Belfast Telegraph

Organiser of cancelled wonderland event offers grotto gifts to charities

By Brett Campbell

The organiser of a 'winter wonderland' in Co Down which was axed after a backlash from furious customers has appealed for charities to take 2,500 presents off her hands.

Winter NI boss Emma McKnight, who said she has been living in fear with her children after her address was circulated on social media, is struggling to find somewhere to donate the unused gifts.

"My only positive is the grotto presents are going to be donated to a charity, but I'm not having much success so far," she said.

Ms McKnight has been busy reimbursing thousands of unimpressed visitors but she criticised those responsible for publishing her personal details online.

"It is very wrong and very scary to be honest," she said. "I have two young kids of my own and I'm sat here in fear."

Dozens of visitors to The Winter Wonderland NI event at Clandeboye Estate in Bangor flocked to social media to post scathing reviews following the "horrendous" experience.

Complaints included an ice-rink with no ice, Santa's grotty grotto and smoking elves.

Claire Campbell (41), who had been looking forward to a magical day out with her husband Chris (40) and their two young children, was one of many parents who were left devastated.

"It promised so much, it was all bells and whistles, but it turned out to be such a let down. It was terrible," she said.

"At one point we saw an elf having a cigarette behind the out-house and my wee boy said: 'Mummy, why is the elf smoking?' He's still wondering why elves smoke."

The Conlig parents arrived at the Clandeboye Estate with their son Harry (5) and daughter Martha (2) around an hour before a much anticipated meeting with Santa.

"It was shocking, my husband actually burst out laughing."

Ms McKnight, who quickly acknowledged the event fell "way short" of expectations, said all refunds are now with card issuers and should appear in customers' bank accounts soon.

Belfast Telegraph

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