ellaslist Reviews Parramatta Winterlight 2016
Mums & Bubs
By Vanessa Mah Chut, ellaslist explorer
If you’ve passed through Parramatta recently there’s no doubt that the Dream Wheel at Prince Alfred Square would have caught your attention. It was also that the first thing that my young boys sighted as we approached the square on Friday night for Parramatta Winterlight. This illuminated ferris wheel is 22m high and changes colour regularly as it towers over the square. The excitement continued as we arrived to find the trees all lit up, giving the square a magical feel.
Kids’ Ice Skating
We headed straight for the ice skating and started on the Kids’ Rink. This rink is suitable for children 12 years and under, and the price ($10 for 20 minutes) includes a free penguin which is great for keeping the kids upright. My 6 year old son found the penguins quite hard to move so needed an extra push from hubby to get sliding.
So, while parents are not required to skate with kids, I recommend it for young children. Parents can skate here for an additional cost of $10. The advantage of skating on the Kids’ Rink is that children can fall relatively safely as they are out of the path of faster skaters. It’s also undercover so it could be a great school holiday activity if we get some rainy weather.
The Main Rink
If the kids have skated before, or spent some time on the Kids’ Rink, I would head straight to the Main Rink ($10-16 Children, $20 Adults). It’s currently the largest open-air rink in Sydney and we enjoyed skating to the music of the live DJ who mixes the music on Friday and Saturday nights. Knowing nothing about ice rink formation, I can’t explain why, but it was much easier to skate on the Main Rink than the Kid’s Rink. The lights and open air also gave the Main Rink a special feel.
Speedy Toboggan Run
Keeping with the ice activities, my 6 year old son was keen to toboggan down the 20m ice slide (3 rides for $8). It’s fast and he loved it. Younger children may find the sudden stop and speed reached a bit too much but a safety helmet is worn so if they’re keen, send them up!
Great Food Choices
We’d worked up quite an appetite by this time and there were three big highlights at the European-inspired food village;
- Tasty Food ($10+) that included German hotdogs, Parisian-style crepes, Italian pizza and handmade chocolates and Dutch poffertjes for dessert. We had the pulled pork buns from Eat Art Truck and they were absolutely delicious
- Kids’ Menus ($6.50+) were offered and included pizza, toasties, chicken and chips, nachos and chips and more
- Gas Heaters at the tables to warm up after all the ice activities with live music at times
Carnival Rides For All Ages
Up until now, my 2 year old son had been a patient onlooker as the ice skating and slide were not really suitable for this age group. But he made up for it at the carnival rides (1 coupon = $1 and rides start from 5 coupons). He was able to go on a number of rides such as the merry go round, dodgem cars and the bungy trampoline. I was also able to go on the rides with him at no further cost. My older son enjoyed all of these rides and his favourite was the Winterlight Coaster. The Dream Wheel gives an amazing view back on the ice skating and over Parramatta.
Plenty of Free Activities
If you’re doing some mental calculations and all of these costs are starting to add up, there are plenty of free activities that you can balance with some paid activities to make this an affordable outing:
- On Friday and Saturday nights (5:45pm, 6:45pm, 7:45pm) you can watch performances by professionally trained ice skaters
- There is roving entertainment including cloud men-roving walks of art, illuminated jellyfish, stilt performers and more
- There will be a Circus Playground on the weekends of the 2nd/3rd and 9th/10th July from 12pm to 4pm where you can test your skills at juggling, stilts, and spinning and balancing objects
- Every day from 11am to 6pm there are free workshops for kids at the Kids’ Creative Hub including cookie decorating, arts and crafts and more
There are also theme nights, a licensed bar and lots more. We had a magical night to remember at Parramatta Winterlight and hope that you do too!
ellaslist Top Tips
- We parked at the metered carpark at the Parramatta Swimming Centre. Other parking can be found nearby at the Eat Street Carpark
- Public transport information can be found at www.transportnsw.info.
- Note that if you are taking younger children, we were unable to locate a baby change table so you may need to head back to the car for a quick change or use your pram (the cold ground at night was not an option!).
Parramatta Winterlight Festival runs through the school holidays until Sunday 17 July from 10am to 9pm daily (until 10pm on Saturday nights). For more information on Parramatta Winterlight visit our event listing or their website.
I’m excited be one of the new ellaslist explorers and am looking forward to exploring Sydney further along with my mini-explorer boys Hal, aged 1, and Madden, aged 5, and the other big explorer, my husband Brad. I’m a primary school teacher and when I’m not working we all enjoy getting out and about. With two active boys we can often be found at Sydney parks with our current favourites being Lakes Edge Park at the Ponds and the Blaxland Riverside Park at Newington. We live in the Hills district and spend a lot of our free time at the parks (and the James Ruse Reserve Water Playground), cafes and along the river in Parramatta. We enjoy going to shows together with Madden’s favourite being The Gruffalo at Glen Street Theatre. We love to travel and have enjoyed recent family trips to Warren, Wagga Wagga, Bermagui, Burleigh Heads and Kangaroo Island. We have nicknamed Madden the jock thanks to his love of all sporting events so as well as watching his Saturday soccer matches we are often cheering on teams at a variety of sporting events. I just asked Madden what we do as a family and his response was ‘relax’, which is what we like to do after exploring all of the above.