I know that we’re getting ready for Halloween, but a sudden melancholy took over and sent me back in London during Christmas time. Blame it on the colder days, crisp air, warm blankets or the smell of cinnamon, but I so want to talk about Christmas time in London.
London is known as a busy and hectic metropolis but at Christmas time it can be a magical environment too. There is something about that time of the year that metamorphosis the city into a fairytale. Time slows down for a while, people smile more often and the joyful music lifts spirits and invites everybody to join the frenzy of Christmas.
I know these days that Christmas is mostly a commercial fairytale but nevertheless I enjoy this magical period of the year. London has all you can expect from an authentic modern Christmas that somehow takes you back to simpler times.
Christmas trees, Christmas markets and Christmas… everything
From the huge Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square to the Christmas lights that dazzle on Oxford Street, you can be sure you will find traces of Christmas everywhere you go in London. If you hang around in Trafalgar Square in the evening, you will get to enjoy carol singing beneath the Christmas tree and dive into the festive atmosphere that takes over London in December.
Want to see more Christmas lights and trees? Carnaby throws a shopping party when they switch on the lights and some stores even offer 20% discounts, while Covent Garden brings giant reindeers and mistletoe chandeliers to the Christmas mix. Marylebone doesn’t want to be left behind and joins the lights competition with beautiful Christmas lights, food stalls, and stage performances, while the Regent Street puts on an entire show when switching on the lights with a live countdown and all. The lights in the Seven Dials area have their own switch-on event in place, a countdown and a 400-piece choir to take the Christmas spirit to the next level.
Christmas markets are a must in every European capital and London makes sure visitors will find an infinite number of stalls in various regions of the city. Central London is known for its Winter Wonderland that takes place in Hyde Park and houses one of the most beautiful and popular Christmas markets in the city. I so enjoyed walking by the wooden chalets and admiring the toys and Christmas decorations and, of course, savouring the traditional…German food. This Christmas market frenzy started in Germany after all, so any authentic Christmas market just has to have the bratwurst on the menu.
London Bridge has a really beautiful Christmas market too, known as the Tudor Markets, and I am sure that you will just love the diversity of treats and flavours there. You will find Christmas markets in all the cardinal points of London, so make sure you visit the tourist offices and get your map with Christmas markets.
Join the never-ending Christmas fun
When it comes to Christmas events, London never disappoints. I have already mentioned Winter Wonderland but you need to know that this is so much more than just a Christmas market. It is actually a fun fair where people gather to socialize, enjoy the festive ambience, eat German food and warm up with a cup of mulled wine. There are plenty of games to be played in the Winter Wonderland and the entrance is free. There’s live music, and an ice rink, as well as shows and, let’s not forget about the legendary Giant Observation Wheel that makes an appearance in most of the Christmas photos taken in London.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan or you know someone in your family that would fancy a visit to Hogwarts, like definitely your kids, then you should book a Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. You will find Hogwarts in the Snow which means that the Great Hall will be all pretty and shiny due to the abundance of Christmas lights, and the festive feast will definitely include Christmas pudding for all visitors.
Admire the twinkly lights while strolling in the Kew Gardens and become a part of the Christmas feast at the Kew extravaganza. You will find food stalls, beautiful Christmas decorations, and awesome Victorian funfair rides. Greenwich should definitely be added to your Christmas itinerary because the Old Royal Naval College gets a Christmas makeover and you will get to enjoy live entertainment, as well as delicious Christmas food and drinks. Greenwich Winter Time also has a beautiful ice rink and, if you’ve been a good boy or girl, you will also get to visit Santa (for a fee because…Santa has to salaries to pay too!).
Don’t think that on Christmas Day, London falls into a deep winter sleep. Not at all! You will find plenty of pubs and restaurants open and a lot of people walking down the city’s streets and boulevards. It’s true that public transportation is not an option on Christmas Day in London but walking will definitely get you to wonderful places. And you can always rely on a black cab to get around. They’re so gothic and chic and fancy! I just love them.