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Winter Glow 2022 is back bigger and better, running from 25th November 2022 to 2nd January 2023. 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, they have added an indoor Christmas market, a bar and lots of food stalls with picnic benches indoors and out to enjoy the food. There are a few fairground rides this year too, much to my children’s delight!
Winter Glow 2022 Review: Ice Rink
One of the largest covered ice rinks in the region opened at Winter glow on 25th November 2022. 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 queueing 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. The skate aids were brilliant, the children took it in turns to sit on it and push each other around. 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 one.
Winter Glow 2022 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 has lost five of his friends. Children have to read the information on their way around and press buttons that light up clues to help them find the elf party. Old favourite Winter Glow features are back too, including the signature cathedral arch for the ultimate selfie. This year, 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.
The illuminations are quite different this year, my personal favourite was the huge dragon. A boat with a friendly narwhal and light up compass, an angel, whirlpool and elf party are among other exciting illuminations. 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 music plays as you are walking around too.
Personalised Santa Experience
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 25th November to 24th December 2022. If you book at least 14 days in advance, your child will receive a personalised invitation from Santa, asking them to visit him.
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.
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.
Giant observation wheel
Winter Glow’s giant observation wheel was brilliant this year. It goes around relatively quickly and we must have gone round at least six times. 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.
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 2022 Review: Additional attractions
For the first time this 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:
The little fairground rides were a lovely addition to Winter Glow. Dogems, Santa’s Runaway Train (a little roller coaster), a Fun House and Bungee Trampolines keep kids entertained. I saw quite a few adults enjoying the fun house too at quieter times. Ride costs are around £4 to £5 and the price for the dogems is per car rather than per rider, so the passenger rides free. We went on the dogems as a family which was absolute chaos but also brilliant fun.
Festive Food Quarter and Ice Café
A variety of food vans were in the food quarter this year and as vegetarians, there was plenty of choice. Pizzas, a chip van doing halloumi and chips, pulled jackfruit burgers and mac and cheese were available as well as various meat options. 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 £9.50 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.
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:
- Christmas decorations and cards
- Sweets, cakes and chocolates
- Candles and accessories
- Gifts for home and garden
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 2022 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? 25th November 2022 to 2nd January 2023 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 ice skating session with quieter music and no flashing lights takes place on 19th of December at 4:15pm. There will also be a sensory friendly session for the illuminated light trail. Tickets will be limited so it is less crowded and the sessions takes place on Monday 19th December 2022 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 13th and 28th December 2022 and the 1st January 2023. 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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