Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2023: A Guide To Visiting London’s Huge Christmas Festival

The festive behemoth returns. Image: Joshua Atkins

When is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2023?

The huge funfair and festival in Hyde Park opens its gates for the Christmas 2023 season on 17 November 2023, running until 1 January 2024.

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 — fair enough, as the staff have places to be.

How to get to Hyde Park 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 as it has step-free access.

There are multiple entrances to Winter Wonderland (map at the bottom of this page), 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; the ‘Quick Facts’ box on the right of each page says which entrance is best, and handily, there’s a what3words location for each attraction too.

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

Even if you’re just browsing the markets, you’ll need to book a ticket to get in. Photo: Winter Wonderland

If you went to Winter Wonderland in the last couple of years, you may remember that things changed significantly compared to previous years, so that crowd sizes could be managed with the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

Those changes look to be permanent, as they have stayed in place for the 2023-24 season. Once again you 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, because 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 (generally weekend mornings, weekday afternoons), entry is £5 per person, and in Peak times (weekend afternoons/evenings, and weekday evenings closer to Christmas), it’s £7.50 per person. December weekends tend to sell out way in advance, so get in quick if you’re planning a visit.

If you’re thinking that entry + ice skating + food + a ride or two for the whole family is starting to sound spendy, there’s a way around this. Entry tickets are free at any time, if you spend £25 or more on attractions or advance food and drink packages at the same time as you buy your tickets.

While you’re booking: a limited number of fast-track tickets will be introduced for selected rides this year, including Munich Looping, Aeronaut Starflyer, and Blizzard. Keep an eye on the website for details of that one.

Is Winter Wonderland child-friendly?

There’s plenty for children to do at Winter Wonderland, including mini fairground rides, an ice rink, and Santaland, 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 Santaland, go for the Red Gate entrance to Winter Wonderland (look out for signs as you approach the site).

New for 2023 is the Santaland Unlimited Pass, which gives families unlimited access to 15+ family-friendly rides in Santaland for £25 — so you can ride as many times are you like without the bill going up and up. The pass also includes free entry to the site, so you don’t have to buy a separate entry ticket.

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 covered chill/quiet area at the north of site near the family entrance, where younger visitors can have some downtime away from the bright lights and excitement of it all.

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

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 yes, it’s child-friendly, BUT keeping the little ones 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?

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 both manual and electric wheelchair users — but the motor must be switched off on the latter.
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 which includes specifics of each of the attractions, before you go.

What’s on at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2023?

What’s not on at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland? The huge festival site encompasses a Christmas market, 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 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.

© Carolina Faruolo / Fanatic 2018

Christmas market at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

There’s a little bit of a change in the Christmas market this year, as it’s been taken over by Underbelly, the company behind Christmas in Leicester Square and Christmas in Trafalgar Square, who replace the German-style chalets with a brand new Scandinavian themed Market Square with brightly coloured Danish-style chalets, artisanal crafts, and ‘hygge’ bars.

Theatre shows at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

© IMG 2018

Once again, Winter Wonderland has fewer theatrical offerings compared to previous years, with just Zippo’s Christmas Circus and Cirque Berserk to choose from. Zippo’s Christmas Circus is a family-friendly production starring clowns and acrobatics, while the death-defying, motorcycle stunts of Cirque Berserk are perhaps best left to a more mature audience. 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? This year, the Magical Ice Kingdom transforms into a Viking Ice Village, with visitors invited to wander through the Nine Realms of Norse Mythology, via sculptures of various Norse Gods and Goddesses. 500 tonnes of snow and ice are used to create lifelike sculptures, and this year there’s a pre-recorded voiceover for those who are visually impaired or blind. Dress warm — the sculptures are kept at a chilly -10°c. Book ahead for this one too.

Funfair at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Image: 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 in the Hyde Park site, 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’s 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 2023

Oh the weather outside is frightful… Image: Eric-Aydin Barberini

Whether you’re after a warming hot chocolate or mulled wine, or a slap-up 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 do take advance bookings.

There are 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 has a rustic vibe, with live music sets, and cocktails. A carousel bar (18+, hard work after a couple of pints), Arctic Lodge (18+), and Scandi-style Thor’s 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 host 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.

We’ll update this page with more details of the 2023 food and drink offerings when they’re announced.

Free things to do at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2023

As we’ve said, entry to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is free if you can go off-peak, 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 grottos where you usually fork out for a face-to-face with Santa — 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. There are also Santa Parades on selected days this year — another chance to catch a glimpse for free as he heads home to Mrs Claus and the elves.

Best time to visit Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2023

Want to visit Winter Wonderland without the crowds? Good luck with that — it’s a very popular attraction, with a rumoured 2.5 million people visiting during its six-week run every year, though of course, that ticketing system has helped to ease crowding a bit in the last couple of years

As you’d expect, weekends and evenings are the most popular times — and Saturday evenings can be the most… ‘vibrant’ — so visit on a week day if possible. If that doesn’t fit into your schedule, try to visit earlier in the run — 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 2023

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 2023, 17 November 2023-1 January 2024.

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