Several things come to ones mind when they think of London at Christmas – overzealous shoppers reigning over Oxford Street, Love Actually, and of course, Winter Wonderland.
One thing Hyde Park’s winter extravaganza boasts is the ‘UK’s largest open-air ice rink‘. It may be the biggest, but it certainly lacks the charisma needed for it to be the best. Although its expansive grounds are full of thrill-seekers at any given time, the skating experience itself leaves a lot to be desired. For instance, the ice is unusually watery for a supposed premium rink, and makes it a lot easier for visitors to slip up (and get soaking in the meantime)!
No phones are allowed on the ice rink; the only pictures able to capture the memory of a fun (and rather pricey) family day out are the ones taken by a professional photographer at a further expense. The allure of Winter Wonderland’s skating experience falls short the moment a guest steps on it – from afar, it appears white (as standard), but the closer you get you discover the sad reality that it’s a musky-grey colour, and a slushy slip-and-slide that’s littered with frozen leaves and centered around a Victorian bandstand that never seems to have band members present.
Worlds away from the luxurious ice-y opportunities of Somerset House or the Natural History Museum, ‘overused’ springs to mind when you think of Winter Wonderland’s ice rink; it is open twelve hours every day of the week, there’s never enough time for the rink to re-cooperate after a battering by enthusiastic children and adults alike.
Plus, it’s located in an odd location of the theme park, with the only sights of Hyde Park to see are the LED’s from bigger, better attractions through twigs and bushes that lurk over the ice rink – not exactly giving it a ‘festive feel’.
Admission is free to Winter Wonderland, however if you get through security and expect any form of ‘freebie’ on the other side, you’ll certainly be shocked. Of course, if you have the money to spare on all the attractions, then do as you please. But if your budget is tighter and you’re planning on only visiting one experience in Hyde Park, turn away from the ice rink – great fun can be found in areas like Backyard Cinema, the Magical Ice Kingdom and the Giant Wheel.
However, if you’re still intent on getting that ‘skating in Hyde Park’ Christmas experience, Winter Wonderland is open from 10AM-10PM everyday besides December 25 until January 6 2019. During peak time, an adult ticket is £14.50 for fifty minutes on ice, whereas early or late skates are a subtle £9.50 a head. Concessions are available for students, children and over-sixties. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at hydeparkwinterwonderland.com .