From outdoor ice skating to Christmas markets, there’s no place like London this Christmas. We got together with some top bloggers to come up with the ultimate guide to spending the festive period in the capital…
London may be home to the Queen, Big Ben and Wimbledon to name but a few, but the UK’s capital truly lights up in the month of December. The festive period sees the city landscape transformed by Christmas lights, markets, outdoor ice rinks and carol singers as the spirit of Christmas engulfs the city. Discover why there’s no place like London this Christmas with our festive recommendations:
Every Christmas, Hyde Park transforms into a spectacular Winter Wonderland, which is sure to fill even the most stubborn Grinch with festive spirit. Explore the hand carved ice sculptures in The Magical Ice Kingdom, before stepping into the magical Santa Land to meet the man himself in his grotto. Afterwards, head back outside and glide around the UK’s largest ice rink, before taking in the magnificent city views from the 60 metre tall Giant Observation Wheel.
Paula Holmes, from the P-Ho Diaries, is a fan:
“I love to spend Christmas in London as it has such a great spirit during the Christmas months. Oxford Street is buzzing with shoppers and it’s fantastic to see all the lights switched on! The Christmas markets on the Southbank are perfect for gifts. To warm up, brave the queues for Churros and chocolate. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a must and will have you in the Christmas spirit with mulled wine, ice-rinks and more.”
The Southbank Centre Christmas Market
The Southbank Centre Christmas Market is one of several traditional markets spread across the city and made up of 80 German-style wooden chalets selling beautiful hand crafted artefacts, making it an ideal place to pick up a gift or two. Of course, no self-respecting Christmas market comes without generous helpings of traditional German bratwurst and mulled wine — perfect for re-fuelling while getting into the spirit of things.
The iconic Trafalgar Square marks the start of the London festivities with the lighting of its famous Christmas Tree on 5December. Every year since 1947, the tree has been delivered from Norway as a gesture of their appreciation for Britain’s support during the Second World War. Carol singers perform under the lights every evening in December, just yards from The Thistle Trafalgar Square Hotel.
Fiona Maclean from London Unattached is particularly fond of the tradition:
“My favourite city for Christmas is London. Of course it’s an obvious choice, but it’s a magical place at Christmas. Shopping favourites include Liberty of London and of course Hamleys. And, the blessing of the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square is a very special occasion and I’ve been honoured to actually take part in (singing with the Choir of St Martin in the Fields). I love ballet and The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House is always fabulous. And for a little relaxation, mulled wine and skating at Somerset House is the perfect way to pretend I’m getting some exercise.”
Outdoor ice rinks are a key feature of London’s Christmas. In addition to the huge rink at Winter Wonderland, there’s the chance to glide around outside some of the city’s most famous landmarks. The courtyard of Somerset House, complete with its 40-foot Christmas tree, transforms into an outdoor rink. Pay a visit during the evening to fully capture the atmosphere under the lights.
Elsewhere, the rink outside the Natural History Museum is not to be missed. Spectacular light features on and around the building make for an unrivalled setting, complete with music and market stalls.
Shopping in London is never dull, let alone at Christmas. From the bustling Oxford Street to the Christmas market stalls, there’s no shortage of options, be it for gifts or some personal retail therapy. The city’s iconic department store, Harrods, is a must visit at this time of year as it transforms into a glitzy Christmas World , covering 2,000 square feet.
London’s Christmas shopping is an integral part of the city’s festive celebration and helps create that special atmosphere, which is much loved by Helen Newman from Live Life Love Cake:
“I love to spend Christmas in London as it offers the largest choice of festive activities without the usual rush hour traffic, as busy office workers depart for the holidays. In London I can indulge at some of the world’s best restaurants, take beautiful winter walks past iconic landmarks, shop like never before and even find the time to unwind at the many hotels and spas.”
What’s your favourite part of London’s Christmas?