After being put on hiatus because of Covid-19 last year, Winter Wonderland is coming back to Hyde Park in all its glory. Having first started in 2007, the six-week long event now welcomes close to three million visitors. Starting from November 19, Winter Wonderland will have everything festive you could wish for – or not – depending on who you ask.
For some Londoners, attendance is a rite of passage. Asia Walker has been to the event almost every year since moving to London in 2009 and can’t seem to get enough, while Sudheer Rao has only visited once since the event began and is not in a rush to return.
“I feel like if you are ever struggling to get into the Christmassy mood you need to go to Winter Wonderland. I love how they have a wide variety of different activities to suit everyone”, says Asia, a lifestyle blogger.
Not unlike a theme park, Winter Wonderland features innumerable rides spread over themed areas. If you wish to ride every single one, be ready to burn a hole in your pocket. “To take my family of four there for an entire day will definitely result in my financial ruin”, says Rao. Apart from the rides, you can also play games if you want the chance to win unnaturally large teddy bears.
One highlight is the Angels Christmas Market, one of the key features of the first Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in 2007. It’s a laid-back escape from the more energetic attractions. If you’re a fan of doing things with ice, you can do anything you could possibly want with it here – skate on it, sculpt it, drink from it, or even sit on it in a bar made entirely out of ice. Just in case you forgot we don’t live in a fairytale, though, they still make you queue for drinks.
Some might argue that the event is not entirely about Christmas. Rhea, a student, says: “I feel like the linkage is purely in our head. I mean, fairy lights can be hung all year round.” True to word, Winter Wonderland tries to cater to a broad demographic. It accommodates Bavarian-style boozing in a big shed but misses the mark with the culturally appropriated tepee bar. “The food is decent, the mead is a disaster but the hot chocolate is a hit!” Neel adds.
What cannot be undervalued is the effort that goes in behind the scenes for an event of this magnitude. Although IMG employs a small core team of people to work on Winter Wonderland throughout the year, it employs a small army of freelance staff to work the event. To call it a crowded event would be an understatement.
All in all, even if you’re wary of the money-grubbing commercialisation of Christmas, Winter Wonderland is undoubtedly the place for you to live your festive best life.