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New ice rink at Boar’s Head Resort added to annual Winter Wander light exhibit

The exhibit will also feature enhancements to four lights scenes and a new second lights tunnel

Boar’s Head Resort, located about three miles from Central Grounds, hosts guests year round in addition to the annual light exhibit.
Boar’s Head Resort, located about three miles from Central Grounds, hosts guests year round in addition to the annual light exhibit.

The magical Winter Wander light exhibit at Boar’s Head Resort will help Charlottesville ring in the holiday season again this year. With the event now in its third year, new changes have been made to the exhibit and trail — most notably, the addition of a 40-by-50 foot ice-skating rink.

Boar’s Head Resort, located about three miles from Central Grounds, hosts guests year round in addition to the annual light exhibit from November to January. The half-mile outdoor walking trail features 12 lights scenes, three food and beverage outlets, a holiday market hosting local vendors as well as a Santa Claus, who will be there nightly until Christmas Eve. 

The temporary ice rink, which is composed of artificial material rather than real ice, is featured as part of the exhibit this year. Boar’s Head chose a synthetic rink to accommodate possible December weather fluctuations in Charlottesville, according to Kevin Thurman, Director of Special Events at Boar’s Head. 

“There's a solution put on [the rink] that makes it slippery so you're still wearing real skates,” Thurman said. “It's still a really fun experience to come out, throw on a pair of skates and kind of sled around the rink.” 

Charlottesville has not had a local ice rink since Main Street Arena closed in 2017. Charlottesville skating fans must travel to rinks at other locations such as Haymarket or Massanutten — each over an hour away.

Members of the University’s club figure skating team, who also travel about an hour to Richmond or Liberty University for practice, said they were looking forward to a seasonal rink closer to Grounds. Clara Xin, club figure skating member and third-year College student, visited the Winter Wander last year and said she is excited to try out the new rink. 

“You can't really do actual skating practice on public ice, but you can skate around, which is fun,” Xin said. “Even if you really aren't a figure skater, ice skating is a very classic winter thing.”

The lights show and rink opened Nov. 17 and will remain open daily until Jan. 6. The rink will also remain open on weekends throughout January to allow Charlottesville community members, particularly University students returning from break, to make full use of the feature. 

New enhancements have also been made to four of the existing 12 light show scenes along the trail. The Dogwood Alley scene now features larger lanterns and additional lights and motion throughout the Serenity Way scene. The Tunnel of Dreams, a popular spot among community members for taking photos, now has a second companion tunnel to accommodate lines. 

Thurman said early Winter Wander nights have been successful, with ticket sales already up compared to this time last year. 

“The rink has been a wonderful addition, we've certainly seen a lot of families really coming out and taking advantage of it these first couple of weeks,” Thurman said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully getting some more U.Va. students to come out and join us on it as well here.”

Tickets cost $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 4 to 12 and are free for children under 3. Boar’s Head offers discounted tickets available for groups of 20 or more. 

Additionally, Winter Wander will offer special $10 value ticket days on Dec. 30 and Jan. 5 and 6. There will also be weekly offer nights, including Wine Wednesdays, Tap Thursdays, and Super Sundays — each of which will offer drink specials. 

During the holiday season, the rink will be $5 for 30 minutes and $6 to rent skates, while in January that price will rise to $10 for 30 minutes. Rink admission is free for season ticket holders. 

This year’s Winter Wander exhibit has been in planning throughout the year, with the new changes finalized in the spring and ticket sales beginning as early as the summer. Lights setup began in early October and took six weeks to be completed. 

Given all of this year’s enhancements, Thurman said he hopes that the exhibit will provide community members a place to gather for holiday excitement. 

“We want to provide something new — before Winter Wander there wasn't a light show in Central Virginia here in the Charlottesville area,” Thurman said. “Overall, we just want people to come have fun, be able to relax, enjoy time with friends and family around the holidays and hopefully we can help create some fun memories.”