I’m a bit of a sucker for Christmas. To be honest, I’m a bit of a child! I love how pretty everything looks in the run up to Christmas. The lights, the trees, all the decorations… I even enjoy wrapping up presents. So when the chance came to visit Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park with some work friends (and my sister) I jumped at the chance.
Winter Wonderland has been held in Hyde Park since 2007. It’s free to get in but once you’re there you need to get your purse out, unless you simply want to have a wander around. There’s a German-style Christmas market, fairground rides and plenty of stalls selling mulled wine, alcohol-laced hot chocolate, beer and German sausage. You can’t beat a good German sausage! 😉 Bratwurst of course!
I read on Twitter that it was likely to be very busy, especially since we were visiting on a Saturday so I was anticipating a huge queue to get in. As we walked up to the entrance from Hyde Park Corner tube station I spotted the queue! It was quite big but actually it was just the organiser’s way of staggering entrance into the park. Large swathes of excited people were allowed in at once. We only had to wait about 5 minutes.
Our first stop, once inside, was a sausage stall! It was very yummy and warming. I was so busy eating away that I didn’t take a photo 🙁 Winter Wonderland was quite busy, but I imagine that after dark, when it would look a lot prettier, it would be even more crowded. The stalls were expensive, and the rides even more so. My friends wanted to go on this huge, scary looking ride so they disappeared to buy the necessary tokens, however they found out that they would need 8 tokens each for that one ride. Each token costs £1! Needless the say, they didn’t go on that ride. They could have had two mulled wines for that! (And I think that’s the option they went for!)
My sister and I broke off from the main group so we could explore on our own. I’m not really one for ‘group’ days out. Unless there’s a leader with a plan, you can end up spending too much time wandering aimlessly while deciding on what to do. We ventured into the Bavarian Village because I was searching (in vain as it turned out) for pretzels. They were selling huge steins of beer but I think it was too early as there was hardly anyone in there. My sister simply had a cider, and we stood for a while listening to the live music.
Back out in the German market section of Winter Wonderland we came across a huge group of people dressed as Santa! I’m not sure what was going on but everywhere we went from that time on we saw a lot of Santas. It was a bit weird, especially since they were mostly drunk. I don’t think Father Christmas normally staggers around London carrying a four-pack of Strongbow!
Looking for culture at the British Museum
After stuffing our faces with candy floss, we headed out of Hyde Park. We felt like a bit of culture so we headed for the British Museum. Unfortunately I didn’t count on it not being that interesting. We saw the mummies, which were pretty freaky to be honest. The idea that a 2,500 year old dead person is inside those wrappings is quite gross really. We didn’t really do the museum justice and only spent an hour in there. Although I wasn’t particularly taken with any of the exhibitions, I love the building!
London’s Christmas lights
The capital is famous for its illuminations at Christmas. So we didn’t miss out, my sis and I got the tube to Covent Garden, which I love. I love the hustle and bustle, street performers and the general atmosphere. Outside the market building there’s a gorgeous Christmas tree.
From Covent Garden, we walked to Leicester Square, which had a funfair in the centre and all the surrounding buildings were looking fab. We braved the crowds inside M&M World because the smell was just so delicious! I spent nearly £6 on the chocolate candies. The pick and mix bit is obviously a real money-spinner for them, and a nightmare for parents! They handed out massive cellophane bags, inviting you to fill them. A full bag must cost in excess of £30!
We managed to squeeze our way through Piccadilly Circus, where the Eros statue was enclosed in a huge snowglobe, and find ourselves on Regents Street. The lights here were quite traditional yet commercial. They were sponsored by a new Dreamworks film.
The Oxford Street lights were awesome but it was just so busy! Our walking pace turned into what I call the “Disney Shuffle”, i.e. the shuffle that you do in a queue or down busy Main Street. This pace is actually more tiring than walking normally. We escaped onto a bus back to St Pancras International and the train home.
It was a fun but tiring day. I was asleep on the sofa by 9pm! All that fresh air. I do like London at Christmas but kind of wish I hadn’t bothered with Winter Wonderland, especially since I saw the Winter Festival on TV last week. That looked much better. There’s always next year!
I’d love to hear about what happens in your capital city at Christmas time. Please leave me a comment 🙂