Monday, 21 November 2016

Winter fun for everyone

I love the winter time. I rock big knitwear, bobble hats, furry lined boots and seek out sparkly Christmas lights. Some of my favourite things to do as a family are during the winter and they're not even that pricey. Here are my top tips for fun stuff to do during the colder months. And no they're not all about Christmas !

Winter Wonderland is ten years old this year

Winter Wonderland has become a bit of a fixture in Hyde Park for years now. We've yet to go, but I've heard good things about it and it's always busy. The event takes over Hyde Park for weeks in the run up to Christmas and offers rides, ice skating and a Christmas market. It's free to go into, but there is a charge for the activities once you're inside and I'm reliably informed that you will have to queue for a while to go on anything so wrap up warm.

One of our new family traditions is a Christmas visit to Birdworld to see Santa. The boys enjoy it and it's really magical walking through the grotto to meet the big man and to check that Percy Penguin isn't napping on the job. We love it because you get to see some animals on the way into the grotto - including reindeer that I am assured are happy and well looked after - and the price includes a present for the children and a mince pie and mulled wine for adults. I know it's not in London, but it's not far so I've included it.

Oxford Street lights 

When I was a kid the big night of our year was when my parents would pile us all into the car to see the Christmas lights in London. This was before every town in the country had it's own big switch on with celebrities. It's still impressive and we take our boys to see all the lights near us and they look forward to seeing them every year.

You can name these lights on Regent's Street 

As a bonus we also used to go and see the seasonal window displays. The highlights for me were Selfridges, Dickens and Jones (remember them ?) and Libertys. We would get out of the car to ooh and aah at the windows of Harrods, Hamleys and occasionally we'd even get out at Trafalgar Square to see the fountains and special Norwegian Christmas tree. It's not an option to get out of a car and stroll any more - sadly. You can still make an evening of it if you are prepared to go on foot and I'd recommend the South Bank with it's winter market stalls and the view of all the lights along the Thames.

Fantasy windows from Oasis 

My personal favourite in the winter is ice skating and the amazing locations with ice rinks seems to increase every year. I've been to the Natural History Museum, Broadgate and Hampton Court Palace to skate and it's great fun. A long established rink at Somerset House is very popular and one of the new kids on the block is a rink next to the London Eye on the South Bank. You can buy packages that include a hot chocolate and skate hire so you can make a night of it ! I took Brown Bear a couple of years back and we booked a penguin to help him skate and had a hot chocolate afterwards, it was great fun. You do have to book a penguin in advance as they are limited in number and they also offer special sessions for toddlers and parents so you don't have to worry about professional show-offs mowing down your children.

Ice Skating in the shadow of dinosaurs 
If you are planning a winter evening out in London there is plenty to do and not all of it will cost money. I think we have some wonderful attractions and family friendly activities that are well worth taking the time to visit. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.