Northern Ireland

Bangor Winter Wonderland cancelled after complaints

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Media captionThe event was widely criticised on social media.

A Christmas event in County Down has been cancelled after organisers apologised that it had "fallen way short of our expectations".

The "Winter Wonderland NI" was due to run at the Clandeboye Estate in Bangor from 16-23 December.

The company said it would refund anyone who went to the event at the weekend, as well as those who have tickets for 18-23 December.

Some visitors posted scathing criticism on the event's Facebook page.

'Shambolic'

"There was a so-called ice rink set up, but the kids didn't want to go anywhere near it and said it smelled of chlorine," said Andrew Webb, who went to the event on Saturday with his family.

Image copyright Picture courtesy of Andrew Webb
Image caption Andrew Webb and his family were not impressed by the decorations in Santa's grotto

"The queue to see Santa was large, shambolic and strewn with litter.

"The gifts we were given for our kids were age inappropriate, in that we were handed unisex gifts that were for ages six to eight and when opened, it was for three years plus."

He also said there were very few Christmas decorations - with some of the scenery in Santa's grotto being held together by blu tac.

'Bad beard'

Rhonda Elliott, who attended the event with her husband William and four-year-old daughter Katie, described the experience as "horrendous".

"We ended up having to stand in a huge line full of prams with kids getting upset and an elf trying to push us further along even though there was nowhere to go - it was terrible," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

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Media captionA look through the BBC archives at the less wonderful side of Christmas

She also derided Santa's beard as "shockingly bad".

"His beard didn't have a hole in it for his mouth so he had to pull it down to speak," she said.

"Horrified kids were shouting: 'He isn't real!'"

Natalie Jackson told BBC Radio Ulster it was "the worst Santa Claus outfit she had ever seen".

"My daughter said 'why can I see the elastic on Santa's beard'?

"He had painted on eyebrows, you could not imagine it to be any worse."

'No atmosphere'

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Media captionAndrew Cowan who attended the event took this video of the ice rink - Footage courtesy of Andrew Cowan.

Scott Wallace claimed the ice rink at the event "did not have any ice".

"It was slippery plastic and it was nearly pitch black inside the marquee where it was, so you were risking tripping up over all the ice skates that had been discarded," he added.

"Nobody was supervising the ice rink, from a health and safety point of view it was an absolute nightmare."

Visitor Andrew Cowan was also disappointed by the facilities on offer.

"I walked straight in and the stalls were not even open, there were inflatable things that were not even inflated," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

"There was generally no atmosphere, staff that were meant to be doing face-painting... weren't even there."

Winter Wonderland NI said it was sorry for the "inconvenience and disappointment caused" as it cancelled the event.

"Whilst we understand that this will be greatly disappointing to many, we feel we cannot recover from the negative publicity and it is clear that we have hosted an event which has not met the high standards we had aimed to deliver," said a statement posted on the company's Facebook page.

Organisers have said anyone who attended the event at the weekend is entitled to a refund.

They already announced that anyone due to go this week would be refunded.

To claim a refund, visitors should contact the organisers by email at WinterWonderlandni@gmail.com

Image caption Karen Kane said the Clandeboye Estate had leased the venue for the week and was not involved in the delivery of the event

Clandeboye Courtyard Manager Karen Kane said she was very disappointed at how the events turned out.

"We, in good faith, let the venue to Winter Wonderland NI months ago and planning has been underway for this event for, I'd say, at least six or seven months.

"To me it was going to be a really magical experience, in magical surroundings like Clandeboye Estate.

"The children are disappointed, we are very disappointed, and we hope it does not reflect on Clandeboye Estate as a whole.

"Any events that are run here I would like to say are of a higher standard than this one," she added.

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