Winterlight 2017 has arrived, and with it comes a generous sprinkling of winter magic not often seen in our beautiful Australian climate. From skating to soup and everything inbetween, we have your night time Winterlight visit covered.
Winter themed attractions
We recommend booking online for these attractions to save queuing on the day. Simply flash your printed ticket and you’re through. Alternatively you can purchase tickets on site at the signed ticket kiosks.
Winterlight gets an immediate thumbs up for separating the kids rink from the general ice rink. Under 12’s can safely test the (frozen) waters in their own zone while still giving families the option to skate together on the main rink. The sessions for the little ones come with a free penguin balance helper and carers are free to go on the ice (in their shoes) to assist. Wear grippy footwear if you’re planning to to this! The main rink runs in sessions so be sure of the time when you book. Try to come a little earlier than your designated session start to get your skates on and make the most of your time on the ice. The whole family loved watching the ice shows (Friday and Saturday nights only) as the talented skaters glided, spun and leaped across the ice.
If you have booked a snow play session, do this first! After lots of little and big feet trampling the snow it can get quite compact in some areas and mushy (read wet and slippery) in others. Build a little snowman or simply stomp around enjoying the novelty of an icy adventure. If you’re planning to stay for any longer than a few minutes in here, bring gloves!
The ice slide looks like great fun for older kids, especially those who haven’t been tobogganing before. You can pre-book tickets for this, and the other winter events here.
Winterlight achieves a vibrant, festival atmosphere throughout, but nowhere more than its rides and attraction section. From the much loved merry-go-round to the whirling, swirling speed rides and trains on tracks, the rides are a great selection to entice the littlest to the biggest of festival goers. The rides operate on a coupon system so purchase yours before you ride. And don’t forget the ‘piece de resistance’, the 22 metre high illuminated ferris wheel that lights up the night in an array of dancing colours.
Free workshops run in daylight every weekday, you can check out the schedule here. We will update you on these when we have visited next week, but the concepts look fantastic! The kids creative hub tent is huge and open from 11am-6pm with activities from snowflake making to winter olympics. A creative corner (books, colouring) is available outside those hours.
We especially LOVE the sensory friendly workshops and inclusion centred “quiet hour” (11am – 12pm Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays) where “music levels will be lowered and smaller crowds are expected at the event”.
Food and drink
So now I’m in my element. The dining area sits under twinkling lights and is what dreams are made of. A range of perfectly appointed winter menu stalls sit behind timber tables and benches, offering a fabulous view of the brightly lit ferris wheel and ice rink. Relax under the gas fire heaters and enjoy a bowl of piping hot soup with a sprinkling of live music. (see the hot food options in our slideshow below)
As I hurried to spoon soup into three hungry little mouths I considered what a perfect date night venue Winterlight would be, sans minis! (Well, what do you know, the organisers have already scheduled a date night theme on Wednesday the 12th of July)
Lots of winter warmers were available including pizza, gozleme, german hot dogs and dutch mini pancakes. Oh, and coffee of course, served with a side of handmade chocolate. 10 out of 10.
Portable public toilets have been set up and there were plenty of them. We couldn’t locate baby change facilities but the disabled toilet was large enough to do a change in if necessary. Staff were exceptionally helpful and there was a visible security presence.
Parking tip & Light Up St Pats event
The old Parra pool carpark is still open and offering free parking after 4pm. When we arrived (and left) plenty of spaces were available. The carpark is a short, easy walk from Prince Alfred Park. We arrived at Winterlight in under 5 minutes. On the way back you can walk through the beautiful Light Up St Pats event to see the historic Cathedral come alive with animated spools of colour. The hall display shows images from the terrible fire that all but destroyed the original building as well as exhibits on other points of interest, including information about the Turin shroud.
Perhaps it’s the delicious soup talking, but Winterlight festival has managed to create a very special winter wonderland atmosphere right in the middle of Parramatta. For a moment, sipping my hot chocolate, I got a flash of nostalgia to my ski instructor days. There is something comforting about being rugged up against the elements enjoying a hot brew. We can’t wait to head back next week to check out what’s on offer during the day. The bubs were well blanketed in the pram but be warned that the cold night temperatures drop dramatically when the sun goes down. We recommend arriving around sunset (5pm-ish) to get all the magic of the festival minus the crowds and chilly hands, but pack the beanies anyway! Overall, Winterlight is well worth the visit for a range of ages and stages and delivers on the touch of winter magic it promises. Tell us about your visit in the comments!
Winterlight is a FREE ENTRY event which ends on the 16th of July, so put it in your calendars ASAP!