BOLTON’S Winter Wonderland has been hailed a huge success after nearly 20,000 people flocked to the town’s giant wheel.

Official figures show 19,486 people took the skies on the ride, which dominated Victoria Square for four weeks.

And a further 8,536 people put on skates and went on the 200sq metre ice rink outside Bolton Town Hall — an increase of 26 per cent on last year.

The giant ferris wheel was open for 23 days, meaning nearly 1,000 people a day made use of the festive attraction.

Town Hall bosses have confirmed it could be back next year, along with other new attractions.

Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, said he was thrilled so many people enjoyed the attractions, which were organised in a bid to bring more people into the town.

He added: “The giant wheel was a new addition to our Winter Wonderland programme, which we thought would be a very popular attraction, and with nearly 20,000 people using it we know it has been a massive success.

“We’ve had really positive feedback about the ride from the public and town centre retailers. It created a really good atmosphere, along with our other attractions, throughout the Christmas period.

“We’re already thinking ahead to Christmas, 2014, and looking into bringing it back along with other new features.”

Other attractions in Victoria Square included Santa’s grotto, a speciality market featuring local traders and street entertainment.

There was also a free musical train in Newport Street.

Malcolm Angus, manager of Crompton Place shopping centre, said it was “fantastic” to hear that so many people enjoyed the wheel.

He added: “Anything that brings footfall in the town centre is great, and the wheel had a ‘feel good’ factor to it and offered something slightly different from the norm.

“Now we just need to concentrate on the market and see it expand to be a bit bigger and offer a great variety.”

The newly revamped Bolton Market, which has undergone a £4.5 million regeneration, is due to re-open later this month.