Sunderland city centre festive ice rink opens to the public

Skaters took to the ice despite tonight's gala launch of a festive rink in Sunderland being cancelled.

It was confirmed this afternoon that the opening night of the city centre attraction, at which professional solo skaters Gary Beacom and Lisa Brewin were due to officially open the venue to the public, had to be cancelled.

Skaters try out the Sunderland city centre ice rink in Keel Square.

Skaters try out the Sunderland city centre ice rink in Keel Square.

The launch is due to be rearranged for another date which will be announced in the coming days.

The rink itself, however, which is in Keel Square, is now open to members of the public.

The open-air rink will remain open until the first week in January as part of the Christmas celebrations in the city centre, organised by Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID).

In a statement the BID said: “Sunderland BID has made the decision to cancel the Ice Gala due to the weather conditions, and the fact that the Met Office has issued a yellow warning.

Skaters try out the Sunderland city centre ice rink in Keel Square.

Skaters try out the Sunderland city centre ice rink in Keel Square.

“As this is a family event, we feel the safety of the public is paramount and we wouldn’t expect people to make unnecessary journeys in these conditions.

“We will look to reschedule the Gala event, but we can confirm that the ice rink in Keel Square will be open from today as planned.”

Despite the launch event cancellation, some people still braved the freezing temperatures to be among the first to sample the fun.

Site manager at the venue Jan Eskildsen said: “Some of the people who were due to perform tonight would have had to come from quite far away to get here, so in the circumstances it would have been really difficult for them to travel with the weather the way that it is.

Skaters try out the Sunderland city centre ice rink in Keel Square.

Skaters try out the Sunderland city centre ice rink in Keel Square.

“Hopefully it will be rearranged for over the next few days.

“This is the third year that we have held the ice rink here and we’ve kept all the entry prices at the same as they were last time.

“We’re very pleased with the backing we’ve had from the BID too. They are very supportive and we hope there will be a lot of people coming down.”

Among those skating at the rink on opening night was 15-year-old Daniel Pallin, of Shiney Row.

Skaters try out the Sunderland city centre ice rink in Keel Square.

Skaters try out the Sunderland city centre ice rink in Keel Square.

Argyle House School pupil Daniel, who went along with a number of friends, said: “We heard about it last year and decided to see what it was like.

“We’ll definitely be coming again sometime before it closes and I’m coming with my school too.”

The rink will be open until January 7.