30 Nov 2021

A n-ice way to make Christmas magical!

Darren Hassett gets his skates on for some slips, trips and pirouettes at the popular Kilkenny on Ice at Cillín Hill

A n-ice way to make Christmas magical!

Ready to go: The Kilkenny People’s Darren Hassett is suited and booted for his time on the ice

My family came to Kilkenny for the opening weekend of Yulefest and we decided to make the most of all the activities on offer for their two day stay.

We caught the Italian flag wavers performance, ate some good food, my partner and my niece went on the Ferris wheel, my mother bought some homemade bread and my sister was just happy to be with her baby brother – me! (She would never actually admit that though...)

Anyway, we visited the Reindeer Garden at Rothe House, took ourselves to McDonagh Junction for some shopping and then we were all out to Cillín Hill as my niece and nephew waited with bated breath to skate on the ice – the real reason they came to visit their uncle.

We got the right fit for our skates and gingerly made our way to the 600 square metres of real ice. A wonderful feature of Kilkenny on Ice for those of you who may not be intrepid ice skaters – are the aids for making your way around the rink.

These include adorable plastic penguins for people to lean on as they skate around or two seater aids for you to take a load off and let a willing family member, friend or colleague do the work.

Kilkenny on Ice is perfect for the languid or the fast skater and once your session starts there is more than enough time to make the most of the experience, so take your time and lap it all up.

I went at a snail’s pace pretty much for an entire half hour and then conceded defeat. I used every aid possible, I went through more than one penguin and just could not skate on my own unaided without any great ease.

I found the only way I could get from one end of the rink to the other at any great speed was if I held on to the side. I didn’t fall at any stage, but my niece did, she was the only one. We laughed; once we saw her safely back to her feet, of course.

Some people take to ice-skating quite naturally, others, like me and the majority of my family, really struggle. And that’s exactly what happened at Cillín Hill.

Anytime I got a bit of speed up I got nervous and just slowed down and grabbed the railing.

The secret to it may be to release your inhibitions, as the song goes, and just let the skate do the work on the ice.

I could not do that, but I still had a magical time, whether I was racing my partner from one end to the other, both of us assisted by a penguin, or skating over to my mother - who was spectating - for a brief chat to tell her what it was like.

There are always the few in every session who have the knack and then there’s the steward who’s zinging around the rink just to make you feel safe and terrible at skating.

He’s got his own custom skates too and even though I can’t skate - I envied him his flashy boots.

In 2016 almost 40,000 people went to the rather cool event at Cillín Hill which injects approximately €1.5 million into the local economy every year.

But it’s the experience itself, for the thousands who attend, that’s wonderful. The event this year, which will run at The Hub at Cillín Hill from November 25 to January 14, boasts its 600 square metres of and a 30-metre Mammoth Ice Slide.

Also making a reappearance this year are the Bungee Trampolines.

There are refreshments and food too in the friendly Ice Café. For further information see or contact 086-2236660.

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