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Hyde Park Winter Wonderland takes over a large part of London’s famous Hyde Park for six weeks, from mid-November 2024 to early January 2025. For some it is a magical world of festive enchantment, for others it’s their idea of festive hell.

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is advertised as the ultimate destination for festive fun, but is it actually any good? I took a trip there to experience it for myself and find out if it is worth visiting. Read on to find out what I think!

What exactly is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland?

Winter Wonderland is a large festively-themed funfair at one end of Hyde Park in London that is open during the Christmas season. It features a number of rides and attractions for all ages, the UK’s largest open-air ice rink, a Christmas market and plenty of places to eat and drink.

It gets very mixed reviews from Londoners. Some love it and really enjoy the festive experiences there, while others hate the crowds, noise and expense. My view is that it has enough of a variety of things to do that most people would enjoy at least some of it. The trick is finding the bits that you enjoy and going at the right time of day.

Things to do at Winter Wonderland

There is plenty of Christmas fun to be had at Winter Wonderland, with a plethora of entertainment options. It’s separated into several areas, and each one has its own theme.

There are roller coasters, an ice rink (the biggest in London) a giant observation wheel and plenty of funfair rides and games. From the number of people wandering around with a huge stuffed toy, there are plenty of prizes to be won!

Games at Winter Wonderland
Fairground games with huge toys as prizes

There’s also an ice sculpture display, an ice bar where you drink cocktails from glasses made of ice and not one but two circus shows!

You can find a full list of things to do on the Winter Wonderland website, but here are some of my highlights:

Magical Ice Kingdom

This is an impressive exhibition of ice sculptures (one of the largest in Europe) created from over 500 tonnes of ice and snow. The theme for 2023 is the nine realms of Norse mythology.

As you walk through the experience, you’ll discover a Viking village and encounter stunning sculptures of iconic Norse Gods and Goddesses. There’s even a large Viking ship that you can stand in at the end.

Ice sculptures in the Magical Ice Kingdom at Winter Wonderland
Ice sculptures in the Magical Ice Kingdom

I really enjoyed this – the sculptures were really impressive and it was a well worth the money I felt. It took around 30 minutes to wander through. It’s located to the north of the park, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get there if you’re at the opposite end.

It’s also located next to the Ice Bar and very close to the Giant Wheel.

Ride Zone

Here you’ll find most of the exhilarating rides such as the Munich Looping – the world’s largest transportable roller coaster. These are the most exciting rides thus more suitable for adults and older children than young kids.

Munchen Looping roller coaster at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Are you brave enough to try the Munchen Looping roller coaster?

Ice rink

This is the largest open-air ice rink in the UK and one of the highlights of Winter Wonderland. It’s located at the end of the park closest to the Blue gate and next to the Christmas market.

Open-air ice rink at Winter Wonderland
Enjoy ice skating on the UK’s largest open-air ice rink

Built around Hyde Park’s iconic Victorian bandstand it’s an impressive sight, especially when it’s dark and you experience skating under a canopy of thousands of twinkling fairly lights.

The Giant Wheel

Visible from miles around, the giant wheel is the world’s tallest transportable wheel and another highlight of Winter Wonderland. At 70m high, you’ll certainly get some fantastic views across Hyde Park and London. At busy times you may have to queue for a while to get on, so it’s worth booking fast track tickets if you’re in a hurry.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland from the air
The view from the Giant Wheel is impressive

Christmas market

Next to the ice rink you’ll find the Christmas market. This wasn’t as impressive as I was hoping with less stalls than I expected. If you’re at Winter Wonderland already it’s worth wandering through, but I wouldn’t take a trip there just for the market. There are better Christmas markets in London and none of them have an entry fee.

Christmas decorations at the Winter Wonderland Christmas market
Christmas decorations at the Winter Wonderland Christmas market

Santaland

This area is more aimed at children, with plenty of kid’s rides and the chance to meet Santa Claus himself. There are a few fun-size rides here including a mini-coaster.

Circus Megadome

Under the big top you can enjoy two different circus performances. There’s the more traditional Zippos circus with aerial and acrobatic acts, dancers and juggling with a Christmas theme. There are 3 performances daily during the afternoon.

The second is Cirque Berserk which as the name suggests is more high-octane and packed full of daredevils performing stunts. There are 3 performances of this show daily running through the evening.

Daredevil stunts at Cirque Berserk at Winter Wonderland
Daredevil stunts at Cirque Berserk

Both shows are 45 minutes long and the added benefit is that the tent is heated, so if it’s cold outside you get a chance to warm up. I saw the Cirque Berserk show and really enjoyed it plus at £17.50 I felt it was good value for money.

Food and drink at Winter Wonderland

These days there are a large number of food and drink stalls in Winter Wonderland, serving a variety of savoury and sweet treats. There are a couple of dedicated areas for food, but also various stalls dotted around the park so you’re never far away from food or drink.

Bratwurst sausages on the grill at Winter Wonderland
Bratwurst sausages on the grill at Winter Wonderland

Bar Ice

As the name suggests, this is a bar made of ice! It’s completely made of ice and has a 80s après-ski theme to it. Enjoy festive cocktails (the first is included in the entry price) all served in glasses made from ice. It’s kept at a rather chilly – 10°C however you are provided with a warm winter cloak and gloves for your visit, which you collect on the way in.

Drink cocktails from ice glasses in the Ice Bar
Drink cocktails from ice glasses in the Ice Bar

At £16.50 for entry, it’s quite an expensive drink but is a unique and fun experience and does add to the winter feel.

Bavarian Village

This is a large area with cosy chalets, outdoor seats and various restaurants. If you’re looking for German-themed food such as pretzels and bratwurst sausages then this is the place to go!

Bavarian Village food area at Winter Wonderland
Bavarian Village food area at Winter Wonderland

Street Food zone

This is one of the largest food areas at Winter Wonderland and is located between the Giant Wheel and Munich Looping roller coaster. Here you’ll find a variety of street food stalls, serving anything from burgers to pizza. There’s plenty of outdoor seating too.

Christmas market

Although the Christmas market section disappoints in terms of the market stalls, it does offer a number of good food stands which are worth visiting. At the north end of the market section is a circular area of various food stalls, including steak, pastries and macrons.

Festive snacks at Winter Wonderland
Festive snacks at Winter Wonderland’s Christmas market
BBQ food at Winter Wonderland
Smoked BBQ food looked delicious

Is Winter Wonderland better at day or night?

Whether you enjoy Winter Wonderland more by day or night really depends what you’re after. If you’re looking for a quiet experience without big queues or have young children then I’d recommend going early in the day in the week. As you can see from the photos, if you pick the right time you won’t have to worry about too many people.

Food and funfair rides at Winter Wonderland
Early on a week day is much quieter than weekends

If however you want a more bustling and lively atmosphere, then I’d recommend going in the evening. It can get very busy though after 6 p.m., especially at weekends. If you’re not a big fan of big crowds then I’d avoid these busy times.

I visited twice – once at 11 a.m. on a Thursday morning and also at 6 p.m. on a Friday evening. Friday was very busy, with a 20 minute queue just to get in. Thursday morning was much quieter, with almost no queues for entry or any of the rides.

How do I book tickets for Winter Wonderland?

It’s highly recommended that you book tickets in advance to get into Winter Wonderland. Some tickets are available on the door, but given how popular it is there’s a good chance these will be sold out.

Tickets can be booked online, but before you book it’s a good idea to have an idea of which attractions you want to book for as well as the time slots you want. The booking system will notify you if you attempt to book multiple items for the same time.

You can book online on their website.

How much does Winter Wonderland cost?

First things first, Winter Wonderland can be expensive, especially for a family. The initial entry costs might be cheap, but if you book tickets for even a few of the rides or attractions then the costs start to build up very quickly. However if you’re selective in what you do it doesn’t have to break the bank.

First you need to book your entrance tickets to Winter Wonderland – you can do that on their booking website. There are a few off-peak slots that are free entry, but most slots will cost £5 (off-peak) or £7.50 (peak). If however you spend £25 on other attractions or rides when you book your entrance ticket, you’ll receive free admission.

Then you need to add any additional rides or attractions and these mostly range in cost from £11 to £17.50 (adult prices) depending on what you book. There’s a link to a full price list once you click onto the booking page.

Haunted Mansion at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Rides like the Haunted Mansion cost extra

In addition, as you select your tickets you may see additional options for adding extras to your booking such as photo packages or fast track access.

Once in, food and drink prices are what you’d typically expect at an outdoor event in London – i.e., not particularly cheap. Note also that they are very strict on not allowing you to bring in your own food and drink.

Winter Wonderland 2024/2025 opening times

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is open every day (except Christmas Day) from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Last entry is at 9.30 p.m.

You’ll need to enter Winter Wonderland during the 2-hour slot on your entrance ticket, but once you’re in you can stay for as long as you like.

How long do you need at Winter Wonderland?

The amount of time you need really depends on how many shows, rides and attractions you want to visit. When you book a ride or attraction, you need to pick a specific time-slot and also factor in the time taken to get to each one.

When I visited, I arrived at 6 p.m. and stayed until it closed at 10 p.m. My visit included the Ice Kingdom, wheel, Ice Bar and circus plus a short break to grab some food. I could easily have spent another hour or two there just wandering around.

Racing Reindeer funfair game at Winter Wonderland
Give yourself enough time to enjoy the funfair games

If you just want to browse the stalls in the Christmas market, enjoy a few games and have a festive mulled wine then you’ll probably only need a couple of hours. You could also easily spend a full day there if you wanted to experience all the rides and attractions, although this would end up being a rather expensive day!

Getting to Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland is located in the east side of Hyde Park in London. The nearest tube stations are Marble Arch (Central line) and Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly line). At busy times, these stations can get rather busy, so it is often easier to get out at Green Park (Jubilee line) or Knightsbridge (Piccadilly line) and walk 10 minutes or so.

Once you get to Hyde Park, there are plenty of signs to direct you to the nearest entrance. If you’re intending to head to a specific attraction then it’s best to check the map and see which entrance is closest.

You can view a map of Winter Wonderland here.

Tips for visiting Winter Wonderland 2024/2025

  • You can’t take your own food into Winter Wonderland.
  • You can’t take your own drink into Winter Wonderland, other than sealed bottles of water.
  • Leave your camera at home. “Professional” cameras aren’t allowed – this means any camera with a detachable lens even if you’re just taking photos for yourself.
  • There is a Winter Wonderland app, but I found it was slow to refresh due to the limited phone signal in the park. It can be useful, but it’s best to make sure you have printed copies of your tickets in case the app doesn’t work correctly.
  • Make sure you allow yourself enough time to get to any attractions you have booked tickets for. It’s a large area, and easy to get lost even with the helpful maps located around the site.
  • If there are any attractions or rides you particularly want to do, book tickets in advance. A lot of them sell out in advance and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a ticket on the day.
  • If you’re planning on visiting on 1st January, bear in mind this is their “family fun day”, and alcohol is not served on site.
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About the Author

An award-winning travel and landscape photographer based in London.

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