Having lived only ten miles outside of Bournemouth for all twenty-two years of my life, and spent three years at the town’s terrific and continuously developing University you would think at some point I might’ve run out of things to do. Yet I am constantly surprised by what the town continues to offer year-after-year and Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year (sorry not sorry) to live in the South of England.

So when the question of how to spend a positively Baltic late November Saturday emerges, a trip to Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland seems to be a natural fit, even for a group of slightly hungover former students who are really rather desperate for some fresh air.

Parking in the Winter Gardens car park after a short trip from nearby New Milton, we can use the practical and easy to navigate PayByPhone app to quickly pay for a brief two hours parking stint. The ability to use the app to extend your parking time will prove to be an invaluable feature, as there is more than enough to entertain our small rabble for the course of the afternoon, evening… and into the night time hours!

Three ladies and a man standing underneath the Moscow tree at the beginning of the 2019 Christmas Tree Wonderland trail.

The 2019 trail begins on the seafront, where my decision to wrap myself up like a pig in a blanket proves to be wise, with the temperatures not so much biting as physically assaulting our extremities. Early doors the waterfall at Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf gives our bleary-eyed group the opportunity to marvel at a spectacular new element of the trail this season and be dazzled by the brilliant light displays. The luminous scarlet Vodaphone Gigafast Light Tree sits around half-way into the trail and its warm glow seems to warm our hearts a little, if not our hands and toes. Never trust young adults to dress appropriately in the Winter months… they don’t.

The Bournemouth Wonderland tree proves to be a favourite among our small group of phone-focussed adults, distracting us all from the intoxicatingly addictive world of Instagram where we are all enthusiastically sharing our hand-held photography efforts with the #LoveBournemouth. Music provided from Wave 105 can satisfy our eclectic tastes, and after gazing at the tree for a fair few minutes it is back on the trail towards the town centre and the alluring scent of the Alpine Bar.

Before we can enjoy the variety of food and delightful beverage options, the more energetic in our pack have spotted the SKATE ice-rink. Now personally I find myself about as confident and capable as a capybara when it comes to ice-based antics and look longingly at the sleighs that are available to guide younger visitors around the ice. Apparently being twenty-two and six-foot-two predicates against the usage of these aids, and I spend the next hour nervously laughing may around the ice. For £11.50 there aren’t many cheaper ways of having that Winter wonderland experience, excluding the price for new underwear of course!!!!!

Two ladies standing in front of a tree in the Bournemouth Alpine market at this years Christmas Tree Wonderland.

Mercifully for those less adept or comfortable with friction-free ground support, the Moguls bar is situated right next to the ice-rink. We are all exhausted after traversing the Christmas Tree trail and the bar offers welcome rest bite and a mouth-watering selection of food and drink options. The noshtastic ‘Nosh Boxes’ offer both vegan and vegetarian options, catering for our entire ravenous group with quick and friendly service. Personally, I cannot resist a meat-feast with a loaded hot-dog wrapped in bacon and grilled cheese leaving me literally salivating, much to the unbridled joy of my companions.

As the night draws in our group decides to complete the trail, resisting the urge to enter Santa’s Grotto at Beales and delight our inner twelve-year olds. I contemplate whether the fact I am actively asking for socks for Christmas nowadays means I have officially hit peak adulting, but then the sight of the Gingerbread People at the very conclusion of the trail reminds me I am still a desperately overgrown child at heart. Meandering past many tempting stalls back in the market, we return to the car and head home. Hangover: Cured. Christmas: Complete.

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