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Call for ticket refunds over Detling Winter Wonderland chaos

Furious ticket holders are demanding refunds over last night's Winter Wonderland chaos - while others say they are now too scared to attend tonight.

Visitors to the event at the Detling Showground faced queues of up to four hours to get onto the site - with many not arriving until it had finished.

The queues on the approach to Winter Wonderland (43635344)
The queues on the approach to Winter Wonderland (43635344)

Organiser of the £50-per-car event Phoenix Fireworks has since confirmed that it will go ahead with tonight's event, despite yesterday's chaos.

It had been billed as a Covid-safe 'whimsical Christmas tour' with guests driving along a festive trail.

Children could wave at Santa from their cars, post their Christmas letters and watch a fireworks display from a designated 'parking pod'.

They were also promised a food village and other 'enchanting surprises'.

But many told of a miserable experience trapped in cars with young children for hours as traffic snarled up on the approach to the showground.

People were stuck in traffic for hours (43635342)
People were stuck in traffic for hours (43635342)

Others expressed concern about social distancing, reporting long queues at the 'food village' - which one complainant said consisted of three vans.

The event is due to continue tonight, tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday.

A message posted on the Phoenix Fireworks Facebook page but subsequently deleted said delays had been made worse by people getting out of their cars to stroke the reindeers and have photos taken with Santa.

It added problems had been made worse by many cars arriving an hour before the gates were due to open.

Furious visitors are now demanding refunds.

The event was billed as a 'whimsical festive trail' (43635361)
The event was billed as a 'whimsical festive trail' (43635361)

Beccy Hamblett posted: "Avoid at all costs! We arrived at Detling Hill at 3.45 expecting a queue.

"We finally reached the entrance at 7.30pm and located a marshal who led us right to the exit as there was no point in staying for the last 30 minutes.

"We didn't get to see anything except darkness and car headlights. I had small baby crying non-stop and let down my ten-year-old too."

Kay Shoebridge added: "Phoenix Fireworks, you need to issue refunds for those of us who couldn't even get close."

Melissa Whitehead has tickets for the event on Monday and said: "What assurances can you give that the opening night failures can be put right?

"I hope you will be offering apologies and refunds to those unable to access the event.

"People hoping to give their children a bit of festive fun and get into the Christmas spirit during an already difficult and stressful time have had a nightmare of an evening."

Debbie Clay added: "I have been shielding since March. This was my first trip out other than hospital and I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to it.

"We live ten minutes away but sat in a queue for two and a half hours. When we got to the entrance, cars were stuck in mud. It would take over an hour to park so we were advised to go home.

"I had high hopes to go out of 2020 with some spirit of good in my heart and you have squashed it. I want a refund - I am fuming."

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