Christmas is on its way to Gloucestershire — and Cheltenham's ice rink is officially coming back to kickstart the festive season in the Regency town!
Local residents and visitors will have the chance to hit the ice on Friday 17 November 2023, with the all-weather ice rink returning to Imperial Gardens for winter skating sessions until Monday 1 January 2024.
After sadly being cancelled last year due to increased event costs and environmental concerns, plans for this year's rink were approved by the Cheltenham Borough Council planning committee on Thursday 21 September 2023.
Councillors noted that tourism boomed the last time the ice rink was in town for Christmas 2021, when an additional £3.3 million was spent as a result of the attraction and associated market. Over 43,000 people enjoyed the festive skating experience, with two thirds of visitors saying they ate or drank in local venues or spent money in nearby shops during their visit.
To mitigate its environmental impact, this year's ice rink will be powered by a more sustainable HVO fuel, with battery storage to reduce generator noise.
Delivered by top ice rink operator, S3K Group, and organised by Visit Cheltenham, the attraction will once again be undercover, making it usable in all weathers, and suitable for skaters of all ages and abilities.
As well as having capacity for over 100 skaters at a time, it's fully accessible for wheelchair users and plans to host dedicated SEND and pre-school sessions so everyone can take part in the festive fun.
Councillor Max Wilkinson, cabinet member for Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing, said: 'The last time we had an ice
rink in Cheltenham, more than 43,000 people enjoyed a festive skating
experience. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind scheme, that included
2,550 tickets given to families in need of extra festive cheer in these
'It’s with all that enjoyment in mind that I’m pleased this year’s event is on track. It’s also important to note that because Cheltenham sets higher environmental standards, dirty diesel generators have been ditched in favour of a mobile battery and Stage V generator running on renewable HVO to reduce the carbon footprint of the event.'
The ice rink is just one part of plans to spread Christmas cheer in Cheltenham this winter, with Cheltenham BID's official Christmas launch taking place on Thursday 16 November, followed by Christmas lights switch-on events at The Brewery Quarter and Pittville Pump Room on Saturday 25 November 2023.
Locals and visitors can also look forward to artisan Christmas markets and the ever-popular Everyman panto — this year starring Tweedy in his first foray as a panto dame!
Tickets for the Cheltenham ice rink are on sale from 9am on Monday 25 September 2023, via visitcheltenham.com/ice-skating.