Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (HPWW) is London’s most celebrated Christmas fair, bringing the entire city together to enjoy rides, food and attractions. Working to bring more to visitors than ever before, IMG’s ongoing collaboration projects with world-leading brands are bringing licensing to the forefront this Christmas.
License Global: How is HPWW changing, and how has IMG helped that with licensed collaborations?
Griffiths: “By its very nature as a temporary event, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland changes each year! We’re always looking for new content ideas to keep it fresh and exciting. Being part of IMG allows us to reach a global scope of contacts and resources. For example, an agent from WME (which sits alongside IMG in the Endeavor network) reached out to say they had a new client, Elf on the Shelf. We were introduced to the founders, and we now have a fantastic partnership with the brand, which this year entails a retail activation within our shop and a partnership with Tesco and Kellogg’s cereal. We also hosted our second annual ‘Elf on the Shelf Day’ last Sunday, with characters and social media photo competitions. At IMG, we’re also lucky to work alongside the world’s top licensing agents, and as a result, we’re proud to have their client Kakao Friends open its first European pop-up shop in our Santa Land this year.”
What new trends do you see from the event, and how will that help future editions of Winter Wonderland?
“Carnival games with great quality plush prizes are becoming increasingly popular, so there’s potential in the future for games with dedicated IP or brand collaborations to be formed in this space. Visitors are also loving our IP-driven attractions because they are the stories that people know and love, and we’re showing them in a different way – whether that be through attractions, retail or shows. There’s an increasing appetite for high-quality, fun, grab-and-go type food. And this year, due to popular demand, we have introduced a bookable, sit-down restaurant called Cedar + Spruce Bar & Kitchen with Chef Ani Arora, serving a full turkey Christmas dinner for the first time.”
Why are this year’s licensed projects some of the most exciting so far?
“The Magical Ice Kingdom is one of the best projects we’ve done so far in terms of telling the narrative of a story that visitors know so well but showcasing it in a way they’ve never seen before – in ice and snow sculptures! It’s had a great response both critically and from our visitors.
Additionally, we’ve introduced a great retail partner in My First Years. The brand has sponsored a retail activation in Santa Land with a ball-pit where they are selling top-quality children’s bathrobes personalized with your child’s name and offering an option of delivering them to visitors’ hotels. We’re also delighted to have Sky sponsoring our ice rink (which is the U.K.’s biggest outdoor ice rink) and O2 Priority sponsoring the Fast Track pass for The Giant Wheel (which is Europe’s largest transportable wheel.)”
How are events like Winter Wonderland a fantastic platform for licensing?
“Hyde Park Winter Wonderland exudes fun, joy and Christmas spirit. It welcomes millions of people each year, and we have a hugely diverse demographic of cultures, backgrounds and ages, from babies to grandparents and everyone in between! Our offering reflects that with a great mix of nostalgic delights and modern innovation.”
How is this a future platform for other categories, such as retail and technology?
“We are already expanding into the retail space with brands like Elf on the Shelf, My First Years and Kakao Friends, and would like to explore more opportunities there. We’ve also been expanding our technology partnerships and offering over the years, including a ride pass and contactless payment throughout the site, and using the ‘What Three Words’ app to help people locate our different gates. Last year, we introduced our first-ever VR experience.”
From ice sculptures of Dickens’ famed characters to Kakao Friends retail pop-ups and Paddington on Ice live shows, the way visitors experience Christmas at Hyde Park’s annual festive mainstay is changing, all thanks to the ongoing efforts of IMG and the creative license that brand extensions naturally curate.