A Handy Guide To Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2021

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 7 months ago

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A Handy Guide To Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2021
The rollercoasters and big wheel of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, illuminated in different colours against the dark night sky in London

When is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2021?

The huge funfair and festival in Hyde Park opens its gates for the Christmas 2021 season on 19 November 2021, and runs until 3 January 2022.

It's open every day except Christmas Day, and the hours are 10am-10pm daily. We've known it to close slightly early on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve in the past — which is fair enough, as the staff have places to be.

How to get to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

A bridge of fairy lights across a path, with wooden market huts on either side, a giant Christmas tree in the foreground and the big observation wheel in the background, all lit up at night
Photo: Winter Wonderland

The Winter Wonderland site (and it's a MASSIVE site) is located in the south-east corner of Hyde Park — just head for the flashing funfair lights and big wheel. The nearest tube stations are Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Green Park, and Knightsbridge, though those first two in particular tend to get very busy. If you have accessibility requirements or are travelling with children, Green Park is your best bet.

There are multiple entrances to Winter Wonderland (scroll down this page for a map), although not all are open at all times. Plenty of signs and stewards will help you find your nearest entrance. Top tip: look up whichever attraction you're heading to on the Winter Wonderland website; many of them say which entrance is best, or which tube station is closest.

Do you need to pay for a ticket to get into Hyde Park Winter Wonderland?

People walking through the Christmas markets at night, with brightly lit wooden chalets on either side
Even if you're just browsing the markets, you'll need to book a ticket to get in. Photo: Winter Wonderland

This is the biggie for the 2021-2022 season, as things have changed significantly compared to previous years, presumably so that crowd sizes can be managed with the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

You now need to book a ticket to enter the Winter Wonderland site, regardless of which activities you're doing once inside. This is where things get slightly confusing — your entry fee depends on when you're visiting. If you're visiting Off-Peak (generally, that's weekday morning up until mid-December), entry is free, but you still need to book. If visiting in Standard times (weekend mornings, weekday afternoons), entry is £5 per person, and in Peak times (weekend afternoons/evenings), it's £7.50 per person. Some December weekends have completely sold out already, so get in quick if you're after Peak tickets.

If you're thinking that entry + ice skating + food + a ride or two is starting to sound spendy, there's a way around it. Entry tickets are free at any time, if you spend £20 or more on attractions or advance food and drink packages at the same time as you buy your tickets.

Is Winter Wonderland child-friendly?

'Santa Land' sign over the path at Winter Wonderland, with rides in the background against a blue sky backdrop
Photo: Winter Wonderland

There's plenty for children to do at Winter Wonderland, including mini fairground rides, an ice rink, and Santa Land, where you can meet the man himself for free (though be prepared to queue...), and that's barely scratching the surface. The bright lights and colours, Christmas decorations and myriad sweet stalls make it something of a child's paradise. Top tip: if you're heading straight for Santa Land, go for the Red Gate entrance to Winter Wonderland (look out for signs as you approach the site).

Beyond the entertainment, the Winter Wonderland organisers put in a solid effort at making the whole experience as child-friendly as possible, with plenty of baby changing facilities. If it all gets too much, there's a Family Chill Space in the Santa Land area, where younger visitors can have some downtime away from the bright lights and excitement of it all (and parents can use facilities provided to heat up baby food/bottles).

A woman and girl on the front seats of a car themed children's rollercoaster at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Photo: Winter Wonderland

A buggy park is provided outside the circus show as buggies aren't allowed inside the dome, but unlike previous years, there are no other official pram parks at Winter Wonderland this year.

Kiddie skates and skate aids are available on the ice rink, and the Zippo's Christmas Circus show is 50 minutes long, ideal for kids' attention spans.

So it's child-friendly, but keeping the kids happy has the potential to make quite a dent in parents' wallets. You've been warned.

Is Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park accessible and wheelchair-friendly?

Night time at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland - the big wheel is illuminated in the background with people browsing Christmas markets in the foreground
Photo: Winter Wonderland

While the organisers have made Winter Wonderland as accessible as possible, do bear in mind that once you're inside the site, the pathways are temporary, usually made from plastic paths placed over the grass. The majority of attractions are accessible to wheelchair users, but organisers recommend contacting them in advance so they can accommodate you.

Other useful information for visiting Winter Wonderland with accessibility requirements:

  • Disabled visitors can book a free PA (personal assistant) ticket when booking their own ticket. This includes Winter Wonderland entrance tickets, as well as tickets for all of the attractions and shows.
  • The ice rink is accessible for wheelchair users, with a maximum of five wheelchair users per session.
  • Accessible toilets are available at all six main toilet blocks at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
  • Assistance dogs are permitted at all attractions.

Find out more about accessibility at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, and read the accessibility guide (PDF) which includes specifics of each of the attractions, before you go.

Is Winter Wonderland Covid-safe?

The helter skelter at Winter Wonderland, against a purple and yellow sky at dusk
Photo: Winter Wonderland

After missing 2020 completely due to the Covid-19 situation, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has taken steps to make the 2021 event as safe as possible — though as with everything at the moment, it's for individuals to decide what feels safe and comfortable to them. It's predominantly an open-air event, though certain attractions including the circus shows, ice village and bars are indoors or under cover.

The main step taken is the new entrance ticketing system, which reduces the capacity of people visiting the event at any time, and staggers entry times. We're also promised sanitation stations across the site.

What's on at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2021?

Fairy lights overhead and on wooden cabins at Winter Wonderland, with large crowds walking past

What's not on at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland? The huge festival site encompasses Christmas markets (yes, plural), funfair rides, bars, food and drink stalls, a circus, an ice rink, and more. Here are the main highlights:

Ice rink at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Apparently the biggest open-air ice rink in the UK, Winter Wonderland's skating area is rather picturesque, centred around the park's permanent bandstand, and often with live acoustic music to accompany your figure-of-eights. It's at its best at night, when a canopy of lights hangs overhead. Book ahead, especially at busy times, or check out your other winter ice skating options in London.

Crowds of people skate around the Victorian bandstand in Hyde Park, at the Winter Wonderland ice rink
© Carolina Faruolo / Fanatic 2018

Christmas markets at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

That's right — markets, plural. Although in the madness of it all, it's not entirely clear where one market ends and another begins. Basically, expect a lot of German-style wooden chalets selling everything from candles to soaps, scarves, jewellery, wooden carvings, sweets, fudge, chocolate, festive food, baubles and decorations, and much more.

Theatre shows at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Three motorcycles on a giant hamster wheel type stunt, at a circus show at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
© IMG 2018

Winter Wonderland has significantly reduced its theatrical offerings this year, with just Zippo's Christmas Circus and Cirque Berserk to choose from. Zippo's Christmas Circus is a family-friendly production of clowns and acrobatics, while the death-defying, motorcycle stunts of Cirque Berserk are perhaps best left to a more mature audience (age 12+). Book ahead for all shows.

Ice Kingdom at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

If walking in a Winter Wonderland isn't festive enough for you, how about walking in an ice kingdom in a Winter Wonderland? 500 tonnes of snow and ice are used to create lifelike sculptures. Dress warm — the sculptures are kept at a chilly -10°c. Book ahead for this one too.

Funfair at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

A huge funfair wheel lit up in multi coloured lights, against a black night sky at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Even if you've never been to Winter Wonderland, you've probably seen its rollercoasters protruding into London's winter sky. There are dozens of rides and games to choose from at Winter Wonderland, ranging from a traditional funfair for kids and tamer adults, to wild loop-the-loop rollercoasters and waltzers. For us, it's all about the huge observation wheel — it was new for 2019, 70m high (the tallest transportable wheel in the world, natch), and offers seriously impressive views over the fun below, and the skyline beyond.

Food and drink at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2021

Five friends laughing in a wooden booth, wearing jumpers, coats, hats and gloves, with food and drink on the table in front of them
© IMG 2018

Whether you're after a warming hot chocolate or mulled wine, or a full meal for all the family, Winter Wonderland has plenty of eating and drinking options — though bear in mind that it may not be your cheapest refuelling option. Seating can be limited (/non-existent) at busy times, but thankfully, some of the following venues are taking advance bookings this year, for the first time.

Boozehounds are well catered for with a variety of bars and watering holes. Bar Ice (18+, book ahead) serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails in -10°c surroundings. The open-air Fire Pit bar is more rustic, with live music sets, and cocktails inspired by the bar's sponsor, Pepsi Max. A carousel bar (18+, hard work after a couple of pints...), Arctic Lodge (18+), and Scandi-style tipi bar are just some of your other options for liquid refreshment... and that's before we get to the beer-based options of the Bavarian Village.

To soak it all up, you've got (deep breath): street food, crepes, waffles, churros, sweet stalls, barbecue pits, hog roasts, fish and chips, bratwursts and a whole hosts of sit-down restaurants in the aforementioned Bavarian Village. Just don't go chowing it all down at once, especially if you're planning a post-lunch whirl on the waltzers.

Free things to do at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2021

Huge, illuminated arches form a walkway along a path at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

As we've said, entry to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is free, but things get pricey once you're inside. That doesn't mean you can't do it on the cheap though.

Visit Santa at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland's Father Christmas is free to visit — a rare thing in a city of pricey grottos — and there's even a gift included for children who've been good. That said, you can't book for your freebie rendezvous with the man in red, and queues have been known to be several hours long in past years. He receives visitors 10am-6pm daily, but the queue often closes long before he clocks off.

Father Christmas in a wooden chalet, sitting speaking to two children.
Photo: Winter Wonderland

Live music at the ice rink

Sure, it'll cost you money to get on the ice rink, but there's nothing to stop you standing at the edge watching the comedic falls unfold and listening to the live acoustic music emanating from the bandstand.

Best time to visit Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2021

A view looking down onto Hyde Park Winter Wonderland at night
Photo: Winter Wonderland

Want to visit Winter Wonderland without the crowds? Good luck with that — it's a very popular attraction, with a rumoured 2.5million people visiting during its six-week run every year, though of course, the new ticketing system this year should help to ease crowding a bit,

As you'd expect, weekends and evenings are the most popular times — and Saturday evenings can be the most hellish — so visit on a week day if possible. If that doesn't fit into your schedule, try to visit earlier in the run if possible — the weeks closest to Christmas tend to be busy all day, every day. Weekday mornings are the best, if you're fully flexible — and are ideal for visiting with pre-school age children.

Tips for visiting Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2021

People skate around the bandstand at the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland ice rink at dusk, fairy lights are strung overhead
Photo: Winter Wonderland

Meeting people at Winter Wonderland

If you're meeting up with family or friends for a trip to Winter Wonderland, we recommend meeting outside the Hyde Park attraction, and heading through the gates together. Not only do the crowds make it hard to find people inside, but we've known it to be so rammed that getting phone signal is impossible too.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2021, 19 November 2021-3 January 2022.

Last Updated 18 November 2021