Quick Guide: Best things to do in Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Here are a few top tips on what to do at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland this year. When visiting Hyde Park Winter Wonderland I am a big fan of the more unusual attractions and features, things that you can only do at winter or around Christmas. This year you also have to pay entry fee unless you book extra activities / food for £20 per person, so it is worth it to book things ahead - not to mention that some activities such as ice-skating tend to get sold out ahead of time.
I've previously written a post about family activities at Winter Wonderland, and share more photos there, so feel free to check that one out too.
What to do at Winter Wonderland
My top tips are to concentrate on the winter activities. I am not so fond of the amusement park rides, nor the food which I think it very expensive, but I appreciate some people do want to have the full experience so I'll share a couple of my favourites for these too.
Magical Ice Kingdom
Magical Ice Kingdom is incredible. There are a huge amount of incredible ice sculptures to admire, plenty of photo opportunities with icy backgrounds, such as houses or thrones in previous years, and even a small ice slide. It is -10ºC so wrap up warm. I think this is definitely worth the ticket cost! A family of four costs £36 and you can bring a pram. There are usually tickets to this experience available even at late notice.
Ice-skating is amazing fun, and you can do this too at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. The rink is large enough and good, however, there are plenty of more picturesque places to skate in in London. My favourite is the Somerset House. That said, if you do go ice-skate at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, you get hire skates (no extra cost), but if you need a skate support, these cost an extra £5. The skate supports are penguins, so great for kids. Family of four costs £38. These typically sell out early.
Ice sculpting workshops
Ice sculpting workshops are a fairly new feature and seem like they would be great fun! These are a bit more pricey at £58.50 for two people (same price for one person only as you pay for the table) but also include a ticket to the Magical Ice Kingdom (£11 per adult), so you really pay £36.50 for the ice sculpting experience. Great date idea! Or also, if you have older kids, 12 or older, they would probably really enjoy this. These are limited, so sell out early.
You can meet Santa at Santaland. I recommend arriving very early as the queue gets quite long. If you come with kids, I'd recommend coming as the Winter Wonderland opens, and heading straight over here to beat the queues. This is free, I hear quite unhurried, you get nice pictures (and are also allowed to take your own photos) and get a small free gift (think party bag type of an item).
My ONLY recommendation would be to do the Real Ice Slide! This is great, you get to go down, yes, a real ice slide, on an inflatable ring. I found it a bit scary, as the slide is quite long (45m) and goes fast, but I am a bit of a wuss. There is a heigh limit of 1m for this ride. Smaller kids can ride with their parents, but I did find this a bit dodgy looking. I think kids over 1.2m can ride on their own.
Real Ice Slide is £5 a person. You can book this ahead of time, but if you haven't, or prefer to see what it looks like first, in the past they have also accepted ride tokens for this, and you can get ride tokens on the day.
That said, if you like amusement park type of rides, there are plenty of traditional ones to choose from. Santaland has rides for little ones, like the carousel or teacups and a fair few hook a duck or throw a ring type games. There are also larger rides for bigger kids (or adults!) in Winter Wonderland.
There is a ferris wheel, The Giant Wheel, which has nice views over Hyde Park but mind you the views over there aren't particularly special like from London Eye towards the Parliament and Thames. Still, nice enough views, and if you go in the morning you get less queues and more turns, and if you go in the evening you get the nice romantic twinkling lights everywhere but queue longer and get to go round less.
Like I said I'm not particularly fond over overpaying for food, but I know plenty of people like to get the whole experience... There are LOADS of places to choose from, and quite nice stalls. We tend to go for Bavarian sausages or Truffle burgers, and for sweet things churros or waffles around the Street Food area, which is the most budget conscious option there is at Winter Wonderland. A family lunch with small kids cost us £40, prepare to spend more though if you are eating big.
Santaland has a Family Chill Space, which is where you can eat your own snacks, or heat up food or bottles for kids. I have found the area to be a bit chilly, so not much different from eating in the other outside areas.
There are shows available. Zippo's Circus is great and Cirque Berserk is supposed to be good too, although I do not like to sit in a tent at winter, with loads of jackets and bags to mind. But if you enjoy circus, Zippo's is great for kids and Cirque Berserk for teens and/or adults.
You can also do shopping at the Christmas Market, and there are a selection of fairly nice looking decorations and crafty type things, and absolute tat, but the shops look nice and can be quite a picturesque place to wander about.
I hope that helped, and feel free to check my other post about Winter Wonderland for families, where I share more photos of the experience and concentrate more on the best things to do with young kids!