London's most beloved park, Hyde Park, becomes a Winter Wonderland this time of year with seasonal offerings ranging from a German style Christmas market, fun fair rides, the city's biggest outdoor ice skating rink.
There are also photo ops with the one and only Santa Claus, live entertainment and lots, lots more to warm visitors up with a friendly dose of English good cheer.
Those boarding holiday flights to London should note that visiting Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland is completely free but most of the attractions – such as the Ice Rink, the Giant Observation Wheel and “Big Top” shows like Zippos Christmas Circus require tickets.
Tickets may be purchased on site, but booking in advance is highly recommended.
Some of the attractions draw large crowds the closer it gets to the holiday. The Ice Rink is especially popular and tends to sell out as do some of the Big Top shows.
Adding to the variety of wintry fun is a great mix of food and drink options for every budget – from serviced indoor restaurants to takeaway chalets – the Wonderland is a delicious destination for traditional European winter foods such as mulled wine and cider, sausages and gingerbread. Alongside the amazing array of tasty treats, you'll find more than 100 stalls providing shoppers with all sorts of opportunities to check all the names off Santa's list.
Of course, Hyde Park is centrally located in heart of London with a great assortment of bars, restaurants, shops and more nearby. And if you're coming from a holiday shopping spree (the park is walking distance from Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Oxford Circus after all), don't worry. There's a cloakroom for your shopping bags and other items. The cost is £1 per item.
If you're taking the Tube, the festive is only a minute walk away from Hyde Park Corner Station and just ten minutes from Green Park Station and 15 minutes from Lancaster Gate and Marble Arch Stations. Several of London's most convenient bus lines drop you off right beside Hyde Park as well. There's even a “land train” taking passengers on a circular route from Marble Arch to the Winter Wonderland and back again. It's £1 (about $1.60) per ride and is a good way to rest your legs and still take in all the scenery around you.
Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland festival is on until the 3rd of January, 2012. The festival is open daily from 10 am to 10 pm except for Christmas Day.
Images Courtesy of OneTravel Editor Michael Hanisco
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