A colourful and enchanting new attraction has launched in south London this Christmas season.

If you head down the rabbit hole, or take the Tube to Bermondsey (same thing really), you’ll find the Alice in Winterland Lantern Festival at Southwark Park.

Taking place until January 5, the festival features more than 160 beautiful giant lanterns depicting 29 scenes from Lewis Carroll’s fairytale adventures Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.


As you wind your way through the twisty-turny trail, you’ll meet the Queen of Hearts, Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, Caterpillar and all the other characters from the cherished fantasy books.

With the dark winter night sky as the backdrop, the charming illuminations are a magical and captivating sight that will delight children and adults alike whether fans of the books or not.

The trail is made more immersive by snippets of audio from the stories along the route, and there are other playful elements for the kids such as an interactive Cheshire Cat.


You can take the edge off the chill during the experience with a beer or hot chocolate, and then there are more food and drink stands at the end along with a Santa’s grotto.

At least when my family and I visited, there was also festive music at the end being performed on the bandstand. The singer on this occasion was Aymee Weir, who as it turned out afterwards is something of an up-and-coming singer who I would heartily recommend you discovering on YouTube and iTunes as she’s very good. While not her normal material, the Christmas songs she was performing greatly added to the atmosphere.


Southwark Park isn’t the most scenic location for a light festival based on whimsical children’s books. The gardens at Chiswick House where the Magical Lantern Festival is taking place is a better setting – but Southwark Park is more easily accessible from our area, and does still provide a great open space for something the size of Alice in Winterland.

We spent about two hours there in total, which included viewing all the lanterns as well as stopping for a drink midway round and then having a snack at the end. The event would be better still if there was slightly more to do. It would benefit from having more rides than just the one it’s got, and a Christmas market for picking up some gifts and souvenirs would be an excellent addition.


As it stands though, Alice in Winterland is a lot of fun. It’s a surreal but spellbinding way to spend a December night. I doubt there’s a curiouser event on in London this Christmas. You’ll enjoy yourselves if you begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end, then stop.