Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
A Magical Kingdom of Lights
As I walked towards Hyde Park, I had completely forgotten that the Winter Wonderland comes around this time of year. It was a happy surprise to see the park shining with bright colourful lights, and it truly felt like Christmas.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is probably the biggest and most magical fair in London. It feels like you are stepping through a wardrobe and entering Narnia, because it just goes on and on. The fair is made up of several areas, including Angel's Christmas Market, the Bavarian Village, the ice rink and Magical Ice Kingdom, Circus, rides, and Santa Land. I only visited half these places, and there was masses to look at, but if I had turned right, or simply turned round into the next 'isle', I would have been faced with as much magic twice over.
Open until the 4th January, admission to Winter Wonderland is free with all the attractions having individual ticket booths once inside. This was good for me, because I just wanted to explore the market. Luckily, Angel's Christmas Market is the main entrance, so easy to find.
Filled with over two hundred wooden chalets decorated in fairy lights, there's all sorts of arts, crafts, toys, and food. One stall featured skilled carpentry with beautifully carved sculptures. The most impressive was a large dragon.
Not as elaborate, but just as exquisite were a range of candles. Simply flowing lines with a swirl of colour made them an elegant feature for any home.
I saw Newt & Co at the Tate Modern Christmas Market, but they made a reappearance here. I love their cute knitted crafts, especially their quirky owl bags. If you like bags, then you'll find lots of snazzy designs at one of the other stalls; their busy patterns give a distinctive urban feel.
My favourite stall, however, sold a mixture of aromatherapy and handmade crafts. Beautifully scented cedar balls were available to buy, alongside the essential oils used to scent them. She also had cute key rings featuring popular characters. I was not surprised to see Mario or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but got a bit giddy when I saw Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, and Popeye, and couldn't resist getting them.
If you would rather have a proper meal while you're out rather than buying treats to take home, then the Bavarian Village is for you. From street food on the go, to a tavern where you can sit down for a pint. Where you choose to sit out in the open or under shelter, the atmospheric scenery takes you back to ye olden days.
Perhaps not a place of vegetarians, there's plenty of hearty meaty goodness, such as hog roast, smoked hog, German Pork Steak, German sausages, and so on. Not quite so German, is the fish and chip shop and the pancake house.
While you walk through Angel's Christmas Market and the Bavarian Village, you will find fairground fun begin to merge into the scene. One prize stall I saw looked particularly good fun, and different from the usual games you get. Here you had to climb a very wobbly ladder to reach and buzz and bell in order to win a prize.
Many of the rides had taken on a decidedly Christmas theme; for example, the well known caterpillar ride had turned into Santa's sleigh.
Meanwhile a German fun house had a undeniably creepy Santa automaton out the front. The one thing I couldn't quite understand is why they also had a haunted house. Isn't it the wrong holiday?
The bigger and scarier rides were located at a different part of the fair, which included an sixty-metere high observation wheel, the Starflyer, Power Tower, and the new Wilde Maus XXL.
Other magical wonders I didn't see include ice sculptures, meeting Father Christmas, Zippo's Christmas Circus, and ice skating.