There’s nothing that us Londoners love more than Christmas! From the twinkling lights of Oxford Street to the smell of mulled wine in the air, it’s almost certainly the most magical time of year in the capital. And there’s no better place to enjoy some seasonal festivities than in London.
As the big day nears, the city comes alight with dazzling decorations and plenty of Christmas cheer. Traditional carol concerts and lively pantomimes can be found on every corner, plus the annual Great Christmas Pudding Race comes to Covent Garden on December 5. Elsewhere, seasonal ice rinks begin to appear and children excitedly await their visit to Santa’s Grotto.
You can pile on those Christmas pounds with traditional treats including mince pies and the very delicious Christmas pudding – it’s rich, fruity and often served flaming! And of course, there are also plenty of bustling Christmas markets to explore across the capital.
Whether you’re visiting for the holidays or just looking for some festive fun, here are 6 of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in London. With all of this on offer, you’ll be in the seasonal spirit in no time…
Head Down to Winter Wonderland
It just wouldn’t be Christmas in London without a visit to Winter Wonderland. Located in Hyde Park, this super popular winter event is packed with fun for all of the family. Just some of the attractions include ice sculptures at The Magical Ice Kingdom, Zippos Circus, the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, an exciting funfair and much, much more. Little ones will also love visiting the magical Santa Land, and there’s a traditional German Christmas market with over 200 chalets for grabbing those last-minute gifts.
What’s my favorite part? It has to be the Bavarian Village, where you’ll find huge steins of beer, bratwurst and free live music throughout the day. And better yet, entrance is free of charge to Winter Wonderland!
Hyde Park, London W2 2UH
+ 44 (0)300 061 2000
Open: November 20, 2015 – January 3, 2016 (except Christmas Day), 10 am to 10 pm
Enjoy a Christmas Show in the Capital
The holiday season also welcomes a selection of festive shows across the capital. And if you’re visiting London for the first time at Christmas, be sure to enjoy some festive cheer at a traditional pantomime. Just some of this year’s lively offerings include Cinderella at Lyric Hammersmith and Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Robin Hood, plus a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk at Hackney Empire – this one is not to be missed. Oh no, it isn’t!
You’ll also find the classic tale of A Christmas Carol starring Jim Broadbent at the Noël Coward Theatre and The Snowman, a family favorite which kids (and the young at heart) will love at The Peacock Theatre. Looking to laugh your socks off? Then be sure to book tickets to Elf the Musical at The Dominion Theatre.
Take to the Ice at One of London’s Rinks
Christmas is also the perfect time to get your skates on, as London hosts dozens of seasonal ice rinks. There are plenty to choose from, but some of the best can be found at Canary Wharf, Natural History Museum and Hampton Court Palace.
I highly recommend heading to Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason; it’s definitely one of the capital’s most spectacular ice rinks. And aside from the daily ice-skating sessions, you can also sip on champagne at Fortnum’s Lodge, pick up some gifts at The Christmas Arcade, or hit the ice for one of their lively club nights, featuring DJs from around the world.
Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason
Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
+44 (0)20 7845 4600
Open: November 18, 2015 – January 1, 2016, ice rink session times vary throughout season
Plan a Visit to Father Christmas
Visiting Santa and his merry elves is another huge tradition in the run up to Christmas. This year, you’ll find one of the quirkier experiences at the DreamPlace Grotto in Westfield London. An immersive and personalized adventure, visitors will enjoy an array of interactive games and a magical 4D virtual sleigh ride to the North Pole before meeting Father Christmas. But that’s not all; every child will also get to take home a very special gift. Tickets are priced from £8 per person, and to avoid disappointment, be sure to book in advance.
DreamWorks DreamPlace at Westfield London (also available at Westfield Stratford City)
Ariel Way, Shepherd’s Bush, London, W12 7GF
+44 (0)207 061 1400
Open: November 14 – December 24, 2015; times dependent on session booked
Wrap up Warm for London’s Christmas Markets
It’s that time of year when Christmas markets begin to pop up throughout the capital, and there are plenty of festive treats on offer at Winter at Southbank Centre with NatWest. Next to the riverbank, you’ll find a lovely little market of traditional wooden chalets offering food, drinks, handmade crafts and one-of-a kind gifts. If you fancy a warmer alternative to ice skating, there’s also a roller disco under Hungerford Bridge. And once you’ve shopped ‘til you dropped, head to the cozy Scandinavian-themed Rekorderlig Cider Lodge and enjoy a mulled cider or two…
Like the sound of that? Then you’ll also enjoy the More London Christmas Market, Christmas at the TATE Modern, and St Katharine’s Docks annual Christmas Market, plus foodies will love the BBC Good Food Festive Fayre at Hampton Court Palace.
Winter at Southbank Centre with NatWest
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
+44 (0)20 7960 4200
Open: October 27, 2015 – January 17, 2016
Sing along to Traditional Christmas Carols
The Royal Albert Hall also has a bumper line-up of entertainment on offer with Raymond Gubbay’s Christmas Festival. Visitors can experience Carols by Candlelight, sing-along to their favorite seasonal hits at Jingle Bell Christmas, and enjoy a gala of much-loved carols at Christmas Classics, plus many more concerts throughout the month of December.
From December 8 through 23, 2015, you’ll also find daily performances from over 50 carol groups beneath the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square. Plus, there will be more traditional Christmas services at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in the run up to Christmas.
Royal Albert Hall
Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP
+44 (0)20 7589 8212
Open: Times vary, dependent on concert
So what’s stopping you? Start planning your festive visit to London today and as always, remember to let us know your favorite activities. I ho-ho-hope you have a fantastic Christmas and a very happy New Year!