Sandwell Valley's Christmas winter wonderland set to return next year - with video
A successful Christmas winter wonderland event is set to return 'bigger and better' next year, according to organisers.
For the first time Christmas at the Valley took place at Sandwell Valley Country Park from December 2 to Christmas Eve, and it has proved so popular that plans are already underway for its return in 2017.
Alongside the attractions this year of Santa's grotto, reindeer, puppet shows, a festive train and more, there are plans to add a
Explore the winter wonderland here:
The exact numbers of attendees have not yet been confirmed, with a last-minute rush seen in the final few days before Christmas still to be counted.
Yet according to Councillor Richard Marshall, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for leisure, at its peak the event welcomed as many as 50 children through Santa's grotto every half an hour.
Delighted with the response, Councillor Marshall said: "It has gone really, really well. We definitely want to carry it on next year, and we want to make it even bigger and better. "I haven't heard a single bad comment about it. We did exit polls with
people as they were leaving, and we recorded a 99.5 percent satisfaction rating."
He confirmed that in January the council will hold a full briefing on how it went, including details on visitor numbers and the economic benefits.
The feedback received in the exit polls is also helping the organisers to decide where to take the event next. "We like the idea of having an ice rink and a circus. Before the event we did an initial survey, asking people to rank ideas in order of
preference. Their favourite ideas were family friendly activities for kids to do during the holidays, and the ice rink and circus ideas weren't so popular. But on the exit polls they liked the idea of a circus, so we would like to add that next year."
The event hoped to be a rival to other more established Christmas events in the area, including Birmingham's Christmas Market, and to draw visitors from both inside and outside the borough.
Councillor Marshall added: "Our feedback shows that we had people come from as far away as Cannock and Lichfield. So it does seem that people have gone out of their way to come to our event, and chosen us over others."
Christmas at the Valley certainly appears to have gone down well with
many families, with satisfied parents taking to social media to praise
Writing on Sandwell Valley Country Park's Facebook page, Joolz Johnson said: "Have done a few Christmas events this year, this was the best. Well done everyone involved."
Charlotte Billingham added: "We visited on the first weekend and had a fantastic day, the staff were fantastic and the event was really well organised. Well done to everyone involved in making our Christmas treat a wonderful one".
Also thrilled with what she found was Kerry D Plant, who said:
"Visited Christmas Eve and absolutely loved it! Definitely returning next year! Well done to all involved and thank you for a lovely family day out!"
Shows cancelled and postponed due to wintry weather (with date for rescheduled Wolverhampton Ken Dodd gig and other events)
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