Winter Woe-derland! Visitors slam Carrow Road Christmas event

The 'ice rink' was found to just be plastic squares sprayed with water. Insert: The Seeley Family

The 'ice rink' was found to just be plastic squares sprayed with water. Insert: The Seeley family, who called the fair a waste of money - Credit: Grace Piercy/The Seeley Family

Families have condemned a "shocking" would-be winter wonderland at Carrow Road after arriving to find an ice rink made of plastics mats. 

The Festive Fair at the Canaries ground had promised to be a "winter wonderland" but instead saw adults charged £10 for entry to the drab site built in a car park.

And that's before visitors so much as put on a skate - which set adults back £14.50 a head to slide over a rubberised rink sprayed in water. 

The Festive Fair at Carrow Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

People putting on their skates for the rink at Carrow Road. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant 2021

Bosses at Norwich City Football Club have apologised to "disappointed" visitors, adding "all those who have raised an issue or complaint with the club have been contacted".

Sarah Purton called the fair "shocking" after her visit.

She said: "A handful of food stalls, two small rides aimed at toddlers costing £2.50 a go and a tiny rectangle of plastic that's supposedly an ice rink?

Carrow Road Festive Fair

The Festive Fair at Carrow Road from the car park. - Credit: Grace Piercy

"And a couple of bare Christmas trees behind a metal barrier does not make a 'Festive Fair.'"

Most Read

On their website, NCFC had called this event "the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit" with a "range of attractions and entertainment provided for all across the three-day extravaganza".

However, the attractions and entertainment were considered by many of those attending as lackluster due to their extra cost and generally poor quality.

Carrow Road Festive Fair

The two reindeers could be petted by those at the fair - Credit: Grace Piercy

There are four food and drink vans, including Fat Ted's Streat Food, Elsie's Pizza and Olivias.

There were also two reindeer accompanying Father Christmas.

Entry to the event is £10 for adults, £5 for those aged 13-17 years and under 12s go free.

The Festive Fair at Carrow Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

The Festive Fair at Carrow Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant 2021

To 'ice skate' on the plastic rink there is a separate cost of £14.50 for adults and £8.50 for under 18s.

The two fairground rides, a chair-o-plane and an aerial carousel for small children, are £2.50 a ride.

Lisa Taylor

Lisa Taylor took her ten-year-old daughter to the Festive Fair and called it "horrendous" - Credit: Lisa Taylor

Lisa Taylor, who took her ten-year-old daughter to the fair, said: "I went yesterday and it was horrendous.

"There were lots of people complaining and going into the events office for refunds.

"It's not a skating rink, it's a tiny bit of the car park covered in white uneven plastic. There is no marquee, it's just a white tent with garden chairs.

Carrow Road Festive Fair

One of the two bare Christmas trees sat behind barriers. - Credit: Grace Piercy

"And there were no fairground rides, it's basically a swing for toddlers and one of those round and round cars that toddlers sit in.

"It was definitely not the Carrow Road Festive Fair as advertised. It was a really big disappointment to us."

Louise Seeley and her husband Matt also took their two daughters Millie and Olivia, aged 12 and nine, to the venue yesterday.

Louise and Matt Seeley took their two daughters Olivia and Millie to the Festive Fair at Carrow Road

Louise and Matt Seeley took their two daughters Olivia and Millie to the Festive Fair at Carrow Road - Credit: The Seeley Family

"It was an absolute waste of money," Louise said.

"We are very easygoing but we felt very let down and will be making a complaint. From what I've seen on the Norwich City Football Club (NCFC) fan pages on Facebook, we're not the only ones."

Carrow Road Festive Fair

The 'ice rink' that was advertised as the only one in Norwich was actually made of panels of white plastic that had been sprayed with water. - Credit: Grace Piercy

She added: "We've contacted NCFC for a refund, hopefully they'll do the right thing.

"It would be different if the event was free but this wasn't so they needed to deliver so much more."

But one woman who attended today wasn't too let down, saying: "I think it’s an alright price, especially cause the kids got in for free."

Carrow Road Festive Fair

The aerial carousel was £2.50 per ride. - Credit: Grace Piercy

Another said: "The fair's fine but I wouldn’t have paid for the skating. They aren’t even skating they’re just shuffling around."

One woman, Christine Forster, even had her tickets refunded before she went today due to the amount of disappointment she was hearing about online. She said: "My son was so excited to go ice skating, then last night several people posted about how awful it was.

"I phoned this morning and Carrow Road refunded me without question."

The Festive Fair at Carrow Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

The chair-o-plane at the Festive Fair at Carrow Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant 2021

A spokesman for Norwich City Football Club said: "The club are aware of the feedback on the Festive Fair at Carrow Road. Unfortunately, some of the previously booked Christmas stalls and activity areas were cancelled at late notice, whilst the club acknowledges and apologises to those disappointed by the ice rink.

"All those who have raised an issue or complaint with the club have been contacted."

Carrow Road Festive Fair

The Fair was sparse - Carrow Road told Evening News that multiple stalls and entertainment companies had cancelled last-minute. - Credit: Grace Piercy

Grace from the Evening News visited the fair:

I went down just 30 minutes after the fair opened. To call it underwhelming would be kind.

Situated in a small gap between the South Stand and the car park, the fair was sparse. Both in stalls, decoration and people. There wasn't that Christmas feeling in the air that fairs really should have.

The Festive Fair at Carrow Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

The Festive Fair at Carrow Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant 2021

The two rides were those we've all been on before. They looked like they'd seen better days.

Beside them were a couple of reindeer in a pen. They didn't look particularly festive as they stood next to a completely undecorated Christmas tree which strangely were surrounded by barriers. 

The metaphorical star on top of the tree was the 'ice rink', which was actually a sheet of large white plastic puzzles pieces that had been sprayed with water so people could scrape across them. 

Children, whose parents had paid through the nose for the experience, shuffled about on the floor in their skates. They couldn't even glide.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter