Do you like the thought of enjoying thousands of twinkling lights and winter treats, all set amidst the scenic backdrop of bonfires and snowy pines? Maybe having a spin on an ice rink or sliding down a snowy slope also appeals?
If so, the good news is that you don’t have to head for the Swiss Alps for such delights… they are right here on your doorstep.
All this and much more besides is available just over the Belgian-Dutch border at the famous Efteling theme park where it is not an exaggeration to say that “even the coldest days of the year feel like the warmest.”
Until 31 January, the park, located in the south of Holland, will remain transformed into a winter world of twinkling lights, bonfires and snow-covered pine trees for its annual “Winter Efteling.”
One of the special winter attractions available this January is cross-country ski-ing which takes place along a 450 metre track around a beautiful Dutch landscape, complete with windmills and granaries. Skis and poles are available free of charge at the entrance to the track.
Until the end of the month, the theme park, which is also open all year round, will offer a whole range of other great special winter attractions such as the IJspaleis indoor ice rink while its “Fairytale Forest”, another winter special, is currently cloaked in a wintry atmosphere.
All of the park’s attractions will be open as usual during Winter Efteling, aside from the water rides, meaning that winter visitors can enjoy the fun, magic and thrills it has to offer year round with an additional winter wonderland touch.
The indoor ice rink, for instance, allows visitors to skate on a frozen pond at the palace of the Snow Princess and Fire Prince in the heart of the park. Children who don’t want to brave the ice can ‘bounce’ on the towers of the castle, or slide down a slope on inflatable tyres.
The Snow Princess and Fire Prince will make daily musical appearances to encourage singing and dancing on the ice rink. Meanwhile, the Fairytale Forest, covering around a quarter of the whole,massive Efteling park, brings fairytales to life with attractions, sculptures and interactive scenes depicting well-known stories, such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
During winter the forest becomes even more magical and enchanting and, in the heart of it all, the Fairytale Tree, comes to life as children approach and gives a special winter performance.
As dusk falls, the forest is illuminated with an impressive light show on the façade of Villa Volta – Efteling’s indoor ‘madhouse’ that rotates to give a dizzy experience. The 3D projection brings the building to life with the story of Hugo the Buckrider from the 18th century.
Elsewhere in the park, the Aquanura water show is also particularly impressive in the dark with its 200 fountains, music, fire and light displays.
Efteling is, today, one of Europe’s leading – and biggest – theme parks and is noted for its family and multi-generational appeal but it actually started back in the 1950s as a sports park. The theme park celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2017 and has recently seen the opening of its third accommodation offering: holiday village Efteling Loonsche Land, and its newest and largest attraction – Symbolica: Palace of Fantasy. Attracting more than 130 million visitors since its opening in 1952, Efteling aims to become a truly international destination with five million visitors per year by 2020 through a programme of phased growth.
This splendid park – which comfortably beats anything available in Belgium – is very easily accessible (by car or train) from Brussels and other parts of Belgium and makes for a great way to see in the New Year.
Good to know:
- For those looking for a short stay or just a great day out, the good news is that Winter Efteling runs until the end of the month, from 11am to 6pm on weekdays and from 11am to 7pm at weekends.
- Until 7 January, the gates will remain open ‘til 8pm.