12 Things to do in London During the Festive Season
Winter in London is simply magical - and there’s bundles of festive fun to be had. To help you guys have the best time in the run up to Christmas, we’ve rounded up the coolest things to do in the Big Smoke from November through to December, guaranteed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy...
Get your scarves and gloves out...
1 See the Christmas lights
London lights up over the Christmas season with dazzling decorations and lights illuminating the city streets. The highly anticipated Oxford Street lights were turned on by Rita Ora this year - and they look pretty stellar. The famous shopping street has been draped with 1,778 decorations and 750,000 LED light bulbs. The theme has been inspired by falling snowflakes, definitely living up to the previous year’s display.
Walk down Regents Street, head to Oxford Street then take a stroll down Carnaby street to see all the beautiful lights in one evening. The Carnaby Christmas lights are inspired by carnival this year with funky lights and bold colours making for an eye-popping experience. Other notable areas in the city to take in the Christmas lights is Bond Street and Covent Garden.
2 Watch a movie in The Snow Kingdom
One for the movie lovers. You will want to come to this cinema in Borough; it has been transformed into an icy Snow Kingdom. Enter the cinema through a cave, take your place on a beanbag and sip some Christmas themed cocktails while you watch your movie. Movie screenings sell out fast so be sure to book your tickets in as soon as you can.
3 Soak up the atmosphere at the Christmas markets
Is there anything more festive than a Christmas market? The glorious markets in London have started to pop up all around the city, to make you feel festive in the run up to Christmas. Our favourite one is the Southbank Winter Christmas Festival by the Thames because it’s great for the foodies.
Tuck into some festive street food favourites such mince pies, sausages, burgers, cinnamon buns and hot chocolate. Or buy some handmade Christmas gifts and stocking fillers. Stroll alongside the line of Nordic-inspired wooden chalets, get a photo under the huge Christmas tree and a soak up the lively atmosphere.The nearest tube stations to this bustling market are Waterloo or Embankment.
As well as this market, London Bridge’s Christmas by the River is also super festive, where you’ll be rewarded with the iconic view of the river Thames and Tower Bridge. Here you can feast on mince pies and mulled wine while you wander the 68 variety of stalls.
4 Get your skates on!
London’s ice rinks are coming out this November - and this year Skylight is the one everyone is raving about (and we aren’t surprised). Skate on a rooftop with views of the London’s epic skyline, then tuck into some cheese fondue and mulled wine in the heated lounge area. Apres-skate has never been so good. Skylight is London’s first ever rooftop ice rink - and the best part is entry is free, to skate it costs £10.
Other brilliant ice rinks include the annual Natural History Museum ice rink, and the totally Instagrammable Somerset House skating experience where you glide beneath an enormous lit up Christmas tree.
Coming soon: The best Ice rinks in London for 2017
5 Sip cocktails at the Christmas pop-ups
There are some pretty inventive Christmas pop-ups in London this year that you won’t want to miss. Fancy sipping on cocktails inside an igloo whilst overlooking the Thames? Then head to Winterland in Parsons Green. Here you can play some mini golf, curling and beer pong in an enchanted woodland setting whilst snacking on raclette burgers. But there's a twist - on Friday's, Thursdays and Sundays it's a BYOB (Bring your own booze) concept - you bring your choice of spirits/champagne and the bartenders will fix you up with a delicious cocktail from your ingredients. Works out cheaper for you, and the more fun!
Drinking inside igloos seems to be the latest craze this year, since Roof East in Shoreditch has adopted the same idea with their igloo dining dens overlooking a view of London’s skyline.
Another fantastic winter themed pop-up is Pergola On the Roof Paddington (and while it was a craze in the summer, it’s now open for winter with a heated deck). The perfect bar to stop for drinks and some delicious street food.
Lastly, we have to include Winterville on Clapham Common. This festive pop-up on a large grassy field offers a little bit of everything from markets, an ice rink, bars, a fairground filled with rides and its hosting 15 of some of London’s best street food traders with all kinds of cuisine on offer. The nearest tube station is Clapham Common.
6 Christmas at Kew
22 November 2017 to 1 January 2018
For a truly magical festive experience head to Kew Gardens for Christmas at Kew! The botanical gardens has gone all out for the Christmas season with the whole garden beautifully lit and ready for show. The concept is unique. As darkness hits, the magic begins. The idea is that visitors follow the trail of lights through the gardens: there are over one million twinkling lights, illuminating trees and buildings throughout the gardens.
There is even a light show, a fire garden and singing trees!
An adult ticket costs £16.
7 Stroll the beautiful parks
London’s Royal parks may be chilly in the winter, but they are simply beautiful for a crisp walk and coffee. From the beautiful rose gardens in Regent's Park, the deer in Richmond park, to the beautiful swans at Hyde Park, and the vast sparkling lake at St James’ Park a visit to one of the cities Royal green spaces is must.
8 Admire the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree
Oh Christmas tree, oh christmas tree. London pulls out HUGE trees over the festive season, dotted all over the city, but the most famous has to be the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. Get off the tube at either Trafalgar Square or Leicester Square and you can walk to it easily. While it’s a huge tree and maybe not the most beautiful in London, it’s the history behind it that makes it so special.
The 22 metre Norwegian spruce has been an annual gift to London from the people of Norway since 1947, to say thank you for Britain’s support during WW2. The lighting of tree takes place on December 1st where it will be illuminated by over 700 lightbulbs!
9 Feast on British roast in a cosy London pub
You can’t not indulge in a hearty comforting roast if you’re in London throughout November-December. Roast potatoes, Yorkshire puds, roast beef topped with flavoursome gravy - and let’s not forget the carrots and parsnips. Brits traditionally eat a roast Turkey on Christmas day - but in the time around that the meat can range from chicken, lamb, pork, duck or beef. Roasts are commonly eaten on Sundays where London’s gastropubs serve up their roasts at Sunday lunchtime. These are our top picks in the city to get your roast:
- St Christophers Pub on Borough High Street
- Princess of Shoreditch
- The Colonel Fawcett, Camden (with award-winning roasts)
10 Warm up with London’s best hot chocolate
There’s nothing better than a hot beverage to warm you up in London’s chill. While Starbucks is the usual go-to, why not sip on something warm at one of the best hot chocolate shops in the city instead?
11 Party like a rockstar at Belushi’s
Need somewhere to party in the evenings? Head to Belushis’. Christmas at this rockin’ bar won’t let you down for a fun night with mouth-watering sharing platters, bar food and drinks to line your stomach before you get on the dancefloor.
Belushi's are taking booking throughout November and December where you and your group will even get a glass of Bucks Fizz each, a stocking filled with Christmas props and your own party camera to capture festive memories of the night. There are Belushi’s bars dotted all over London, you just have to choose which one and book your package!
12 Get your thrills at Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland is back! From 17th November to the 1st January, Hyde Park is filled with German-style markets serving mulled wine and hot dogs, amazing stalls and over 100 rides plus the UK's largest outdoor ice-rink. Consider yourself a bit of an adrenaline junkie?
See if you can brave the ‘The Munich Looping’, a HUGE loopy roller coaster back again for a second year. It made its first-ever debut at Munich’s Oktoberfest. Or why not test out the beer in the German-style tent. Entry to Winter Wonderland is FREE, all you have to pay for is food, drink and rides! The best place to soak up the Christmas atmosphere.
Article by Shereen Sagoo
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