Winterville 2017 – Clapham Common

After taking a year off, Winterville returns to London triumphant in 2017, but this time south of the river! A winter festival on Clapham Common until the 1st January, with an ice rink, roller disco, big wheel, crazy golf, fairground, and excellent food and bars. I went down on opening night to see the new improved Winterville for myself.

The neon Winterville sign at the entrance to the festival with the big wheel in the background

I arrived at 6pm with my friend Chan and we took a walk around to get our bearings. The first thing we both commented on was how it’s the perfect size. Big enough and with enough to do to keep you busy for a whole day/evening, but not so large you get lost, confused or miss out on anything. It’s also visually stunning, you can tell a lot of thought has gone into each area and the presentation.

My friend Chan and I enjoying the fairground area, and me posing in front of the giant gorgeous Christmas tree

Here’s the site map of Winterville, so you can get an idea of size and plan out your visit before you get there:

Winterville official map of the site including Street Feast, Spiegeltent, the ice rink etc

Click this image to view a larger version of this map

Fairground

We decided to tackle the fairground as soon as we arrived instead of eating first then feeling sickly! Of course I suggested we start with the Crazy Mouse. I’m a bit of a rollercoaster lover, and these spinning ones are always lots of fun! Chan was pretty excited about it too…

My friend Chan looking a little terrified on the way up the Crazy Mouse rollercoaster, and the view over Winterville fairground area from the Big Wheel

We then went for something slightly more tame called Snowbob which was a circular waltzer, and after that Chan had the idea to go on an upside down spinny one. It went on for a really long time and when we came off we couldn’t walk in a straight line! Great fun, but we were both glad we didn’t eat before we did the rides!

The Big Wheel ride and one of the giant carnival games - shoot some hoops to win a stuffed animal

I tried my hand at winning a cuddly toy at the Snowball hoop shoot game but failed miserably, evidently my netball skills have left me since school! We ended our fairground bonanza with a chilled trip on the Big Wheel, placed right in the middle of site giving great views in all directions. They even let us take a mulled wine on which made me happy as by this time I was desperate for one! We even got to meet (plastic) Santa afterwards!

Me sitting on Santa's knee offering him a kiss, and a selfie of Chan and I at the top of the Big Wheel fairground ride

Food – Street Feast

I’ve been a lover of Street Feast’s various locations for the whole time I’ve been living in London. I used to live near Dinerama in Shoreditch, and Chan lives in Lewisham just down the road from Model Market, so we’re regular patrons. It was great to find out they’d be in charge of the food selection at Winterville. The main Street Feast area is inside a fortress made of shipping crates. It has no roof but the walls do keep out the wind and there are fire pits dotted around amongst the benches. For the full list of street food vendors at the festival, click here.

Street Feast area made of shipping containers and housing some of London's best street food. Benches to sit of and fire pits to warm around

Chan is gluten-free so she steered me towards Petare – Venezuelan arepa bar as she’d had them before and loved ’em. I like it when someone is decisive for me sometimes and makes me try something I may not have chosen otherwise. I am fully an arepa convert – they’re cornbread stuffed with South American fillings and DE-licious. I had the beef brisket while Chan had the chicken with corn salsa, and we shared a side of Masa-fried boneless chicken.

Petare's food stall selling delicious Venezuelan street food, filled arepas and fried chicken. My friend Chan with a big grin eating a beef brisket arepa.

All of it was incredible! Spicy, delicious and filling. There’s loads more stalls I want to try but when I go back I will need to leave room because I HAVE to get these again.

A delicious close up of our two filled arepas; one with beef brisket, one with chicken and corn salsa.

There’s also the Truck Stop area on the other side of the site, a mini set up with 5 food vans and more tables. I’m definitely going to have to come back to try Popdogs “Jamaican Me Horny” hotdog (chicken sausage, slaw, jerk marinade) and also Sophie Michell‘s awesome-sounding Christmas Burger – Buttermilk fried turkey, sausage stuffing, bread sauce mayo and cranberry relish. I need that in my mouth already.

The Truck Stop area curated by Street Feast at Winterville, 5 food trucks overlooked by the Big Wheel

Drinks – Bar Humbug

One of the best things about winter is: mulled wine season! And luckily for me it was prevalent at every bar in Winterville. Dotted around the site are little bar cabins serving boozy hot chocolates made with Baileys, cans of beer and cider, and delicious frozen toffee Grey Goose vodka. All reasonably priced at £5 for a mulled wine/boozy hot chocolate.

One of the smaller bar cabins dotted around the site selling mulled wine, boozy hot chocolates and frozen toffee vodka shots.

Bar Humbug is right in the middle of Winterville, and is a giant marquee filled with long tables and chairs, and the place has a whole alpine/Oktoberfest vibe. They have some great nights planned including musical quizzes, brass bands and awesome DJs. I’m definitely gonna bring a big group of my friends back here, maybe for Massaoke – a live band playing singalong tunes for the whole bar to join in with! Drinks-wise, there’s an extensive menu here including some yummy spiced cocktails.

Bar Humbug is the centre of Winterville, an alpine themed bar with amazing DJs and great cocktails

The inside of Bar Humbug with it's long tables, large bar and alpine theme

Spiegeltent

I’m always excited to spot the Spiegeltent in various locations! I’ve seen many awesome bands in this venue when it was called Club Dada and located in Bestival on the Isle of Wight, and last Christmas it was in Leicester Square for their winter festivities. This year it’s found a home on Clapham Common, and will play host to some awesome nights over 6 weeks, including Lucha Britannia Mexican wrestling, Musical Bingo, Big Fish Little Fish and more… For full listings check here. Lots of events are free!

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During our visit last week we got to see the Winterville Orchestra & Choir perform lots of Christmas tunes in the famous Spiegeltent and it was a delight! The circular venue itself has booths around the edge, a bar as you come in, and a circular dance floor in the middle (which was filled with tables for this particular event). The sound was spectacular and the performance was delightful, the whole audience was singing along and getting in the festive spirit. Definitely a highlight to catch if you can!

The Winterville Choir performing in the Spiegeltent wearing tinsel in front of an orchestra

Plonk Golf

My favourite part of the evening was a round of 9 crazy golf holes at Plonk Golf. They have converted an old 1940s Dodgems carousel into awesome neon mini golf greens, each providing a different challenge and with tables to rest your drink. There are even multiples of holes 3 and 6 to ease waiting times. We had a fab time, despite Chan taking over 25 shots to get through the first hole (I let her off with a score of 10 because I’m nice) then she claims she went on to beat me. I’m still convinced she’s lying. We’re both slightly competitive 😉

Chan on the Plonk Golf neon crazy golf course trying for a hole in one whilst drinking mulled wine

You can pre-book at Plonk Golf here which I would recommend for a weekend or if you’re a large group, but they’re very good at squeezing you in, so even if you don’t manage to prebook try just turning up. It costs £6 per adult for a round, kids go free.

Chan and I with our neon golf balls posing in front of the Plonk Golf course

Ice Rink, Roller Disco & Backyard Cinema

There were a few things we didn’t manage to do on our first trip to Winterville, but having seen them, we’re both keen to return and bring friends! First up is the Backyard Cinema – Winter Night Garden which looks just fantastic. Sink into a beanbag sofa in an enchanted forest and watch a Christmas classic film. The cinema is fully heated, and has food & a licensed bar. There aren’t many films left that aren’t sold out but check listings here and book soon if you want to go!

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Next up is the Ice Rink. I personally have always been RUBBISH at ice skating. I spend an hour clinging on to the outside wall, and just as I’m getting a little more confident and am skating about a metre away from the safety of the wall, everyone else is bored by then and it’s time to go. I have appalling balance due to having tiny feet for my height, which doesn’t help, and I’m terrified of having my fingers sliced off. However, I am still keen to return and give it a go! The only reason Chan and I didn’t when we went was I didn’t bring gloves, which meant it was a definite no from me. But next time I will bring gloves and I will get on that ice! The rink is beautiful, near the Big Wheel, and is covered in fairy lights. Tickets can be booked here, and cost £13.50 for adults.

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For similar reasons, I am also really bad at roller skates, therefore again I passed on the Roller Disco. The roller rink is nice and large though and the skates light up which is awesome! It’s only £7 per person and they have some amazing artists playing there, including the 2 Bears which I’m super excited about! I might have to go along and just watch the skaters from the sidelines and dance. Totally worth it. Check out listings and book here.

Me stood in front of one of the tipi bars called Brew Camp, and one of the carnival games with a brightly lit fairground ride behind it

Thank you Winterville for inviting me!

We’ll be back soon for sure! xx

A selfie of Chan and I on a fairground waltzer ride at Winterville winter festival

 

 

Pinterest share image: view of the Winterville neon sign in the night sky with the big wheel behind it with blog title one top

 

Looking for something a little smaller? Maybe somewhere that’s BYOB? Check out my Winterland blog for a lovely festive venue near Fulham!

I’ll also be reviewing the big one, Winter Wonderland soon too!

13 thoughts on “Winterville 2017 – Clapham Common

  1. bavariansojourn says:

    This sounds like such a lovely way to spend an evening… I am used to the big German Christmas markets, but there’s so much about this one that would make a nice change for me! That food looks delicious too! 🙂

  2. Joanna Davis says:

    Winterville looks like a great alternative for Winter Wonderland, which is huge and very crowded. The food hall looks amazing, I would love to try the cornbread filled with beef brisket, it sounds like a delicious combination.

  3. Louise Joy says:

    It looks like you had an amazing time. I went to this a few years back and thought it was the perfect alternative to Winter Wonderland – not as crowded but still super genuine and seasonal x

  4. Josh at LOOKDWN.com says:

    Good to see one of these experiences come south of the river and not too far from me. My girlfriend doesn’t like ice skating but the other activities would be great along with some mulled wine!

  5. Nina says:

    This looks AMAZING! It’s got me so in the mood for Christmas markets, I’m so excited to do some Christmas shopping and be surrounded by bright lights and amazing smelling hot chocolate flavours. I love the backyard cinema, wish I could visit 🙁 x

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