Two girls in warm clothing posing in a light tunnel at Winter Glow

Winter Glow 2023: Review

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Winter Glow 2023 is back bigger and better, running from 24th November 2023 to 6th January 2024. Since the first Winter Glow that had lockdown to contend with, it has improved each year. Located at the enormous Three Counties Show Ground in Malvern, Worcestershire, the event is easy to get to from around the West Midlands and it’s a great way to kick off the festive period. With a light trail, festive ice rink, giant observation wheel and personalised Santa experiences, Winter Glow makes a fantastic Christmas day out. This year, there’s an indoor Christmas market, a bar and lots of food stalls with picnic benches indoors and out to enjoy the food. There are more fairground rides this year too, much to my children’s delight!

girl with her face in an elf statue
Don’t forget to pose as Santa and an elf!

Winter Glow 2023 Review: Ice Rink

One of the largest covered ice rinks in the region opened at Winter glow on 24th November 2023. Skate aids are available for families and there’s a large spectator area and café with festive drinks and snacks. Skate hire is included in the price of your 45 minute session and there’s an extra charge for skate aids.

There’s a 15 minute break between each skate session when staff sweep the ice. It’s advisable to arrive around half an hour early for your session to collect skates in plenty of time. Fifteen minutes before your session, the previous session will be coming off the ice and getting back into their shoes. So, to avoid queuing it’s best to collect skates before then. 

We always enjoy ice skating at Winter Glow, despite the fact that our children are like Bambi on ice. If you have children who haven’t skated before or who are known to be a liability on a slippery surface, I highly recommend investing in a skate aid.

Winter Glow ice rink

Winter Glow 2023 Review: Illuminated light trail

The Winter Glow light trail has become somewhat iconic over the years. It is definitely the signature attraction. It’s safe to say that this year’s was the best yet, with a theme and a story to read as you walk around. Jingle the elf is looking for a golden snowflake. He and you will meet all sorts of characters as you search for it.

light tunnel at Winter Glow
Light angel, tunnel and big wheel at Winter Glow

Children have to read the information on their way around and press buttons that light up clues to help them find the snowflake. Old favourite Winter Glow features are back too, including the signature cathedral arch for the ultimate selfie. The whole light trail is outdoors so we definitely advise wrapping up warm. Particularly as you’ll want to take your time on the trail, reading all the information and taking some beautiful photos.

Arctic scene at Winter Glow
Boat of lights at Winter Glow

The illuminations this year combine favourites from the past with brand new displays. Both my children and others walking through at the same time enjoyed reading the clues to find the elves. For kids, the story elevates the experience from looking at something beautiful to going on an adventure. Lots of festive music plays as you are walking around too, it certainly gets you into the festive spirit!

Two girls in warm clothing posing in a light tunnel at Winter Glow

Personalised Santa Experience

Please note, we didn’t go to the Santa Experience in 2023, so I have left my review below from 2022. One feature I love from 2023 is that if you go on 11th or 12th December on the dog friendly nights, your pet can go into Santa’s grotto to meet Santa Paws too!

Children invited to meet Santa arrive at his huge workshop full of toys and festive cheer to chat to the elves before meeting the man himself. Every child receives a gift and one of Mrs Claus’ fresh cookies to decorate. Parents can enjoy a mulled wine while kids decorate their cookies and children are offered either a hot chocolate or an apple juice. Families visit Santa together and the elves are happy to take a photo of you all with your camera or phone. Santa experiences are available from 24th November to 24th December 2023. If you book at least 14 days in advance, your child will receive a personalised invitation from Santa, asking them to visit him.  

Two children sitting at a craft table in the personalised Santa Experience at Winter Glow
Enjoying the craft table

Father Christmas’s village and workshop at Winter Glow are brilliant fun. Children can fill in a piece of paper answering questions to receive a little prize. Elves help out on a craft table where kids can make a beautiful tree decoration and games are available to play too. My husband and I played giant connect 4 and a slingshot board game while the children did some crafts. We always love the singing reindeer too. Waiting for Santa was no chore at all. When it was time to see him, we were called through as a family and the children had to knock on the door to let him know we were there.

Giant gingerbread man beside sweets for sale in the cookie decorating area of Santa Experience at Winter Glow
Giant Gingerbread Man

Santa knew lots about the girls and had a lovely chat about the instruments they have started to play over the past few months. Although my children are too old to believe that this was the real Santa, it was still a fun experience to meet and chat with him. I thought he pitched it quite well for their age group (8 and 10). The gifts from Santa were really good this year and my girls were genuinely delighted. Libby had a Jump It Lap Counter and Lia had a Slushy Maker.

Two girls meeting Santa at Winter Glow
Meeting Santa

Giant observation wheel

Winter Glow’s giant observation wheel looked better than ever this year. Its lights are so bright, you can see it from miles around. Soar above the treetops in a private carriage to enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. The observation wheel itself is the first thing you see when you look at Winter Glow, be that from the road outside, from the light trail or the top of the hills. As predicted, the views from the top are beautiful.

Christmas tree scene at Winter Glow

Families each board a separate carriage so it’s a lovely experience to enjoy together. The observation wheel can be booked in advance, or on the day as long as there is availability. The wheel was relatively quiet when we went so it would have been easy enough to add a ticket to your experience if you hadn’t booked.

Winter Glow 2023 Review: Additional attractions

Like last year, entry to Winter Glow is free if you don’t want to book any of the attractions. With parking free as well, it’s a really nice way to spend an evening. If you choose to do this, you can enjoy the following and the only cost is whatever you choose to buy:

Fairground Rides

This year’s fairground rides were great for older children as well as little ones. Whizz around on the twister, race on the Dogems, try not to fall over in the fun house and bounce on the Trampolines. There are a few rides aimed at younger children as well. To go on the rides, you’ll need to purchase tokens first as they don’t accept cash at the ride entrance.

Festive Food Quarter and Ice Café

A variety of food vans were in the food quarter this year and I personally LOVED the plant based food from the Viva Veggie van. There were also vans selling pizza slices, gyros, burgers, chips, Yorkshire pudding wraps and a vast array of sweet treats. I thought the prices were relatively reasonable at around £8 to £10 for an adult meal. The children shared a halloumi and chips that cost £10 so we didn’t spend an extortionate amount on food.

Mulled wine is readily available from the ice café and bar which made us feel particularly festive. Beer and other drinks are on sale too. There’s plenty of indoor seating for the food this year, although the area is still quite chilly so I advise wrapping up warm if you’re going there to eat and drink.

Christmas Market

Within the same area as the food, bar, ice rink and ice café is a small Christmas Market. It’s a great place to pick up unique gifts from local traders. Stalls include:

  • Jewellery
  • Soap
  • Artwork
  • Christmas decorations and cards
  • Sweets, cakes and chocolates
  • Candles and accessories
  • Gifts for home and garden
  • Books

This is a lovely way to support local traders and make an evening of Christmas shopping along with enjoying the other Winter Glow attractions.

Winter Glow 2023 Review: Other things that are useful to know

  • Tickets: Winter Glow tickets must be booked in advance from the Winter Glow Website. Each element of the experience needs to be booked separately.
  • When is Winter Glow taking place? 24th November 2023 to 6th January 2024 but do check the dates of particular attractions. The Christmas market is only open on select dates, finishing on Christmas Eve and the Father Christmas experience also ends on Christmas Eve.
  • Accessibility: The event seems very accessible, particularly for those in manual chairs. Manual wheelchairs can go on the ice rink and on the observation wheel. Santa’s grotto is also accessible for manual wheelchairs. The majority of the paths on the illumination trail are wide, hardstanding and fine for wheelchairs and buggies. However, there will be a few slightly uneven parts.
  • Sensory sessions: A sensory friendly light trail session with quieter music, limited numbers and no rapid light movements takes place on Monday 18th December 2023 at 4:15pm.
  • Parking: There is a large, free car park at Winter Glow.
  • What to wear: It is important to wrap up warm for Winter Glow. The illuminated light trail, fairground rides and observation wheel are all outside. The indoor area isn’t particularly warm either. Wellies or other strong footwear are advisable as it does get muddy in places although the majority of the light trail is on hardstanding paths. Winter Glow also advise wrapping up warm for ice skating although it is indoors, because it takes place on real ice.
  • Dogs: This is not generally a dog friendly event, assistance dogs only are allowed into the Three Counties Show Ground for most sessions. However, well behaved dogs on leads can be taken around the light trail on specific dog friendly dates which are 11th, 12th and 28th December 2023. On 11th and 12th December, your dog can visit Santa Paws in his grotto with you too. Owners are of course expected to keep control of their dogs and clean up after them.
  • Other Christmas events in the local area: Head to my roundup post for more Christmas events in Worcestershire.

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  1. Oh that looks and sounds amazing. Not too far to travel either and sounds something that my boys would enjoy even now they are older. Shame the sensory sessions are all within school hours – hopefully some of the children aren’t back until after the 3rd of Jan session.

    1. Yes that’s true actually, it would be really helpful to have some sensory sessions outside of school hours. It is a lovely event though, definitely worth going to with older children.