Getting into London’s Christmas spirit

Christmas in London can be a magical experience. JENNY DAWN MORRIS and MARK MCKINNEY investigate what’s on offer.

 
 
Winter Wonderland

CROWDS of people head to Hyde Park every year for the arrival of Winter Wonderland. This year it is open until January 6. It is a great place to bring your family, friends and even have a romantic day out with your partner. This is our third trip here, and we have noticed that more people know about it every year and it shows by the volumes of people flooding through the entrance.  It is a free event but take spending money for the stalls and rides.

One of the main attractions that bring us back every year is the Observation Wheel, which really gives the London Eye a run for it’s money. You can see right across London and if you time it right you can see a beautiful sunset. They always take your picture just before you go on so you can commemorate the moment. It costs £5 for children and £8 for adults, and some prices vary depending on the time. This year there is also an ice kingdom with amazing ice sculptures and a Zippo’s circus.

The Ice Age 4 skating rink is in action if you fancy skating, prices range between £8.50 for children and £10.50 for adults, although they also vary. For more information on the attractions  visit www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com.There are so many places to eat, with many stalls selling a good old German sausage, pretzels and waffles, fish and chips and all the sweets and chocolate you can imagine.  There are also many quirky gifts, some home made.

The Bavarian Village is another attraction that brings us back every year. You can buy one litre steins of beer. Sure it’s not Tui or Montieths but it isn’t bad! If one litre jugs of beer is a bit too much for you to handle they have some delicious tasting mulled apple cider and mulled wine. The Bavarian village also has its own brand of flavoured schnapps shots which really hit the spot. It’s not all about the alcohol though, as they have great food to try and hot drinks. The entertainment is priceless the Bavarian DJ sings his own version of Rihanna’s We Found Love which is entertaining in itself.

Be aware of how popular it is –  we found that Hyde Park Corner station shuts some weekends to ease congestion so you may have to take a ten minute walk down to Marble Arch station, which gives you a view of its spectacular Christmas lights outside the tube station. If you go towards Covent Garden they have a huge tree and lights around the main square .  We usually pop there for something to eat and visit the Australia/New Zealand shop  where we pick up our goodies like Chocolate fish and 42 Below Vodka.

If you don’t fancy the hustle and bustle of central London, Hampton Court has its ice rink in the grounds for the tenth year running. See the sun twinkling on the ice in the day and see the palace illuminate at night. For more information on the prices and directions see www.hamptoncourticerink.com

About two miles down the road in Kingston upon Thames is the Kingston Christmas Market which is a tiny slice of Germany in Kingston. It offers various art and crafts, German delicacies, and delicious Bailey’s hot chocolate.It is located in the town square and is well worth a visit if Christmas shopping away from central London.

Most Kiwis around this time will be missing their friends, families and loved ones back home, as well as the beach, BBQ and the sun. However, the winter Christmas festivities in London should make everyone feel warm inside.

 
 

 
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