The festive season has officially arrived in London, with the grand opening of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Winter Wonderland is located in the heart of London, one of the capital’s 8 Royal Parks. Open daily from 10 am to 10 pm, with the exception of Christmas Day until the 6th of January, Winter Wonderland is now in its 10th year and gets bigger and bigger every year.
It is free to enter the park, and there are many different experiences available (at a cost)
The Magical Ice Kingdom
The Magical Ice Kingdom is incredible snow and ice sculpture experience, with this year’s theme of a forest landscape. Woodland creatures sculpted from over 500 tonnes of ice it is pretty magical if not freezing! In order to keep the sculptures intact, the temperature is -10 degrees Celsius, so wrap up warm when visiting. It is also wheelchair and pushchair accessible and photography is encouraged. It is ticketed and prices vary depending on the time, so by booking in advance for allocated times you can save some money. If you love the experience, you can also book for a workshop to try your hand at sculpting ice yourself. The walk through the experience takes around 30 minutes
Zippos circus during the day and Cirque Berserk in the evening offer two different types of circus experience, with strength tests and clowns at Zippos, and high energy and daredevil acrobats with Cirque Berserk. There are few shows daily, and they do tend to get fully booked, especially on weekends. Each show lasts approximately 45 minutes and it is worth getting to the show 15-20 minutes ahead of the start time.
The Big Wheel
Located at the Marble Arch end of Winter Wonderland, the big observation wheel can see for miles across London. Although it is ticketed, tickets are not time specific so just turn up and queue. With 41 rotating pods all fitted with Google Assistant, you know what you are looking at. I would personally recommend a night flight to see the lights of London. Each pod holds 6 people, so you would be sharing with others unless you book a private pod.
The UK’s largest outdoor ice skating rink is found towards the Hyde Park end of Winter Wonderland and includes skate hire, and there are lockers (£1 fee) to leave your items if you don’t have someone watching! Being that it is huge, book in advance and maybe better for people with some experience as can be quite intimidating for a new skater. It is beautiful no matter what time of day, with a skating soundtrack from the central bandstand.
With two extensive Christmas Markets in Winter Wonderland, you are able to get the last minute Christmas gifts from one of over 200 chalet style stalls. A lot of these chalets are Bavarian style, making you feel even more festive.
Food and Drink
With lots of street food stalls as well as bars, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Head over to the Bavarian Christmas Market for your fill of Bratwurst and gluhwein (mulled wine), and I would recommend hot chocolate with a shot of amaretto to warm you through! There are huge outdoor bars with open fire pits or book for Bar Hutte (karaoke bar) or the Ice Bar (have vodka served at -10 degrees).
One of the biggest attractions to Winter Wonderland is the theme park style attractions, with nine rollercoasters to chose from, and 100s rides for the less adventurous! You can purchase tickets for the ride at the park (not in advance) and the tickets are only valid for the day they have been purchased (so you can’t come back with your leftovers another day).
- If you are visiting on the weekend, then go early. The park gets packed out, so do head for the opening rather than lunchtime
- If there are any shows or experiences that you want to go and see, then book online in advance. All tickets can be booked from the official website.
- Winter Wonderland is accessible from the Park Lane side of Hyde Park, so the nearest tube stations are Marble Arch or Hyde Park Corner, and there are loads of buses to and from Victoria
- Watch out for pickpockets, don’t carry lots of expensive items as unfortunately where large crowds are this sort of thing happens as well.
- Many places take contactless payment so no need to carry all that cash around