diamond geezer

 Monday, December 04, 2023

Now that December's here the festivity in London is palpable! And as Christmas grows closer our appetite for seasonal treats grows ever stronger. It can mean only one thing: winter is upon us and Christmas has officially arrived.

The great news is that even the suburbs are getting in on the Yuletide sparkle and what's more you can bring all your friends. Get glammed up, grab the bus to Bow and prepare to indulge in the ultimate fairytale moment.

This year's big ticket event is BustopMas, a full-on interactive experience based in and around the mythical bus shelter on the road to the east. Targeted at children of all ages this stunning installation is the quintessential day-out for young and old alike. Londoners literally couldn't be more excited.

BustopMas is a walk-through celebration of the icon that is Bus Stop M but with a festive slant. It's hard to imagine a better way to celebrate the season than by taking shelter in an actual shelter and creating memories to remember. Tickets for this epic event are sure to be snapped up like warm mince pies, so best grab yours soon.

London's newest multi-sensory world comprises multiple immersive zones and photo opportunities, all set within a compact roadside wonderland. The transformation is so unique you won't believe your eyes, and neither will your friends as you share the glitz and glitter on your socials.

Your visit to BustopMas begins as soon as you board the magic red bus, which has been festively numbered 25. Multiple pickup points are available across central London including St Paul's Cathedral and Mansion House. Watch London sparkle through the steamed-up windows as your steed jingles all the way up the Mile End Road, and don't forget to ring the sleighbell before you alight.

When the doors open at BustopMas you'll be amazed and enthralled by the sight that awaits you. It won't just be your jaw that drops, expect to give a little shiver as the chilled atmosphere penetrates your very soul and the reality of what you've paid for hits home.

Time your visit right and you'll be met as you alight by a mischievous elf. If not then wait awhile and one of Bow's trademark urchins will eventually arrive, wrapped warmly in a poundshop anorak, and offer the traditional grunt of welcome. Your BustopMas experience has begun.

The Winter Forest is your first interactive zone, a thicket of pine trees dusted with glittery particulates. Note that the Winter Forest will not be available throughout the full run of BustopMas and is most likely to be enjoyed in the first week of the new year after local residents have discarded their festive centrepieces for council pick-up.

Your next target is the Hall of Mirrors, an evocative semi-enclosed space resembling a Lapland chalet. Line up your camera with the multiplicity of windows and it's easy to capture all kinds of evocative selfies to share with friends not fortunate enough to be here. A truly snowy vibe is provided by the tiny patches of adhesive where multiple posters referencing the Holy Land have been scratched from the glazing.

BustopMas always looks better covered in snow, so keep an eye on the weather forecast and you too might get lucky. No refunds can be offered if the promised frosty glaze is not evident. Instead peruse the words of comfort and joy on the Glad Tidings Wall or perhaps try your luck on Santa's Bench, the thin red perch any 20 stone man is likely to slide straight off.

The highpoint of any visit is the Bubble Cave, a technicolour world of gleeful illusion. Watch as the balloons bump up against the inside of the shelter, wave your hand through the bobbing globes and feel your inner child bubble over. It's a dead cert Insta smash. Please note that the contents of the Bubble Cave were intact at the start of the season but some of the five balloons may since have bobbed away.

Your immersive BustopMas experience climaxes as you come face to face with The Stack of Sacks. Step across the frozen blue river, watching out for passing bikes, and make the final approach with awe and wonder in your heart. Hopefully one of the bulging black bags will contain the gift of your dreams and the pile's not just the result of Santa's gnomes throwing out their rubbish.

If you've brought party food now is the time to open your picnic basket and begin the feast. Canapes and pigs in blankets are just some of the treats available at the Tesco Extra a short bus ride away. Regrettably BustopMas does not have a licence to serve alcohol, but if you've brought a warming tipple in a flask you'll fit right in with the white-haired gentleman making merry from a can nearby.

Before it's finally time to go, be sure to press the blue button and you should see the top of the pole illuminated by a glowing star. This unforgettable vision depends on the contractors being able to stretch an extension cable from a nearby power point so may not be available on all visits. To depart simply wait for a double-decker number 8 and you could be back in civilisation within the hour.

Tickets for this outstanding immersive experience are available only from the exclusive BustopMas e-store. Name your date, pick your timeslot and be sure to pay your £35 before you've had time to stop and think about what you're doing. Please note that visiting at peak times, for example at weekends or in December, may cost double. Use the code STOPM1%OFF for a massive saving.

And don't knock this as shameless profiteering because multiple other festive enterprises are offering not much more for not much less. A hangar full of bubbles in Wembley, a bauble factory in Waterloo, a few lights around Kew Gardens - all that's important is how it looks on your phone and having giggles with your mates. You'll get memories that last forever and all we had to do was knock up a thematic walk-through for next to nothing, because some classic Christmas traditions never fade away.

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