Ah, who doesnt love a monday off of work?! Especially when its grey and damp, you can just lie in bed all day, stay nice and warm, and watch endless tosh on the box … or, you could go out in said grey dampness and take a trip to your nations capital. Central London here we come.
Wrapped up warm, be boarded the Piccadily line train and headed for Hyde Park Corner Station, we were not alone. At Hyde Park Station, the route to the Winter Wonderland was well marked out … although it is only around 25m from the station exit so there’s really little chance of getting lost.
(**Spoiler alert, do not read any futher if you dont want to know what the wonderland looks like this year, 2011.)
As we entered the Wonderland through its rather grand looking arch, we were imediately thrust into a market village. The usual xmas type stalls were all present (no pun intended), offering silly hats, tree decorations, lamps, jewellry, wood craft etc. We didnt purchase anything at this stage, we simply played around with the silly hats and took in the smells of all the gloriously unhealthy food that was on offer.
**Click all images to see an enlarged version, sorry about the quality, they were taken on an iphone.
Our first stop of the day came at the rifle range. I dug £3 out of my pocket so that Esther could be given a gun … a questionable move at the time. But, the girl did good and took out all 3 targets placed in front of her with alarming accuracy, winning a mini snowman in the process who was quickly dubbed professor snowflake. Looking back, Esther’s excellent shooting ability now has me a little worried … eeek!
So 2 had become 3, prof snowflake in tow, we carried on around the wonderland. To combat the cold we took in a cup of hot spiced cider which was delicious if not a little pricey. We were a little too early for the live music, but made a note to try make it back later on to watch the band(s) on show.
There were definitely some odd attractions at this years wonderland, as we walked around we saw all manner of ghost and pirate related rides, there was even a giant talking tree … and no it wasnt an xmas tree. I think a few of these rides were in action around Halloween and simply recycled. Still, the kids seemed to love them, so no harm done.
There were two standout attractions at the wonderland this year. As always there was the giant ferris wheel which looked amazing once lit up. The second was a giant tower which cars full over people would be winched to the top of and then dropped. I’ve seen them before at theme parks around the country, I didnt expect one in a seasonal attraction though. Each year the Wonderland seems to be growing and expanding. I wonder how much bigger it can get?
The star attraction at the Wonderland always appears to be the ice rink. This year we didn’t opt for embarrassing ourselves by attempting to skate as Esther didnt really enjoy herself on the ice last year, and I had to agree that far too many people were let on each session in 2010. This year the rink had encompassed a brass band stage into its centre and appeared a little bigger. A definite improvement, whether the same number of people will be let on at peak times as last year remains to be seen. The Wonderland had only been open a couple of days upon our visit so the crowds were still relitively small. I’m sure they’ll increase as it gets closer to Xmas time.
We ended our afternoon out where we began, in the market village. We’d missed a row of shops with our first effort and so we were now mopping up. In the end we both made purchases, but they were presents for our families so we didnt feel guilty in any way … guilt came with the bratwurst sausage covered in ketchup that we had devowered earlier.
- Dates – 18/11/11 till 3/1/11.
- Times – 10am till 10pm (closed xmas day).
- Getting there – You’re best bet is Hyde Park Corner Underground station. (Piccadily Line). Marble Arch (Central Line) is only a 10 minute walk through Hyde Park also.
- Entrance fee – £FREE.
- Get a copy of the Official Winter Wonderland site map here.
- Official Winter Wonderland FAQs here
- A turn on any of the fair ground prize stalls – £3+
- A turn on any of the fair ground mechanical rides – £3+ (tokens need to be purchased, min token purchase applicable)
- Hot spiced cider – £4.50 for a small cup
- Pint of larger – £4
- Hotdog – £4
- Burger – £5+
- Hot waffle – £3+
- Take out some cash before you arrive at the wonderland. The cash machines on site will charge you an admin fee.
- Although quieter before 5pm, the wonderland looks far better in the evening when all the lights are on in the evening time.
- Tickets are needed for the ice skating, ferris wheel and circus showings. Book well in advance of the day you plan to visit, the different sessions nearly always sell out at peak times with only limited tickets available on the day.
- Arrive early at the circus to guarantee a seat. The ‘Extreme’ circus showings were at 7pm and 8.15pm on the day we visited.