Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Winter Wonderland

Having been for 5 consecutive years myself, I figured it was time to share my top tips & favourite spots at one of the happiest and most festive places I've visited! For those who are unacquainted, Winter Wonderland is a ginormous christmas-themed attraction inspired by German Christmas markets, that takes over Hyde Park in London for six weeks over the festive period. There's fun to be had by visitors of all ages with fair games and rides, independent market stalls to be shopped and so, so, so many bars.

Winter Wonderland is open 7 days a week from 10am to 10pm. Over the years I've learnt that visiting on a week day is a must unless you're a fan of queuing to get in and being unable to move. You would not get me there on a weekend for love nor money. I also prefer visiting once it's dark, as you'll see from the photos, the park looks truly magical at night with all the bright lights, so I'd aim to arrive at 4pm onwards. It also works out to be an expensive day (Juan and I spent £200 this year) so the later you get there, the better!
Entry to Winter Wonderland is free but there are a number of attractions that you require to book tickets for ahead of time or purchase tokens to experience. Tickets are required for the Magical Ice Kingdom, a grotto of ice statues, a ride on the Big Wheel, circus shows, the Ice Bar and outdoor ice skating. Of these, I've only experienced Zippo's Christmas Circus which was aimed more at children but I'd love to try the Cirque Berserk. Aside from your standard fair rides like Dodgems, Winter Wonderland also houses a number of fun houses, extreme rides and roller-coasters for which you have to buy tokens at £1 a pop. As it's the 10th anniversary this year, Munich Looping, the largest transportable coaster in the world has made an appearance. The Wilde Maus XXL is our favourite but we had to give this new addition a ride this year and it was super fun but does cost about £10 each (as are most of the rides). I also love the fun houses which feature distorting mirrors, rickety bridges, fans, and other obstacles that make for a giggle after a few drinks and set you back a slightly more reasonable £6. For kids, there's a traditional funfair & Santa Land.
When it comes to food, you're going to have the best time if you're a fan of German Sausage. Honestly, there is Bratwurst and Curry Wurst everywhere. Also up for grabs are hog roasts, burgers, macaroni cheese, Indian etc but you'll have to wander round a bit more to find them. For vegetarians, most stalls sell chips if you want something quickly. However there are also 2 vegetarian stands selling garlic bread and pizza, a sweetcorn shop and we also managed to find a kebab van selling falafel wraps to cater for Juan's vegan needs. There's stall after stall selling pick and mix and sweets but if you've got a sweet tooth, I'd recommend one of the churros stall where you can get them topped with cinnamon, icing sugar or (in my case and) chocolate sauce.
As for drinks, keep your eyes peeled for beers by the stein, mulled cider and wine and Baileys hot chocolate. As I mentioned there are so many bars but our two favourite haunts are the Carousel Bar and the Bavarian Village. As the name suggests, the Carousel bar spins and has tables fashioned from carousel horses, drinking there is a real novelty. The Bavarian Village is a whole different kettle of fish - a huge tent set up like a hall with bars and eateries bordering it. In the middle is row upon row of benched seating. The main attraction at the Bavarian Village is the live music in the evening with the band playing popular 90's, pop and chart music and everyone dancing and singing along, it's such a fun atmosphere.

And that's it for my hotspots and tips for when visiting Winter Wonderland!
Have you ever been to Winter Wonderland? Which are your favourite hang-outs there?

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