The children’s classic Alice in Wonderland has always had a curious connection with Wales, a relationship which gets ever more entwined, thanks to the Alice Town Trails mobile app and two major movies.
May 2016 saw the release of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, a sequel to the 2010 blockbuster Alice in Wonderland. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway were part of the all-star cast, with Port Talbot’s own Michael Sheen returning as the White Rabbit, alongside comedian Paul Whitehouse (proudly Rhondda-born) as the March Hare.
Alice Liddell, the real Alice in Wonderland
But the Welsh connection runs much deeper – all the way back to 1861, when the eight year old Alice Pleasance Liddell (the real Alice in Wonderland) spent the first of many summer holidays in Llandudno. Her holiday home ‘Penmorfa’, was built on Llandudno’s West Shore. The Liddells were close family friends with Charles Dodgson, who wrote the books under his more famous pen-name, Lewis Carroll.
It’s long been speculated that Carroll visited the Liddells at the holiday home they built here, and was inspired by Alice and her adventures in Llandudno.
The historical record is actually rather sketchy on this point, but this didn’t stop former Prime Minister David Lloyd George unveiling an iconic White Rabbit statue in 1933, and Llandudno has made the most of its Alice connection ever since, with a series of Wonderland Town Trails and a veritable army of statues and carved figures.
They’re a wonderfully imaginative leap into the world of augmented reality, which fits in perfectly with the spirit of Carroll’s original fantasy novels, which propel Alice (and the reader) into fantastical new worlds. Moreover, they’re a great way to see the best of Llandudno, our most splendid Victorian resort.
The Alice Town Trails apps work on iOS and Android, and you can get them at the App Store and Google Play – see the Alice Town Trail website for more details.
The Alice trail…
From the Hearts Quarter of the town, you’ll pass the town hall and enter into Madoc Street. Near here, the famous White rabbit marble commemorative statue was created to commemorate Lewis Carroll’s centenary.
Towards the promenade you will pass the magnificent Mostyn Gallery, which is well worth of a visit. Just past the Gallery you’ll encounter a White Rabbit Wooden Sculpture complete with waistcoat and a pocket watch. Remember to bring your bucket and spade to the Spades Quarter adjacent to the wonderful promenade on Llandudno’s North Shore, a beautiful spot with views of the Great Orme.
Along the trail, you’ll encounter the longest pier in Wales, where you can admire the majestic line of hotels that have not changed since Victorian times. Look out for the St George’s Hotel. It is thought that Lewis Carroll wrote part of 'Alice in Wonderland' here. You can also see St Tudno Hotel, where Alice first stayed back in 1861.
Happy Valley is ideal to stop and daydream. It’s a surreal park with wonderful views and lots of Alice in Wonderland sculptures. You can even play a game of croquet! For a bird’s eye view, take the longest cable car in Britain. It will take you past the Alpine Ski and Toboggan Centre before reaching the summit of the Great Orme.
Eat Me! Drink Me!
If you’re peckish, the Clubs Quarter of the town, recognised for its many cafes, restaurants and bars, is worth a visit. Since we’re near the sea, you must try the award winning Fish Tram Chips (check out the Fish Tram Chips Facebook page for more info) and a local brew.
Follow the trail to the wonderful Haulfre Gardens where you will meet the troublesome Tweedles. Pause and listen to the sounds and take in the wonderful smells of these gardens, before heading along the old Custs path, part of the Great Orme Country Park.
Grin like a Cheshire cat
At the Diamond Quarter you can enjoy fantastic views of the Snowdonia range of mountains as well as the view Alice would have enjoyed from her bedroom window. You will most certainly have a grin on your face when you meet a larger than life Cheshire Cat sitting outside the Lilly Restaurant. In here, you can enjoy a pint of Mad Hatter's brew.
The White Rabbit trail really is worth a stroll and a ponder. It makes you wonder: if Alice hadn’t holidayed in the Queen of Welsh resorts, and if her adventures weren't shared with Lewis Carroll, would the books have been written at all? Curiouser and curiouser!