Cardiff’s got an Ice Bar for Christmas and here’s what it’s like
Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland has returned to add a festive feel to the city and it’s bigger than ever, split over two sites. And if the new layout isn’t enough, there are plenty of exciting new features including a much anticipated Ice Bar and an extended roof terrace to the popular Sur La Piste bar. In 2020, the popular Christmas event was closed early due to the Covid-19 restrictions imposed in December.
: Is the Coca-Cola Truck coming to Wales for Christmas 2021? But this year, making up for lost time, the attraction is set between the City Hall Lawns and inside Cardiff Castle – which alongside the Christmas markets on the Hayes, means the city is feeling more festive than ever. After an exciting first look at the wonderland, I headed straight for the ice bar on its second day of opening to see whether it was a welcome addition.
The ice bar is a brand new attraction to Winter Wonderland and is Wales’ first ever Ice Bar experience.
A sculpture at the Ice Bar (Image: John Myers)There are over 17 tonnes of ice in the bar (Image: John Myers)
I visited the ice bar on Wednesday afternoon, and had booked ahead for the 3pm slot. Booking is required for the ice bar, and tickets can be bought at Ticketsource ice bar and the experience lasts 35 minutes. Arriving just before my designated slot, there was already a short queue forming.
It was a seamless process, and a member of staff made his way along the line scanning ticket QR codes. Unfortunately my phone did not have the correct software to download the code, but the very helpful member of staff simply entered the booking code and found my ticket. So, don’t panic if you cannot see a QR code.
There was a sanitising station available for use while in the queue before customers were instructed to select a coat from the rack. These were available in several sizes and definitely added that much-needed element of warmth – although I was expecting them to be thicker.
The decking outside of the bar with the coat stand and sanitising station. The queue forms here (Image: WalesOnline)
Another member of staff handed out some much appreciated gloves.
However, I seem to have nabbed one of the last pairs as I heard a customer behind me asking if there were any more to which they were told they were still being washed. Perhaps it is worth taking your own pair, just in case. Once inside, the cold hits you immediately – and with the room temperature kept consistently at -10C to maintain the ice sculptures, the gloves and coat were much needed.
A member of staff told me that the ice chamber contained over 17 tonnes of ice which had been transferred in blocks on pallets with the ice then carved on site. The ice sculptures really were something to behold.
(Image: John Myers)I couldn’t resist a photo in the ice sledge (Image: WalesOnline)
From the corner sofa seat, the ice hockey table, the sledge – which customers could sit in – to the bar itself, it was all incredibly impressive. But for me, the huge polar bear centrepiece was most definitely the star of the show, with impeccable detail.
Taking all of the sculptures into consideration, the room is fairly small, and I found myself squeezing past other guests on several occasions. During my visit there were between 25 and 30 of us in the room. While I felt safe enough, if you are nervous about social distancing this might be something to consider when looking at the size of the room.
Despite visiting in the afternoon, there were only adults present during my session. The website states that children and under 18s are welcome into the Ice bar until 6 o’clock so the last session for children and under 18s to book is 5 o’clock. The website also says: “Whilst children are welcome into the Ice Bar, we do feel it is a more adult vibe.
The minimum age is 5 years old and all under 18s need to be accompanied by an adult ticket holder and will require a ticket themselves.” There were two tickets available for my visit, the “off-peak standard” which is GBP7.59 including the booking fee, or the “off-peak premium” at GBP10.84 including booking fee.
The shots are served in ice shot glasses (Image: WalesOnline)The prosecco and beer are served in plastic glasses (Image: WalesOnline)
The standard offers the 35-minute experience, coat hire and a shot (shot options include AU Vodka flavours, Jagermeister or non-alcoholic drinks), while the premium also includes a Glass of Prosecco or Coors pint. I opted for the premium with the expectation the drinks would be served in ice gasses, however, both the prosecco and beer were served in plastic glasses.
That being said, the shots were served in shot glasses made of ice which definitely added to the experience. I visited alone but there were lots of couples, families and friends enjoying themselves in the bar. And while it was a great experience to see the ice sculptures, nonetheless, I would say it’s definitely an attraction to visit with company.
After all, who else is going to take a photo of you in the ice sledge? Overall, for just over GBP10, including two drinks, I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and well worth the money. I would definitely visit again and in my opinion, the ice bar is a welcome addition to the festive wonderland.
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