Christmas time in London is magical. The twinkling lights on the shopping streets, the parks and commons bedecked with decorations and lots of activities all across the city means that no matter what you like most about the season there will be something for you to enjoy.
We have 7 of the best Christmas events in London that you really mustn’t miss. These sum up the best of all things festive in the capital and will leave you with a large dose of Christmas spirit to take away with you at the end of your trip.
1. The Christmas Lights
The big announcement has yet to be made about which celebrity or pop star will be switching on the lights this year, but even if you miss the flick of the switch it’s still worth going down Oxford Street to see some of the best lights in the UK.
If you want to see something a little different to the usual ostentatious display in the heart of the city, take a trip out to Canary Wharf where there’s an exhibition of lights by Dutch artist Roumbout Frieling in the middle dock. His fluttering lights are arranged in the shape of sails and will be on from the 16th December to the 25th January.
2. Take in a show
Going to the panto is such a quintessentially British thing to do at Christmas and the shows in London are some of the best you will find in the country. The biggest name you’ll see on the London pantomime stage this year is likely to be Henry Winkler, of Happy Days and Arrested Development Fame, who will be playing nasty Captain Hook in Richmond Theatre’s Peter Pan.
Of course, Christmas is the season for ballet so if you fancy something a bit more refined you could take in one of the many ballets around the city. If you still want to take the kids with you, try The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre, or maybe the English National Ballet’s traditional Nutcracker at the London Coliseum from 11 December.
3. Christmas shopping spree
Christmas and shopping go together like tinsel and turkey, so make sure you take the opportunity to get some gifts in one of the city’s Christmas markets.
One of the best of these is at Kew Gardens in Richmond. With plenty of foodie treats, live seasonal music and gifts galore, you can also enjoy a festive sleigh ride while you’re there!
4. Santa’s grotto
If there’s a little one in your party, you’ll want to take them to see Santa while you’re in town to make it a really memorable experience. Hamley’s Santa is one of the most popular in London, but if you want to combine it with a lovely outdoor experience you can visit Santaland in Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. And Hyde Park’s Santa is free to visit too!
5. Ice skating
A number of ice rinks have sprung up around London through the winter but few more picturesque than the almost 1km-square rink at Hampton Court Palace. With lessons on offer and supervised skating, you can enjoy the setting and a 45 minute skate with the family.
6. Carol concerts
One way to really get the warm glow of Christmas is to enjoy one of the carol concerts in spectacular surroundings in London. There are concerts all over the city including at the Royal Albert Hall on the 17th December and even the traditional carol service on Christmas Eve at St Paul’s Cathedral. Keep your eye on the press when you visit to catch one near you.
7. Christmas pudding
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a pudding, so on 7th December get yourself to Covent Garden to witness 150 contestants take on the 33rd Annual Great Christmas Pudding Race. Watch the madcap antics of participants in fancy dress tackle an obstacle course while trying to balance a pudding on a flimsy paper plate and raise money for Cancer Research into the bargain. Covent Garden is a great place to be in the festive season and the Race makes it even more fun.
There’s never any shortage of things to do in London at any time, but there is always lots of festive cheer to be had at Christmas time in the city.