There are some advantages to the shorter December days. Being able to go to magical light trails, enjoy the spectacle, and still get home in time for dinner and a reasonable bedtime, is one of the best. 

And with light trails seemingly en vogue this winter, we took a trip to one of Hampshire's biggest to see what it's all about. 

Marwell Zoo has been opening up its grounds to host visitors after dark for Christmas events for the past few years. Last year, it increased the amount of fairy lights, and hosted the first of its Glow Marwell events. The event saw guests taken on a trail around the attraction with various light display stops.

READ ALSO: Huge light trail comes to Hampshire's Marwell Zoo with 500,000 lights

Andover Advertiser: Glow Marwell

This year Glow Marwell has returned, but this time with double the amount of lights, 500,000 to be precise, and it promises 'light displays, festive offerings and the magic of Glow'. We visited on its opening night and were not disappointed. 

One thing about Marwell's trail is that it is big, it takes you around most of the park, taking guests up to the cafe near the meercats and then along the path past the manor house, before cutting back down past the hippo house. 

Don't worry, all the animals are tucked up in bed, with lighting directed away from the enclosures. The team has also been introducing the animals to lights and sounds at night in the run-up, to monitor how they would react but also to get them used to it.

There are signs reminding visitors to be quiet, and the music, unlike other light trail events, is not glaringly loud. Staff are also using thermal vision and CCTV to make sure the animals are OK throughout the events, which also finish early enough for everyone - animals included - to get a good night's rest. 

Our trip starts with a visit to see the big man himself, with Santa's Grotto set up in a building near the entrance. The visit costs £10 per child. Mrs Claus and the elves are entertaining the queue while we wait, and when we get our chance, Santa does not disappoint. His woodland grotto here is lovely and our two kids leave with cute cuddly toys. 

Andover Advertiser: Glow Marwell

We then set off around the park, and there are so many things to look at, you really get your money's worth at this trail. From a field of lit-up flowers, moving butterflies, an illuminated play park, a tunnel of lights and a multicoloured light tunnel, there's lots to take in, before our first pitstop at the cafe for a hot dog. 

Afterwards, along the path in front of the manor house, there's the enchanted tree, and other lights leading us to the house, which has a projected display on its front, and performers adding to the spectacle. 

Andover Advertiser: Glow Marwell

It would be rude to not enjoy a glass of mulled wine here, before then on to the fire pits to toast marshmallows. We stop to play in the shadow lamps, before heading down rainbow road, stopping to gaze at the woodland projections, before fully enjoying the cherry on top of the light trail cake - some real [cough - it's foam but don't tell the kids] snow. 

The children run through carefree, while the adults enjoy the music and lights. Such a nice way to start Christmas - and one that all ages would enjoy. 

Marwell Glow makes a great evening out, just make sure you have comfortable shoes as it's a long walk around.

Andover Advertiser: Glow Marwell

Marwell Glow events run from 4pm until 8pm, with last entry at 6pm. Premium tickets cost £19 per adult, £17 per child with under threes free. Standard tickets codey £19 for adults, £15 for children with under threes free. It runs until December 30. 

Father Christmas grotto tickets cost £10 per child. Check the website for the dates. 

For more information, menus and ticket information go to