an extra £2 but completely worth it in my opinion. Make sure you request them when you book as they can sell out for your session. Make a note of the session times too before you go as they start every hour and a quarter. (It’s an hour for skating and 15 minutes while they sweep the ice afterwards). There are staff on the ice that will help show your children how to skate and offer help when you need it. They all seemed very friendly and approachable.
The children were a little anxious to start with but soon began to enjoy it and have been asking when we can go again since. I’d recommend having a spare set of clothes in the car though as Master T was soaked after spending a lot of time sitting on the ice!
While Mr Wonders and the children were skating, I took myself off into the café next to the rink – PapaKitchen. It’s a lovely cosy place with festoon lights criss-crossing the ceiling and furs adorning the seats. You can sit with a hot drink and a cake and watch the skaters.
I treated myself to a hot chocolate with Baileys, whipped cream and marshmallows. Well, it is Christmas!
Don’t miss the Vintage Funfair while you are there. Some fabulous rides that take me back to when I was little and we visited the fair on St George’s Field in York. Absolutely beautifully decorated too, really gorgeous vintage designs.
You can read all about the history of the funfair here. We rode the speedway (and it was fast!), the bumper cars and the ghost train.
Master T said the ghost train was loud! There was also a spinning swing ride, as well as a couple of rides for the younger ones and hook-a-duck. I thought the rides at £2 a go were quite reasonable and the bumper cars at £2.50 per car is great value.
After the parade, our visit to Santa, ice skating and the vintage funfair, we popped inside the centre for a rather late lunch. We had fresh hot fish and chips in the food court. A nice way to finish off a lovely Christmas day out.
Have a look at the Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland for all the information and prices. I took some photos of prices and opening times when I was there which are always really useful I think!
Looking for more Christmas Events? Have a look what else is on in the area.