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Record numbers enjoy Skate Tunbridge Wells as nearly 50,000 visitors take to the ice at Calverley Gardens in 2021


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Record numbers had a blast on the ice at a festive winter attraction, it has been revealed.

Nearly 50,000 visitors enjoyed the fun of skating and Bavarian curling on the ice rink at Calverley Gardens in Tunbridge Wells.

Nearly 50,000 visitors took to the ice in Tunbridge Wells during the 2021 season. Picture: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Nearly 50,000 visitors took to the ice in Tunbridge Wells during the 2021 season. Picture: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

The team running the rink for the Assembly Hall Theatre say the number of tickets sold was the most ever and approximately 10,000 more than in previous years, despite uncertainty nationally over whether additional Covid-19 restrictions would be introduced before Christmas.

Apart from Christmas Day, the outdoor rink was open every day from November 19 until Monday, January 3 - with work to dismantle the festive facility and to return Calverley Gardens back to a town-centre park almost complete.

Despite the overall success during the 2021 season, its 11th year, a handbag was snatched on December 29 while its owner was ice skating, which led to the arrest of a 48-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman. Police say both suspects have been released, pending further investigation.

There was good news for the Assembly Hall Theatre as well.

Its production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, starring Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas, managed to complete its run, unlike many other theatres where shows were halted because of Covid-absences among cast and production crews.

Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas appeared in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Assembly Hall in the town. Picture: Assembly Hall Theatre
Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas appeared in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Assembly Hall in the town. Picture: Assembly Hall Theatre

The panto is thought to have been one of the highest grossing in the past decade, with Shirley playing the Wicked Queen.

“After such a challenging year, it was wonderful to see that so many people were able to enjoy Skate and a visit to see Snow White at the Assembly Hall Theatre,” said Cllr Jane March (Con), Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s portfolio holder for Culture and Leisure.

“I know the staff were delighted to welcome so many families back to the theatre and they worked hard to ensure everyone had a great time in as safe a way as possible.

“More people than ever visited the ice rink and gave Calverley Grounds a real buzz, let’s hope this positive start is a good sign for the rest of 2022.”

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