The time of the year when London feels most welcoming and beautiful is coming: Christmas!
In fact, I do not like to spend Christmas Day itself here. I miss my family, and I’m sad to be so far away on such a special date. But the period before it, I love it!
London is getting more decorated each year, and I always like taking a whole day to go to Christmas fairs, stroll around the decorated streets and feel the Christmas spirit.
Thinking about that, I’ve made a list of a few things you can do and see at this joyful time of the year. Enjoy!
Nothing like strolling around a street market, seeing (and buying) Christmas ornaments, drinking a mulled wine and eating some delicious street food at these fairs. These fairs usually run from early November until early January.
Some of the most famous in the city are:
Winter Wonderland, located in Hyde Park, is the largest of all, with over 100 craft shops, bars, food hall, etc. It has an amusement park and an area called “Bavarian Village”, with the best of the German music and traditions. A little Oktoberfest on British soil. More info here: https://hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
Southbank Winter Festival is right next to the London Eye, and besides having a beautiful setting, they make a fair with bars and plenty of delicious food.
Christmas in Leicester Square, right in the town centre, the square also has a fair with little shops and several Bavarian-style wooden stalls.
Christmas by the River, right in front of City Hall and next to Tower Bridge heading to London Bridge, the fair is in one of London’s most beautiful spots. Be sure to visit the Hays Galleria, which also has tents and it is all beautifully decorated.
Kingston Christmas Market is located in Kingston-upon-Thames, where you will once again find log cabins serving drinks and street food, a live music stage, a marshmallow bonfire and a vintage children’s carousel.
Chelsea Physic Garden Fair has over 100 stands selling gifts and products from British suppliers, they also have classes to learn how to pack gifts. But unlike the others, you need to pay £6 to get in.
In the City of London, next to St Pauls Cathedral, Guildhall, etc., there are also some German-style cabins selling food and drinks. There is also Winterville in Clapham Common and for the first time, this year Trafalgar Square is having a market as well.
Walking around London during the Christmas festivities, despite the cold, is a delight. As I said, each year, the streets are more ornate with Christmas decorations.
Regent Street is one of the most famous. Formerly, each year, they made a theme of a movie released that year. However, in the last 2 years, they have placed on beautiful angel lighting. This year (2019), the angels return, and you will have the opportunity to marvel at it.
Bond Street is the street of the famous designer shops, and each shop window is decorated in a chic and beautiful way, and the street lighting itself is gorgeous.
Carnaby Street is hidden between Regent and Oxford St. and each year offers a different theme. Two years ago it was Carnival, last year was about Bohemian Rhapsody and so on.
Oxford Street is all lit up, along with some storefronts like Debenhams, Selfridge, etc.
Covent Garden is not a street but a marketplace with a fair market that is charming all year round, but at Christmas, it gets even more special.
Seven Dials, located near Covent Garden, the 7 streets meets at a square, and all are lit up. Truly beautiful.
Other places also have unique decor, such as Trafalgar Square, The Royal Exchange at Bank, Marylebone Village, Leadenhall Market, King’s Road and Sloane Square in Chelsea, etc.
I love buying Christmas ornaments. If my house had more storage space, I would surely have many more of it. But still, I always end up buying a little bauble here, a little garland there, and every place I go, even out of season, I ended up buying something for Xmas.
Anyway, here in London several stores make an entire section for Christmas.
Christmas Magic Store is the one I like the most because they have a lot of different and quality stuff. They are located at Bluewater Shopping Centre and Lakeside (but I prefer the one at Bluewater), both just outside London.
Selfridges, on Oxford Street, is jaw-dropping. Lots of variety but a little higher price.
Liberty, near Regent and Oxford Street, make every year on the top floor an entire Christmas section and it’s quite remarkable.
Homesense is part of the outlet TK Maxx but only for home utilities, furnitures and house decor. At Xmas time, they have a whole section of beautiful ornaments and it is one of the best, as the price and quality are good.
Famous department stores such as Harrods, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams also have beautiful ornaments with varying prices.
The supermarkets also sell a lot of Christmas stuff, though the quality is not the best.
If you have never ice-skating, this is the opportunity. London has a lot of rinks around the city, but honestly, I think they are overcrowded, and it’s hard to skate because the rink is not smooth.
Here I made a list of places that installed ice skating rink (usually between November and January).
Natural History Museum
Tower of London
Hampton Court Palace
But, there are also permanent ones all year round, which are at Alexandra Palace, Lee Valley and Streatham.
Kew Garden has a lighting festival every year, and it’s impressive. Tickets are sold well in advance and usually sell out fast. It’s so worth it, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done around this time of Christmas here in London.
If you can, try to visit these places during week days, specially Winter Wonderland, because on the weekend it is almost impossible to walk as there are way too many people.
As you can see, there is no lack of options for what to do between November and January. Enjoy your time here and a great Christmas for all of us!
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