Trafalgur-square-Christmas

Christmas in London, England, 2016: Six Fun Things to Do

I’ve been home for about four months now after living and travelling abroad for 20 months, and what a jam-packed four months it’s been. From catching up with loved ones to visiting some of my favourite cities in Europe and then easing back into working here in London again, it’s sure been a busy and eventful time in my life.

Although I do miss Australia and Southeast Asia and often catch myself reminiscing fondly over the hot beach days, there’s definitely one thing I’m excited about being back in the UK for. Christmas in London!

Christmas in Australia felt very strange and alien to me. Christmas doesn’t feel like a huge deal over there. I missed the festivities, the Christmas trees, the bright lights, and the cheer.

I’ll tell you a secret: I even missed the cold. Now that’s saying something.

Feeling extra festive this year (I’m not sure my friends and family can believe it) I’ve been making the most of the Christmas celebrations offered across London. There’s definitely plenty to do.

If you’re in London this festive season, why not get involved? Here are some of the best Christmas-related events and activities across England’s lovely capital this year. You’re welcome.

1. Christmas at the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens

The world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew go all out during the festive season, with an incredible show-stopping seasonal illuminations trail. As a sucker for bright and pretty lights, I was keen to check it out.

I went with my lovely mum, and the illuminations trail was a very festive affair indeed. The route snakes through the gardens, with various festive-themed light instalments and stops along the way.

The track concludes with a beautiful finale light show in front of the Palm house. We were even able to grab a mulled cider and roast a marshmallow en route. Yum.
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The grand finale

2. Take a Christmas Lights Walking Tour

London offers stunning Christmas light displays across the capital, and I’d recommend walking around the centre to witness some of the best. You can even attempt some of your Christmas shopping on the way (good luck.)

I’m never too amazed by the Oxford Street Christmas lights, but they’re worth a visit. The Carnaby Street Christmas lights are nearby too and are often a lot cuter and quirkier.

From the Carnaby Christmas lights, Covent Garden is a 20-minute walk away and is always dolled up and decorated beautifully. The atmosphere at Covent Garden during the Christmas period is generally very festive. Think mulled wine stalls, buskers playing popular Christmas songs, and plenty of spangly lights.

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Christmas in Covent Garden

London’s famous Trafalgar square is then only a brisk 10-minute stroll away from Covent Garden, and it accommodates a huge towering Christmas tree. This tree is gifted every year from Oslo as a thank you for the British support to Norway during the Second World War. It’s a story I always love to tell people who’ll listen.

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Christmas at Trafalgar square

There are plenty more beautiful Christmas lights and trees to check out scattered across London. Check out timeout’s article ‘Christmas lights in London’ to learn more.

3. Visit the Southbank Centre Winter Festival

I love Christmas markets, and the South Bank’s has always been one of my favourites. The area is lined with unique little gift shops, delicious street-food stalls, and plenty of watering holes to grab a festive beverage. I always return home happy, full, and let’s be honest – pretty drunk. That’s a sure sign of a good evening.

Southbank Christmas market

Food at Southbank Christmas festival
There’s always lots of grub served up at the Southbank Christmas Market!

4. Watch a Christmas Show

Home to some of the best theatres in the world, London always plays host to some incredible shows which are especially impressive and exciting to watch around Christmas time.

I’ve seen the Snowman at The Peacock Theatre, and I loved it. The show is aimed at kids, but I promise most of the adults adored it too. The Snowman is still showing this year, and I’ve heard that Aladdin the Musical showing at the Prince Edward Theatre is dazzling.

To see what else is on, check out timeout’s article ‘Christmas shows in London’.

5. Explore Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park

I was unsure whether to add Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park onto this list. Although I’ve been many years and have loved my visits, nowadays it’s a bit of an overcrowded tourist trap.

However, Winter Wonderland is super Christmassy, and there’s certainly a lot to do. From ice skating to watching Zippo’s Christmas circus to ice bars and funfair rides, you’ll have a lot of fun. Just try to avoid weekday evenings and weekends to beat the crowds.

Winter Wonderland Hyde Park

Winter Wonderland Hyde Park
There are lots of funfair rides at Winter Wonderland

 

6. Go Ice Skating

There are so many stunning and scenic spots in London to grab your skates and glide effortlessly (or fall flat on your face) across the ice. Some of my favourite ice skating areas are the Tower of London, The Natural History Museum, the London Eye, and Somerset House.

I’m heading to Somerset House this year. The tickets are quite pricey, but I think it will be worth it.

Ice skating at Somerset house
Ice skating at Somerset house
Ice skating at The Natural History Museum
Ice skating at The Natural History Museum
Ice skating at The London Eye
Ice skating outside the London Eye a few years back

To see where else in London you can ice skate, check out timeout’s article ‘Ice skating in London’.

Want to discover more of London? Check out my ultimate guide to Peckham, a neighbourbood in the Southeast of the capital.

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