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Friday, 31 December 2010

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

I’d never heard about the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park before, but now I work so close by it’s difficult to miss. The colourful Christmas fair takes up a massive area of the park, with an ice rink, flashing fairground rides, food and drink tents, gift stalls and even a Zippo’s Circus. I must admit that I was deceived into thinking that its gigantic Ferris wheel was in fact the London Eye.

Desperate for some winter ice-skating I tried to book tickets for Somerset House’s idyllic rink, unfortunately they were fully booked, and so Winter Wonderland seemed like the next best option. Hyde Park has never been busier, the hoards of tourists all eager to be part of the action. It costs nothing to enter, but anything bought inside costs a small fortune.

I was hoping the whole place would be more romantic, like the real German markets. We walked round, stopped and listened to the German singing reindeer, and smelled the various pungent pretzel, churros and hot chocolate stands, and walked past many tempting Mulled wine stands. Unfortunately the snow had rather dampened the mood, and walking through muddy sludge made me too cold to concentrate properly. We eventually reached the ice rink, which was much further than I had expected. I pathetically decided I was actually too cold to skate and so we just watched for a while instead.

There are hundreds of stalls, each begging for your custom. I was almost persuaded by a few of the jewellery stands before realising their goods were a bit tacky. The poor stall holders looked fed up and bored, and they must be freezing outside all day in these conditions. After a while I began to feel a little disillusioned by all the lights and noises and decided it was time to go home. Winter Wonderland is a great idea, and must be fun for kids, but it made me realise how much better markets work in summer when it is light enough and warm enough to actually enjoy the occasion.

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