Festive Fun at Winter Wonderland Norwich 2023/24
Minus 3 degrees didn’t stop us from enjoying the fun at Norfolk Showground as Winter Wonderland Norwich returned for another year of festive cheer. First Drop was invited down by the Winter Wonderland team to check out this year’s offerings!
Visiting on the first Saturday of December (03/12), we approached a very frosty and foggy Norfolk showground which shrouded the magical delights of this year’s Winter Wonderland within. Whilst we couldn’t see much from the car park, more became clear as we made our way to the entrance and began to see the colourful lights within!
Entrance into the event was easy with members of the team directing those with prebooked tickets, and those without, to the relevant ticket booths. We were greeted with a friendly smile and entered the venue with ease, armed with our envelope of goodies to enjoy throughout the day. This included unlimited rides, access to the Christmas Tree Maze and Ice Skating. In addition, we were treated to sweet treats and hot drinks, gifted by the team*. What follows is an honest review of this year’s event.
Winter Wonderland Norwich follows a similar layout to last year and while guests should not expect an event on the scale of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland in London, it is large event which can be enjoyed with its variety of rides, attractions, food stalls, and gift cabins for all.
Entering, you are immediately greeted with a German Bratwurst Sausage stall with a large Christmas tree on top, lit up with 1000 lights, and surrounded by wood cabins selling a variety of gifts from fudge to Christmas ornaments: setting the festive tone. As you make your way down the event, you pass other food and drink stalls, Santa’s Grotto, and the Real Christmas Tree maze, all before it opens to reveal a variety of other rides and attractions. The event is located on hard and carpeted ground, making it ideal to explore without the fear of getting muddy. It is also well-themed throughout with Christmas ornaments, themed game stalls, and photo opportunities to get you into the festive spirit. Smells from nearby food stalls fill the air while Christmas music adds to the festive feel… although this meant our demise in this year’s global game of Whamageddon on Day 2 of 24 as ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham! played!
Entry to the event costs a very reasonable £5 as this gives you access to the event everyday throughout the season, which runs until 03rd January 2024, if you have the original fabric wristband on. This gives you the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere, explore the stalls and entertainment without having to pay for extras should you not wish. Entry is free with all Ice-Skating bookings too; therefore, if you know you are wanting to skate it offers even better value than booking separately!
New for 2023: Real Christmas Tree Maze
The Christmas Tree Maze at Winter Wonderland Norwich offers a delightful experience for the whole family. Admission is priced at £4 per person and tickets can be purchased on the day or in advance online. For families of 4 or 5, discounted rates are available.
This maze consists of real Christmas trees and provides approximately 15 minutes of fun as you search for hidden letters to unlock a festive word. While it may not be the largest maze, it provides a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in a winter wonderland and capture cherished moments with your friends and family. During our visit, we thoroughly enjoyed taking photos amidst the frost-covered trees as we ventured through the maze to discover each letter. Although the theme is not heavily highlighted, there is untapped potential to further develop this attraction in the coming years. Nevertheless, it is worth exploring, especially if you have little ones who will love the excitement of finding their way out!
Magical Ice Skating
Bigger and better for 2023, the Ice-Skating experience has undergone significant improvements since last year. The real Ice Rink now spans almost 1000m2 and is housed under a brand new, massive clear span cover. The area itself is clean, well-lit, and spacious, creating a pleasant and airy atmosphere. An added enhancement is the separate boot room, which provides a more organised space for guests to put on their skates, separate from those who are leaving the ice. With each session lasting 45 minutes, there is ample time to hone your skills. We are pleased to report that the ice condition this year is excellent, ensuring an enjoyable experience for everyone!
Ice skating is a beloved tradition during the Christmas season in various locations across the country and Winter Wonderland Norwich has enhanced the ice skating experience this year with improved lighting, making it a must-do activity. Our session on the ice was an absolute delight, as we had an incredible time either gliding across the ice or trying our best not to fall (in my case!) as you pick up speed. If you have younger participants, you can rent penguin skating guides to help them enjoy the ice without worry!
The frosty atmosphere outside, combined with the mist, intensified the icy ambiance while the vibrant lights of the nearby stalls and attractions illuminated the sky as the sun set. This enchanting attraction proved to be a favorite activity for many during our visit. Both online and on-the-day bookings are available, subject to availability, so make sure to check it out if you visit!
The event sees exciting new rides like ‘Red Devil’ added to the line-up for 2023/24, along with returning favorites such as Crazy Mouse, Freefall, and the Walzers. Prices vary from 2 to 6 credits – with ride credits priced from just £1.00.
As mentioned, during our visit to Winter Wonderland Norwich, we experienced extremely cold and misty weather on a frosty Saturday. The temperatures dropped as low as -3 during the afternoon and even further in the evening. Despite these challenging conditions, the Winter Wonderland Norwich team monitored the rides and ensured their operation throughout the day, prioritising the safety of the guests. While most of the attractions were available for our enjoyment, the Sky Swing ride remained closed for the entirety of our visit. Additionally, some other rides like the Dodgems, Crazy Mouse, and Air Maxx were temporarily closed at times due to the cold weather; however, the impact on our visit was minimal as the team worked hard to bring these attractions back into action.
The weather did cause a few chilly backsides during our visit, but this added to the fun, especially on Red Devil which saw frost form on my beard as it spun through the air! Freefall proved to be a crazy ride as always, along with Big Top Circus Fun House which literally was a barrel of laughs! ‘Misery’ was an interesting attraction that featured The Grinch locked in a cage outside, and a singing skeleton. Although not scary to seasoned scare attraction attendees such as us, the certainty kept us on our toes to make it a fun little attraction which we are sure will terrorise kids as they pass through the dark and confined corridors! While the Walzer was a little chaotic loading up, and at speed, the ride proved to be a good laugh even though we would have liked to see a bit more spinning, although what was lost on one ride, was made up during the final part of Crazy Mouse which glittered with frost as it spun “uncontrollably” during the second half.
Other rides were full of smiles as little ones enjoyed rides such as Santa’s Sleigh Ride, Mini Jets and the Bungee Trampolines.
Food and Entertainment
Returning for another year, Santa’s mischievous elves were back in action to entertain young and old alike. We found them dancing to the live music being performed by local band The High Points in the Alpine Lodge, next to the Bavarian Bar. In addition, festive stilt walkers captivated the crowds and posed for selfies outside of the Snow House as families toasted marshmallows in the open firepit nearby.
One thing we would have liked to have seen more of are heaters within the bars, and perhaps in strategically placed locations throughout the event. Unfortunately, it was a little too cold to sit outside for too long on our visit, with many gathering around the fire pit to warm their hands, although warm tipples and hot chocolates were welcomed to warm us up.
Santa’s Grotto proved a popular attraction which appeared to be greatly improve from last year, and I am sure if my nephew and niece were to visit, they would appreciate the charm of the quirky characters outside, and their visit to Santa thoroughly – something to consider on a future visit!
The food offerings were vast with Chinese and Greek food being offered along the traditional delights of German sausages, and sweet treats. Most of the food was cooked to order meaning it was hot and fresh, with the steam rising from each stand adding to the smells in the air. The donuts and Dutch pancakes are a must, especially topped with Nutella!
In general, Winter Wonderland is a reasonably priced event when compared to others up and down the country. The £5 admission, which allows as many visits as you wish, is exceptional value for the entertainment alone. Guests can spend as much, or as little, as they want whilst soaking up the Christmas spirt, making it an ideal festive activity for families on any budget.
Norfolk Showground is easily accessible from the A11, and parking is free; although, take note of where you parked (and the exit) as it can be a little confusing when leaving! We did mention this to the team who are looking to make improvements with additional signage.
Take your friends and family along as you are sure to have a great time!
We can’t wait for our next visit!
Tickets are available either on the door (subject to availability), or by pre-booking via Winter Wonderland Norwich.
*With thanks to Winter Wonderland Norwich for gifting tickets. Review written without bias.