Winter Wonderland is a large scale Christmas Market, with bright lights twinkling in the night sky. This is Winter Wonderland in London at its greatest.
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Winter Wonderland runs between the middle of November until beginning of January annually and is held in Hyde Park in London. It is open between 10am and 10pm. It launched in 2007, as a small scale market, but over the years it has grown in popularity, as did Winter Wonderland. There are a large number of rides, a food village, Christmas markets, and an ice skating rink.
There are so many different attractions to entertain people from the very young with their families, to the old. Here are just some of the attractions at Winter Wonderland.
The Giant Wheel
Price: £5 per person
The Giant Wheel takes you up above the park at about 300 metres, with some lovely views across London. At dusk is the best time to ride the wheel, as the lights start lighting the night sky. It is one of the more calmer rides, and one of the best rides for the views.
If you are lucky, the ticket price can include a picture with fake snow with an ice background, along with a free hot chocolate. However, if it is too busy, and queues are building, they will push you past the picture and hot chocolate. Don’t be misled by the queue size, as you will soon realise once you are there that the queue continues around the corner until you reach the pod. The pods hold a maximum of six people, whilst on average they will place four people in one pod. The pods will swing, especially if windy, this can cause dizziness.
Magical Ice Kingdom
Price: £10 per person
Inside the Magical Ice Kingdom, are these incredible ice sculptures, and what really brings out the beauty of the sculptures are the way the light bounces off the ice. There are various sculptures, from animals, and plants, to characters from The Chronicles of Narnia, and other famous movies. We both commented that it is a little overpriced, for the experience, and found that it wasn’t all that interactive for us, but was still lovely to see these sculptures!
The exhibition room is kept at -10 degrees Celsius, and would therefore highly recommend wearing very warm clothing, as you will get cold immediately. We had a jacket on, jeans, and put gloves on, and as the temperature dropped we felt it immediately. The queues of course are long, especially if you haven’t already purchased a ticket. If you haven’t purchased a ticket, you can purchase the tickets from the box office. Our advice would be, to purchase the tickets online, this will prevent queuing twice, one at the box office and then again at the exhibition. It does become dark the moment you walk into the exhibition, so be careful as you walk in.
Cost: Free entry to the Bavarian Village, food and drink will be priced.
The Bavarian Village sell traditional German food and beer, and for entertainment, there is live music, food, and a beer garden. What a perfect way to celebrate the festive season with friends or family. We ordered a hotdog from Mr Bratwurst, which was in the middle of the Bavarian Village, made with German sausages, which took us back to when we visited Cologne and had the amazing Currywurst and fries. So we ordered a hotdog and fries before smothering the sausage and fries in the delicious curry sauce.
Cost: Free to enter,
If you are looking for something festive to buy, then the Christmas markets are the place to come. It is unlikely to pick up a bargain, with many markets selling items at a minimum of £10.00. Although it is still lovely to browse the market.
There are so many more things to do at Winter Wonderland, such as Peter Pan on Ice, The Circus, Ice Bar, many rollercoaster rides, Ice Skating Rink, and fun things to do from young to old.
There are three main entrances, with the fourth primarily for families. It is best to visit early in the morning, as it gets very crowded later in the day especially in the evenings. It is not possible to take drinks into the park, so if you have a water bottle this must be drunk or tipped away, however you may keep the empty bottle. As you enter, and for security reasons, the bags will be searched. It is a lovely atmosphere in the evenings when the lights brighten the sky but be warned, this is the time when you have to fight through the crowds. Lastly, you can purchase tickets for the rides online, or from the ticket booths on the day, but the queues get very long both at the event and ticket booth. Why waste time in two queues when you can purchase tickets on line and queue once, at the event. Entry to the park is free, but the rides vary in price.
Food and drink
When out for the day, refuelling is important, and with many shops, markets, street food, and bars on offer you certainly will not miss out. So here are some places and what is on offer.
There are many bars dotted around the market, much of them selling the traditional Mulled Wine, and beer. We are not really drinkers, but since it is the time for celebration, then a mulled wine is a must. The wine was very good, kept very warm, with the right amount of wine and spices that makes it an acquired taste. If you don’t drink alcohol, then the hot chocolate, would be another great way to warm you up, we purchased hot chocolate and a tea, the hot chocolate had cream and a flake on the top, yummy!
There are many street food markets dotted around Winter Wonderland, and these are very budget friendly, or for the more expensive restaurants, then head to the Bavarian Village. We had a hot dog and fries from Mr Bratwurst. We really enjoyed the food, but it’s a little over priced at £6.00 for the hot dog and £2 for the fries. We also could not resist a dessert, and had crepes at Coffee & Crepes with banana, cream, and a Baileys sauce poured over the top, amazing. How about marshmallows and chocolate or fruit with chocolate, oh yes, and different flavoured chocolate fountains, selling marshmallows and chocolate, or fruit and chocolate. The three types of chocolate are, dark, milk and white.
How to get there
The best way to get to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is via tube, with many tube stations such as Marble Arch, Lancaster Gate, Notting Hill Gate, Green Park, Knightsbridge, and High Street Kensington. Some stations such as Green Park is about 5-10 minute walk away, yet Marble Arch would be one of the closer stations. Tubes run frequently between every 2-5 minutes in peak times and to every 10-15 minutes off peak. There are many bus routes which stop at Hyde Park, such as route 148, 274, 390, 10, 9, 74, 14, and 73. These also run frequently between every 5-10 minutes during peak. It is possible to drive in London, but we would strongly advise not to take this option as parking is limited, and much of the parking will have time restrictions.
While you are in London, why not visit other Christmas Markets in the city, another of our favourites is the Southbank Centre Christmas Market. The Southbank Centre comes alive with decoration and wooden stalls selling delicious foods, gifts and crafts. Warm youself on a cold night with a delicious mulled wine. Yum.