Ice Village Manchester: Britain's first dedicated ice attraction comes to Manchester this Christmas
Cathedral Gardens is to be transformed into the UK's first Ice Village, featuring an Ice Sculpture Cave, Ice Bar, Ice Rink, Santa’s Grotto and a Woodland Market with Christmas Market stalls.
Tickets on sale from 27 September
Opening 9 November, Ice Village Manchester is the most ambitious undertaking to date by Hamilton Ice Sculptors, the UK’s premier ice sculptors.
Every year since 2011 they’ve created the Magical Ice Kingdom, a centrepiece of Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park and the biggest ice exhibition of its kind anywhere in the world. Now they’re bringing that ice-sculpting magic to the north west to create Britain’s first-ever Ice Village in partnership with Manchester City Council.
Cathedral Gardens in Manchester city centre will be transformed into a frosty Christmas village with breathtaking ice attractions at its heart, and with something for all the family.
The showpiece attraction takes visitors into the Ice Cave, where a vast steam train crafted entirely from ice is the starting point of this unforgettable journey. There’s also a frozen toy factory, in which Santa’s team of helpers are busy making toys in time for Christmas – an iconic festive image, but here each detail is stunningly realised in ice and snow.
A team of the world’s best ice artists have already begun to hand-carve hundreds of intricate ice sculptures especially for Ice Village Manchester (work begins as early as July for a November opening).
There’ll be mischievous elves, enchanted toys, and arctic animals, including snow foxes and polar bears. Each piece will be hand-carved from huge blocks of ice, all set against a factory backdrop of ice cogs and pistons to pay tribute to Manchester’s industrial heritage.
The story of Manchester will be woven throughout the Ice Cave, with ice sculptures referencing famous local figures from history, including a female train driver with a Votes For Women badge as a nod to suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. Other legendary ice-carved Mancunian symbols will reflect the city’s football and music heritage, and – of course – there will be a sculpture of Manchester’s worker-bee emblem.
Incredibly, everything from the most delicate ice robin to Santa’s frozen throne is carved using 250 tonnes of solid ice. An immersive walk-through experience, the −10° Ice Cave has something for everyone: from interactive photo opportunities for a cool #iceselfie, to a chilled Ice Bar with frozen barrels, frosted-ice fixtures, and a menu of special festive drinks and cocktails – served over ice of course!
Santa’s icy toy factory is where the magic of Christmas begins, but a visit to the Ice Village wouldn’t be complete without paying a visit to the man himself. An essential part of the festive season, Santa’s Grotto in Ice Village Manchester is an opportunity for your little ones to meet Father Christmas in his wintery log cabin, to sit on his armchair and let Santa know what’s on their Christmas wish list.
You can’t have an Ice Village without an ice rink – here it’ll be the premier spot for demonstrating your ice-skating prowess. Further winter games and activities can be enjoyed throughout Ice Village Manchester, including vintage fairground games like hook-an-iceberg (a bespoke Ice Village interpretation of hook-a-duck).
Set within a grove of snow-covered trees and twinkling fairy lights, the Woodland Market is a hub of village activity, with market stalls selling souvenirs, Christmas gifts, food and drink. Featuring rustic log benches arranged beneath an all-weather canopy, the Polar Bar is the place to enjoy a rich hot chocolate or a mulled wine.
Snug little Ice Village chalets may also be reserved for private gatherings (ideal for work Christmas events or festive family get-togethers). Ice Village Manchester also has its own stage, with a daily programme of free festive activities and entertainment for all the family, ranging from craft sessions for kids, to live performances by local Christmas choirs.
Ice Village Manchester is produced by Hamilton Ice Sculptors in partnership with Manchester City Council, and will operate alongside the award-winning Manchester Christmas Markets (voted one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe). Together they will make Manchester a favourite Christmas-break destination, and the ideal spot for Britain’s first-ever Ice Village.
Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson, said: “The capital of Christmas just raised the festive bar once again. The Ice Village is the first-of-its-kind attraction in the UK that will transform our family-friendly area in Cathedral Gardens.
“The Ice Village will complement our world-famous Christmas Markets, which will see more than 300 stalls spread across the city centre squares, bringing the festive season to life in Manchester.
“We’ve been waiting months to announce this incredible event and I can’t wait to be transported to a magical land of ice when it opens in November!”
Manchester Cathedral Gardens, 9 November 2018 – 5 January 2019.