London’s Christmas Lights and Winter Wonderland

The other week, due to a free ticket given by National Express (I think they felt sorry for me getting my airport ticket changed 3 times because I managed to get the dates/times wrong the same amount of times), I went to London to see the lights and explore Winter Wonderland. I boarded the bus at around 11 and made it to London by 2, due to very heavy traffic on the M4.

While on the bus I munched on a two bags of Tyrrells goodies: crisps and poshcorn. For the festive season Tyrrells revealed delicious new flavours and I got the chance to try the Three Bird Roast crisps (a duck, in a chicken, in a turkey… in a crisp, as they are describing it) and the Bellini cocktail poshcorn (peach flavored). Tyrrells is a small British company that makes hand cooked crisps from their own potatoes, grown on the farm. Their are different from other companies because they don’t use artificial ingredients.

20161210_095013

My plan was to get some lunch, then head over to Oxford and Regent streets to see the light displays and end my visit in Winter Wonderland. By this time, the sun would have set and I could have enjoyed the biggest Christmas Market in London by night, while sipping from a cup of mulled wine. My return bus was at 8pm, so I decided to leave at around 7, to make sure I get to Victoria Coach station in time.

IMG_3497

However, as it was still light and there was no point of going to the centre of London to see the lights, I decided to pass by Winter Wonderland instead. As soon as I reached the Wellington Arch I could start seeing the crowds of people heading towards Hyde Park.I passed by the first entrance to the park and headed towards the second one, thinking that the queue was smaller. It was actually longer. I decided to stay though and soon enough, after passing the security check, I managed to get inside.

IMG_3473

Winter Wonderland is a huge Christmas fair opened each year from November until January, with free entry. It is segmented in many different areas with over 100 festive rides and attractions, with an ice rink stretching over 1,600 square meters. There are many entries to the park, I counted at least 9.

The first thing that I’ve seen when I entered the park was the Bavarian Village, an area filled with bars and food stalls, where you can buy the famous grilled bratwurst topped with onions and sauerkraut (priced between £5 – £7).

IMG_3510

IMG_3506

IMG_3504

 The Bavarian Village is very well designed and it does make you think of the German Christmas Markets. There are over 200 chalets where you can buy pretzels, gingerbread, mulled wine or hot chocolate. However, don’t expect anything to be cheap. A mug of glühwein starts at £5.50 and the price rises if you want shots of different spirits added. Also, the cup is really, really small.

IMG_3532

What I liked about the Bavarian Village is that there are a lot of open fires where you can get warm while you are eating and drinking. It was quite cold the day I went and these places were a blessing to stop by and warm up.

IMG_3490

Besides the Bavarian Village in Winter Wonderland you will also find the Angel Market, from where you can buy different winter gifts and decorations for your home or your Christmas tree (you can even buy fake snow for your garden).  While I was walking along the Angel Market I ended up bumping into Santa’s Grotto, where the big man was meeting children.

IMG_3540

IMG_3514

IMG_3542

You can have a beautiful view over the entire park by boarding the Giant Observation Wheel which goes 60 meters up into the sky. Around it you can also find a lot of themed rides for both children and adults.

IMG_3528

I have left Winter Wonderland just as the sun was setting. Heading towards Oxford street, I spotted a blue bunny on the pavement, among thousands of pair of legs in a rush to cross the street. Suddenly, 2 hands appeared from nowhere and picked up the bunny. The young man (as it was a young man who picked it up) run back and hand it to a couple with a baby in a stroller. I have no idea how he managed to see when the bunny fell off in the crowd, but faith in humanity was restored. 🙂

IMG_3562

London is beautifully decorated, as always. Oxford street is covered in snowglobes (1778 to be exact) of all sizes. Together with the amazing window displays of the department stores (you have to check out John Lewis, they are the master of Christmas here in the UK), Oxford street has transformed into a beautiful dreamy land. While I was there, there were so many people around that they closed the street for vehicle traffic.

IMG_3699

IMG_3584

IMG_3589

Regent street has an ambitious display, “The Spirit of Christmas”, with large angels (17 meter wingspans and 15 meter trains) recreating the first ever Christmas lights from 1954. The decorations are part of a very large display running from Oxford Circus all the way down to Waterloo Place.

IMG_3639

IMG_3637

Carnaby Street, this “wild and different” part of London has it’s own take at the Christmas lights. Teaming up with Victoria and Albert Museums’ new exhibition, “You say you want a revolutions? Records and Rebels 1966-1970”, messages of hope and dreams are set up high, covering the street.

IMG_3592

IMG_3609

I returned later to Winter Wonderland but unfortunately it was impossible to get in again. The crowds waiting were easily exceeding 2000 people at each entry. So I slowly started to walk down towards Victoria Coach station to catch my bus home.

IMG_3672

On and all, even if the decorations are really beautiful and you can see how much effort it has been put into transforming London into a dreamland, I felt that it was a disappointing visit due to two important things: too many people and rip off prices.

Did you visit a Christmas market this year?

Disclaimer: Please note that I received the Tyrrells crisps for free to review them. However, all comments and opinions in this article are my own.

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

52 Comments

  1. Oh, you had a great xmassy tour there! I did almost the same last weekend while popped in to London for a workshop. You have captured the moments and feelings of xmas in your pics.

  2. This is so lovely and festive, our lights here in Birmingham are nowhere near as impressive- but the number of people sounds crazy! Your story about the blue bunny was heartwarming. It’s nice to think there are still good people in the city 🙂

  3. I just visited the Christmas market in Trier, Germany. I love Christmas markets. And going to London before Christmas has been high on my list for a long time but it still hasn’t happened. You make winter wonderland look and sound great! I’ll definitely try to make it there next year..

  4. Oh gosh! If you think that you’re not feeling Christmas, you should definitely stop by London! How beautiful are these pictures! It’s definitely going to make you feel the Christmas spirit if you don’t feel like celebrating.

  5. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Winter Wonderland. It’s that old cliche of it being on your doorstep – I live in London – so you don’t get round to seeing it, so I guess I should visit again. It’s true that it’s not cheap, and the crowds can be intimidating, but it is worth it. Lovely little story about the bunny being rescued, and I’ve seen the Carnaby Street messages too: very heart-warming and life-affirming stuff, especially at this time of year (and in the light of recent events…)

  6. The angels of Regent street are really beautiful! With a little bit of snow, it would have been perfect, it’s not really Christmas without snow, to me!
    I’ve recently been to Stockholm’s Christmas market but it was really tiny, and no snow as well, damn! 😀

    1. Snow would be nice, but it is very rarely snowing in London. There is however fake snow in Oxford circus, they have machines put up on the buildings that create a “snowing area” when you pass by underneath them. 🙂

  7. I visited the Winter Wonderland two weeks ago and I noticed the big difference between morning/early afternoon and evening. In daytime it was almost empty and in the evening I had to stand in line to get in, longer than at Disneyland! It’s insane. Loved your photos from the different streets in London! lovely Christmas decorations.

  8. London looks absolutely magical! I would love to visit this time of year (I’ve only been in the summer). The atmosphere of the market looks so wonderful, with the food vendors and little storefronts. Great post!

  9. London’s prices are always a rip off! But as long as there are people willing to pay that, this will never change. I never made it to Winter Wonderland when I used to live in London and you have made me regret it ha! Thanks for showing me this year’s light display too, loving these angles with wings!

  10. Your pictures make me want to head there right now. The place is so vibrant and colorful and fun! Food, games and so much shopping! Perfect Xmas treat for me.

  11. I just recently researched and wrote a sponsored post on London and now I am seeing this. I am craving to be there now. The London eye pic is incredible. Taken with zoom lens? I always thought it was of different color.

  12. We haven’t been to London’s Christmas market. We really should as we currently live 2 hours away! Winter wonderland looks lovely, you can barley tell you are in London. It also doesn’t look as busy as I was expecting (or you are just really good at taking pictures without all the pedestrians).

  13. Looks like you had a wonderful Christmas time in London. I’m from Lisbon, Portugal, and we also have some great markets this time of year. Normally I’m not a huge fan because they are always so crowded but I guess it’s the perfect place to get into holidays spirit. 😉

  14. You’ve got som beautiful imagery going on! I think for me personaly the Wonderland thingy is a bit too theme park like, but the decos on the street of London look fabolous.

  15. An ex-housemate of mine went to Winter Wonderland a couple of days ago and sent me some pictures. And now your post. 🙂 Too bad about the crowds when you tried getting in again and the steep prices as well.

    I liked the thing about Bavarian villages and open fires. Much needed in the chilly weather when you’re out in the open I guess. And I loved that street with love, kiss, hope banners

  16. London’s Christmas Market looks amazing! Never been to the UK capital yet, but I’ve always wanted to visit for its museums; though now I want to visit to experience its annual winter wonderland too!

  17. Which camera do you use, Joanna? The images have come out really very very well. Though , I haven’t been to London, I can connect with some places in your blog like Hyde Park.It is a famous setting in Saki’s novels. Coming back to the gourmet theme in your post, I am waiting for the Delhi Food Fest which happens in the winters. Great job, Joanna.

  18. OMG this Christmas Market looks fun and many foods and delicacies to choose! You must have an empty stomach to enjoy it 🙂

  19. I absolutely love Christmas markets and fairs so this would be a dream! Spontaneous or not – trips to London are always a good idea and I believe there is always something new and cool to see. Last time I visited it was end of October but there were still some lights and decorations! I can only imagine how pretty it gets during December.

  20. It must be awesome to be in such a great city exactly during the season. You have captured the festive joys of the ciity very beautifully. I also love the quirky covers of Tyrrell… sadly they are not available in my place.

  21. Your pics tell me how cheerful and fun this place is. I would love to spend some time just browsing around all those stalls. The Bavarian stalls look really tempting.

  22. London is among the top destinations for the display of the Christmas festivity larger than life! Looks like you had an amazing time there. It is on my bucket list. Hope to visit there someday in my life!

  23. London is such a fascinating city with its old world charm at any time of the year. But during Christmas the city looks decked up like a bride and is so resplendent. London during Christmas comes alive so brilliantly and vividly in your pictures and words.

  24. We had been to Winter Wonderland for 2015 Christmas and it was one of the wonderful Christmas we had. The food stalls, chocolates, fudges and the colorful souvenirs were just awesome. We were entranced by the dazzling lights all over the city, the picadilly circus and the Oxford street. Your post just refreshed those marvellous memories, we really wish you make to the alluring city sometime soon again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *