Winter Wonderland has welcomed more than 15m visitors since it was first introduced in 2007
UK - Featuring mainstay attractions including the Magical Ice Kingdom, Zippo's Circus, the 1,600m2 Lycamobile Ice Rink, an authentic Bavarian Village and the iconic Giant Observation Wheel, Winter Wonderland in London's Hyde Park has welcomed more than 15m visitors since it was first introduced in 2007.

The latest edition of the Capital's most popular and dazzling winter event - open for six weeks from November 21 to January 4 with free admission - saw PWR Events and The Royal Parks collaborate to deliver and even wider menu of entertainment, and Showstars returned to help ensure that the event was set up on time and in perfect shape.

Hired directly by PWR Events, Showstars has been working on Winter Wonderland since its very first year with its crew preparing the whole site to enable the various suppliers to arrive and set-up their entertainment attractions.

Reporting to PWR's production/site manager Alison Dale, Showstars' Mark Skates heads a crew that increases from nine people to 19 over the three-week build, and takes responsibility for the entire infrastructure.

That responsibility extends to manning forklifts and cherry pickers, installing fencing, public signage, flooring, grid mats and building structures for attractions such as the Ice Kingdom.

The Royal Parks organisation is naturally very protective of the site, as crew member John Hunt explained: "There are strict rules that prevent us from, for example, putting anything near Hyde Park's very expensive gas lights or the trees, in case roots get damaged. Obviously, we respect this and we're extremely careful in all aspects of the job at hand."

Once Winter Wonderland is open to the public, Showstars traditionally allocates a small stand-by crew for up to a week, which allows for any final, minor adjustments to fencing and scrims. The team will then return to the site for the tear down, which usually takes 12 days.

Hunt added: "The job is done in roughly the same time frame as we work to for the build and teardown of V Festival, so it's quite a stretch. We pride ourselves on doing a good job there and Mark Skates has it down to a fine art.

"Being outdoors in the winter, it's not the most forgiving of environments in which to work so once we fulfil what's required of us, it's wonderful to get home to some warmth."

(Jim Evans)

Latest Issue. . .