MORE details have been unveiled for this years’ Enchanted Winter Garden event, which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
Almost half the allocated tickets have been sold already, according to the Mayor.
The festivities will return from Saturday November 27 and run through to Tuesday December 21, transforming Antrim’s Castle Gardens into an after-dark illuminated outdoor experience for all the family.
The event will operate on a advanced booking-only basis with timed entry, feature restricted capacity and timed entry to allow families to safely step through the historic Barbican Gate and be greeted by a festive display of fairies, creatures, street artist performers, and fire jugglers.
Visitors will follow an illuminated light trail as it winds its way around the seventeenth-century site.
Back by popular demand, is the 35-metre-high Ferris Wheel with its panoramic views.
Other traditional attractions will deliver a vintage vibe, including a Wave Swinger and fairground Carousel.
The Festive Fayre will see artisan food stalls serve up festive treats, from gooey toasted marshmallows to s’mores and hot chocolate.
After missing out last year, Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Billy Webb MBE is thrilled that the Enchanted Winter Garden is returning to kick start this year’s Christmas celebrations: “2021 has been another challenging year for everyone, but we hope to end things on a high by bringing a bit of festive magic back to the award-winning Antrim Castle Gardens this Christmas.” he said.
“The Enchanted Winter Garden is Northern Ireland’s premier Christmas event and we look forward to welcoming back families from across the region to experience its unique atmosphere, fun and festivities.
“This is a superb event that truly transforms the beautiful Antrim Castle Gardens after-dark into an extraordinary trail of enchantment with magical lights, lasers, attractions and seasonal sounds that will create lasting memories for the whole family.
“We have introduced a number of important safety measures including capacity limits on each daily session, timed entry, as well as extending the duration of the event by an extra week to ensure we make it as safe and accessible for everyone.
“We have already sold more than half of this year’s ticket allocation and would encourage everyone to book their tickets before the event officially opens on Saturday November 27 to avoid disappointment.”
The Enchanted Winter Garden is sponsored by Belfast International Airport and will run through to Tuesday December 12.
Advance booking is strongly advised.
Tickets are priced at £6 for an adult, £4 for a child (under two’s go free) and £18 for a family ticket, with tokens purchased separately for rides and attractions.
There will be two special Evenings of Inclusive Enchantment on Wednesday December 1 and 8, offering a quieter experience for those with sensory needs.
Advance booking via the website is essential.
Meanwhile rules at the nearby Sixmilewater Caravan Park are due to be relaxed for the duration of the event.
A report due before the full monthly meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said that, in recent years, the caravan park has opened out of season to coincide with the event in order to meet demand for some visitors wishing to stay over while attending the event.
It is proposed that the caravan park opens this year and each year, that the event operates, for the duration of the event.
In addition, there is a minimum two night booking rule for the two caravan parks.
It is proposed that this is waived each year during this period each year due to the time of year and the nature of the event.
Outside of council-led festive events, The Juncion is planning a repeat of last year’s successful pantomime
In December 2020, the council supported a drive-in event, which attracted 650 cars to each show, estimated at 2,600 visitors.
The shows ran over three days.
The event is managed directly by The Junction but is a not for profit activity.
In 2020 they raised £6.7k for the NI Children’s Hospice which equated to all ticket proceeds.
This year, The Junction hopes to build upon the success of the 2020 event and is contributing £20,000 to the event alongside a £10,000 funding award from Arts & Business NI.
The production is being delivered by Cahoots NI and is titled ‘Elves Got Talent II’.
This year, the show will be hosted in a vacant retail unit, and is scheduled to run from December 14-19 2021.
The maximum ticket price will be £5 per person.
The Junction has requested £3,000 sponsorship from the Council towards the event.
This year it is proposed that proceeds will be split 50:50 between the Mayor’s charities (NI Children’s Hospice and Women’s Aid ABCLN) and St John Ambulance Antrim. The contribution towards St John Ambulance will support their campaign to raise funds for a new ambulance for their Antrim Unit