A Complete Guide to Christmas in London

A Complete Guide to Christmas in London
A Complete Guide to Christmas in London

From festive drinks to stunning light displays, Christmas markets, and more, here are the best ways to spend Christmas in London

As temperatures begin to drop in London, daylight hours shorten, and darkness sets in as early as 4 pm. While some individuals may struggle with the dark and damp winters, others derive joy from the radiant lights and the festive atmosphere that heralds the approach of Christmas. There’s a heartwarming quality to the celebrations during the holiday season in London, making it one of the most delightful winter destinations in the world.

Christmas Markets

When winter embraces London, the Christmas markets become an essential part of the seasonal experience, offering a plethora of festive delights. These pop-up markets typically emerge in mid-November, extending their festive charm until the arrival of the New Year.

A standout among London’s Christmas markets is Winter Wonderland, nestled in Hyde Park, boasting over 100 wooden cabins overflowing with charming gifts. From handbags and woollen scarves to a diverse array of toys and delectable treats like candy and fudge, the market is a treasure trove of holiday delights. Visitors can explore handmade crafts such as metal, glass, or wooden décor, cheerful holiday mugs, and delightful treats by the dozen. The festive atmosphere extends beyond the stalls with carnival rides, game booths, an ice-skating rink, ice sculpting workshops, an indoor performance theatre, and a Bavarian Village serving Bavarian fare and beer.

Equally enchanting is the Southbank Centre Winter Market, where over 60 wooden chalets line the riverside between the London Eye and the Southbank Centre. Illuminated Christmas trees decorate the riverside, creating a winter wonderland offering food, mulled wine, and an abundance of Christmas presents. A short distance away lies Christmas by the River at London Bridge, framed by the stunning views of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. The huts along the river Thames are brimming with bespoke presents, including jewellery and special Christmas puddings, accompanied by delectable treats like waffles, crepes, churros, baked potatoes, and sausages, all against the backdrop of London’s iconic skyline.

For a unique blend of festivities and entertainment, the Leicester Square Christmas market beckons visitors with the promise of comedy, cabaret, and burlesque shows. On cold, dark days when the outdoors feels daunting, the Westfield London Christmas Market provides a warm, indoor haven. It’s a shopper’s delight, featuring a vast array of brands conveniently gathered under one roof.

Venturing a bit farther from Central London, the market in the ancient maritime neighborhood of Greenwich offers a charming retreat. Adorned with glowing festive lights and an array of seasonal goodies, the market creates the ambiance of a quaint village, tucked away from the bustling city.

Christmas Lights and Window Displays

Dozens of light festivals enchant both locals and tourists annually around this time. One of London’s grandest displays is witnessed at Christmas at Kew, where Kew Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dazzles with one million lights. Along the usual two-kilometer trail, this year’s spectacle includes dynamic laser projections illuminating the iconic Temperate House—the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse. The Treetop Walkway features a waterfall of lights, creating a sparkling sea of light, accompanied by spiral trees, vines adorned with shards of light, and the enchanting Tunnel of Light twinkling with thousands of pea-lights. The festive atmosphere is complete with family rides and a carnival-like mood.

For those who prefer staying close to the heart of the city, the West End adorns itself with new light installations annually. Regent Street, stretching from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Street, offers a magnificent walk, while nearby Bond Street boasts grand decorations, LED light art, garlands, angels of light, and opulent window displays in its luxurious stores. Carnaby Street and the charming cobbled streets of Covent Garden add to the list of picturesque shopping destinations.

A highlight of Christmas in London is undoubtedly the enchanting window displays. Prepare to witness the breathtaking transformation of Harrods into a stunning gingerbread house, encounter life-sized nutcrackers adorning Regent Street, and marvel at the spectacular light display on Oxford Street. Notable favorites include the captivating window presentations at Fortnum & Mason, the elegance of Cartier and Ralph Lauren on New Bond Street, and the all-new spectacle at Battersea Power Station.

Whether you’re on the hunt for last-minute gifts or simply indulging in a personal treat, take a leisurely stroll to Liberty Department store for yet another enchanting Christmas display. Adorned with jewels and crystals complemented by the building’s renowned dark paneling, the store invites you to explore its wood-paneled interiors for a delightful shopping experience. Discover Liberty print accessories, tree ornaments, and stockings to fill, then spend a leisurely hour in the legendary scarf room.

Selfridges’ Christmas Shop unveils its festive wonders approximately two and a half months before Christmas, offering everything required to transform your home into a yuletide spectacle. From baubles to life-size fuzzy baby deer, the shop provides an array of options to suit your holiday decor preferences. Additionally, you can personalize various items, including stockings and Santa sacks, adding a unique touch to your Christmas preparations.

White Christmas

The unpredictable weather in London seldom brings snow during Christmas, but when it does, the city undergoes a magical transformation into a winter wonderland. The freezing temperatures suddenly find redemption as silvery-white crystals descend, brightening the mood. The collective hope is that the snowfall thickens and continues without any interference from rain, enveloping everything in a serene blanket of milky white.

Two prime locations in London to revel in the snowfall are Primrose Hill in Regent’s Park and Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath. A gentle climb to Primrose Hill, standing at 63 meters above sea level, rewards breathtaking views of the city. The snow-covered cityscape and the park surrounding the hill create a picturesque scene. At the 325-feet-high Parliament Hill, offering equally stunning views, visitors indulge in sledding down the steep hill for some winter fun. Strolling through the gardens allows one to appreciate the powdery snow delicately coating the trees and the string of ponds slowly freezing over.

Eat and Drink

London boasts a remarkable dining scene throughout the year, and when Christmas arrives, eateries ranging from local favorites to Michelin-starred establishments undergo a stunning transformation with festive decorations. The Churchill Arms, crowned as London’s most Christmassy pub, dazzles with over 80 adorned Christmas trees. The Little Scarlet Door welcomes patrons to its ‘New York Living Room’ theme, complete with canapés and cocktails beside a festive Christmas tree.

If you are caught in the middle of a White Christmas, consider heading to a restaurant in iconic skyscrapers like the Shard or Walkie Talkie. Here, you can savor sweeping views while sipping hot coffee or a winter tipple. Alternatively, seek out a cozy, boozy pop-up igloo. These glass pods not only provide insulation from freezing temperatures but also offer delightful grub in locations with stunning views. Reservable options like The Coppa Club near Tower Bridge, Willows On The Roof, rooftop igloos perched above John Lewis Oxford Street and Glide at Battersea Power Station, provide excellent choices.

For latest travel news and updates, food and drink journeys, restaurant features, and more, like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram. Read more on Travel and Food Network

Trending on TFN

The 23 Best Places To Go In 2023

10 Best Christmas Markets Around The World

10 Best Places To Celebrate A White Christmas In India

You May Also Like