Father Christmas, in the shape of rugby star Ryan Jones, joined pupils from Ysgol Treganna in Cardiff to officially open the "Blizzard Fun Park" at the Millennium Stadium today, Thursday 15 December, and were the first to ride the giant Snow Mountain, Toboggan, Log Flume and visit Santa’s grotto.

The Millennium Stadium opened its doors to the public at 12 noon – and will now open everyday until 5 January – but ‘Santa’ and a selection of his special helpers tested all the rides and the snow machines in a sneak preview earlier in the day.

"The Millennium Stadium has really gone to town with this transformation, it’s amazing, virtually unrecognisable," said Wales and British Lions No.8 Ryan Jones. "It’s almost impossible to imagine that there used to be a rugby pitch in here as the whole place now looks like the inside of Santa’s grotto. It’s like having Lapland on your doorstep and I’m particularly impressed by the indoor snow!"

As soon as Jones’s Grand Slam Wales colleagues kicked their final ball in the victory over Australia at the end of November, Stadium bosses began removing the palletized pitch in preparation for the International Supercross Grand Prix on 3 December.  That whirlwind, four day, turn-around was emulated following the final rev of motorbike engines, when the Stadium was transformed into the winter-wonderland visible today.

Traditional fairground rides including roller-coasters, dodgem cars and fun-houses have been joined by the winter themed rides and snow machines which will be producing snow well into the New Year.

Entry to the snow-time extravaganza that is the Millennium Stadium ‘Blizzard Fun Park’ is £7.99 for adults and £3.99 for children, but once you are in all rides are free until closing time at 8pm.

"Apart from peace and goodwill to all mankind and another Six Nations Grand Slam this season for my team-mates, I took the opportunity to ask Santa for a fully working shoulder as a Christmas present," added Jones, who is currently ruled out until next season through injury. "I’m not sure he heard me as we were hurling at a pretty fast rate down the Snow Mountain at the time, so I’ll have to wait and see what he brings me like everyone else!"

Tickets are on sale from Gate 3, Westgate Street, Millennium Stadium and the message from the Millennium Stadium chief executive Paul Sergeant is: "Don’t forget your scarf and gloves as we can guarantee snow will be forecast every day!"