Downtown Raleigh's ice rink will return for the season on Dec. 1 with an opening celebration that includes everything from sledding ramps and bounce houses to a Ferris wheel, carousel and screenings of "The Polar Express."
Raleigh Winterfest, on City Plaza on Fayetteville Street, has become a popular, two-month event that features skating on real ice.
The free opening celebration runs from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the ice rink open from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., Dec. 1. The festival includes local choirs, bands and entertainers, along with sledding, carriage rides, bounce houses, a carousel, a Ferris wheel and more than 40 vendors selling food, crafts and gift items. Santa will be there too.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane will light a 35-foot tree at 7 p.m. The event also includes a 42-foot outdoor movie screen showing "The Polar Express" at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The rink will be open six days a week from Dec. 1 to Jan. 30. Admission, including skate rentals, is $8. There are specials throughout the two months, including Sledding Sundays, Two for One Tuesdays, Workout Wednesdays and All-Day Skate Sundays, among others.
I did notice that stroller skating, which has been offered during the past couple of years and involves people pushing around strollers while skating on the ice, is not on the calendar. Randy Jones, senior director of special events and merchant programs for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, tells me that it was replaced with the Wednesday evening workouts.
For all the details about Raleigh Winterfest, check the website.