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Revealed: What Cambridge’s winter wonderland – with Christmas market, ice rink and rides - could look like for the next 10 years

An ice rink, Santa workshop, Christmas market and fairground rides could be heading to Cambridge after a new operator applied for permission to hold a winter wonderland for the next 10 years.

The city council has appointed Alpine Christmas Markets Ltd to run a redesigned annual festive event in the city, following disappointment last year that the organisers of the previous ‘North Pole’ events pulled out.

How the new winter wonderland on Parker's Piece could look. Picture: Alpine Christmas Markets Ltd
How the new winter wonderland on Parker's Piece could look. Picture: Alpine Christmas Markets Ltd

The company has now applied for permission for a “family friendly traditionally themed Christmas event” for the next decade, running from mid-November to January 4.

The attraction would feature an open air ice rink, a lodge bar, Christmas market stalls in traditional timber cabins, food and drink stands, a Santa workshop, a Christmas tree maze, curling lanes, heated domes and traditional fairground rides, including a big wheel and carousel.

It would operate seven days a week, from 10am to 10pm on Sundays to Wednesdays, and from 10am to 11pm on Thursdays to Saturdays.

And the company hopes to address some of the concerns people voiced about the previous winter wonderland.

Planning documents submitted as part of the application note: “The Christmas event has been redesigned in response to the feedback provided from previous events to create a high quality and family friendly attraction with a Christmas theme for the community, including an ice rink, food and drink concessions, and market stalls.

“The event has however responded to concerns raised in terms of noise and disturbance and has removed ‘thrill’ type fairground rides, which have been replaced by a traditional big wheel and carousel, which won’t be highly lit and due to their nature won’t generate significant levels of noise.

“The height of perimeter fencing has also been reduced, with a low level picket fence proposed to enclose the public event space to provide greater views and interaction with the wider area.”

The attraction is earmarked for the same area of Parker’s Piece, beside Gonville Place, as in previous years.

Councillors previously voiced concerns about the damage the events had done to the grass on Parker’s Piece, which took a long time to recover.

The last event, held in 2021, was only given temporary permission for that year as a result of the concerns.

But the new proposals include a report explaining how the organisers hope to protect and re-establish the grass. It explains that the “current grass sward is weak” and that the company would aim to improve the health of the grass ahead of installing the rides and ice rink, using an “innovative grass plant regulator” to slow down growth and make the turf “less susceptible to stress” - techniques used in football grounds when they have concerts over the summer.

The company added that protection will be put down before the rides are installed and said the area would be be fenced off after the rides are removed to allow the turf to receiver.

The application also seeks permission to set up and take down the attractions either side of the dates it is running.

The city council is now expected to discuss the plans before making a decision on them.

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