Magical season is approaching. A wintery, festive and fairy-lit time that transforms cities like London in giant wonderlands. Oxford Street lights, the ice rink in front of Natural History Museum and Somerset House, wonderful markets scattered around the city… All that, and much more, can be found in London during Christmas time. Just add a spiced smell of mulled wine or cider, hot Belgian chocolate and an unforgettable atmosphere. If you’re planning a trip to the UK during the most wonderful time of the year, here’s all you need to know about Christmas in London.
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
If you really want to embrace the true Christmas spirit, head to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. Since its opening on November 18th, the park is open every day from 10am until 10pm.
You don’t need any tickets to enter, but get one to enjoy some attractions.
Skate around the beautiful ice rink, experience the Ice Kingdom, full of ice sculptures, or the Bar Ice, with its ice tables and walls; or maybe observe an evening show of Cirque Beserk, and enjoy an adventure up in the sky on the gigantic Observation Wheel.
The Nutcracker on Ice is not a common way to enjoy the well-known Russian ballet; if you book a ticket you get to watch professional ice skaters performing it in Winter Wonderland.
Santa Land is for those who want to meet Santa and his elvish helpers. No age restrictions here, you might as well go on your own or bring your little ones. Do not hesitate: Santa is really busy this time of the year, and only stays until 6pm.
Outside of the attractions, the festival itself is surely enjoyable. You might just want to wander around, tasting German goods like mulled wine or the notable sausages at the Bavarian Christmas Market. The market features more than 200 stalls, so you will have a lot to explore.
Decorations and jewelry at Fairies and Angels Market might help you with Christmas presents, as they offer enough to make you feel inspired.
Alternatively, a little something from these markets can please almost anyone.
Christmas Markets: Leicester Square, Southbank Centre, Tate Modern
Leicester Square market is located between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus station. It’s free to enter, with charming little chalets that offer a wide range of Christmassy treats. However, it’s worth booking a ticket, in case you would want to step inside the vintage Spiegeltent, which offers a rich programme of vintage shows. Old classics or cabaret performances, brought to you by The English Gents, Hamish McCann, Ursula Martinez or Denis Lock.
Southbank Centre market is perfect in the evening, as you get to admire the lights of the London Eye and enjoy the ambience of the market a lot more. Bundle up properly or get enough mulled Ciders in a pop-up Rekorderlig Cider Lounge to keep you warm, since the market is situated right next to the river and it tends to get cold and windy. Get a bite of something tasty, from Indian street food, with outstanding omelettes and chips, to burgers and Swedish treats. Bump Roller Disco is there to get you moving to the tunes of dance music with family and friends.
Tate Modern market settled down in front of the popular gallery, not far from Southbank Centre. The atmosphere here is unforgettable, due to the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral on the other side of river Thames, and Millennium Bridge and London Bridge close by. Regular, yet quintessential Christmas bites and drinks are accompanied by handcrafted decorations, toys, unique trinkets and even a symbolic carousel.
Kew Gardens are worth seeing whether it’s summer or winter. For the fourth year in a row, Christmas at Kew welcomed the winter season with its winter trail. Who wouldn’t want to get lost in a place full of lights, colours, surrounded by nature? Whether it’s their Tunnel of Light, with more than 60,000 lamps, or the scented Fire Garden, the Royal Botanical Gardens create a memorable experience and set you in the right mood just in time for Christmas.
This place helps you to escape London’s busyness and a fast paced lifestyle for a while, guaranteeing tranquility and stunning flora and fauna.
Ice-skating simply belongs to the winter season. That’s why Natural History Museum, Somerset House, Hampton Court Palace and Canary Wharf construct spacious ice rinks every year. Choices are many: do you want to skate with the historic, majestic Museum in the background? Would you rather admire the momentous courtyard of Somerset House? Or would you just go with the front of Henry VIII’s house?
Christmas street lights
Carnaby Street features great restaurants, shops and bars. Check out their lights on your way home after work and take in the feeling. This year’s lights were inspired by the V&A exhibition You say you want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970. Definitely worth going to if you’re a fan of the culture and lifestyle in 60’s and early 70’s.
The Strand’s Christmas lights altogether compile cute and festive scenery, ideal for a late night walk through the Northbank.
Regent and Oxford Street, both equally known for their amazing shops, switched on their sparkly lights last November. Choose a less busy day to visit, preferably during the week. Take a moment to scan through seasonal window displays, look up to see the lights and, if you feel like it, pop into a shop or two.
That’s all you need to know about Christmas in London. Choose wisely and take it all in. The lovely atmosphere floating in the air, the smell of fresh mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. Be ready for Christmas, as it really is the most wonderful time of the year.