Real reindeer, a free Santa’s grotto, a festive market, entertainment and an ice rink will provide a magical experience in Bolton town centre this Christmas.
Victoria Square will be transformed into a winter wonderland from Saturday, December 1 and a packed programme has been organised by Bolton Council to pull in visitors to the town centre.
A 200 square metre ice rink will take centre stage with 15 traders in wooden chalets selling quality goods, food, drink and gifts nearby.
Produce on offer includes Christmas themed cupcakes; luxury relishes and jams; artisan chocolate; and locally reared turkeys. Some stalls will also be selling Christmas decorations, gifts and cards.
The market will be open on December 1 and 2, and will then open from December 6 to 9; December 13 to 16; and December 20 to 23. Opening hours are Thursday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and 11am to 4pm on Sundays.
Free Santa's grotto
Children can also meet Father Christmas at a free Santa’s grotto on Victoria Square. The grotto will be open from December 1 until December 24. Opening times are Monday to Friday 12pm to 2pm and an additional slot of 5pm to 7pm on Thursdays. Weekend opening hours are 11am to 3pm. Prior booking is not required. Children will receive a free small gift when they meet Father Christmas.
Real reindeer will also be making a welcome return to Bolton after proving a big hit for the last two years. Shoppers can pet and feed a pair of reindeer on Victoria Square, between 11.30am to 4.30pm on December 1 and then on Sundays, from December 9 until December 23.
And council chiefs have also organised a programme of free entertainment including Titan the robot. The 8ft walking, talking robot has performed alongside superstars including Rihanna, Will Smith and Jackie Chan. He will be performing in Victoria Square on December 2, at 12.30pm and 2.30pm.
Other acts include Bjorn the life sized polar bear on December 6 at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm. Visitors can also board a musical train on Newport Street for free rides around the town centre.
The ice rink is open from December 1 to January 6, 2013. Ticket prices and opening times vary, see www.boltontowncentre.co.uk. Tickets can be bought from a box office that will be set up next to the ice rink or on the website.
Free parking is in operation weekdays after 3pm and all day Saturday and Sunday until January 27, at Bow Street, Deane Road, Topp Way and the Octagon multi-storey car parks.
The Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said: “We’ve got something for everyone in the town centre this Christmas and together with the free parking we’re sure this is going to pull in the crowds.
“There aren’t many places you can go to where you get the chance to meet real reindeer, visit Father Christmas for free and then have a go at skating. Bolton really does have it all this Christmas and I’d encourage everyone to come down and enjoy the fun.”
Bolton Council’s festive programme is sponsored by Bolton Kia. The car dealership will display their current Kia range on Oxford Street and offer entry to a prize draw for a chance to win a Christmas hamper.