Things To Do: WINTER WONDERLAND – EventCity, Manchester

The main stage at Silcock’s Winter Wonderland. Photo Credit: Prakash Bhalsod

Featuring more than 50 family rides and attractions, Silcock’s Winter Wonderland is a family-friendly event that will appeal to children of all ages

4 out of 5 stars

Silcock’s Winter Wonderland makes a welcome return to Manchester’s EventCity this week for the first time in four years.

Organised by Kingpin Events, the family festive extravaganza features more than 50 family rides and attractions, all under one roof for a set ticket price.

It’s clear from the outset that organisers have worked hard to make event as magical as possible for the little ones. A large, decorated entrance with balloons, lights, and snow makes for a ‘wow’ moment for the children, giving the impression that you’re entering a winter wonderland.

Upon entry to the vast indoor 22,000sq m exhibition space, you are met with a flurry of lights and sound. As expected from a Silcock’s event, fairground rides are the key attraction here, with a massive selection of rides to appeal to both younger children and teens.

Most rides have little to no queues throughout the session period, meaning kids could walk straight onto the attraction. In our three-hour slot, we managed to ride more than 20 attractions, including dodgems, roller coasters, waltzers and a runaway mine train.

First stop for us was a visit to see Father Christmas which is situated near the entrance. Parents will be pleased to hear that the Santa Meet and Greet is free, although you will need to pay for a present (£4.50) if you want your child to have a toy.

Once again, the organisers work well here, ensuring the queue moves quickly. Children are kept entertained by Elves and Fairies and there are at least four ‘rooms’ for kids to meet Santa (without making it obvious), allowing for plenty of space for the whole family. Santa also spends a good amount of time with each child, with time for you to take your own photos or purchase the official one for around £5.

In a nice touch, those who have paid for a gift are shown to Santa’s toy workshop where they can exchange their ticket for a toy of their choosing. There’s a good selection of toys to choose from, including soft toys, games, and figurines. The tip is to visit this section early on for a great choice of gifts before stock runs out. For an additional £3, the children can also grab some Reindeer food.

Those with younger children or babies will find the section near the entrance the best place to say. Here is an inflatables section, a baby chill-out zone, and even a beach, which feels very welcome during the cold Winter season. It is also close to the toilets and the dedicated baby-changing area.

Head towards the centre of the venue and you find the eateries. There’s a wide range of food and drink stalls here, from Greek Gyros (biggest queue) and Fish and Chips to German sausages, waffles, and crepes. There is also an authentic German Bar for alcoholic drinks and refreshments. There is plenty of space to sit in here and while prices are a little high (around £5-£7 per food item), the choice and quality is good.

The centre of the venue also houses a large stage for the live entertainment. There’s plenty of shows throughout the session, each lasting around 15-20 minutes, including performances of Star Wars, Frozen and a mini pantomime The Wizard Of Oz. The performers are excellent here, with strong vocal performances and good interaction with the crowd.

Other highlights elsewhere include TV stars Daisy and Ollie, Ice Princess Show, Christmas Meltdown, and the return of the spectacular Christmas Circus.

The only real criticism is slow entry to the event which led to big queues and a few fed-up children who were desperate to get it. That said, once the crowd dispersed, most visitors had a Covid-secure and enjoyable experience without overcrowding.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly event that will appeal to children of all ages, Silcock’s Winter Wonderland certainly ticks the box.

Silcock’s Winter Wonderland runs at EventCity, Manchester until 2 January 2022. Ticket prices start from £29.50 with reduced ticket prices for NHS workers and Blue Light card holders.