It’s a Christmas miracle – winter festivals do not have to invoke panic with every alpine facade and illuminated corporate logo, nor does it have to borrow crowd control tactics from cattle herders. Move over, Winter Wonderland, there’s a new festive joy bringer in town.
Nestled in the heart of east London’s Victoria Park, the brand-new Winterville has arrived, boasting a varied (and predominantly free) programme of cabaret, club nights and comedy, family entertainment plus an impressive array of London’s best street food traders, artesian crafters plus craft beers, ciders and, of course, mulled wine.
Taking over the Dutch Spiegeltent throughout the month, catch London’s finest burlesque company, Cirque du Cabaret, Edinburgh Fringe favourite, Cutting Off Kate Bush, more Kate Bush fun with tribute act Fake Bush and sing-along duo Baz & Dave.
Your Friday entertainment comes from The Bugged Out Free For All, bringing guest DJs and guests to see you through to the small(ish) hours only with less techno, more party tunes. And as you might have guessed, it is free for all.
On Saturdays, Sean Rowley’s Guilty Pleasures takes over with even more cheese on the playlist than you will see on my sideboard this Christmas. And on Sunday, expect glitter, lots of glitter (and tinsel) as the notorious Sink the Pink transform the Speigeltent into their Fairy Grotto. Over at the Roller Disco, east London favourites Disco Bloodbath, Dalston Superstore, Catface and Shorebitch will be providing the soundtrack with special sessions throughout the month.
For the young ones, head to the Kids Quarter for magic with travelling circus House of Fairy Tales, superhero workshops with Super Cape-abilities, Robin Hood panto and even family raving with Big Fish Little Fish.
Brave a peek into the Wall of Death, a spin around Victoria Park’s first ever ice rink (penguin friends only available for tiny ones), wander around the Bizarre Bazaar and craft tents for unique gifts and vintage finds, or start stock piling ready for winter hibernation with food from around the world and festive treats. Halloumi, stuffing and gravy? A true Christmas revelation.
With a fairground that teeters on the right side of perilous, Winterville embraces the things we unashamedly love about the Christmas festivals we’ve come to know as they take over our parks. Wrap up warm, stock up on mulled wine and brave opening your eyes atop the Crazy Mouse and enjoy the east London views.
Winterville is open until 1 January 2015 (except 25 and 26 December) at:
E3 5TB (by Crown Gate entrance).
Entry is free with selected events and attractions ticketed.
Photo: Chloe Biggs