It’s dubbed the Christmas extravaganza event in London and the lights are so bright it can be seen from aircraft in the sky.
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland has opened its doors for another year and if you want to know what to expect in 2019 then you’ve come to the right place!
We were invited to a family press day to see what’s in store at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in 2019, and the answer is – lots!
So, if you’ve been before and are thinking about going again, or if you’re newbies to the experience like us, here’s all you need to know about what to expect at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in 2019.
What to expect at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in 2019
Now in its 12th year, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is open from 10am to 10pm every day until January 5, 2020. You’ll find it – you guessed it! – in London’s Hyde Park, where attractions include the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, the tallest transportable observation wheel in the world, an Ice Kingdom featuring snow and ice sculptures and family shows including Zippos Circus.
This is our first year visiting Winter Wonderland and I must admit I’d heard mixed reviews, ranging from complaints about over crowding to raucous teenagers spoiling it for younger visitors.
So, what it’s REALLY like?
Located at the heart of Hyde Park in London, think fairground rides, Christmas market stalls (there are more than 200!) a Bavarian Village and Christmas themed shows all in one place. The attraction is split into distinct areas including Santa Land, designed especially for parents with young children with rides and attractions to suit.
You’ll also find Zippos Christmas Circus in the Circus MegaDome, the largest tented structure in the UK, and new for 2019 is the world’s tallest giant transportable observation wheel (that’s 70 metres in case you were wondering) as well as a new ‘A Christmas Carol’ theme for the Magical Ice Kingdom.
What’s worth visiting?
There’s everything you can think of from a choice of traditional fun houses to a snow slide and merry-go-rounds. My older two declared the snow slide the best ride of the day, which involves sliding down a slide made of snow on an inflatable tyre at speed. If it wasn’t for the fact I’m pregnant I’d have had a go too!
Meanwhile the younger two loved the choice of merry-go-rounds, and this one with cars they could sit in was a particular hit.
Zippos Christmas Circus
With three shows a day, Zippos Christmas Circus is a 45 minute long family friendly show featuring traditional circus acts including trapeze artists, jugglers and acrobats. It’s perfect for families with children of all ages (mine are eight, five and two and all were equally entranced) and the theatre-style MegaDome is heated so you can warm up from the cold outside.
The audience is encouraged to get involved (don’t sit on an aisle seat if you don’t want to find yourself pulled into the spotlight!) and the whole show is based on good, old-fashioned family fun.
The Magical Ice Kingdom
At -10 degrees the Magical Ice Kingdom is an indoor world of snow and ice sculptures which this year tells the story of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
The craftsmanship is quite simply amazing and there are even ice sculptures to sit on and a slide made of ice for kids (and grown-ups if you want to!) Placards tell the story of A Christmas Carol as you make your way through the kingdom – bear in mind it’s quite literally freezing though, so wrap up warm!
New giant wheel
Brand new for 2019 is the tallest transportable observation wheel in the world, giving panoramic views over London’s skyline from 70 metres up in the air.
We waited until dusk for our ‘flight’ so we could see the Christmas lights and the view really is spectacular. As well as a bird’s eye view of Winter Wonderland, you can see all of London’s iconic landmarks during the ride which lasts about 10 minutes, giving you three rotations on the wheel.
How much does it cost?
Entry to Winter Wonderland is free, and then tokens can be bought for the rides and tickets can be bought for the individual attractions and shows.
Tokens for the rides cost £1 each and children’s rides start from £2, with other rides starting from £3. New for 2019 is a season ride pass, giving ‘tap and access’ to all of the rides which you can pre-load at home (note there’s a £20 minimum spend) so there’s no need to faff around with tokens or worry about carrying lots of cash.
Tickets for the ice rink and shows can be pre-booked in advance of your visit, which is recommended to avoid disappointment on the day because tickets at the on-site box offices are subject to availability.
Prices vary depending on the day and time of your visit (there are peak, standard and off-peak prices). For example, if you’re visiting on a Saturday afternoon expect to pay £12 for an adult and £10 for a child for the Magical Ice Kingdom and £16 for an adult and £12.50 for a child for Zippos Christmas Circus.
What about food and drink?
We took a picnic for our day out and were pleased to find a family ‘chill space’ in Santa Land where we could sit down, warm up and eat our lunch (that’s the youngest doing a dance in the doorway!)
There were microwaves on hand to warm up baby food and bottles, high chairs, two comfy chairs for breast or bottle feeding and benches for big people as well as little people.
If you don’t fancy picnicking it there’s everything from sit-down restaurants to chalet-style street food takeaways serving every cuisine under the sun from German Bratwurst to truffle burgers to chocolate brownies. Our three were particularly taken with the Nutella-dipped churros!
What are the facilities like?
As well as the aforementioned family chill space there are baby changing facilities at every major toilet block and you’ll also find buggy parks where you can leave your pushchair if you’re going to watch a show.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is dubbed the Christmas extravaganza event in London and I think that’s the right description for it: it’s an extravaganza of all things Christmas in one place. Highlights for us were Zippos Circus and the Magical Ice Kingdom, which I thought were really well done and are experiences I know the kids will remember well beyond Christmas. I thought some of the rides were eye-wateringly expensive for what they were and my advice would be to be selective, as the cost of different rides varies quite a lot.
My top tips:
- Wrap up warm and wear comfy shoes – you’ll be outdoors all day and you’ll feel like you’ve walked miles! Don’t do what I did and wear silver glittery Ugg boots – although it was dry on the day of our visit the ground was wet from previous rain with lots of muddy puddles so my advice is to wear shoes you can wash easily.
- Enter through the red entrance – it’ll take you straight into Santa Land which is perfect for families.
- Check out height restrictions before the kids set their heart on a certain ride – they vary from ride to ride.
- If you’re going to see a show like Zippos Circus plan it for the middle of your trip – it’s the perfect opportunity for a sit down and a breather!
We were invited to a family press day at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in exchange for this post. As always all opinions are my own, and based on our own honest experience. To see video snippets of our visit head over to my Instagram feed where you’ll find a ‘HPWW 2019’ highlighted story at the top of the page – it’ll give you a feel for the whole experience in a nutshell!