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The Snowman Experience review: A magical and nostalgic immersive screening of a Christmas classic at Winter Wonderland

Backyard Cinema presents The Snowman Experience is an immersive screening of the classic Christmas animation for adults and children alike.

Backyard Cinema Snowman Experience
This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Snowman book. Created by author Raymond Briggs, it was adapted into animated short film in 1982. Directed by Dianne Jackson, the film has become a Christmas classic and is shown on TV every year. As a child of the 1980s, I found The Snowman enchanting and moving and continue to watch it every Christmas as a tradition.

This festive season, Backyard Cinema has created an immersive live experience at Winter Wonderland. The walk-through experience is more than just a film screening, allowing you to visit the sets and even say hello to The Snowman himself.

This week, I went along to check out The Snowman Experience and absolutely loved it. Although the film is just 25 minutes long, the experience actually lasts 45 minutes and spans many different spaces inspired by the classic tale. Located near the giant wheel in Winter Wonderland, the experience starts every 20 minutes. Upon entering the huge tent, you walk through an atmospheric ‘snowy forest’ to reach the reception, where a photographer is waiting to capture you in a ‘flying’ pose to commemorate your visit.

Backyard Cinema Snowman Experience

The experience eventually begins in a large screening room in what appears to be the family home from the film. The familiar blue kitchen cabinets, Christmas cake, fireplace, TV and sleeping cat have been recreated faithfully, which helps kickstart the nostalgia before the film starts. Two windows with moving snowing scenes adds to the atmosphere. As the animation begins on the big screen, it is accompanied by a variety of effects in the surrounding rooms of the house, bringing a sense of magic. When its time for The Snowman and James to take off and fly on their night-time journey, we move on to the next room to watch it in a forest under a twinkling sky. Next, the action progresses to the snowmen’s party as we head into the third and final screening room, featuring a table full of balloons, streamers, hats and glasses ready for the celebrations. Children particularly are in for a treat when the star of the show – The Snowman himself – enters the room to say hello and show off some of his dance moves. Despite being a grown adult, I must admit it was lovely to see the Snowman and really made me feel nostalgic about how magical I found the character as a child.

Overall, it was a great experience. While children are guaranteed to love it, anyone that grew up watching The Snowman or reading the book are equally likely to be enthralled. Backyard Cinema have really brought the film to life and seeing it on a big screen along with the stunning soundtrack really showcases the beauty of Howard Blake’s music and vocals of Peter Auty. The experience made me feel like a little girl again and I am highly tempted to go back again I enjoyed it so much.

  • Backyard Cinema Presents: The Snowman™ Experience is on at Winter Wonderland until 6 January 2019. At Hyde Park, W2. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. Tickets (vary between standard, off-peak, and peak): Adults/teen £9.95-£14.95, Children £6.96-£12.95, Family tickets £27.80-£51.80. Shows start every 20 minutes. For booking, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

To find out what’s on in London in January 2019, click here.

For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London this Christmas 2013

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Tourists drinking mulled cider underneath giant candy canes in Covent Garden

December is one of the best months to be in London. Yes, the weather is rather cold, but there’s so much going on. Obviously, most of it involves Christmassy stuff. Just because  the temperatures have plummeted, it doesn’t mean outside is totally off-limits – there’s plenty of fairs, winter wonderlands and other places to have fun in the fresh air. Or if you can’t stomach being outside, there’s also tons of activities and places to visit in the warm too.

For the 2014 guide to what’s on in London this Christmas, click here.

  • 3 – 7 December : Pig’s Ear Beer Festival

Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA at the Round Chapel in Hackney. Over 200 beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, E5 0PU. Admission £2 for CAMRA members, £4 for non-members. Open from noon until 11pm. Nearest rail station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. Visit the Pig’s Ear website for more information.

  • 3 December : Candlelight evening opening at Sir John Soane’s Museum

The former home of 19th century architect Sir John Soane is a treasure trove of sculptures, painting and antiquities which he collected over his lifetime. Once a month, the museum is open on the first Tuesday of the month for an evening candlelight opening Bookings are not taken in advance, with tickets only issued to the first 200 people. Open from 6-9pm, however tickets are issued at 5.30pm. Sir John’s Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP. Nearest tube: Holborn. For more information, visit the Sir John Soane website.

  • Now until 4 December : Nordic Film Festival

A celebration of the best films to come out of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden at various locations across London, including Riverside Studios, ICA and Ciné Lumière. For more information, visit the Nordic Film Festival website.

  • 5 – 8 December : East London Design Show

Showcasing the best in UK contemporary design, including homewares, ceramics, furniture, jewellery, lighting and fashion. Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, Shoreditch, EC1V 9LT. Nearest tube: Old Street, Shoreditch High Street or Hoxton. For more information, visit the East London Design Show website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Norwegian Wood: The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square

  • 5 – 22 December : Christmas at Trafalgar Square

After the lighting of the Christmas Tree on December 5 (a gift from Norway), there is annual carol singing in the Square. Carol singing weekdays 4-8pm, weekends 2-6pm. Trafalgar Square. Nearest tube: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square or Embankment. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • 6 – 17 December : Spitalfields Winter Festival

Music festival in the Spitalfields area of the East End featuring music old and new. For listings and more information, visit the Spitalfields Music website.

  • 7 December : Great Christmas Pudding Race

Watch or take part in the annual Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden, which sees participants dressing up and raising money for Cancer Research UK. Covent Garden Piazza, WC1. Nearest tube: Covent Garden, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and details on entering, visit the Xmas Pudding Race website.

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Guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs 2013

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Christmas in Covent Garden

Christmas markets and fairs have steadily been growing in popularity every year and this year sees even more than ever. As people move away from big brands in the hope of buying original or homemade presents for their loved ones, many are turning to markets and fairs for their Christmas shopping lists. For the organised among us, some fairs are taking place in November, with plenty in December for some last-minuters [yes dads, I’m looking at you ;-)]. As well as providing a more relaxed way of shopping than high streets and malls, these events also give you encouragement when it comes to getting into the Christmas spirit.

This guide is for the 2013 markets – click here for the 2015 guide

Long-term Christmas markets

  • 15 November – 24 December : Christmas Market at Southbank

The German-style market returns to the Southbank as vendors sell food, drink and gifts along the Thames. Wooden huts pop-up alongside the Thames in front of the Southbank Centre. Free entry. While you’re there, you could pop along and have a skate under the London Eye. Nearest tube: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 22 November – 5 January 2014 : Traditional German Christmas Market at Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland features a fun fair, food, drink, circus and an ice rink in Hyde Park over the festive period and includes a German market selling gifts too. Free entry. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

  • 28 November – 23 December : Boutique Christmas Market and Christmas Village at Kew Gardens

A Christmas market and village will be open nightly alongside Kew’s illuminated trail. Free entry to the market and village, although will cost to enter the trail. Traditional wooden chalets will sell food, drink and gifts, while visitors can listen to live nightly carols. There’s also a Santa’s Woodland Grotto with the chance to meet the man himself, as well as ride a Victorian carousel. Kews Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, TW9 3AB. Nearest tube: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • 28 November – 22 December : Christmas Shopping at the Barbican

The Barbican’s foyers will be transformed into a Christmas shopping extravaganza with independent stalls and toy shops. Free entry. 12-8pm. Barbican Centre, Silk St, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest tube: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Barbican website.

One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Tis the season for mince pies

  • 21 – 24 November : Taste Of Christmas

Sister event to the hugely popular Taste Of London event which celebrates food. Four day festival in Wapping offers tastings, demonstrations, masterclasses and food theatre with Michel Roux Jnr, Mark Hix, Gizzi Erskine, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall among those giving their tips. Prices start from £23.65 (advance) or £26 (on door). Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest tube: Wapping (overground). For more information, visit the Taste of Christmas website.

  • 24 November : Grand Festive Fair at Dulwich College

Christmas fair in the grounds of historic Dulwich College in South London featuring food, gifts, raffle, games, cafe and Santa Claus. 11am-4pm. Dulwich College, Dulwich Common, SE21 7LD. Nearest train: West Dulwich. For more information, check out the Grand Festive Fair Twitter page.

  • 24 November : Hampstead Christmas Festival

As well as stalls serving gifts, food and drink, there will also be a fairground, Santa’s Grotto, reindeer, face-painting, free screening of Up at the Everyman Cinema, circus acts and performances from Mica Paris, Mitch Winehouse, Culture Club’s John Moss and Bjorn Again. Free. 12-5pm. High Street, Hampstead, NW3. Nearest tube: Hampstead. For more information, visit the Hampstead Christmas Festival’s Facebook page.

  • 27 – 28 November : Red Cross London Christmas Fair at Kensington Town Hall

Great British Bake Off star Mary Berry will open this year’s Christmas Fair, in aid of the Red Cross. Includes over 70 stalls and the chance to enter competitions to win great prizes. Tickets £20 (for preview evening on 27 November, featuring drinks and canapés for all guests) or £5 on the door (£4 online) on public day (28 November). Kensington Town Hall, Hornton St, W8 7NX. Nearest tube: High Street Kensington. For more information, visit the Red Cross website.

  • 30 November : Riverford Christmas Fair

Riverford Organic Farms are hosting their Christmas fair at the Cecil Sharp House. Featuring food producers hosting their own stalls and cooking demos with Guy Watson and Kirsty Hale and children’s activities. Tickets: £6. Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Road, Camden, NW1 7AY. Nearest tube: Camden Town. For more information, visit the Riverford website.

  • 30 November : Tottenham Christmas Market

Stalls, food, DJ and the turning on the Christmas lights. On the east side of Tottenham Green. Free. 12-6pm. Tottenham Green, N15. Nearest tube: Seven Sisters. For more information, visit Haringey Council website.

  • 30 November – 1 December : Christmas Fair at Chelsea Psychic Garden

Two day festival at London’s oldest Botanical garden. Stallholders will be selling garden paraphernalia, unique jewellery, cashmere clothing, Ceramics, food, and leather goods, amongst others, in heated marquees. Guides will be available to show guests the gardens. Breakfast, lunch and mulled wine will also be on sale. Entry £5, friends of CPG free, Under 16s free. 10am-4pm. Chelsea Psychic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HS. Nearest tube: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Chelsea Psychic Garden website.

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland: Festive fun and frolics in Hyde Park

Get your skates on: Guide to ice rinks in London for Christmas 2012

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Get your skates on!

Open air ice rinks have been rising in popularity over the past 10 years. In December, I can’t think of many activities more festive than going ice-skating with friends, family or a date, before warming up afterwards with a hot chocolate or mulled wine. While there’s a handful of permanent ice rinks open all year round, from late November until early January, a host of iconic venues host pop-up ice rinks. Here’s a guide to some of the rinks open this season. Although walks up may be possible, I recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment, especially at weekends and Christmas holidays. (NB: Most ice rinks will be closed on Christmas Day and early closing on Christmas Eve).

For the updated 2014 guide, click here.

  • Natural History Museum Ice Rink

A 950 square metre rink in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Open from 2 November until 6 January 2013. Mon-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-10pm. Adults £11.50/£13.50, Children 12 and under £8/£9. Nearest tube: South Kensington (Circle, District and Piccadilly line). To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.

  • Skate at Somerset House

One of the original pop-up ice rinks located in the courtyard of Somerset House. As well as general skating, they also host club nights on ice and skate lessons. Open from 16 November until 6 January 2013. Session times last an hour and are bookable from 10am until 9.15pm (later for club nights and New Year’s Eve). Adults £12.50/£15.00, Children £7.50. Nearest tube: Temple (Circle and District line). To book, visit the Somerset House website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

In the courtyard: Skate at Somerset House on The Strand

  • Eyeskate

A newer addition to the open air ice rinks is the raised rink in the park shadowed by the London Eye. Open from 17th November until 6 January 2013. Open daily from 10am until 9pm. Session times last 45 minutes . Adults £10.50 (£9.45 online), Children £7.50 (£6.75 online). Nearest tube: Waterloo (Overland, Jubilee or Bakerloo line) or Embankment (Circle, District or Northern Line). To book, visit the Eyeskate website.

  • Ice Rink Canary Wharf

In the middle of the soaring skyscrapers on Canary Wharf and surrounded by shops is another pop-up rink. Open from 3rd November until 13 January 2013. Session times last 1 hour. First session times vary from 9.45am/10.45am ending at 11pm most nights. Adults £12.50, Children £8.50. Nearest tube Canary Wharf (Jubilee line). To book, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Whole lotta history: Skate in the dry moat of the Tower Of London

  • Tower Of London Ice Rink

Skate in the moat of one of the most iconic and historic buildings in the capital. Open from 17th November until 6th January 2013. Session times last 1 hour. First sessions start at 10am, last session starts at 9pm. Adults £11/£13, Children £8.50/£9. Nearest tube Tower Hill (Circle or District Line). To book, visit the Tower of London Ice Rink website.

  • Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink

Skate in front of King Henry VIII’s favourite London residence. Session times last 1 hour. Open from 1st December until 13th January 2013. First sessions start at 10am, last session starts at 9pm. Adults £11/£12.50, Children £8.50/£9. Nearest train Hampton Court (overland from Waterloo). To book, visit the Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink website.

  • Ice Age 4 Ice Rink @ Winter Wonderland

A pop-up ice rink at the annual Winter Wonderland in the south east corner of Hyde Park. Session times last 1 hour. Open from 23rd November until 6th January 2013. First sessions start at 10am, last session starts at 9pm. Adults £10.50/£13.50, Children £8.50/£9.50. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line). To book, visit the Winter Wonderland website. For a sneak peek, check out MOAMG blog posting on Winter Wonderland.

  • Broadgate Ice

Temporary ice rink at Broadgate Circle in the City of London where you can actually turn up and skate without a need to book. Open from 9 November until 24th February 2013. Weekday sessions 12.15-9pm, weekends 9.30am-9pm. Adults £9, Children £7, Skate Hire £2. Nearest tube: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit Broadgate’s website.


For more fun things to do around London this January and February, read my blog post Guide to what’s on in London in January and February 2013.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

Gliding: Take to the ice at the Winter Wonderland’s Ice Age 4 ice rink

Shop til you drop: Guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs 2012

I don’t like to do anything Christmassy until at least 1st December, and even then it feels too early. However the past few years I have made an exception to this rule when it comes to starting my Christmas shopping. As everyone knows, it can be a pretty stressful – and expensive – experience, so I like the spread the cost and dilute the stress by starting in November. I have a large bunch of girlfriends I’ve been buying presents for since the late ’90s and every year I find it a challenge to find them something new I haven’t bought them before and that they will actually like!

So this is where Christmas markets and fairs come in. Not only do you get the chance to buy unique, handmade gifts that you won’t find in your local WHSmith or Boots, they also tend to be more relaxing, fun environments with festive food and drink and entertainment on hand. I’m planning to visit some of these fairs in the bid to get my friends and loved ones something a little different to place under the tree this year.

This is the 2012 guide – for the 2014 guide, click here.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Shop, eat and be merry: The Christmas Market @ Southbank

  • 16 November – 23 December : Christmas Market at Southbank

The German-style market returns to the Southbank as vendors sell food, drink and gifts along the Thames. Wooden huts pop-up alongside the Thames in front of the Southbank Centre. Choirs will also perform twice a day. Free entry. While you’re there, you could pop along and have a skate under the London Eye. Nearest tube: Waterloo or Embankment.

  • 23 November – 6 January 2013 : Traditional German Christmas Market at Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland features a fun fair, food, drink, circus and an ice rink in Hyde Park over the festive period and includes a German market selling gifts too. Free entry. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

  • 29 November : Christmas Shopping Night at Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard

Over 120 stores in the Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard area of Covent Garden will be offering 20 per cent off during their special one-off Christmas shopping event. From 5pm until 9pm, Seven Dials will be closed off to traffic, with stores hosting live music, DJs and makeovers with complimentary gifts, drinks and nibbles on offer. You must register for the 20 per cent off voucher either online or on the night at 29 Shorts Gardens. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

  • 1 December : Fair Christmas Fayre at The Rink, Oxford Street

Who would ever imagine a Christmas fair in the middle of Oxford Street? A one day market selling ethical, fair trade gifts. From 11am until 6pm. Free entry. The Rink, 275 Oxford Street, London W1B 2LH. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Fair Christmas Fayre website.

  • 1 – 2 December : Christmas Fair at Chelsea Psychic Garden
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Tis the season for mince pies

Two day festival at London’s oldest Botanical garden. Stallholders will be selling garden paraphernalia, unique jewellery, cashmere clothing, Ceramics, handmade chocolates, chutneys, cheese and smoked salmon and leather goods, amongst others, in heated marquees. Guides will be available to show guests the gardens. Breakfast, lunch and mulled wine will also be on sale. Entry £5, friends of CPG free, Under 16s free. Chelsea Psychic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HS. Nearest tube: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Chelsea Psychic Garden website.

  • 4 – 22 December : Christmas Pop-Up at The Artisan

Local artists will be selling ceramics, jewellery, glass, textiles, art and photography at this temporary pop-up Christmas shop at The Artisan in Willesden. Artisan, 80 Harlesden Road, London NW10 2BE. Nearest tube: Willesden Green. For more information, visit Artisan’s website.

  • 6 DecemberChristmas Bazaar at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Local craftspeople and artists will be selling their wares at this Thursday evening event. There will also be carol singing and snacks, mince pies and wine on sale. Open 6-9pm. Free entry. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21 7AD. Nearest train station: West Dulwich or North Dulwich. For more information, visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery website.

  • 7 – 9 December : Jewel East Christmas Market at Old Spitalfields

Three-day festival showcasing the finest jewellery designers from across the country, as well as jewellery-making workshops and demonstrations. Open Fri 7th 10am-4pm, Sat 8th 11am-5pm, Sun 9th 9am-5pm. Old Spitalfields Market, Brushfield Street, London E1 6EW. Nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit Spitalfields’ website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

What dessert is your Taste of Christmas?

  • 7 – 9 December : Taste of Christmas

Sister event to the hugely popular Taste Of London event which celebrates food. Three day festival at ExCel in Docklands offers tastings, demonstrations, masterclasses and food theatre with Jamie Oliver, Jean-Christophe Novelli, the Baker Brothers and Michael Roux Jnr among those giving their tips. Prices start from £18.50 (advance) or £23.50 (on door). Nearest tube: Custom House (DLR). For more information, visit the Taste of Christmas website.

  • 8 December : Christmas Fair at Surrey Docks Farm

A host of farm crafts, produce and meat for sale, as well as a chance for children to enjoy donkey rides. Surrey Docks Farm, South Wharf, Rotherhithe Street, London SE16 5ET. Nearest tube: Surrey Quays, Rotherhithe or Canada Water. For more information, visit the Surrey Docks Farm website.

  • 8 – 9 December : Christmas Craft Fair and Santa’s Grotto at Sutton House

This National Trust, Grade II-listed Tudor property will open its doors for two days to host pop-up shops, workshops, carol singing and a chance to visit Santa himself. Open 11am-7.30pm. Entry: £1. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, London E9 6JQ. Nearest tube: Homerton (Overland). For more information, visit the National Trust website.

  • 13 – 16 December : More London Christmas Market at The Scoop

The Scoop – located next to City Hall on the Southbank with views of Tower Bridge – hosts a free four day market featuring food, drink and craft stalls. Entry is free. Open 11am-6pm. Nearest tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit More London’s website.

  • 15 – 16 December : The Secret Emporium Christmas Market

The Secret Emporium’s market showcases creations from 44 independent British designers and features entertainment from Ewan Bleach & the Snakewalkers, The Turbans, The John Langan Band, Whiskey Moon Face, Hicks & Higgins, Jessica Burn, Harky and Ben DeVere. Open from 10.30am until 8pm. Free entry. Factory 7, Hearn Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3LS. Nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street (Overground). For more information, visit the Secret Emporium website.