Crowds flock to Bolton town centre to enjoy giant ferris wheel and Christmas markets
VERY rarely will you be able ride a ferris wheel, pet some camels and go ice-skating all in one trip to your local town square.
No wonder then that, despite a misty and sodden day, Bolton gave a resounding thumbs-up to Bolton Council’s ambitious Winter Wonderland.
Dozens of people braved miserable conditions queueing to be among the first to sample panoramic views of Bolton from atop the 100ft high wheel.
There was scarcely any criticism of the entertainment, despite the camels not quite timing their arrival right.
The Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Colin Shaw, was supposed to be accompanied by the three kings and camels as he unveiled the giant wheel — but instead cut a comparatively lonely figure cutting the red ribbon.
The camels had been held up. Never mind — they had come a long way after all.
More important was the reaction from the public.
This is, after all, an attempt by council chiefs to make the town a more interesting place to do the Christmas shopping.
I can say, having sampled the Wonderland on behalf of The Bolton News, that I will stay away from the retail parks this year.
The wheel may lack the finesse and plethora of sights available on the London Eye but, in its own way, it had more charm.
Open to the elements, you feel as if you are floating above the town when you start to come down and, up at the top, it moves deceptively quickly.
Wait for a clear day, or an evening with stars twinkling in the sky, and even someone with a fear of heights would enjoy it.
Back on the ground, albeit with slightly slippery footing, people should not be afraid to try something new and utilise Bolton’s ice rink, back for a second year running.
As a willing, but hopeless, skater, I was not relishing the prospect of taking to the ice for the first time since I was 12 with grinning photographers, colleagues and press officers looking on.
But, in the safe hands of Tony Boynton and his team, I was trained up in just a few minutes to skate a slow circuit of the rink, alone and unaided.
I know, not a big deal. But it feels a lot more important as you’re clambering out of the rink, I can tell you. As Mr Boynton told me afterwards: “We don’t just let people slide around, clinging to the sides.
“We’ve got marshals going round helping the people who look like they’re struggling.
“We’ve had big groups of kids and managed to teach all of them to skate on their own by the end of the class. People won’t enjoy it if all they do is slip and slide next to the wall, but they might come back if they learn to skate while they’re here.”
Santa’s Grotto and the four-day festive market round off the activities, ensuring all ages and interests are catered for.
As one visitor, Ruth Porritt, aged 76, from Deane, pointed out: “It’s something Bolton can show off.
“Some people I know came up from Bristol and they got a great impression of the town.
“It is absolutely marvellous. They have really pushed the boat out with this one.”
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