A pre Christmas family break in Nottingham? Not something that you hear very often but ths city gave us lots of surprises.
We planned a four night stay, flying from Ireland West to East Midlands airport with Ryanair. The airport is located a mere 18km from Nottingham city. We hired a car for the duration of our stay which worked out pretty inexpensive, although, as with most cities, parking isn’t so cheap. We stayed in the Hilton Hotel in Nottingham city centre. Shops and restsurants were very close by. All the main high street shops are located either in the Victoria Centre or along the main pedestrian Streets.
However one of our main reasons for visiting the city at this time of year was for the Winter Wonderland experience that is set up in the city centre, and it didn’t dissapoint. Once you enter this area of the city, you are immeadietly transported to a magical Christmas land, filled with atmosphere and excitement.
Stall after stall selling crafts, souvenirs, decorations and all types of hot foods and drinks. Christmas smells and cheer fill the thronged streets. The highlight of the Christmas Wonderland for us was probably the Ice Skating. This was a very efficiently run operation to ensure the ice rink never became overcrowded. The children loved it. Staff were on standby to help the “fallen” and there were various types of aids for us beginners. It’s a great experience for all age groups but its definitely not as easy as it looks. The skating rink is located in the heart of the winter Wonderland and right nextdoor to the ice bar. The atmosphere brings you to another world. The weather was so cold when we were there, that we felt we were in another part of the world and not just a 1 hour flight from home.
Following on from our ice skating experience we thought we had earned a little drink in the Ice Bar. Not for the faint hearted! On our arrival outside the bar we were given extra jackets and gloves. Tickets for the Ice Bar must be pre booked. Once you enter the freezer that is the Ice Bar you will understand the need for the extra coats and gloves. The bar itself, the tables, the sculptures and even the shot glasses are all made entirely out of ice. Our two children lasted about 5 mins before the sheer temperature got the better of them. We had to retreat to the warm bar outside to regain some sence of normality. Even though it was probably a waste of money in our case, I’m glad I got to see it and feel the actual cold for myself.
During our few days in Nottingham, we also explored the “City of Caves”. Under ground in the city of Nottingham are a series of man made tunnels and caves connecting the city. You can take a guided tour or an audio tour to hear all about the uses these caves and tunnels were put to over the centureis to help the people of Nottingham.
Across the road from The National Theatre is a building called “The Corner House”. This building houses a 15 screen cinema, a casino, as well as two 18 hole adventure golf courses two floors below ground level. Many an hour and many a pound were spent by us in this building, but when you are travelling with children ,its all bout keeping them entertained.
We also attended the Panto “Beauty and the Beast” in the National Theatre. This was a very professional performance and a great hit with the children.
Overall we found Nottingham to be a lively and busy city. Lots of choices for places to eat, and this was imporant to us as one member of out family is a Coeliac. The restaurants seemed to have a good understanding and there were plenty of options. I can’t comment on fine dining in the city as we ate in the more family friendly restaurants. We had a very enjoyable time in Nottingham. Just like Ireland West Airport, East Midlands airport is easy to navigate and very family friendly.
As I said in the beginning we had planned a four night stay. However when the snow arrived, we had to spend an extra night. While Ireland West Airport remained operational, we were not so lucky at East Midlands
Holiday blog by Mary Leydon
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