Winter Wonderland 2014
The Christmas markets, originating in the late Middle Ages, have been a huge part of German, Austrian and French tradition. However, only recently has going to Christmas markets during Advent become a part of the English culture, though it is definitely something that the British have eaten up, much like the Bratwursts sold there.
As we walk up the stairs that take us to Hyde Park, I would have skipped in anticipation, had it not been for the hundreds of people suppressing my freedom of movement. Early on a Friday evening the streets are packed with Londoners and tourists mingled into one to embrace Christmas and the magic that is brought to London’s Hyde Park from the late November until early January.
As we entered the gates we were welcomed by hundreds of rustic wooden market stalls. Delightful smells, bright colours and loud stall holders drew us in to see what goodies were on offer. Of course, being a sucker for silver shiny things I hover around the jewellery stalls and try on a hundred different styles before regrettably walking away.
It’s hard not to notice the euphoric atmosphere that surrounds Winter Wonderland. Couples, families and groups of friends all flock to the park on a cold winter’s night for one reason – to have a good time. The children delight in candy floss and overpriced rides, the adults delight in beer.
For food, we headed to the Bavarian Great Hall. The atmosphere resembled a festival, with blaring music from a live band on a huge stage and plenty of room to have a boogie below. Many work Christmas parties were obviously going on around us, as professional business men and women donned attractive reindeer jumpers with red pom-pom noses, or snowman jumpers with protruding bright orange noses. Beer was swished around willy-nilly, toying with the idea of landing on our heads as we sat on benches to eat our Bratwurst hot dog, gaggles of dancing drunkards around us.
We stumbled upon the circus (the biggest circus tent in the UK) and impulsively bought tickets to see Cirque Berserk. The show started with dancing robots doing acrobatics and climbing all over each other. A big hulk of a man stomped across the stage impressively, rippling his muscles, firstly juggling tyres and then run over by a jeep. A little Chinese lady crept out of a vase and contoured her body into a number of unimaginable shapes. We watched as motorcyclists buzzed around a small spherical enclosure and did loop-de-loops. We ‘ooh-ed’, ‘aww-ed’ and ‘eeeeek-ed’ in all the right places and left the big tent feeling much smaller and in awe of these talented individuals who gave the name ‘Berserk’ an ushered reverence.
We flocked to one of the Wonderland’s most popular attractions, a ride that flung you high into the air and spun you upside down. However, for 9 tokens, or £9, we couldn’t justify a minute-long thrill. After watching the bright colours and the ant-sized people hundreds of feet in the air we walked a short distance to the fun house. Paying 4 tokens, we walked around an end-of-Grease–style maze of fun. We stared at ourselves in mirrors that made us tall, short, fat, thin, big headed, big bodied, and short-legged. We pirouetted along log-style walkways and battled big punch bags that got in our way. We glided along treadmill-style conveyor belts and spun on huge rotating plates on the ground. The grand finale was a mirror and glass maze that had us going around in circles being able to see the exit but infuriatingly not being able to reach it.
After an excitable few hours, we headed home. However, we didn’t get a chance to ice skate, drink copiously or see Father Christmas and tell him what we wanted for Christmas. Winter Wonderland certainly is the place to be for the festive time of year.