Efteling’s Winter season kicks off for the 20th time on November 12, adding an extra layer of enchantment to the Dutch theme park for 11 weeks.

Right through until January 31, the park in Kaatsheuvel will be transformed into a winter wonderland of twinkling lights, bonfires and snow-covered pine trees.

Winter Efteling was first introduced in 1999. The celebration was launched following research that showed consumers were looking for alternative holiday options with different activities during the festive season. At the time it was the first theme park in the Netherlands, and one of the first in Europe, to remain open during the winter months. It is now firmly cemented as one of Efteling’s most popular times of the year.

Initially, the park made some of its indoor rides available as part of Winter Efteling, adding indoor, heated catering facilities, ambient lighting and winter decorations. The season has evolved to offer a wide range of special winter attractions such as an ice skating, tubing and cross-country skiing, while the whole park is cloaked in a wintry atmosphere.  Now all of Efteling’s attractions, aside from water rides, are open as usual during the festive season.

Highlights at the 20th Winter Efteling include:

• Winter stories at the Sprookjesbos. Efteling’s Fairytale Forest, covering around a quarter of the whole Efteling park, brings fairytales to life with attractions, sculptures, and interactive scenes depicting well-known stories, such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. During Winter Efteling, the forest becomes even more magical and enchanting as the temperature drops and snow falls. In the heart of the forest, the Fairytale Tree, which comes to life as children approach him, gives a special winter performance.

• Efteling’s new international show – CARO. Those visiting during the colder months will love escaping the chilly weather with an evening at Efteling’s new international show at the Efteling Theatre. Directed by famous Dutch actor and director Stanley Burleson, CARO was created for an international audience with very little language. Inspired by Efteling’s 100 year-old steam carrousel – CARO features stunning visuals, dancers, music and acrobats, as well as special interactive guest roles for children.

• Special winter entertainment. As dusk falls, the façade of Villa Volta – Efteling’s indoor ‘madhouse’– is illuminated with an impressive 3D projection that brings the building to life with the story of Hugo the Buckrider from the eighteenth century. The Aquanura water show, Efteling’s spectacular show featuring 200 fountains and fire, is also particularly impressive against the dark winter sky. Children and adults alike will also love taking in the Park show Raveleijn in which horses and ravens play a leading role.

• Cross country skiing. Exclusively for Winter Efteling, guests can enjoy 400 metres of cross-country skiing at the cross-country ski track, which weaves around a beautiful Dutch landscape, complete with windmills and granaries.

• Ice skating at the Ijspaleis. At Winter Efteling’s indoor ice rink, visitors can now skate on a frozen pond at the palace of the Snow Princess and Fire Prince in the heart of the park and children that don’t want to brave the ice can slide down a slope on inflatable tyres.  The Snow Princess and Fire Prince make daily musical appearances to encourage singing and dancing on the illuminated dance floor in the IJspaleis Guests will also be able to enjoy a range of musical acts, including a children’s choir, taking place around the Efteling bonfires.

• New Year’s Eve celebrations. From 7pm on New Year’s Eve, there will be live performances in various squares around the park, marking an enchanting end to 2018. The Efteling attractions will remain open until midnight, after which the New Year will be celebrated with fireworks and bubbles. Special tickets are available for New Year’s Eve, priced at €40, which includes a glass of bubbles, typical Dutch doughnuts and admission from 7pm to 1am.

• Enchanting overnight stays. Those who want to immerse themselves in the park experience for two or more days can stay in the on-site Efteling hotels or themed holiday homes/apartments.