Winter Wonderland: festive atmosphere or rip-off?

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Chester’s Winter Wonderland, a fair with rides, food stalls, a puppet theatre and an ice rink is a great idea, but it is way too expensive.

The event is open from Thursday to Sunday until December 22, when it opens on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well. It seeks to bring Christmas to Chester, but it comes across more like a complete rip-off. This is the second year running for the festive experience event. Christmas craft workshops and a Black Light puppet theatre have been added to the collection.

The entry is £7 at the door for adults and £3 for children. The tickets can be purchased cheaper online for £5 for adults. This seems like a good deal at first glance, but once you go inside there is not much you can do without paying. All the rides are between £2 and £4 per person. The ice rink costs an extra £8 for children under 12 and £9 for adults. What do you actually get for your entry money?

Free activities include looking at Santa’s Reindeer, watching an entertainment programme on the performance stage, taking part in the Christmas craft workshop, going for a train ride on the Grosvenor Express and visiting the Alpine Bar. This sounds all great, but once you are there especially with children they are much more attracted by all the rides and the ice rink than these free activities.

The free craft workshops for children are run between Thursdays and Sundays and the times are not known specifically until you arrive, nor is the number of workshops run a day. It is therefore quite easy to miss them, if you are only there for a couple of hours. Looking at the reindeers is a nice activity, as you can also feed them and take photos, however, this only takes place at certain times and it is rather busy, which means that you do not end up staying there for longer than five to ten minutes. The train ride on the Grosvenor Express is great for children, but again with all the more exciting activities offered that cost money, you end up spending money on rides anyway.

For adults entry to the Alpine Bar is free. The bar is decorated in a ski inspired theme and some Christmassy drinks are offered such as winter cider and hot chocolate. Considering, however, that you can enter most bars in town for free which also offer mulled wine and cider, it does not appear to be quite as special that entry to this facility is free.

The last free activity offered with your ticket is watching the entertainment programme on the performance stage. This indeed seems quite entertaining for children, however, I still find that there is not enough justification for a ticket price of £5 entry per adult, or even £7 on the door with the activities offered. The Christmas market offers a few nice things, such as specialty chocolates and sausages on a stick which are reasonably priced.

All together though, you will end up spending a lot of money and it is questionable, whether the reason why not that many people seem to turn up is simply, because it is too expensive.

by Lisa Meller

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