Winter Wonderland has become a regular fixture on the Manchester Christmas calendar, setting up home at Event City next to the Trafford centre. It's part indoor fairground, part family show with a bit of Christmas sparkle added on top. Best of all it's all indoors in the warm.
I took two 12 year old boys along to the press launch and they had a ball. There were plenty of rides for them to test out, with all the usual favourites you find at a travelling fair, such as the teacups, dodgems, waltzers, a mini roller coaster and several spinning ones, plus inflatables and mazes. My son's favourite is Toro Loco where you have to try and stay on a bull that bucks and tips. Watching the adults fall off is even more fun than going for a bumpy ride!
Younger visitors have plenty of rides to choose from too, but there is more to Winter Wonderland than just a fair. The boys couldn't be persuaded to join Jedi training school on stage or to watch Daisy & Olie or the ice princesses but lots of little visitors looked enthralled. Mums and Dads - well old ones like me - can take a trip down memory lane as George and Zippy take to the stage. And yes I do still know all the words to the Rainbow theme tune!
One show the whole family enjoyed was the circus. Now the big top isnt very big so don't expect a high wire, trapeze or any amazing acrobatics, But it did have a handful of performers who were entertaining.
The middle of Winter Wonderland is given up to a mini Christmas market with a German bar and food stalls serving carvery sandwiches, hot dogs, pancakes and more.
A visit wouldn't be complete without a trip to see Santa. Sadly for me the days of queuing up with excited little ones has passed, but it looked lovely. There is no charge to see Santa if you think you can escape without a meltdown if no gift is given, otherwise £3.50 gets you a token to exchange in his toy shop which has a good range to choose from. You can check out the toy selection too before parting with any cash which is handy. .
Entry to Winter Wonderland isn't cheap but if you can avoid pester power for toys and snacks and the arcade, once you're in mostly everything is included. We took our own drinks and this wasn't an issue.
Best of all though - it's warm, there's something for all ages and my kids had to be dragged out at closing time. Some dates are already sold out so advance booking is good and slightly cheaper than on the door. Open every day now until 1st January 2018.
Visit Eureka summer for a boredom-busting festival of tech, science, performance and play, including Fusion: Adventures in Digital Art, a new exhibition featuring some of the best digital art from around the globe.