Bundle up, cause, baby, it’s cold outside!
Winter Wonderland. Hyde Park, London, England. December 2014.
Yes, we’re through most of the holiday festivities for 2014, with only a few days left before we all slip into the new year and our new resolutions (if you’re still thinking about yours, feel free to check out mine here!), but that doesn’t mean the celebrations have to stop yet!
I talked a few weeks back about various winter festivities going on and, while the last few are coming to an end, there is still a little bit of time to head out into the cold and enjoy yourself.
This past week I walked along the Thames as I trekked to Hyde Park and the biggest winter carnival I’ve ever seen: Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
If you are in London, or if you ever end up here between November and the end of the year, this is truly an event to head out to. While the whole park is packed with people of all shapes and sizes, whether you are strolling through soaking in the atmosphere and taking pictures, running about with friends/family to see how many rides you can hit, or chilling with a mulled wines and listening to some local talent, this is a wonderland with options for everyone.
I wanted to walk around and see what there was, watch some skating, and maybe grab a bite to eat,but I ended up wandering for well over an hour (and that was without skating, sitting around, or going on rides!). If you are going to partake in this event, you’ll want to really devote your day to it or plan to come back a few times to enjoy all aspects of this brilliant festival.
Like I said the other week (and can now attest to), it’s not hard to see how an event like this could empty your wallet. Everything basically runs off of a cash system and there are plenty of cash machines located throughout the park for this reason. However, as most cards have fees for withdrawing money from these kind of machines, to keep from breaking the bank and avoiding fees, I suggest pulling out your spending limit of cash from your bank before heading out. Once you hit your limit, tap out of at least the spending portion of your evening. And don’t forget, it’s a free event to come and go as you please, so you shouldn’t feel the need to just spend money because you’re there.
When it comes to eating, you are mostly limited to walking around food, a nice option if you want to keep moving (it’s warmer and you get to see more!). If you want to sit down and enjoy some of your choices, there are areas throughout the park for this as well, including a bar located on a spinning carousel platform and what looked like a heated hut (which unfortunately was too crowded for me to actually take a closer look at.). From chocolate fountain stands (with three or four different chocolate fountain choices) to mulled wine and sausage stops, one thing I can definitely say is you’ll have your pick from a wide variety of options. Don’t feel like if you’re not hungry right near the entrance, you should buy something you’ll want later. There are duplicate food type stands throughout the park, not just the first few feet (that first thoroughfare, however, does present a lot of options). The only option that may be all by itself is the lone veggie stand I saw—they sell only veg, but it might be good to mix some of that with the rest of your pickings!
While wandering through these food areas, don’t forget to check into the booths between eateries for any gift items or souvenirs. From hats and glasses to Christmas decorations to nick-knacks, you have plenty to look through!
Last—but certainly not least—we’ll talk about entertainment. The park’s Winter Wonderland has the largest non-permanent, pop-up rides I have ever seen with a range that suits all ages. From rollercoasters to swings to fun houses, you’re sure to find something no matter who you happen to be spending the day with. If you do plan on indulging in this entertainment, don’t for get to stop by the ticket booths first (and plan that into your budget!). On the other hand, if you are more inclined to spend your time in a more classic holiday tradition, there are ice rinks you can skate the day away on or watch others enjoy (not all of us are skaters and that’s okay).
If you don’t want to spend extra money on your entertainment, but you don’t mind sitting and spending your money on more food and drink, you can head to one (or hop around) to any of the live band stages and sitting areas. There are at least four I counted throughout the park, so take your pick and enjoy.
There’s the rundown for you and if you’re around, Winter Wonderland is open until the 4th of January. Go out, have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to bundle up; it’s cold out there!
I’m Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.