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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 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