Christmas is such a magical time, full of cheer, festivities and sparkle. I often enjoy the run up to Christmas more than the day itself – there is always so many fun things to do to add a bit of magic to your day!
Over the last couple of years we’ve tried to visit some different countries around the festive period to experience new traditions. It’s often easy to forget the wonderful things that are available on your very own doorstep. London certainly is an incredible city and at Christmas time it becomes that little bit more special.
We’ve pulled together a list of our favourite things to do to celebrate Christmas in London around the festive period. Read on to find out how you can add that special Christmas magic to your trip.
1. Christmas Markets
There is nothing better than a hot cup of mulled wine or cocoa whilst you peruse the German Christmas market stalls. Markets can be found at South Bank or at Winter Wonderland with twinkling wooden huts selling all sorts of potential gifts including jewelry, winter clothing, candles and Christmas decorations of course.
My favourite thing about Christmas markets is the food! Stalls selling freshly made hot churros doused in chocolate sauce, melted cheese poured generously over baked new potatoes, freshly grilled bratwurst served with fried onions and lashings of ketchup and mustard. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
2. Festive Cinema
This has become more popular in recent years with Back Yard Cinema and Neighbourhood Cinema both having their own festive interpretations. This is cinema with a twist – step into a whole new world, travelling through winding enchanted tunnels until you reach the wintry paradise. Snuggle up under a blanket, enjoying a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie as you watch a festive favourite.
The tickets tend to sell out quickly so another one to get scheduled in early if you’re keen to give it a try. We went to Back Yard Cinema last year to watch one of our Christmas favourites, Elf. A perfect way to enjoy a Christmas movie and get into the festive spirit.
3. Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland is definitely a must for your Christmas visit. It’s busy with long queues to get in but the entry is free so it’s worth the wait. It has everything you could possibly want: a German Christmas market, German bars, live performers, fairground rides, outdoor ice-skating and Christmas shows! A perfect way to spend any winter’s day although it is all outdoors so make sure you’re wrapped up warm.
It’s good to note that if you want to enjoy the ice-skating, the Magical Ice Kingdom, the circus or any of the shows that are on, you will need to purchase a ticket in advance. Once you’ve got your ticket you can join the fast track entry queue and zip straight past everyone waiting for the general entry. In previous years we’ve been to the Magical Ice Kingdom and to see The Nutcracker on Ice – both were absolutely brilliant and the perfect way to get into the festive mood!!
4. Ice Skating
Neither of us are particularly good at ice-skating so we tend to spend the whole hour desperately clinging to the side for dear life as we edge our way around the rink. I’m always in awe of the people who make it look so effortless as they slip and slide their way across the ice.
Outdoor ice rinks pop up everywhere during the festive season: Somerset House, the Natural History Museum, Winter Wonderland, Canary Wharf, Hampton Court and that’s not even all of them! Another one where you’ll need to wrap up warm but there really is no better way to get into the Christmas season than ice-skating round a Christmas tree in the shadows of one of London’s most iconic and beautiful buildings.
5. Christmas Lights
London definitely goes all out on the Christmas lights. They are big and beautiful and can be found everywhere: Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street and Covent Garden to name just a few. Ginormous Christmas trees also go up all over the capital: London Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden again are a few examples. It really is one of my favourite things to do around the festive period, walking around the busy bustling streets of Central London looking up at the wonderful lights.
Besides for the street lights, light displays are put on at Syon Park, Chiswick Park and Kew Gardens. As the sun starts to set, they turn into magical winter wonderlands full of twinkling lights and festive cheer. Wrap up warm, grab a hot drink and take a stroll around, definitely not one to be missed. These events are ticketed and can sell out quite quickly so I suggest you get in there early if you’d like to experience the magic.
6. Christmas Carols
Christmas concerts are an absolute must for those cold wintry nights. From free concerts in a local church to more extravagant affairs at the Royal Albert Hall or O2 Arena, you are sure to find something that will be up your street. Top picks are the Christmas Festival at the Royal Albert Hall, G4 Christmas by Candlelight at St James’s Church, Christmas Carols at St Martin-in-the-Fields and Christmas at Westminster Abbey. Pick a top location and enjoy an iconic London venue whilst singing to your heart’s content.
We hope we’ve given you some ideas for how to celebrate Christmas in London! What is your favourite thing to do to get you into the festive spirit? Let us know your Christmas traditions in the comments below!
The Rambling Travellers