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Winter Glow is back bigger and better for 2021. The first ever Winter Glow last year was a fabulous event despite being somewhat limited by covid restrictions. 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.
Winter Glow Review: Ice Rink
One of the largest covered ice rinks in the region opened at Winter glow on 12th November 2021. 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.
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 queueing it’s best to collect skates before then.
We had a genuinely lovely afternoon ice skating. Arriving early to collect skates, sitting down with a drink and watching the skating in the festive atmosphere quickly got us into the Christmas spirit. The girls loved using the skate aids both to help them skate and to get up some speed when I pushed them. Every time we go, I always think we should do it more often.
Winter Glow Review: Illuminated light trail
From 4th December 2021 to 2nd January 2022, a light trail returns to Winter Glow. This time, it’s bigger and better than ever with dancing water fountains, a Winter Village and a fire garden. New for this year is the indoor Christmas village and Tim Burton inspired UV journey. Both of these are beside the ice rink so it’s fun to watch the skating as you pass. Old favourite Winter Glow features are back too, including the signature cathedral arch for the ultimate selfie.
Illuminations varied from huge, elaborate flowers to a variety of tunnels including stars and a psychedelic flashing archway. Run through a rainbow, borrow some wings of light to look like an angel and enjoy a music and light display. We visited on a Monday evening and the light trail wasn’t too busy at all. There was plenty of time to admire each feature and take a few photos before moving on to the next.
Personalised Santa Experience
All aboard the Arctic Express Land Train! It’s taking visitors to the North Pole to meet Santa himself. Arrive at his huge workshop full of toys and festive cheer to chat to the elves before meeting the man himself. Every child who meets Santa receives a gift and the whole family gets one of Mrs Claus’ fresh cookies. Families visit Santa together with up to six per group. This can be made up of any combination of adults and children. Father Christmas will be on hand meeting visitors at Winter Glow from 4th to 24th December 2021.
My two girls absolutely loved visiting Father Christmas. On arrival via the land train, we were showed into Jingle Elf’s workshop. We played giant Connect 4 and giant Jenga, the girls did some colouring and watched the singing reindeer. Waiting for Santa was no chore at all. When it was time to see him, there were three doors. We had to guess which room he was in, then the elf contacted him on the radio to check and we made our way in.
Was he the most realistic Santa ever? No. But he was wearing a smiley Santa covid mask, knew lots about the girls and engaged well with them. Both girls received a lovely, medium sized cuddly toy as a gift – an orca and a blue whale. This was a lovely touch as I’d told Winter Glow that they both enjoy swimming. As Santa experiences go, it was a good one. We left with a cookie each from Mrs Claus and caught the Arctic Land Train back to the illumination trail.
Giant observation wheel
Winter Glow’s brand new giant observation wheel is taking visitors to the sky from 4th December to 2nd January. 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 or the top of the hills. As predicted, the views from the top are beautiful. We were looking out for a particularly well decorated house we had noticed on the Wyche Cutting and managed to spot it.
Families each board a separate carriage so it’s very covid secure. If you’re riding the observation wheel and booked online, you’ll receive tokens on entry. If not, you can buy them on the day from one of the nearby food stalls as long as there is availability. This was the last thing we did at Winter Glow and a lovely way to round off our evening.
Winter Glow 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? The ice rink opened on 12th November 2021 and runs all the way through to 9th January 2022. The personalised Santa experience is from 4th to 24th December 2021. The illuminated light trail and giant observation wheel run from 4th December 2021 to 2nd January 2022.
- Food and drink at Winter Glow: Next to the observation wheel there are numerous vans serving different types of food including burgers, fish and chips, pizza and doughnuts. Different dietary requirements are catered for and a large, heated marquee provides a covered seating area. There is also a café next to the ice rink.
- 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 as is the land train. 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: Sensory friendly ice skating sessions with quieter music and no flashing lights take place on 2nd December at 2pm, 14th December at 2pm and 3rd January at 11am. There will also be sensory friendly sessions for the illuminated light trail. Tickets will be limited so it is less crowded and the sessions take place on 8th, 13th and 28th December 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. Most of the illuminated light trail is outside, as is the observation wheel. 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 7th, 14th and 29th December 2021. 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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