Dear Mummy, every year we make our annual pilgrimage to Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park. It’s a great way to get into the festive mood! It hosts the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, Zippo’s Christmas circus, a German Christmas Market, Bar Ice, festive rides and the giant observation wheel which climbs to 60 metres high and gives you a great view of London.
We battled through the Christmas shoppers to Marble Arch and headed to this seasonal fair last weekend. It’s a great place to see a traditional German Christmas Market with food stalls and enchanting chalets selling arts, gifts, jewellery and decorations. People from all over get merry, high on the festive spirit. We were excited about the new attractions for 2018 including ice sculpting workshops, Peter Pan on Ice and the Backyard Cinema screening the Christmas classic The Snowman, but sadly didn’t make it to them (maybe we can pre-book next year).
Winter Wonderland is a free event and that’s what makes it so popular with visitors to London. You can amble around and soak up the atmosphere without paying a penny. At night it comes alive and my folks explored it while I was tucked up the hotel bed with Grandma. A good thing too as there was a lot of merry folk drinking cider and beer, mulled wine and other festive concoctions. They saw works parties, hen dos and people just generally wanting to have a good time, so after dark it may not be over suitable for smaller kids! There was a lot of people dressed up in costumes and shenanigans going on at the Bavarian Village, which cannot be unseen!
I got the best of both worlds as we enjoyed walking around in the day and because we lost the light at 3pm I still got to see the pretty lights before I went back to the hotel. Even though it’s free to gain access if you fancy a hot mulled wine or German sausage it can get expensive, I suppose they have to recoup the lack of entrance fee somehow!
However, grumbles aside the mulled wine and hot chocolate was delicious and it heated our bones but steep at £5.50 for a small cup. To feed a family of four was around £40-£50, so expect to take lots of pennies with you if you are planning to eat there. Plus the never-ending temptation of rides, food stalls and prize games soak up a lot of your money.
Everywhere we looked there was stalls selling the most amazing food and it is a real feast for the eyes too! We visited the massive Santa Sweet Shoppe and it had every candy imaginable there. A bit like visiting Willy Wonka! Winter wonderland is a fantastic destination to pick up last-minute Christmas presents.
Of course there are the rides and the pretty traditional fun fair which makes the day out fun for all ages. We tried out the kids rides at Santa Land, which are designed for little ones like me, however there are some great thrills for adults too. Your need ride tokens/vouchers to get on the rides and they are obtainable from the ticket booths. The rides work out around £2 per voucher with some rides being as expensive at £9 a pop. Cash is a must; you may struggle purchasing things from vendors without it, as not all stalls accept cards.
We usually save up for our annual trip to London and combine it with a bit of Christmas shopping on Oxford/Regent Street nearby. It’s our family tradition now and we see relatives in London and swap gifts.
This year we stayed just outside Paddington opting to chill out at the London Hilton Metropole, which is a 25 minute walk to Hyde Park. There was a swimming pool to relieve tired shopping feet and the lounge areas were very festive. We loved the giant gingerbread display and the decorations in the lobby. Staff were friendly and the rooms comfortable and quiet.
We didn’t partake in any of the added attractions at Winter Wonderland this year and it was nice just to sit and watch the world go by at the top of the smaller ferris wheel. You need tickets for most of the major attractions and can book in slots on their website. We always head to the Carousel Bar, a rotating bar with galloping fairground horses as benches and waltzer-type seating. It’s a real character venue and its something we always remember on our visits.
Check out our weekly vlog to see clips of Winter Wonderland. (3.38 onwards)
During our time there my folks had fun trying to win me a fairground prize and there were lots of people walking around with giant soft toys. However after spending a small fortune they were rather relieved that I only ended up with a small dog to take back on the train as opposed to a large minion or super-sized donut!
If if you are looking for some festive family fun then we’d definitely recommend visiting Winter Wonderland at least once. Winter Wonderland will be open every day from 10am–10pm until January 6, apart from Christmas Day, when it will be closed. Take heed though! It tends to get very busy during evenings and weekends so it’s often best to head down on a weekday to avoid the crowds with little ones.
Love Bella x