I think that there’s something really special about London at Christmas. For me, not going up to London at some point during the festive season is a missed opportunity. The city looks so glamorous decorated in twinkling lights, and despite the icy air, it’s always busy with christmas shoppers and cheerful party-goers.
Last weekend I spent my festive day out with Ben. Keen to show off his ice skating skills, he took me to the ice rink at Somerset House. This ice rink is really beautiful. It feels slightly smaller than the rink outside the Natural History Museum (see separate post) but it was just as good.
I think the difference in music choice at Somerset House and the Natural History Museum sums up the comparison between the venues pretty well. The Somerset House skating playlist comprised of vintage Christmas hits and classic songs, whereas the Natural History Museum DJ opted for cheesy pop music from the likes of Jessy J and Nicki Minaj. Perhaps the Natural History Museum is aiming to attract a slightly younger crowd of skaters?
Skating was lovely. I don’t know if my skating technique improved much, but it was good Christmassy fun.
Next, we headed across to Hyde Park just before sunset.
Winter Wonderland was manic: there’s so much to look at, there’s so many people, and you have to be careful not to get lost.
Luckily, it being a week day meant we could still make out where we were going, and we could walk freely between stalls and attractions without simply forming part of a crowd. If you have been on a weekend leading up to Christmas, you will have been part of the crowd and know what I mean!
There’s a mix of food and drink stalls, craft shops, and funfair attractions. If you go, make sure your first stop is for some mulled wine. The words ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘mulled wine’ are pretty much synonymous in this instance.
The crafty-looking stalls all sell very similar stock. They’re worth a look if you’re after something that you won’t find in Topshop. We saw one man carving sculptures from tree trunks, and another welding horseshoes.
We didn’t go on any of the funfair rides, but we did have a go on the stalls. Ben actually won me a penguin by shooting some cans over! (We named him Monty – of course).
At night time, Winter Wonderland can become a bit more rowdy, as it is essentially a series of outdoor bars.
My favourite is the bar that is on a carousel. It rotates very slowly, and the bar is in the middle. The few horses left on the carousel have been turned into tables, and there are tables that have been converted from bumper cars and spinning teacups surrounding the platform.
There is also a Bavarian village with a beer hall style marquee. This is HUGE and CRAZY – good if you want to drink beer from a Bavarian beer mug and dance to a live band.
Our next stop was across the river to the Southbank.
There is usually a Christmas market and an ice rink along the Southbank, and in my view, it gets better and better each year.
This year there is a pop-up Rekorderlig Cider Lodge, complete with a Christmas tree maze beside it.
I had their Winter cider, and also a mulled cider in a mug. It was nice and warming, and a fun way to end our festive day. I definitely felt like I had drunk more than my share of mulled wine that day!