Christmas Fair

O2 – to Jan 3rd 2010

I’ve been meaning to get to this ever since I heard about it, but I confess I’d been a bit put off by the lacklustre-looking bunch of decorated garden sheds which is all you can see from the tube. It doesn’t look very festive from there and I’d assumed that was all there was.

Nevertheless I am a Phantom of Adventure, and it is a Winter of Wonderland; it had to be done, even if ten minutes seemed a rather long time to allow for wandering round a few huts.

In order to make the trip last longer, we walked there a very long way round via the Thames Path – there’s a new consortium shoving flats up at a rate of knots on the east side of the peninsula – I’m sure it wasn’t there last time I was – which was, I guess, around October – now they’re about four storeys high and the cycle path’s boarded off (always first to go, eh, cycle paths…)

By the time we got to the Dome, we were bloomin’ freezing so we thought we’d walk around inside to warm up before tackling the half-dozen or so stalls. We thought that there might be a bit of extra funfair in the bit where they sometimes have ice rinks or beaches.

Darn tootin’. Once we got past the very dull eateries that populate ‘Entertainment Avenue’, it all suddenly livened up. That particular area was the ‘white nuckle’ (sic) zone with some truly vomit-inducing-looking rides, as well as the usual teacups and merry go rounds.

But the main event was to come – in the area that’s normally totally empty, even further round – beyond where the museum is. The fair proper. And yes – it is tremendously tacky – but isn’t that what fairgrounds are supposed to be?

The rides are festive-themed, which helps it to not seem quite as ho-hum as the one you get up on Blackheath (Maybe that makes it Ho Ho Ho -Hum…)

As well as the usual Gluhwein stalls and stands selling fried stuff, baked stuff or sickly-sweet stuff (what does make German chips different from any other kind?) there were jolly Santa-themed rides, one of those glass mazes for children, an animal ride and a splendidly Christmassy-on-the-outside-tatty-on-the-inside ghost train which actually did, despite its tawdry props, get a decent two screams out of us (mainly because I’d forgotten my Amelie.)

Being a Sunday lunchtime, it was less atmospheric than it could have been. It was quiet – very quiet, considering how big the place is and how close it is to Christmas now. The rides would be best viewed by night – when I think it would come into its own.

Nevertheless, if you’ve got small people (or easily-pleased Phantoms) to entertain, there is more here than it looks like from the ‘snow-covered’ sheds outside (which are as dull as they look.) What’s interesting is that despite this being a decent-sized fair, it still doesn’t fill the vast empty space round the back of the Dome, which just goes to show how big it is.

A single ride is pricey – £4 for an adult – but at twenty quid for as many as you like (£17.50 for kids) you could probably spend a couple of hours tootling round the rides, drinking hot, sticky alcohol and munching pretzels…

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