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George Square in Glasgow City Centre is home to various memorial statues and benches throughout the year. During November and December, it is transformed in a winter wonderland with a huge tree, lights, bars and music, an outdoor ice rink and various small rides for the children.
This year, a new addition was added to the square for the festive season - an observation wheel. The same company offers wheels in Manchester, Plymouth and a few other cities in the UK and abroad.
The observation wheel took just 3 days to erect and is situated across from Queen Street station within George Square. The wheel isn't so much a ferris wheel (like Blackpool Big Wheel) but is more like the London Eye. It stands at 130feet (40metres) and is said to offer spectacular views of Glasgow whether you visit day or night.
The wheel is open daily from 10am-10pm from the 26th of November to the 3rd of January (closed 25th/26th December). There is space for prams and wheelchairs at the bottom of the wheel.
The wheel offers 30 "capsules" which are climate controlled and have automatic doors at either end. There is also a VIP capsule on the wheel which has an extra cost but has a glass floor and champagne! Each ride on the wheel allows 13minutes of views.
The prices are the same regardless of when you visit.
Adults - £6.50
Student/OAP - £4.50
Children under 14 - £4.00
under 3 - £1.00
Infants under 1 - free
Family ticket - £15.00
VIP - £35.00
When we recently visited Glasgow, we had every intention of having a wander around to George Square to see the lights. We were there on a wet and cold Saturday afternoon and expected the square to be desserted. We go every year and I have previously reviewed the Square as a whole. I regularly pop on to the George Square webcam and when I logged on last week, I spotted this huge observation wheel! I was so excited!
Anyway despite the awful weather and being dark, we decided we fancied a ride on the wheel. It was very busy when we arrived and we had a 15minute queueing time. Luckily there is shelter to protect from the elements. We paid £14.00 for the 3 of us and were directed to the queue. We were asked if we wanted our picture taken for "free" then they tried to charge us £15.00 afterwards. We did end up with a magnet for £2.00 which wasn't bad. The staff were friendly and safety was high.
The Wheel Itself
With it being so windy and wet, I was surprised they didn't close the wheel. If it had been one of those ferris wheels which had open carriages, I wouldn't have went near it! It looked beautiful all lit up with not a single bit of rust visible. It had white washed metal pillars and I definently feel it looks good in the dark especially in amongst the bright lights of the other attractions. Despite being 40m high, we didn't spot this until we got into George Square!
The capsules were made of glass and looked secure. The idea is that you get a capsule to yourself but during busy periods they ask you to share. Personally I believe you should get a discount for sharing! Myself, son and fiance were placed in a capsule with 3 teenage girls who were lovely and chatted away to my son which he loved! Inside the capsule is relatively spacious and dry and warm. There were 2 fold down benches inside and enough room to turn around. I cannot imagine there being enough space for 6 adults and 2 children though.
The capsules have emergency buttons on the room if there are any problems and feel safe. There is the option to listen to commentary of the local sights which proved interesting. It took a while to get the wheel going as they had to move it a little and add more people in to the other capsules. After that, it went a nice speed for around 10minutes and took us around at least 6 times - and so it should for the money it cost!
Pretty Lights - Even If It's Raining!
Despite the wind and rain being bad outside, we felt completely safe within the capsule - almost like it was our own little bubble! I do feel the best sights would be obtained by going on the wheel during the day. George Square is enclosed by tall buildings though the wheel extends high enough to "just" see over the top of them. Despite being dark, we could see the bright lights from the nearby hotels and shops.
The views are panoramic and even though the rain was hitting off the glass, we could still get amazing views from either end of the capsule. Our favourite views were that of the hustle and bustle in George Square. We could see down to the Ice Rink (and the puddles surfacing on it), into the clear roofed pub and music area where the action was go on. We got some excellent views of the helter skelter and the stunning Christmas tree to the far end of the square. The art gallery around the corner was visible and beautiful lit around it.
On a clear, bright day, the views are said to extend to see down to the water but we found it more appealing at night time. You cannot rely on the weather in Scotland so there is no point in planning your visit around a ride on the wheel. I personally would love to go on the wheel when the snow starts as that would be a spectacular sight! We had enough time to enjoy our experience and got some decent pictures (with rain splatters in from of them).
Whilst fairly expensive, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the observation wheel. Not even the rain could put a damper on it and our son was totally fixated with the bright lights from above.
Personally whilst I feel the wheel is in tone with the theme in George Square, because of enclosed the square is, I do feel it would give better views in another part of Glasgow. Perhaps up the top of the city near Buchannan Galleries or down near the water. I do hope the wheel comes back next year and due to the popularity on the day we were there, I would expect it to do.
Thanks for reading x
Ps sorry that my pics inside the capsule aren't great..the rain was lashing off the windows but it did look nicer in real life!
Pictures of George Square Observation Wheel, Glasgow