York Designer Outlet on Black Friday weekend wouldn’t usually be our first choice of destination with a car full of manic children who are allergic to shopping. But we weren’t going for the shops. Nope, we’d lured them away from Sunday morning cartoons with the promise of ice skating at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland.
The closest our kids had come to skating was watching Elsa and Anna twirling around effortlessly on the ice in Frozen, and they were desperate to have a go themselves. Thankfully – and this is our top tip – we’d booked an early slot and would recommend you do the same. We arrived around 10am, feeling quite smug to be up and about so early, only to find that the car park was already half full (and it was chocka by the time we left).
The kids, who’d been working themselves into an excited frenzy for hours at this point, were starting to flag so we decided to fuel up at the alpine chalet-themed PapaKitchen before hitting the ice. It’s a lovely cosy place to retreat from the cold with friendly staff who’re happy to help. Drinking hot chocolate and eating fresh cookies around the kitch fake fire is the closest we’re going to get to a glamorous family skiing holiday anytime soon. Very nice it was too.
Supercharged with sugar, it was time to hit the ice. We thought it was brilliant that the three-year-old was allowed to have a go. A lot of places are strict about age limits, but Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland’s policy is that if they can walk, they can skate (skating is free for under 4s). You can hire penguin or snowman skating helpers for £2, so we got one each for the 3 and 5 year old (although she can walk, we decided it’d be best to keep the marauding 1 year old in the safety of the buggy). The older kids had a brilliant time skating about on the ice; given it was their first time, we were surprised at how quickly they became confident (maybe they were channeling their inner Elsa and Olaf). I’d had visions of them lasting five minutes, but they actually managed almost the whole hour: in the end, soggy jeans got the better of them.
We rounded off our visit with a stroll around the fair. There’s a choice of traditional rides featuring old favourites like dodgems and carousels, and there’s a token system for payment. After much debate, the kids decided to spend their tokens on trying to hook-a-duck. It was a good choice: they both won a prize that they’ve been carrying around ever since. We didn’t have the heart to tell them that everyone who plays wins a prize…
We had a lovely festive time at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other families. It’s won countless Visit York Awards and we can see why. Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland runs at York Designer Outlet until Sunday 3rd January 2016, so catch it while you can.
Good to know – You can book skating online; go early to beat the crowds. Family tickets for four people are £36 including skate hire. Children’s party packages are available from £11.45 and sound great. There are also parent and toddler packages for £10.45. There’s also a Santa’s Grotto so you can tick that off the festive checklist too. Visit Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland website for more details.
Thank you very much to Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland for inviting us to skate with them. As always, our review is independent and our own honest opinion. We’d never accept a cookie in exchange for a good review – but they were good cookies!