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Enchanted Winter Garden price rise proposed by Antrim and Newtownabbey Council

Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors are being asked to consider a price rise at a festive flagship event despite a profit of more than £140,000 last year.

A report to be presented at a meeting of the borough council on Monday evening has proposed hiking prices for admission to the Enchanted Winter Garden event at Antrim Castle Gardens this Christmas.

An increase to £7.50 per adult and £5 per child from £6 and £4 respectively has been proposed.

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Officers have suggested expanding the event area into a field space and include additional lighting installations and attraction. However, this expansion plan is expected to increase the cost of delivering the event by approximately £100,000.

Antrim Castle Gardens

Councillors were told at a meeting behind closed doors earlier this year that profits from the high profile event during the next five years are required to help cover the cost of the newly-created ‘Clockwork Garden’ feature by celebrity garden designer Diarmuid Gavin at Antrim Castle Gardens.

Last year, Antrim and Newtownabbey’s Enchanted Winter Garden event made a profit of £143,000.

The Clockwork Garden will  mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee and the return of Garden Show Ireland this Friday (April 29) and will be a permanent attraction at the location.

Councillors have already been told that the Clockwork Garden will cost an undisclosed sum to be funded by 50 per cent from the show garden and celebrity gardener budget for Garden Show Ireland and the income surplus generated by the 2021 Enchanted Winter Garden event. The remainder is expected to be covered by profits from Enchanted Winter Garden events during the next five years.

The council spent over £0.5m hosting the Enchanted Garden event at Antrim Castle Gardens in 2021 which brought in an income of £685k. The sum of £20k was spent on television advertising.

The event attracted 118,748 visitors with almost 87 per cent travelling from outside the borough.  A total of 126,000 tickets were available.

A price rise was implemented last year despite opposition from some councillors who reminded colleagues of families being faced with “serious economic difficulties”.

 In 2019, the event was attended by 86,000 visitors bringing in a revenue of £350,000, councillors were told previously.

Admission to the Enchanted Winter Garden which commenced in 2013  was free of charge for the first four years before a charge of £2 for adults and £1 for children was  introduced.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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£140k profit from Antrim and Newtownabbey Council’s Enchanted Winter Garden