Few things say Christmas in London to me like the opening of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland every year in November. I love stepping out of Hyde Park Corner tube station and seeing the Giant Observation Wheel sparkling above the treetops.
We’ve always been big fans of the annual Christmas fair in one of London’s biggest parks, filled with curious spectacles, charming markets, food stalls, and live attractions.
This year we were invited to check out Zippo’s Circus: The Perfect Gift, a family friendly daytime show. We arrived quite late for the show unfortunately, so I can’t comment on the first half. The second half featured the ringmaster, a clown taping himself together with sticky tape, and some fairly impressive aerial stunts.
I’ve been very fortunate to see incredible circus productions in London, from the heartbreakingly beautiful Slava’s Snow Show at Southbank Centre, to the mind-blowing, immersive Fuerza Bruta at the Roundhouse.
Don’t expect anything at that level with this show. Although there are still a few knuckle-gnawing moments — for instance the act described as ‘the most dangerous in Zippo Circus history’, when this guy ran, danced, skipped and even went blindfold on the outside of what I can only describe as two giant hamster wheels. Insanity!
The Perfect Gift is a good first circus experience for much younger babes, as it’s fairly low-key. There’s a later show, Cirque Beserk: Adrenaline, promising more thrills for an older crowd.
Top tip: the big tent for Zippo’s Circus is fully heated and a great place to pop in for a ‘warm up break’ if it gets extra nippy outside!
The last time we visited Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in 2013, it was snowing and the boys had epic meltdowns inside the Magical Ice Kingdom after freezing their toes off.
This year, the temperature was a lot less blistering outside and I persuaded Ezra and Jed to give the ice kingdom another try. They actually enjoyed themselves.
I could get used to that throne.
It’s incredible to see the detail and artistry that goes into the ice sculptures and I recommend layering up well so you can spend a little longer inside. This year they’re offering free hand warmers at the exit.
I always talk about how quickly the costs stack up at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, but it doesn’t have to be a ‘mortgage the house’ night out if you plan ahead and don’t try to do everything at once. We went on just one mini rollercoaster ride, ate burgers and bratwurst, watched a rocking live band and enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere.
We left in high spirits and Ezra called it his best Winter Wonderland so far!
Some photo highlights from Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2015:
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is open from 10am-10pm daily; park entry is FREE, ride tokens cost £1 and rides start at £2 for kids rides, £3 for adults. Zipoo’s Circus: The Perfect Gift shows at 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3.30pm, 5pm; Cirque Beserk daily at 7pm & 8pm; tickets from adult £9.50-£12/child £6-£8.50/family £24-£34/under 2s FREE when on carer’s lap. Book for Zippo’s Circus, Magical Ice Kingdom and other special attractions + skating in advance at http://hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/tickets (until Jan 3)