Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas Winter Wonderland

I always love Christmas time and the build up to the big day.  I love all the pretty lights going on and the little Christmas fayres that pop up everywhere.  The excitement of seeing Santa when you are out and about.  The general good spirit of everyone and also the many places to stop and have a festive drink with either live music playing or the classic Christmas songs being pumped out from every shop or pub.  As we have 2 kids we always enjoy the tradition of visiting Santa somewhere so that they can give him their Christmas lists and this year was no exception.  

This time we decided to take them up to London, Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland.  
I think it was as much for me as it was for the kids.  We did, a few years back, do something similar in Brussels, but I had never been to London at Christmas time before, so I was really excited.  
Luckily we had a school inset day at the beginning of December so it meant that we could go up for the day and it wouldn't be too busy.  We parked in an underground car park on Park Lane, which was literally underneath Hyde Park - we couldn't have been any closer!  As soon as the kids saw the park we got a joint "Wow!".  

Entrance to the Winter Wonderland is free, yes free.  The fairground rides are expensive though, so be prepared to get through some money!  I was really impressed with the whole thing, it is such a beautiful setting and it all looks so magical and wintry.  It's like a kids dream come true, which looks great in daylight but looks amazing in the dark.  We were very lucky going on a Monday as it wasn't very busy at all during the day, we didn't have to queue more than 5 - 10 mins for anything, if at all. 

Our first port of call was to visit Santa in his Grotto.  
We thought it was best to get this done before the queue got big, although to be fair it never did.  He was really good, he took time to read their lists and talk to the kids about it and they had loads of pictures taken - they loved it.  
We then had a walk round to see what was there and choose a few things to do later on.  It is a large area and it's filled with food & drink stalls and German market stalls selling all sorts of crafts and gifts.  It all looks lovely and very tempting.  There are loads of ride on things for all ages and some awesome big rides for the brave big kids :)

We had made a decision to do 2 of the main attractions that are there, we chose:
The Giant Observation Wheel  

and the Magical Ice Kingdom 
but the others include an Ice Rink, Circus & Cirque Berserk.  The giant wheel was very good value for money, it was £20.00 for a family of 4 and we had about 15 mins in it.  The view from it was really good, all the main sites can be seen which was good for the kids to see.  We also did the ice kingdom.  This again was £20.00 for a family of 4 but unfortunately our kids were so cold in there that they couldn't wait to get out.  It did warn us that it was -8 degrees and we were wrapped up, but even I have to say, it was flipping cold.  At one point I thought I'd got frost bite in one hand as I had to take my glove off to take pictures with my phone.  The sculptures though were amazing, to think that it's all ice - it is a sight to see. 

As it was going to be a long day we decided to take a break and walk the kids down to Buckingham Palace,  as they had never been to London before, and we wanted them to see something else while we were there.  If we had thought about it all a bit more we should maybe have took them on an open top tour of London first and then do the Wonderland, but we didn't, so we'll have to do that next year ;)

It really wasn't far to walk down to Buckingham Palace and it was nice walking through Green Park.  We had lots of pictures taken in front of the gates and on the fountain, 
and from there we could see Big Ben and the London Eye.  On our walk back we walked up to Oxford Street to have a little look and stopped for hot chocolate to warm up, as it was cold.  By this time it had now become dusk and the whole of Winter  Wonderland was lit up :)
There was live music playing everywhere and the atmosphere had changed from in the daylight - it was even more magical and exciting.  It had really come alive and also got busy.  After doing a few of the children's rides and walking round the rest of the bits that we hadn't seen earlier we found the ice rink.  It really is beautiful and next time I will definitely be booking that up.
 We then found a Bavarian bar with live music playing,  so we stopped to have a beer to finish the day off.  You could tell that the night was just getting going and it was going to be great fun.   I have to say that I didn't want to go home, if I could have, I would have stayed all night but sadly we did have to get the kids home for school the next day.  I think if we go next year I might look at staying over for a night so we can do a lot
more and enjoy the buzz of London. 

Since then we have been to a few local Christmas Fayres and seen Santa in several places.  The kids & adults  have had Christmas parties, we've watched the pre-school nativity and we have done our Christmas shopping.  Everywhere looks lovely all lit up with twinkling lights and decorations and a lot of fun has been had by all - already.  Now we can sit back and enjoy the holidays, bring on the celebrations! 

All of us at Acorns would just like to wish all our past, present and future guests, Facebook  & Twitter followers and blog readers a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous & happy New Year x  

We would very much like to see you all soon 

Mel, Fred, Isabelle & Sophie

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