A Winter Wonderland awaits Kern County families just 90 minutes north of Bakersfield, along the Amtrak tracks.

In celebration of the holiday season and the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions, the city of Hanford has transformed its Civic Park into a 50-foot by 70-foot outdoor ice-skating rink and scheduled daily entertainment and dining events that conclude Jan. 9.

This is the first year for Hanford’s Winter Wonderland, but Michelle Brown, Main Street Hanford executive director, says the city hopes to make it an annual event.

“We’re finding people are really thirsty to get out and to socialize and be with their families,” city Parks and Community Services Director Brad Albert told The Business Journal. Community enthusiasm and business sponsorships are being provided to build Winter Wonderland into a regional attraction.

Winter Wonderland hours are: Monday through Friday, 4 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.

The centerpiece of Winter Wonderland is the ice-skating rink.

Visitors can go online to hanfordwinterwonderland.com to reserve time on the ice. Reservations begin at $15 per 90-minute session. Group rates also are available.

No worries if you don’t know how to skate. Winter Wonderland is offering ice skating lessons every Sunday for ages 4 and up. Lessons are $20 per student for 30 minutes. Skate rental also is being offered.

But Winter Wonderland is not just an ice-skating event. There are food vendors, hot drinks, activities such as Turkey Bowling and Broom Ball, live music, free horse-drawn wagon rides through downtown Hanford, and visits by Santa. Check Hanfordwinterwonderland.com for a daily schedule.

The historic setting in Hanford’s Civic Center Park and Courthouse Square brings magic to Winter Wonderland and provides a special treat for visitors.

Many of the iconic buildings that surround the site of Winter Wonderland were built at the turn of the 20th century. The Hanford Civic Auditorium was built in 1924 and the Hanford Fox Theatre was built in 1929. Both are in use today. The old Kings County Courthouse, which now houses offices and shops, was built in 1896 and is included on the listing for National Historic Places. The Bastille, the former county jail, was built in 1898 and has undergone repurposing as restaurant and entertainment venues.

Just east of the park is China Alley, a collection of 11 historic buildings that date to 1877 and tell the story of the area’s Chinese population.

No visit to Hanford would be complete without a stop at Superior Dairy ice cream shop, which has been in operation since the 1920. For Bakersfield fans of Dewar’s Candy Shop, this place is really good, too.

Winter Wonderland also is available for private rental during non-operating hours. The North Pole Lounge can be reserved for private gatherings. Located in front of the historic Bastille and next to the Winter Wonderland ice rink, the lounge features a private outdoor experience with fire pits and outdoor heaters. The lounge is available for $250 for four hours. For reservations, call 559-537-7995.

For more information about Winter Wonderland, call 559-585-2525, or go to hanfordwinterwonderland.com.