Mince pies have been on the shelves for weeks, the John Lewis Christmas advert has already been spoofed. It’s officially time to start talking about Christmas. After launching last year, festive pop-up Winterville returns to Victoria Park as an alternative and ace antidote to cutesy Christmas schmaltz. There’s plenty for everyone to enjoy – families included – made up of favourite bits from the first Winterville and tons of new stuff.
Here’s a breakdown of the nine main areas within the village. Entry is free, but events and activities are priced individually. And remember that locals – living in Tower Hamlets or those with an E9 postcode – get discounted tickets if they book in advance.
No festive village is complete without one of these. Winterville’s ice rink (£7-£12.50, kids’ discounts) boasts a very cool 600 square metres of the frozen stuff for anyone to carve up, from Winter Olympics wannabes to toddlers.
Make your way through a secret tunnel to this hidden cinema, set in an enchanted forest. There are tons of films, including all kinds of classic Christmas flicks from ‘Elf’ to ‘Die Hard’, plus other gems like ‘Jurassic Park’. Tickets are £12.50-£16.50, with discounts for kids.
The place for all the entertainment you’ll need this Christmas. The huge list of fun stuff (priced from £5-£20) includes cabaret, festive parties from Bugged Out! (with a weekly Friday series featuring top DJs, entitled Bugged Out's Little Bugger), Friday I’m in Love, a Comedian's Cinema Club, Guilty Pleasures and the Mighty Hoop-La, Musical Bingo, folksy singer-songwriter James Yorkston’s annual Christmas show, boozy comedy from Shit-Faced Showtime, a Snow White pantomime and a kid-friendly family rave from Big Fish Little Fish.
A new addition for 2015, with acrobats, clowns and a dude shooting an apple off his own head with multiple crossbows. For freakier kicks, there are gruesome late shows with a human pin-cushion and a ‘hairculian diva’, chucking herself around using her locks. Adult tickets are £10, child tickets £7.
Golf = boring. Crazy golf = fun, proven by Plonk, a Hackney-based crazy golf pop-up plonking themselves at Winterville. There’s a new putting area with snowdrifts and ice beasts, priced at £7-£8 for adults, £4-£5 for children.
Pegged as a ‘vaudeville-Victorian marketplace’ this emporium will be full of artwork for sale, plus dining, music and cabaret. There’ll also be more lovely stuff for sale at the pop art-inspired Pop Shop and Christmas markets, selling everything from jewellery to vintage clothes to cheese.
Hop on to a range of rides, including Winterville’s Crazy Mouse, an Ice Jet rollercoaster and classics like bumper cars. There’s even a mini-fairground in the Kids’ Shack.
Apparently, children are big fans of Christmas, and luckily there’s plenty for little ’uns at the Kids’ Shack: a children’s market, Santa’s grotto and workshops from £5 – including fancy dress and Christmas card-making – from Pop Tots.
Fuel your Winterville roaming via street food traders including Crabbie Shack and Smokestak. You can also warm those cockles with winter cocktails, mulled wine and cider, or quaff a range of craft beer at the ski lodge-styled Bar Humbug.