Winter wonderland event cancelled after organisers apologise for falling 'way short of expectations'
A WINTER wonderland event in Co Down has been cancelled after organisers apologised for falling short of expectations.
They admitted it was frustrating and disappointing for all involved but faced a backlash as disappointed customers were told they could wait up to 28 days for a refund.
Paul Breen paid £50 for his family-of-four to attend the event in Bangor, Co Down.
He said when they arrived on Saturday the ice rink had been constructed of plastic slates and the entire family was underwhelmed after meeting Santa.
He said: "You could see the elastic on his beard. The grotto was a barn and it was a rundown Christmas tree. There was nothing magical at all."
He queried whether he would receive a refund.
The event was held at the Clandeboye estate but was not organised or associated with the Estate, which can be hired for events like weddings or functions.
It was due to run into this week but organisers said it would be shut down.
A statement posted on Facebook said: "Winter NI would like to apologise for the Bangor Winter Wonderland event which has fallen way short of our expectations.
"For this reason it has been decided to cancel the event from tomorrow morning, Monday 18th December.
"Whilst we understand that this will be greatly disappointing to many we feel we can not 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."
Organisers said all ticket holders for the period December 18-23 will be given a full refund and should not travel to the event. Refunds will be processed automatically over the next 28 days.
"On behalf of all involved we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment caused."
Mr Breen, a photographer from Downpatrick in Co Down, his wife Toni and their two girls aged five and eight were among the first to arrive around 11am on Saturday.
He said they were disappointed in the presents they received and the amount of time their youngsters spent with Santa.
He did not receive photos of their time with Father Christmas.
Barbara Wallace attended at 6pm on Saturday night with her husband and two children, also aged five and eight.
She said: "The ice was actually plastic.
"My kids were 'skating' for 5 minutes and were told it was closing in 10 minutes, despite us only arriving and bookings were taken until at least 7pm."