Winter ‘Wonderland’…..Hmmmm I don’t think so!

Perhaps I just had a particularly nasty encounter with the UK’s largest Christmas destination, however it was just so horrific that I felt compelled to write about it and warn others of my rather interesting trip to ‘Winter Wonderland’.


Having actually worked at the event the first year it was established, I naively thought that I would have a good understanding of what to expect… how wrong I was! What had once been a beautiful, majestic and dare I say it ‘twee’ family Christmas experience has been transformed into a monstrous, noisy, neon funfair. Immediately I began to have my doubts about whether or not to go inside/ what it was going to be like once we were in there.

My friend and I had to queue for roughly 25 minutes to get inside the park, and the only positive I gained from the whole ordeal was that it was free to enter. However, once inside I suddenly realised that that was the only thing which was free- everything else required an extortionate amount of money in exchange, even for the most mundane and simplistic things. As we shuffled along like cows being led to the slaughter I was unable to stop and look at the many stalls we passed, as the crowd was so vast and there was little possibility of getting out of it once you had been amerced in the ever growing sea of people. This was particularly annoying as the whole reason I had agreed to go to Winter Wonderland was in the hope that I may pick up some unique, hand crafted Christmas presents.

Despite being out fairly late on a Saturday evening, I noticed a large amount of families out with young children and a considerable amount of them has pushchairs as well. Due to the fact that Winter Wonderland has now changed into a beer swigging, carnies paradise I was beginning slightly to fear for my own safety, let alone for the hundreds of young children that were being swept along in the crowd with me.

Eventually we found a vaguely quiet bar where we stopped for an outrageously expensive glass of mulled wine (£6!?!). Unfortunately as the night went out the crowd became drunker and rowdier until we felt so intimidated that we decided to go and find another spot.

The pinnacle of the whole evening was when my friend and I ended up in a huge crowd crush, where we completely stuck and unable to move anywhere for around 45 minutes. People were really beginning to panic, and the mood in the air was that of fear and desperation.. not a good mix! eventually the park attendants had to pull down the fences at the side in order to evacuate us.. The whole experience was truly dreadful!

Now as previously stated this may have just been a one off occurrence and I’m sure many of you have already been and had a lovely time but I can safely say it has put me off for life. If you are planning on taking your children there are a few precautions I would take… Firstly- I would highly recommend not going on a Friday or Saturday night, the crowd are much younger and see, far more interested in the alcohol/ funfair side of things, making it quite a dangerous place for families. Secondly ( I know this is probably very obvious) do not let go of any young children’s hand.. the speed at which you can be swept away in the crowd is very alarming. Ensure they are wearing bright, distinguishable clothes and perhaps consider putting a business card or paper with your contact details in one of their pockets in case you were to become separated, someone has a way of getting hold of you.

Finally, I hope that if you do decide to go that you have a far more enjoyable time than I did!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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