Visiting Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park has become a Christmas family tradition that started when my eldest was a baby four years ago. We always make the most of the occasion by staying in London for the weekend to enjoy the festive atmosphere, drool over the designer shop window displays and indulge in Christmas market stall treats.
In case you have not heard of Winter Wonderland, it is a spectacular Christmas attraction which takes over a substantial part of Hyde Park, London every festive season. This year it opened on the 20th November and will run every day 10am – 10pm (apart from Christmas day) until the 3rd January. There are over 100 rides & attractions, Christmas markets, themed bars, restaurants and street food, plus free live music.
On past visits we have visited Winter Wonderland for just a few hours… enjoyed a few rides, bought lunch from one of the food stalls and took a stroll around the market stalls whilst sipping on a mulled wine (of course!). This year we stayed longer, as we were kindly invited to attend a couple of the extra attractions during our visit, Zippos Circus and the Magical Ice Kingdom.
We watched the fabulous Zippos Christmas Circus on Sunday. As the website states, weekends get very busy and last weekend was no exception (see image below). We pushed our way through the crowds to the Mega Dome, which is apparently the newest and biggest circus tent in the UK! As you can imagine, my boys were giddy with delight when they saw the circus tent. We left our push chair outside in the designated area and made our way in. Inside it was amazing how warm and comfortable the tent was. We managed to get great seats in the middle, towards the back (to avoid being targeted by the circus clown!) The excitable atmosphere was contagious. The first act, a mime artist, used it to his full advantage and using only hand signals managed to get the audience clapping and singing in three groups!
The 45 minute fast paced show was performed by a multi-national and multi-talented cast. The show offered something for the whole family including traditional circus acts to entertain the kids such as jugglers and clowns and highly skilled male topless acrobats to please the mums in the audience!
The highlight of the show was definitely the two artists performing on what resembled a gigantic hamster wheel (see above), aptly named the Wheel of Death! I could hardly watch as the male acrobat progressed from ‘easy’ tricks through to sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat tricks!
Zippos circus perform two different shows – A daytime family show and a night-time Cirque Berserk show, both 45 minutes long. I fully expected to have to take it in turns with my husband to entertain our 18 month old however he sat for the majority of the show and enjoyed joining in with the clapping and shouting… proving that Zippos is truly a show for everyone!
We left immediately after the circus on Sunday as the attraction was incredibly busy and we knew it would be much quieter on Monday. We had tickets for the Magical Ice Kingdom for 10am Monday morning and as predicted we had the Winter Wonderland to ourselves!
After adding a few extra layers of clothing to keep us warm for the minus 8 degrees we entered the Magical Ice Kingdom. My boys loved walking through the fantastical world of real ice and snow. It boasts of being the largest of its kind in the UK. We spent about 20 minutes inside the kingdom and especially enjoyed the magical fairy forest, the frozen giants and the Snow Queen. The skill and detail that has been taken in carving the ice sculptures is incredible. My eldest Charlie particularly loved the ice slide and sitting on the ice throne!
After leaving the ice kingdom we experienced a few of the children’s rides. Being completely honest, we were quite disappointed with the steep cost of the children’s rides. At the box office it stated that many of the children’s rides were £2 (2 tokens) however we found the majority that Charlie wanted to go on to be £3 . If he needed to be accompanied it was sometimes £4 for an adult ticket. With two children and adult supervision it was £10 for a couple of minutes entertainment which we considered to be expensive.
We visited Winter Wonderland at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen a few weeks ago and found the multi-ride wrist band they sell, as an alternative to paying for individual rides, to be better value for money at £20 per person. I was particularly resentful at Hyde Park paying £3 for my son to have one slide on a Helter Skelter and £4 for one corn on the cob from a food stall.
Would we visit Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park again?
We will definitely visit again as it is a magical Christmas experience and a great place to meet up with friends for a festive drink and chat (see below!)
Image – Meeting with our cruise ship friends at Winter Wonderland…. proof that onboard relationships can work! :-)
I am fairly certain that our future visits will be for a couple of hours due to the cost of the rides and food. My advice for any families visiting is to be aware that although entrance into the attraction is free, the cost of rides and food for a family can add up, especially if you have young children whom need to be accompanied by a ‘paying’ adult. I would also recommend to plan a visit on a weekday when it is less busy.
Need to know: Website – Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park. Open from now until the 3rd January 2016 (excluding Christmas Day).
Disclosure – We were provided with complimentary tickets for the attractions listed above, all opinions are however, as always, our own. All images copyright Travel Loving Family.
Have you visited Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park? Did you enjoy the experience? Do you have any tips to add?