Work has started on building the ‘Christmas at the Castle’ attractions in the heart of the city as Sayers Events and Cardiff Council create some much-needed seasonal cheer. Running from Thursday, November 12, to Sunday, January 3, Christmas at the Castle is being managed according to rigorous safety standards designed to allow visitors to enjoy themselves in a COVID-safe, socially-distanced environment.
Sayers Events, the operator of the famous Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland, are once again involved in adding sparkle to the city with a variety of outdoor festive features in and around Cardiff Castle that will enhance the Castle’s planned activities such as the Victorian Santa Tours, the Keep Dining Experience and the Lone Stag Bar – giving the people of Cardiff something to really look forward to in these challenging times.
Inside Christmas at the Castle will be an open-air Ice Walk, along the lines of the one introduced at Winter Wonderland last year, but with a wider pathway, to allow greater social distancing and with limited capacity, giving all ages the chance to get their skates on (sessions must be pre-booked). There will also be plenty of outdoor seating for visitors to enjoy the food and drink on offer around the ice, such as sweet treats and a marshmallow firepit. Social distancing will be observed throughout, and the operator will run strict cleaning and hygiene regimes at all times.
In the Castle moat just outside the entrance, a 33m high Big Wheel will give riders breath-taking views across the city, and there will also be a small selection of festive family rides and games in that area. In the moat on the other side of the entrance there will be a ‘Ski Hut’ style food and drink seating area with an Alpine resort theme, which will be lit and heated. A Yoello app-based ordering system will operate for table service in this area.
Norman George Sayers of Sayers Events said: “Obviously we’re not able to bring the usual scale of Winter Wonderland to Cardiff this year, but we were determined to give the city a smile at Christmas, so we’ve worked closely with Cardiff Council and Environmental Health to gather a collection of outdoor attractions in and around the Castle. Families have had a lot to bear in 2020, so they can be reassured that we are working tirelessly to make Christmas at the Castle as safe and enjoyable as possible. We hope this will also encourage people back into the city centre where they can get all their Christmas shopping and enjoy the traditional Christmas Market.”
Christmas at the Castle will work with local businesses and suppliers, and also provides much needed employment opportunities for local people involved in the industry.
Councillor Peter Bradbury, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, said: “It’s been a tough year for the whole city, but the work the Council has been doing with Sayers Events and partners in Cardiff Castle is certain to help bring some much-needed seasonal cheer to the city. Getting people back into the city centre over the Christmas period is clearly important for the economy, but limiting the transmission of Covid-19 is a top priority, so extensive work has been put into making sure visitors can enjoy these attractions, and celebrate the festive season in Cardiff safely.
“Coronavirus has changed many things, but once the Christmas lights twinkle into life on November 12th, the annual Christmas Market opens up, Santa takes up residence at Cardiff Castle, and people start strapping on their skates to enjoy the Ice Walk around the stunning Castle grounds, anybody visiting Cardiff will hopefully still be able to say that one thing hasn’t changed – how much they enjoyed Christmas in Cardiff.”
Visitors will pay for each attraction individually, with pre-booking required for the Ice Walk only. Operated by A2H Ice, Ice Walk bookings will be available on https://cardiffcastle.ticketsrv.co.uk so that visitors can be track and traced. Face masks are compulsory only in the Skate Hire marquee, as all other facilities are outdoor.
The attractions will be open from noon each day, with the Ice Walk closing at 9pm on weekdays, and 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The moat attractions are open until 10pm every night. With 53 days to enjoy the festivities, visitors are advised to avoid the likely busy periods, such as weekend evenings, so that social distancing can be maintained.
There is also plenty to enjoy in Christmas at the Castle – with the festive Christmas decorations, it’s one of the best times of the year to buy a ticket and explore the splendid Castle rooms. Visitors can book onto the new private Santa tours with people from their own household, they can grab a drink and a bite to eat in the Keep Dining Experience, where they can relax and take in one of the best views in the city, and even indulge in some Christmas shopping for unique Welsh presents in the gift shop.
Cardiff Castle at Christmas will comply fully with all Welsh Government restrictions.