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Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Laycie Beck

I tried Nottingham Winter Wonderland's Sky Skate and it took Christmas to the next level

Nottingham is well known for it's Winter Wonderland, with the ice rink and big wheel returning to Old Market Square each year alongside dozens of unique stalls. However, this year's ice rink is like no other, with the Mellors Group creating a new sky skate path in addition to the ice rink.

The Winter Wonderland will be in Nottingham over Christmas until December 31, which means there is plenty of time to take your skates to the sky. I decided to test out the experience on a Tuesday evening and although there were quite a lot of people there, due to the large ice rink on the ground and length of the sky skate upstairs, it didn't feel too busy or ever get too crowded.

Once at the site it only takes a couple of minutes to swap your shoes for a pair of skates, and you can keep all your precious items in one of the lockers for free. This is a great way to make sure you don't break or lose anything if you slip and end up on the ice.

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There was live music being played from the centre of the square, and during each lap on the 400m sky skate you pass the band performing. The neon lights really added to the atmosphere, as they illuminated everything and everyone with a festive glow.

As you are skating a couple of metres in the air during the sky skate, it also means you have a good view of the rest of the city centre. You can also see the stalls in and around the Winter Wonderland area, and thanks to the nearby firepit for toasting marshmallows even the air smells delicious.

Whether you are a fantastic skater or struggle to stay upright it doesn't matter, there is plenty of space for everyone. Families with younger children stick to the main ice rink on the ground where there are aids for kids to hold on to, whereas some of the quicker skaters can whip around the sky skate.

Although the ice rink on the ground is a larger space, it does have a similar but much shorter corridor of ice similar to the sky skate, which goes underneath the sky skate and pops out on the other side of Winter Wonderland before taking you back onto the main rink.

As the sky skate goes past the observation wheel, it was very weird but also pretty funny to be able to skate past and say hello to the people on their way up or coming down the wheel. Due to the one-way system on the sky skate you quite often find yourself in gaps of emptiness with no other skaters in sight, but the long stretches also means there is plenty of handrail to hold on to whilst you still get used to being on skates.

View of Nottingham Winter Wonderland from observation wheel (Laycie Beck)

Another unique thing about this year's Winter Wonderland is the skate through ice bar. Although I didn't get chance to go in here, I could see people inside enjoying a hot drink as I skated past. As it got darker the market got more alive and was illuminating the rest of the city.

However, one thing that really put everyone in the Christmas spirit was the fake snow that would shoot out of some sort of cannon from the observation wheel every now and then. Although this was fired more into the market stalls next to the council house you can still see it clearly from the sky skate.

Before I left I had to go on the observation wheel, and it was fantastic being on the flip side of it and being able to see the skaters whizz past as the wheel took me to 30m above the city. Although looking straight down at that height was not my favourite thing in the world, it was lovely to see the market and the ice rinks from that view.

The whole experience is perfect for everyone, whether you are a pro skater or have no idea what you are doing, as there are plenty of helpful staff members dotted around the rink and sky skate. I would definitely recommend bringing a pair of gloves and a woolly hat though, as it is rather cold up there.

Plus, even if you don't fancy skating yourself there is plenty to do in the Winter Wonderland without getting on the ice. You could even watch your friends and family whizz around the sky skate or on the main ice rink from the solid ground with a hot drink, and there are other rides for smaller children in the centre who might not be ready for ice-skating yet.

Laycie Beck ice-skating on the sky skate (Caitlyn Storr)

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