My fashionistas, Team One Time Fashionista went and back from the most talked about event in London these days – Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. It provides a spectacular festive destination with something to excite people of all ages. Whether you choose from one of their popular attractions, experience the thrilling rides, or taking a trip to Santa Land, browse the Christmas markets and enjoy the festive fare, it is a guaranteed fun& fiesta time out there.
Face it, nothing says Christmas quite like stuffing your piehole with grilled sausage, riding what must be the world’s tallest swing, then getting plowed at the Arctic Lodge Bar. Welcome to the weird, wonderful world of London’s Christmas markets at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
From our day-out at the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, we have gathered that the entire concept of this month-long festivity is originated from a traditional German Christamas market. Somewhere along the line the Germans put their imprint on Christmas. Why they chose this particular holiday and how they got away with owning it all over Europe is a mystery. Perhaps nobody else wanted it or just maybe, nobody could improve on the ideas thrown down by the Germans. They’re inspired, after all; someone was definitely thinking outside the box.
I’m happy that some German visionary invented the European Christmas Market. It’s at least as meaningful as anything else I tend to do during the holiday season and actually much more fun and tastier than most of our current traditions.
Why Hyde Park for Winter Wonderland?
In London, technically two different parks, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are in practical terms one huge, merging expanse. The ‘split’ dates back to 1728 when Queen Caroline, wife of George II, took almost 300 acres from Hyde Park to form Kensington Gardens. The 350 acres that remained has become one of London’s best-loved parks. What better place than Hyde Park to host the biggest fun-filled event of the year!
As we found out the opening times are 10am until 10pm every day, (from 22nd November 2014 to 4th January 2015 excluding Christmas Day when the event is CLOSED), we chose this weekend to explore and soak up the festive atmosphere. Winter Wonderland is free to enter but if you would like to enjoy Ice Skating, The Magical Ice Kingdom, Zippos Circus, Giant Wheel and Bar Ice, advance booking is highly recommended as attraction tickets sell out, especially at weekends and evenings. Advance tickets guarantee fast-track entry into Hyde Park Winter Wonderland!
The busiest times at Winter Wonderland are weekends, tell us about it! To avoid the rush and to experience Winter Wonderland at a quieter pace you may wish to go along during the week and mornings, both my beautographer and I have a day job on weekdays usually from 9 to 5, so weekend was the only option left for us.
What to look for?
Food & Drink
Winter Wonderland offers a huge selection of food and drink. Whether it’s a sit-down meal, a bite on the move, or festive drinks with family or friends – Winter Wonderland has something for everyone. There are many bars, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes. Two must have food to try at Winter Wonderland this year is the German Sausage and the Churros. I don’t eat red meat. So, I wouldn’t have anything to say about the German sausage but if I’m allowed to quote my beautographer here, ‘‘best handmade sausage I’ve ever had.’’ As for me, I have tried Churros in Spain, Argentina and many times before in London but this paper-cone of Churros I bought for a fiver today at the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is the most delicious so far and worth every penny. Sprinkled with sugar and freshly made liquid hot chocolate, these Churros were perfectly crunchy, crispy and chocolaty.
What really impressed me about Winter Wonderland this year is, they operate a ‘Challenge 25’ policy for all alcohol sales. So, if you are lucky enough to look under 25 you will be asked to provide valid identification that you are aged 18 or over. They accept the following forms of ID:
A Proof of Age Standards Scheme Card (showing the PASS hologram)
You better be responsible!
The Christmas Markets at the Winter Wonderland is my personal favorite. This traditional Christmas Market gives you plenty of choice across more than 200 fairylit Bavarian style with wooden chalets and various Bavarian-style bars and cafes is a hoot, as is the Spiegel Saloon, a large, festive and fully covered restaurant. Don’t go with an empty wallet because while the whole thing is not cheap, it’s such fun you’ll want to get into the spirit and spend. And you’re sure to find all you need for the festive season. I am going to publish another post soon with my favorite pieces that you can get for your near and dear ones as Christmas pressies this year.
Attractions & Rides
Winter Wonderland offers the biggest selection of attractions and rides in the British capital. There’s a huge choice of things to do from the ice rink to the Magical Ice Kingdom. Other popular features are the 53-metre-high Observational Wheel, Zippos Circus – always a hit, especially when temperatures plummet and its heated big top entertains and warms the crowd.
You will find some of the newest and most exciting thrill rides at Winter Wonderland for those who like to feel the adrenalin. Plus the best funhouses, ghost rides, and delightful children’s rides. Whether you are a thrill-seeker just like my beautographer or if you are chicken-hearted like me who prefer to enjoy the more tranquil experiences- there is something for all.
What are you waiting for then? Plan a day out with your family or friends and book ahead to avoid disappointment. Advance tickets guarantee fast-track entry into Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. After spending 5 long hours there, while coming back at around 7pm, we saw long queue at the entrance with thousands of people trying to get in. So, avoid the rush hour, if you can! Do a favor to London Underground authority by avoiding Hyde Park tube station to get to the Winter Wonderland as it gets very crowded during peak hours. The main entrance to the Winter Wonderland is at the Marble Arch and then there is Green Park station which is just about 10 minutes walkaway. Go, just walk around the Hyde Park and absorb the festive ambiance – but it will take a strong will not to succumb to the smells and fun on offer.
Winter Wonderland alone will make anybody’s holiday season, as it did mine.0