Winter Wonderland

‘Winter Wonderland’ is a winter song, popularly treated as a Christmastime pop standard, written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). Smith was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. Smith had written the lyrics while in the West Mountain Sanitarium, being treated for tuberculosis. The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher. This excellent “studio” orchestra included many great New York studio musicians including the legendary Artie Shaw. The biggest chart hit at the time of introduction was Guy Lombardo’s orchestra, a top ten hit.

Due to its seasonal theme, ‘Winter Wonderland’ is often regarded as a Christmas song in the Northern Hemisphere, although the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. There is a mention of “sleigh-bells” several times, implying that this song refers to the Christmas period. In the Swedish language lyrics, ‘Vår Vackra Vita Vintervärld’, the word tomtar is mentioned, meaning ‘elves’.

Kim Wilde sang the song live together with Status Quo and Roy Wood during the Quofestive Tour in 2011. Backstage, she recorded a video of ‘Winter Wonderland’ together with Scarlett Wilde as one of a dozen Christmas songs Scarlett was singing on YouTube during that month. In 2013, Kim recorded a version of ‘Winter Wonderland’ with Rick Astley for her album Wilde Winter Songbook.

Live performances

‘Winter Wonderland’ was performed live during the Quofestive Tour in 2011 and during Christmas gigs in December 2013.

Kim about Winter Wonderland

Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith wrote ‘Winter Wonderland’ in 1934, since when over 150 artistes have covered this song; so I was determined to try to bring something new to the table for this much loved Christmas classic. I asked Rick Astley to join me singing the main melody, while I take the 3rd harmony above throughout the song until right at the end. Having sung with Rick live on a few occasions before and loving every moment of it, I was over the moon when he accepted my invitation to come down to RAK recording studio to duet with me. ‘Winter Wonderland’ is a hopelessly romantic and quintessential Christmas song, and one I’ve especially loved since singing it live with ‘Status Quo’ on ‘QuoFestive 2011.’ I think Rick Astley’s and my voice go perfectly together; like a hot cup of tea and a digestive biscuit! (1)

Credits (2013 version)

Vocals: Kim Wilde & Rick Astley
Piano and keys: Steve Power
Guitars: Neil Jones
Drums & percussion: Jonathan Atkinson
Bass, keys & additional vocals: Ricky Wilde
Backing vocals: Scarlett Wilde
Produced by Ricky Wilde
Recorded at RAK Studios, London
Mixed by Ricky Wilde & Sean Vincent at RAK Studios, London
Engineered by Sean Vincent, assisted by Robbie Nelson & Helen Atkinson

Interview source

(1) Track by track, website (UK), 11 November 2013


Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight,
Walking in a winter wonderland

Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman
And pretend that he is Parson Brown,
He’ll say, “are you married?”, we’ll say “no man,
but you can do the job when you’re in town.”

Later on we’ll conspire,
As we dream by the fire,
To face unafraid,
the plans that we made,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build snowman
And pretend that he’s a circus clown
We’ll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman
Until the other kids go knock him down

When it snows, ain’t it thrilling,
though your nose gets a chilling
We’ll frolic and play the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland
We’ll frolic and play the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland