Visiting Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland with Young Children

(Updated for 2023) I have visited Winter Wonderland in London's Hyde Park with friends on many occasions, but in 2019 I visited for the first time with children taking my partner, 3 year old and 10 month old. In 2023 we visited with our children again, this time my children were 4, 8 and 12.  We had a brilliant day out both times and I wouldn’t hesitate going again with children. Find out what there is to do for children and my tips to make the most of your visit.

Night view of the lit up giant wheel at Hyde Parks Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is a great day out, but what is there for young children?

What is There To Do When Visiting Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland with Young Children?

Entry into Winter Wonderland is no longer free so it requires a little planning. Ideally you want to prebook your tickets as popular entry times do sell out, but you can buy them on the day when it's less busy.  Tickets are booked for a 2 hour time slot which is your window for entering Winter Wonderland,  but you can stay as long as you like. There are some early slots on school days where tickets are free, but otherwise they cost £5 or £7.50 a person. If you spend over £25 per person on tickets for shows etc when you prebook then your entrance is free. 

As an adult I used to love visiting Winter Wonderland for the great atmosphere, especially after the sun sets and it is all lit up with colourful lights and music. I could happily spend the evening in the Bavarian Village or wandering around the bars. Visiting with young children is a little different though as the temperature tends to drop as the sun goes down and the combination of the crowds, dark, cold and little people can be hard to manage.  When visiting with children we have arrived at 10am and enjoyed the park before the crowds arrive.

Justin's Christmas Singalong

In 2019 we got to see a Mr Men show in the MegaDome (the largest circus tent in the UK which is well heated). This year the early show offering is a singalong with Justin Fletcher who any child who has watched CBeebies will recognise. The show is only running on 18th, 19th, 25th November and 3rd and 12th December, all showtimes are 11am.

Watching Zippos Circus at Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland with Children

While Justin Fletcher will please the small folk, Zippos Circus is fun for the whole family. There are 3 Zippos Christmas Circus performances a day in the MegaDome at 1pm, 2.30pm and 4pm.  It is a short performance of only 45 minutes which is a good length for children. It's a great opportunity to warm up and rest your legs. 

My children all really enjoyed the 2023 performance which is Christmas themed and has lots of entertaining acts, many of which we haven't seen before despite having been to the last couple of Zippos tours. 

Personally I felt that the show was missing many of the wow acts that I have loved seeing in the full Zippos tour. It was entertaining and funny, just not wow. I think that many of the more shocking acts including the motorcycle Globe of Death are in the Cirque Beserk shows which run in the same venue each evening at 6pm, 7.30pm and 9pm. 

The last Zippos Circus show we saw at Winter Wonderland in 2019 was slightly longer and contained more nail biting moments, including an act where in a later performance the artist fell and was injured, so maybe the less dangerous acts are a good choice. 

The Zippos Circus show is great if you are looking for a family friendly show which will give you all a chance to warm up, but if you are visiting with older children (12+) the later performances which promise to be high adrenaline are worth booking instead.

You can book the Circus tickets in advance with your entry to Winter Wonderland, but I expect most days there will be tickets available at the box office. If you haven't prebooked visit the box office on arrival to check for ticket availability. 

Seats are not preallocated in the circus tent and they open the doors about 20 minutes before performances so balance out how long your children will happily wait with how important good seats are for you. There are a few rows of seats ringside and then tiered seating so children should be able to see ok from further back. Ideally you want seats in the middle facing the back of the stage as visibility is reduced at the sides. I found that working through a box of popcorn and some candy floss provided a good distraction during the wait. These are available ring side as well as in the foyer (with other snacks). They also sell those light up flashing wands etc so be warned children will want these, not many people had them in our performance though. 

Zippos Christmas Circus at Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland runs until Winter Wonderland closes on 1st January 2024. 

The MegaDome At Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland

Pretend Polar bears being walked around a circus ring by clowns
    Meet the Polar Bears at Zippos Christmas Circus Show

The finale of Zippos Circus Christmas show with a giant inflated Father Christmas
The Finale of Zippos Christmas show at Winter Wonderland

The Magical Ice Kingdom 

For 2023 the theme of the Magical Ice Kingdom is the nine realms of Norse Mythology so expect Viking villages, dragons, Goddesses and other mythical creations. 

This year was the second time we have visited the Magical Ice Kingdom with our children. The first visit was a relatively mild November day and we had just been in the warm MegaDome so the contrast with the freezing (literally) Ice Kingdom was noticeable. Despite hat, coat and gloves my 3 year old was still so cold that she didn’t enjoy it and she quickly asked to leave.  I don’t think Little had a chance to adjust to the temperature change which was a shame because she missed out on the ice slides in the kingdom which looked a lot of fun. 

This year the weather was about 6 degrees outside and the contrast to the -10 degrees of the Ice Kingdom didn't feel as great. All 3 of my children enjoyed walking around and even my super sensitive to cold youngest was happy in his hat and gloves. He even went down the ice slide. 

The ice carvings are beautiful and there are plenty of photo points. You walk through a path surrounded by the carvings and are asked not to touch any of the carvings. There are several points like the ice bridge, slide and some chairs where you can touch the ice. At the end there is also a magic wall where you can hold a coin against the ice wall for 20 seconds and it should stick to the ice. 

The Magical Ice Kingdom includes 500 tonnes of snow and ice and it takes months to carve. It is beautifully lit up and best enjoyed if you can take the time to walk through slowly and really appreciate the talent involved. The -10 degrees Celsius environment will be best appreciated while wearing a hat and gloves.

You need to prebook a time slot to visit, this can be done online when buying your entrance to Winter Wonderland or you can check for availability at the Box Office. It says the walk through takes about 30 minutes, but we were through it in 15 minutes and that included time queueing for the slide. We didn't walk particularly fast so I doubt many people spend half an hour in there. 

A viking made of ice cooking a ice food over an ice fire with an ice pet looking on
A Viking Village in the Magical Ice Kingdom

Silhouettes of people looking at snow and ice sculptures
Mythical beasts in the Norse Mythology inspired ice carvings

An ice warrior god on horseback
The impressive ice carvings are kept at -10 degrees in the Magical Ice Kingdom

The Giant Wheel

Next we went to the Giant Wheel, a 70 metre high ferris wheel which makes all the rides around it look small in comparison. Thankfully the enclosed pods feel safe when you are on board. Admittedly when I stood to change the radio channel and it started swinging I didn’t feel quite so safe, but we all stayed firmly seated while it rotated several times round. 

There was a bit of a wait in the queue before going on, but it moves in stages (they fill up the pods about 6 at a time then when it’s full it goes round a few times before people get off and the pods are filled again) so sometimes the queue doesn't move for a while, then you move quickly. 

The first time we went on several years ago it was in daylight and there were great views over Winter Wonderland below, Hyde Park and across much of London. It was a great view and felt like it was over too soon, although it takes around 10 minutes. When we went on this year it was 4.30pm and dark. There was a great view of all the lights of Winter Wonderland, but you couldn't really see anything beyond that.

You can buy a fast track pass which might be worth it when the queues are long. Each pod is for between 4 and 6 people so at busy times you might be asked to share with other people, we just had the 4 of us in ours. 

A child in a pod on the giant wheel at Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland
View from the Giant Wheel towards Santa Land at Winter Wonderland in 2019

View across one side of Winter Wonderland in the dark taken from the Giant Wheel
View from the Giant Wheel at Winter Wonderland in the dark in 2023

Santa land

Finally we hit the rides. There are a huge number of fairground rides at Winter Wonderland, many I am amazed have been assembled temporarily for the event they are so big and impressive. In 2019 with 2 small children we didn’t explore the “Thrill” area where many of the bigger rides were and instead we spent our time in Santaland. 

There were a great range of rides suitable for children in Santaland including some that my 3 year old could go on by herself, a few rollercoasters she went on with her Dad and even a little train ride that all 4 of us went on.

Santaland was absolutely perfect for my 3 year old who was happy to go on the smaller rides herself and the slightly bigger ones with an adult. I don't think there are many rides suitable for 1 and 2 year olds who are too young to go on rides on their own, but a few of them should be fine.

It would be easy to spend a huge amount of money on rides so I would recommend deciding in advance what you want to spend and helping to manage children’s expectations of how many they can go on. The children’s rides were generally between 3 and 5 tokens per person (which equal a pound each).  On most (if not all) rides you can pay with contactless card so don't bother queuing to buy tokens.

You can also now get an unlimited pass for the Santaland rides for £25, if you buy this in advance online it includes entry to Winter Wonderland so this is a really great option if visiting with children aged 3 to roughly 6 (this is the age I would say these rides are most suitable for, but it depends on what your children enjoy). 15 different rides are included. It looked like these passes were also available from a ticket office in Santaland, but if you buy in the park you don't get the benefit of free entry. 

Also in Santaland you can visit Santa in his grotto and get a present. This is free so the queue can get long. The grotto is open 10am to 6pm, but closes for breaks (including at lunchtime). On a few dates mid week (20th to 22nd, 27th to 29th November and 4th to 6th December) the grotto closes at 5pm and there is a Santa parade starting and ending at the grotto. 

A 3 year old child on a bike on a ride while visiting winter wonderland
There are 15 different rides suitable for young children in the Santaland area

Children's rides at Winter Wonderland a child on a rocking reindeer
Some rides require children to be able to ride alone, but others they can be accompanied

Swing chair for children with a 3 year old girl sitting on it at Winter Wonderland
The rides cost varying amounts

Fairground games at Winter Wonderland with giant teddy bear prizes
As well as rides there are a lot of fairground games across Winter Wonderland

A 4 year old boy on a Winter Wonderland ride in the dark
You can now enjoy unlimited rides on the 15 Santaland rides for £25

The Real Ice Slide In Partnership With Crystal Ski Holidays

This year was our first go on the Real Ice Slide. This is an outdoor slide you go down in a doughnut, there are smaller ones for younger children or they can sit on your lap. There are 6 lanes so you can race friends or family. You have to wear a helmet and there is no where to leave bags, but you can put them on your lap (we took turns so one adult could wait with the bags). You get 2 goes down the slide. A sign said minimum height was 90cm and also that younger children had to sit on laps so I'm not clear if that meant those under 90cm had to go on laps or no under 90cms. My 4 year old went down on his own and loved it.

A real ice slide at Winter Wonderland
Zoom down the Real Ice Slide in partnership with Crystal Ski Holidays

Thrill Rides

In 2023 my children experienced some of the thrill rides for the first time. Most younger children will be content with the Santaland rides, but I wanted to mention the other rides briefly because they have lots and they all look really impressive. The queue for these rides get much longer in the evening so head for them early on if planning to go on them. They go up to 9 or 10 tokens per person (so £10) and even the funhouse type ones are around 6 tokens per person. The best advice I can give is to manage expectations in advance about what rides they can go on.

A view of the surface at Winter Wonderland, pushchairs and rides
There is a hard surface across the site which makes getting around easy

Practicalities - What You Need To Know When Taking Young Children To Winter Wonderland


Inside Winter Wonderland the grass is covered in a temporary flooring so you won’t need to worry about getting stuck in mud, but it does get very busy so you might find the crowds a bit challenging to get through with a pushchair. It is a fun, but exhausting day out though so you might be grateful for the pushchair when they children get tired. If you are going to see the circus, other shows in the MegaDome or on the Giant Wheel you can't take pushchairs in. There are pushchair parks to leave them outside (at your own risk).


While the shows are in doors most of Winter Wonderland is outside so you need to make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather. If it is raining there isn't a lot of cover although the circus, Ice Kingdom and queue for the Giant Wheel are under cover.


There are a number of gates you can use to get into Winter Wonderland. The red “family entrance” is close to Marble Arch station and goes straight into Santa Land. Your booking might advise on the best entrance eg The Gold Entrance is nearest to the MegaDome. At each entrance there may be queues at busy times and there are bag searches.

Winter Wonderland opens at 10am everyday (and closes at 10pm). Check the website for times for the grotto etc.


In the past some of the nearby stations have become exit only at peak times. When we left at around 6pm on a Sunday in 2023 we could still go into our nearest station which was Marble Arch, but if leaving at a really busy time be prepared that you might have to walk to slightly further away stations (or get a bus/ taxi). 


You are asked not to take open drinks containers into the site and I was asked to pour my water away from my reusable water bottle, but they directed me to where I could refill it for free.  They encourage you to bring reusable water bottles and coffee cups. 


The website says not to bring your own food into Winter Wonderland. Unsurprisingly food is expensive onsite and the cost is variable between the huge number of places to get food. We bought some chips at £4.50 for a small plate of chips, pizzas started at around £12 and churros (which were everywhere) were from £6. There is a great range on site and plenty of treats like hot chocolate, sweets, doughnuts and churros. In the past I have found a number of vegan and dairy free options, however if your children have food allergies I would risk bringing food in and be prepared to argue it on the gate if challenged. 

Chill Zone

In Santa Land there is the Family Chill Space which is a small indoor venue where you can sit down, I found it handy for breastfeeding. Around meal times and in wet weather expect it to be busy, but there is a microwave and sink which could be handy for baby food.


There are toilet blocks around the site which are porta cabin style with running water. Every time we went I saw a lady cleaning them (or the floor at least) so hopefully they should stay in a reasonable condition.

A row of portacabin ladies toilets at Hyde Parks Winter Wonderland
Ladies Toilets at Winter Wonderland

Baby Changing

There are baby changing rooms at each toilet block (although not in some of the pub/ bar toilets). These are separate to the disabled toilets and Changing Places toilet.

Getting Lost

The site is huge and it gets very busy in the evenings. There is no obvious place for children to head to if they get lost, but I assume that the staff on all the rides, food concessions etc as well as the exits would help a lost child. I would recommend writing your mobile number on their arm so you can be called if you get separated and maybe agreeing a back up meeting location if they can't get hold of you eg meeting at Santa's grotto. 

Night view at Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland looks amazing in the dark, but it makes it harder to navigate with young children

Keeping The Cost Down At Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland

There is no denying that Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland is expensive. I have had a great visit every time, but the cost can quickly add up. If you are visiting here are my tips for making it more affordable. With children under 10 and a bit of planning you can have an amazing day for around £50 per person (including activities, food and rides). You can spend far less and have a nice time, but you might find you are having to say "no" to your children a fair bit.

  • If visiting with young children who love rides consider getting the Santaland unlimited passes. You get free entry when this is prebooked and with rides starting at £3 per person the £25 ride can allow you to have a more relaxed visit. There are 15 different rides included, some children can ride on alone, others you have to accompany them (and you have to pay to do so). 
  • Book an earlier entry slot. Not only is it quieter during the day, but tickets are cheaper (including free on some weekday mornings).
  • The other way to get free entry is to spend over £25 in advance on bookings. A ticket to the circus, Ice Slide and Giant Wheel or Magical Ice Kingdom will take you over this amount. If you are likely to want to go on these it really does make sense to prebook and save the entry cost to Winter Wonderland.
  • Manage your children's expectations in advance. I told my children they could only go on 2 rides each which meant they thought very carefully about what they went on. 
  • Shop around before you buy food. While you don't want to walk around the whole place comparing prices, it is worth looking at a few places as prices for food vary (the drink prices are more consistent though). I normally advise people to eat before they go to somewhere like this, but as most of the places nearby are pretty expensive that's probably not worth the hassle. 
  • Bring water bottles. There are a number of places to refill water bottles, generally near the toilet blocks so refilling water bottles could save you a fair bit.
  • Remember the Christmas grotto is free, but might have a long wait.
  • Enjoy free entertainment through out Winter Wonderland. Through out the day there are performers and live music you can see for free. They are generally around the larger bar areas eg the Pepsi Max Fire Pit (where you can also buy a bag of 8 marshmallows and toast them on the fire).
A stage in the Pepsi Max Fire Pit area which has live music and entertainment in the afternoons and evenings
Make the most of the wide range of free entertainment to keep costs down

Photograph of one of the maps on site at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
Map of the 2023 Winter Wonderland site in Hyde Park, London

Photographs from previous years

Image c Zippos Circus ringmaster
The Ringmaster at Zippos in 2019

Double Trapeze Act The Gemini Sisters at Zippos Circus Love
Double Trapeze Act in 2019

Zippos Circus finale in a tent full of people with performers on stage
The Finale at Zippo's Christmas Circus 2019

View to a stage with mr men puppets being moved by actors in the Winter Wonderland MegaDome
Mr Men and Little Miss Show at Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland in 2019

A cold looking child inside Hyde Parks Magical Kingdom
Frozen in the Magical Ice Kingdom in 2019

an ice carving of big ben behind some Christmas trees
Carvings of London landmarks in the Christmas Carol themed 2019 Magical Ice Kingdom 

***Disclosure: We have received press tickets for our recent visits. In 2019 the press tickets were provided by Zippos Circus, in 2023 they were in partnership with Crystal Ski Holidays. All thoughts are my own.***

1 comment

  1. Thank you for the review, I'm planning to go there with my family


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