CHRISTMAS in Leicester is about to get a lot cooler as the finishing touches are made to the city’s festive ice rink ahead of its opening next week.
The Jubilee Square ice rink will be open from 5pm on Thursday 1 December until Monday 2 January, with sessions available seven days a week except Christmas Day.
The rink will be enclosed in a huge marquee so skaters can enjoy a session on the real ice, whatever the weather. The marquee’s roof will be decorated with twinkling festive lights and snowflakes and will feature a full lighting rig.
Skating will start at 10am on most days, with the last session of the day starting at the new later time of 9pm, due to popular demand.
Ticket prices start at £5 per person and can be booked in advance at www.ChristmasInLeicester.co.uk
This year’s ice rink will feature a brand new indoor Alpine-style tavern where people can enjoy a festive drink and a sweet seasonal snack while they sit back and watch the skaters glide by.
Treats on offer will include hot and cold drinks from local roasters The Coffee Counter, fish and chips with an Indian twist from The Cheeky Maharaja, New York style cookies from Leicester-based Dollies Cookies, BrewDog beers, and hot food from Burgers & More by Joseph Owen.
There will also be theme nights and special guests, with DJs performing live from the ice between 6pm and 10pm (last session starts at 9pm) on most Fridays and Saturdays – including on New Year’s Eve.
The ice rink will be hosting takeover sessions from Gem Radio’s DJ Sparky on Thursday 8 December (5-8pm - last session starts at 7pm), Leicester Riders on Saturday 10 December, and Leicester Tigers on Thursday 22 December (10am-6pm – last session starts at 5pm).
Skate hire and a 45-minute session on the ice will cost £12 for adults, with a £2 discount at off-peak times, which include the new 9pm sessions. Tickets for children, senior citizens and students are priced at £9.50, and £8.50 off-peak. Discounts are available for groups of four or more.
A new super-off-peak ticket has also been introduced that will allow people to skate for just £5 at set times. This will be available for most sessions between 11am to 4pm on weekdays during the first two weeks.
And early birds that get their skates on will be able to snap up tickets for the rink’s two preview days – Thursday 1 and Friday 2 December – at the flat rate of £5 for any session.
Skating aids for young children will be available to hire at the ice rink, subject to availability. Wheelchair users can join in the fun on the ice rink at any session.
Up to 225 skaters will be able to take to the ice during most sessions but, as in previous years, capacity will be limited to 100 skaters for designated quiet sessions for people with autism or other special needs.
Tickets to skate can also be bought from the Visit Leicester Centre at 4a St Martins, or from the ticket office at the ice rink in Jubilee Square, but this will be cash only.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair, who leads on leisure and culture, said: “The return of the Jubilee Square ice rink means the countdown to Christmas in Leicester is well under way.
“This year, due to popular demand, we’ve extended the opening hours to introduce a new off-peak session starting at 9pm. We’ve also introduced a heavily discounted super-off-peak rate when people can skate for just £5. And for the first time, people will be able to skate on New Year’s Day.
“But the ice rink is just part of a Christmas cracker full of festive attractions on offer in Leicester this year.”
Another attraction getting ready to open is the free festive grotto at its new location in Town Hall Square, which will be Santa’s Leicester home in the run-up to Christmas. Santa and his elf will be ready to welcome children to their snow-covered chalet from Saturday 3 December. Visits will be free of charge – and every child will receive a small gift.
Santa in the Square will be open every day from Saturday 3 December until Friday 23 December. Opening hours are 11am-2pm and 3pm-6pm on Saturdays, 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm on Sundays, and 12noon-2pm and 3pm-6pm Monday to Friday.
Other festive attractions in the city centre include a funfair on Humberstone Gate and the giant 34m-high Wheel of Light in Jubilee Square.
The spectacular and suitably festive Paint to Pixel animated mural which will be projected in Green Dragon Square every evening from Saturday 3 December until Christmas Eve. The Paint to Pixel Christmas edition is presented by BID Leicester and created by Metro Boulot Dodo.
The city council has also teamed up with Gem Radio to install talking Christmas post boxes in the city centre. Children will get a special message as they post their letter to Santa and may get a surprise from the Gem breakfast show with prizes on offer. The talking post boxes will be at Town Hall Square grotto, Jubilee Square ice rink, Humberstone Gate funfair and Haymarket Shopping Centre, from Thursday 1 December to Thursday 15 December.
A festive trail map showing the location of all the key Christmas attractions, along with further details of events and activities, is available online at www.ChristmasInLeicester.co.uk