The North East’s own Winter Wonderland has officially opened

It is time to wrap up warm as Sunderland’s spectacular frost village, including a traditional Christmas market, real ice rink and fun fair, is back for the third year running.

The launch night, which was held on December 4, saw performances from professional ice skaters Lisa Brewin and Gary Beacom, who officially opened the rink. The rink will be open until January 7, 2018 from 12.00pm until 7.00pm.

Lisa Brewin, 31, has been a professional skater for 14 years after being discovered by Robin Cousins, a former Olympic figure skater champion, in Newcastle at the age of 17. After being approached by the rink’s owner to perform at the opening she said: “I had never performed at any of our home theatres, so it was lovely to be able to skate at home. I had never met Gary before and he has a wealth of knowledge and experience in this sport so it was a pleasure to meet him.”
The open air ice rink has a full programme of festive entertainment to mark 2017 including skating through the decades, superheroes and one to one lessons. Skating sessions last one hour and an adult tickets costs £7.50 each and a child’s ticket is £6.50. There will be a festive food stall served every Friday to Sunday courtesy of Sunderland pub, The Peacock.
Canadian Olympic figure skater Gary Beacom, who has been a professional skater for 50 years, performed his signature routine to Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man. He said: “I suspect there are many figure skaters whose first ice experience was on one of these outdoor rinks. They are super for encouraging people to give it a go. I am honoured to have been a part of the opening night.”
The ice extravaganza included performances from the Ice Crystals, who included a Frozen performance, and the Storm Troopers.
Sunderland City Councilor for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, John Kelly said: “Working with our community and business partners including Sunderland BID (Business Improvement District), we successfully stage several large-scale events throughout the year.

“This includes the Christmas programme which has grown over the years to attract more and more visitors into our city centre.

“The switch-on of the Christmas lights with Pixie Lott was hugely popular, and we hope that the ice skating, live entertainment, and other attractions that are planned, will help make this year’s programme of festive celebrations very enjoyable for everyone.”

Lisa said: “I think temporary ice rinks like this are a great bonus to ice skating, just like Dancing on Ice is on the television. It brings skating to the forefront of popular entertainment and hopefully it gives another little boy or girl a chance to fall in love with the ice like I did.”

This temporary Winter Wonderland Village is a highly-anticipated event for the people of the North East and this year is hoping to be the best yet, as 2016 saw over 30,000 visitors, double the amount compared to the year before.
The Christmas markets will be running until December 24, at Park Lane Market and shoppers can pick up bespoke, festive gifts, Christmas drinks and plenty of food.
The ice rink will be closed to the public on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

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