With the festive season looming, we were excited to be invited to try out the ice skating rink at the Manchester Ice Village in Cathedral Gardens.
Wrapped up in our woolly hats and gloves, we arrived ten or so minutes before our allotted 45 minute slot. We very quickly swapped our shoes for ice skates with ski-boot type fastenings, which made them super easy to put on, even for the girls (age 9 and 12). And then straight onto the ice.
I’d pre-ordered a penguin as I’m actually terrified of ice skating and can usually only let go of the side after about 30 minutes of getting my skate legs! We also had another skate aid that the girls could sit on, which I was very happy with as it looked like I was only using it to push my children around (rather than because I couldn’t stand up without it).
As I pootled around with my penguin friend, Ed and the girls whizzed around the rink to a classic 80s soundtrack. They were delighted that it was real ice – we’d had an odd experience once on a temporary rink made of plastic which didn’t go down well at all.
Skate Manchester let a maximum number of 180 skaters onto the ice during each slot, so it never felt overly crowded, and there were only one or 2 people attempting to break the land speed record doing fancy turns.
The clear perspex roof was a great feature, meaning that you can skate whatever the weather while still feeling like you’re outside. And the lights on the roof give the impression of a starry night sky when it gets dark (not something we see very often in Manchester).
After our skate session, we wandered round the corner to the Christmas market area outside Cathedral Gardens where the girls loved having miniature pancakes with Nutella from a pop-up stall, and Ed and I enjoyed a restorative mulled wine. There was a fabulous pink VW van set up as a portable photo booth with Christmas props. It was free to have a photo taken so we piled in and had some fun dressing up for the camera.
Next to the skating rink there is also an ice cavern with ice carvings and Santa’s Grotto (which you pay for separately at a box office set up nearby) and an ice tiki bar. We plan to come back to see the ice cavern at some point but we ran out of time on the day we went.
One tip for visitors – there are no toilets at the ice rink, so if you’re with young children make sure you go before you arrive!
Skate Manchester is open until 5 January 2020. Tickets for a family of 4 for a 45 minute skate session are £35 (including skate hire), with skate aids at £5 each, and tickets can be booked here https://skatemanchester.com/