If you’ve ever seen that scene where Bambi encounters ice for the first time, you’ll have a good idea of how our family took to ice skating at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland last year. Our youngest opted out completely (she had only just learnt to walk, after all) and the other two had a grand old time but stuck close to the edges just in case.
What a difference a year makes! As a special festive treat, we kept the kids up late last week to take them along to the launch of Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland at York Designer Outlet. I had low expectations: they were tired, grumpy and low on energy. And then something magical happened: as soon as they saw the lights of the carousel and the huge tree in the middle of the rink, their eyes lit up and they couldn’t wait to get onto the ice. Once the formalities were over – the hard-working team from Minster FM presided over the lights switch-on and there were some amazing ice skating performances we could only dream of replicating – we were let loose on the ice.
I’d expected the littlest one, now two years old, to draw the line at getting onto the ice, but I was wrong. She’s really brave and always wants to keep up with her older brother and sister so there was no stopping her. We strapped some tiny little skates onto her size 5 Start-rite shoes and she was off! She had to hold our hands, but soon got the hang of it and had a whale of a time. The other two – now four and six – were loads more confident on the ice than last year. They used the penguin and snowman skating aids to help them a bit, but before long they were skating around together, rosy-cheeked and giggling. The skate marshals were fantastic – really helpful and friendly, offering help and advice and keeping an eye out for anyone having a problem. The only problem we had was getting our kids off the ice – they wanted to stay all night.
If you need to entice your kids off the ice, the hot chocolate and cakes at the rink-side Papa Kitchen cafe should do the trick. It’s a lovely cosy place to warm up and watch the skaters, and there’s mulled wine too. If you’ve got any energy left, there are fairground rides galore and even a Santa’s grotto so you can tick that off your festive to-do list, too. If you manage to get everyone inside the Outlet for some Christmas shopping too, you deserve some sort of award. As does Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland – it’s a great festive experience for families in and around York, and we’re happy to give it the Little Vikings seal of approval once more.
Top tips: We thought it was lovely skating when it’s dark and the lights are all illuminated, so maybe consider a later slot if you don’t mind potentially messing up bedtime. Book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. If you’re going for a daytime slot, we’d advise going early so you can park without problems – the Outlet during the festive season gets incredibly busy.