THE festive season looks set to get off to a fun – and freezing – start, as Darlington’s Christmas Wonderland Ice Rink returns for the third year running.

The rink, at the Market Square, will be officially opened on Saturday 6 December – with costumed characters on hand to entertain skaters of all ages and herald the start of a month long programme of activities.

Organiser Distinct Darlington is once again offering packages for groups of all types and ages, including children’s parties, corporate celebrations and school outings.

Party packages are available for groups of 10 people or more, with the option to enjoy exclusive use of the rink for parties involving more than 20 people, with adults able to skate for free at children’s parties.

In addition, smaller groups and individual skaters can opt for the ice rink’s special hot chocolate package.

This includes skate hire, one hour’s skating and a hot chocolate from the Dolphin Centre Bistro and costs £7 per adult and £6 for children aged under 12.

Distinct Darlington will also be running Christmas markets in the Market Square each weekend in December, offering shoppers the chance to snap up a wide range of festive gifts, food and drink from stalls around the rink.

Distinct Darlington manager Alex Hirst, said: “The ice rink has become one of the highlights of the Christmas calendar, providing a great deal of fun and a great venue for parties for all ages.

“In the coming weeks we’ll be adding to our programme of events to make this year’s Christmas Wonderland Ice Rink even better than ever.”

The Christmas Wonderland Ice Rink will be open daily between 6 December and 4 January 2015, excluding Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

One hour’s skating is priced at £5 for children under 12, £6 for adults and £19 for families, including skate hire.

Exclusive hire is available for groups of 20 people or more during term time only, using pre-booked weekday slots between 10am and 3pm, with weekend hire available upon request.

For more information, or to book, contact the Dolphin centre on 01325 388406 or call in to the reception.

Businesses wishing to take part in the Christmas markets can find out more by emailing admin@distinctdarlington.co.uk.