“Mum, help me skate!” said my smallest, during our first few minutes out on the ice at Christmas World last week.
“Eh, I don’t know how to skate,” I told him, reaching a hand helplessly towards him, but unable to make my way across the ice. If you’ve been ice skating and can remember your first time, you’ll know just how hard it is to pick a child up off the ice when you can hardly stay up yourself.
It was only on our way there that we realised none of us had ever been skating before. Usually we’re the grown-ups and they’re the kids – we lead and they follow – but this was all of us in it together trying something new – and it was brilliant.
My husband was sure they wouldn’t have skates to fit him, and he’d have to be the sideline photographer. Happily for me, they did indeed have skates for him, so there was no escape. He is very sporty but I’d say (he won’t mind me saying this…) not very graceful, and I didn’t think ice skating would be his thing. But off he went, and within minutes he was doing circuits of the rink while I watched in mute surprise. It took me longer to find my feet, but once I figured it out, I started to really enjoy it.
The kids were full of confidence starting out, sure they’d be skating like Michelle Kwan within minutes, and they were surprised when they kept falling over. But being kids, they got back up every time and kept going. The staff were very good – they came over to check each time anyone fell – and certainly we kept them busy. There is a separate smaller rink for kids which is where we stayed, and it has plenty of seal sleds and penguins available to help smaller children stay upright.
We were out on the ice for almost an hour and utterly exhausted afterwards – in a good way. I think it’s safe to say we have a new annual tradition, and I’m delighted we finally got to try it – to break the ice (sorry, sorry).
Christmas World has lots more than ice skating on offer – there’s a fairground, coffee stalls, treat stalls and a Santa’s grotto. We arrived after work on Friday and didn’t have time to try any of the fairground rides, nor did we have time for coffee or food, though we did fit in a Santa trip. The visit takes about a half an hour, because children (and adults) are taken through a series of doorways and rooms, where they meet various characters. This was a little long I thought, and the kids weren’t sure why they were meeting so many people before they got to see Santa. And although a lot of work has gone into decorating it, it’s not really cosy, and you do have the sense that you’re in a convention centre (which of course you are).
So if you’re looking for ice skating and you like the idea of a Funderland-style fairground on the grounds too, Christmas World is ideal. Particularly for novice skaters, I found having the smaller rink, plentiful supply of penguins, and really helpful staff a big plus. I can’t say the Santa trip was what we expected, but the ice skating was wonderful – it’s one new family tradition we won’t be putting on ice ( Sorry).
To book tickets for Christmas World in Citywest and to see what’s on offer, just go to ChristmasWorld.ie. We were invited to try out Christmas World for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are my own!