April 24 2014 Latest news:
Monday, December 9, 2013
A festive feelgood factor has descended on Norwich – which could make it a fairytale Christmas for shoppers and traders alike.
Thousands of people flocked to soak up the magical atmosphere and experience the highlights of a city looking better than ever for Christmas.
Ice skaters glided noiselessly on the rink in the shadow of Norwich Castle, while thrill-seekers found their ski legs on the world’s only mobile ski slope outside the Forum, and visitors enjoyed live music and performances in the glow of the revamped lights displays.
And as shops gear up for the most important fortnight of the year, the city has more to offer than ever before, say business bosses.
Roger Pemberton, chairman of Norwich Lanes and a director Norwich Business Improvement District, said businesses had worked hard to get ready – and figures showed it was already paying off.
“We’d like to feel that there’s more coordination about the way Norwich operates for trade this Christmas,” he said.
“With the Norwich BID, the feeling is that there’s been a more structured approach.”
The Norwich BID sees businesses working to improve the city centre together.
Mr Pemberton said: “Our advertising and marketing have had a boost, and the latest figures show that Norwich is faring very well for footfall. Other cities across the country are seeing declines of eight to 10 per cent, but Norwich has kept the same footfall numbers as last year.”
Crowds gathered on Saturday and Sunday to watch skiers on a mobile mountainside in the heart of the city.
The rotating ski slope, which will be run by Worstead-based i-Ski until January 5, is similar to indoor training slopes used by international ski teams for off-season training, and is claimed to be eight times more efficient for teaching beginners.
Ben Timewell of i-Ski said: “The artificial snow gives skiers a different experience. Rather than going up three minutes on a ski lift and coming down in 30 seconds, this is more intense, and offers instant feedback.
“We can get complete beginners to do snowplough turns within 15 minutes.”
Nine-year-old Zak Werdelin was one those who stepped up to try snowboarding for the first time with his sister Madina, six.
And he had only one word to describe it: “epic”.
“It was the first time I had ever tried snowboarding but it wasn’t that difficult,” he said.
“Now I know how to get up if you are about to fall over, but I’d like to practise a bit more before I try on real snow.”
The slope outside the Forum took the traditional place of the city’s seasonal ice rink, which opened in its new home of the Castle Gardens on Saturday.
Campaigners have been calling for a new rink in the city since the closure of Norwich’s only permanent rink, Planet Ice in Drayton High Road, last year, and organisers Baseline Sporting Opportunities said the rink had been proving popular.
Jodie McMahon, 28, from Colchester, was at the rink to celebrate sister-in-law Yasmin Johnson’s 15th birthday.
She said: “I think it’s probably a little bit out of the way for people just to walk past and know its here but it’s a bit more atmospheric than when it was at the Forum – a bit more picturesque.”
Carl Gray of Baseline Sporting Opportunities said: “It’s been quite successful. We’ve had more footfall than what I expected. I didn’t realise word had spread round so much that we were here. People who have been here have said the location is really nice because it’s right under the castle.”
The ice rink and mobile ski slope are both open from 10am to 9pm daily, until January 5.