Winterfest returns to Bushnell Park in Hartford

Frog Hollow resident Aaron Gill said Monday that his first child learned how to skate at the free Winterfest Hartford, and he’s thrilled that his second child will, too.

“I’m very excited this is back again,” said Gill, who lives within walking distance of Bushnell Park. “We’re so thankful to have it back.”

That’s right, the magic of Winterfest Hartford will return with free ice skating, skates and free lessons.

The ice skating kicks off Friday at the Bushnell Park Skating Rink at 60 Elm St. in Hartford. Santa will arrive on Dec. 10 for free visits and a photo. Beginning Dec. 3, they will also be collecting new and unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots.

The carousel, $2 per ride, will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin made the announcement Monday outside the rink, noting more than 40,000 people attended last year.

“This is now a longstanding Hartford tradition,” Bronin said. He said it’s a great way to have some “family fun.”

Winterfest Hartford, now in its 12th year, is fully privately funded by sponsors who raised over $250,000, Bronin said.

“When you think about winter in Hartford, you can’t help but think of Winterfest,” said Dan Glanville of Comcast, one of the event’s major sponsors.

People of all ages who might never have tried ice skating will be able to do so until Jan. 8 from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. Skating lessons will be held on Saturdays, Dec. 3, 10, 17 and Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Santa will be at Santa’s Workshop, now located at the Pumphouse. Those who want to see Mr. Claus are encouraged to bundle up because the line is outside.

Santa will also be on-site Dec. 11, 17, 18 from noon to 3 p.m., and each family will receive a free 5×7 printed photo.