Ice rink taking shape on Royal estate

CHRIS BISHOP One of Britain's biggest outdoor ice rinks is taking shape on the Queen's Norfolk estate. The 600m sq rink will be enclosed in a giant big top as part of the county's first-ever Family Christmas Festival.

CHRIS BISHOP

One of Britain's biggest outdoor ice rinks is taking shape on the Queen's Norfolk estate.

The 600m sq rink will be enclosed in a giant big top as part of the county's first-ever Family Christmas Festival.

More than 20,000 people from across East Anglia came to skate on a smaller rink which was set up in front of the Visitor Centre last year.

But mild weather sometimes meant the ice couldn't be used. This year's rink is almost three times the size. And Helen Walch , public enterprises manager at Sandringham, said: “The fact we can skate under a canopy this year is brilliant and should go a long way towards avoiding some of the weather-related problems we experienced last year.

“It will be a tremendous asset to Norfolk over the Christmas period and I'm sure it will be a big hit with regular and new visitors to what is one of Norfolk's most prestigious open spaces.”

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Simon Maddocks, director of Blackpool-based Ice Show Ltd, said: “I'm led to believe this is going to be the biggest outdoor Christmas ice rink in the country.

“It'll take roughly 100,000 litres of water, we'll have ice and be ready to skate in seven days.”

Originally, the rink was going to be made of artificial ice. But festival promoters have opted for the real thing.

“Ice skating's designed to be done on ice,” said Mr Maddocks. “The synthetic surface is much slower and it's just far better on ice.”

Professional skaters will be on hand to help beginners, while there will be special sessions for experienced skaters and games and competitions.

As well as the ice Sandringham is also hosting a pantomime in a separate big top, a Christmas market and even husky sleigh rides.

The event is being sponsored by the EDP and Bernard Matthews.

The festival will be open daily from Saturday, December 15. To book skating or panto tickets, call 0871 918 9218 or go online to www.norfolkchristmasfestival.co.uk .

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