What marks the commencement of winter in London; what is the grand unveiling that invites the winter months ahead? Is it the histrionic drop in temperatures? The annual change in the clocks? The official declaration of the seasonal change? No, no. The people of London do not await the meteorological commencement of winter, but rather the indiscernible, premature signals of a construction site which occupies Hyde Park. 

The power to wipe all reminiscence of Autumn, to descend the curtains of winter upon the canvas of the great city of London, lies within Winter Wonderland; the frosty beast which sets the winter months on fire, whisping up the remnants of a crispy Autumn and inviting the frostiness of winter.  With the looming darkness which comes with the short, snappy Winter days, the intense lights of the world-renowned amusement park take center stage, overpowering the sun’s brief appearance on the Winter scene.  


However, this winter all seasons melted into one mist of pandemia; one through which even the bold lights of Winter Wonderland ceased to emerge through. With all the capriciousness and vagary of 2020; Londoners saw yet another one of their constants being stripped away in the whirlwind of coronavirus. With Winter Wonderland’s central aims revolving around “bringing friends and family together in a fun, safe and interactive environment to celebrate the festive season” (as stated on their website); the equilibrium of safety and pleasure was thrown off-kilter by the pandemic in yet another area of society. Annually, on average, two and a half million people visit the attraction; approximately the combination of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Bristol. In other words, a lot of people. 

With over 100 rides, Winter Wonderland makes itself right at home in the center of Hyde Park every year. The sounds of euphoria which ooze from the amusement park have become somewhat of a background hum to winter in London, perhaps more closely associated with this time of year than jingle bells. Needless to say, its absence was felt with a palpable consternation which replaced the realm of festivity which typically envelops the park at this time. 

As the new year makes a dramatic entrance, there is no disassemblement of Winter Wonderland to plunge us forward into a new season; might this mark, not the commencement, but rather the continuation of recurring disheartening news mixing into one indistinguishable blur? Let the new year commence.