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Town hopes for winter ice rink boost
A NORTH-East town is to be transformed into a Winter Wonderland, complete with an outdoor ice rink, in a project that organisers hope will attract skaters and shoppers from around the region.
The ice rink planned for Darlington’s market place has been organised by Distinct Darlington, which aims to boost the local economy, and will be the first in the town since 2004.
The Darlington ice rink will open to the public on November 29 – the same day the town’s Christmas lights will be switched on – until January 6.
The project follows a similar rink in Spennymoor, County Durham, last year, which delivered a boost to the town’s night time footfall.
The team behind the Darlington project hope it will add to the festive atmosphere and encourage more people from Darlington and beyond to visit the town centre.
Alex Swan, manager of Distinct Darlington, said: “It was a decision that the board really went for because they thought an ice rink would have a big impact.
“It’s not been done for a number of years in Darlington. It’s such a good event for Christmas and it really gets people in the spirit of the season.
“It will be a big centrepiece for the town and we believe it will draw people from around the region.”
The outdoor ice rink in Spennymoor, organised by the not-for-profit Creative Communities (NE) CIC, brought a number of people to the town during the four days it was open last December.
Company director Phil Ball said: “The effect that it had on the evening economy was quite interesting because it meant people were in the town centre until 8pm and some shops remained open because of that.
“It would be difficult to quantify how it much it brought into the economy but it left a smile on people’s faces.”
This year the Spennymoor rink will be based at Durham Gate, off the Thinford roundabout, between December 13 and 16.
Other established winter attractions in the region include a rink at Beamish Museum, near Stanley, which will open every weekend from November 5; The Ice Factor at the Designer Outlet, in Fulford, York, from November 24; and the outdoor rink at Life Centre, in Newcastle, open from November 10.