Monday, November 25, 2019

8 Fun & Festive Things to Do in London at Christmas

Christmas lanterns

London is one of the most magical places in the world at Christmastime. There's something about it, particularly if you didn't grow up here that's always reminiscent of a Dickensian Christmas while still being creative, inventive and for lack of a better word, new with every passing year. I know a lot of people who love to escape the city every year for the yuletide season, but I just can't imagine being anywhere else during the holidays. Sipping a mulled wine in a cozy British pub, attending carol services, dining on festive food, visiting Christmas markets and shopping on illuminated streets are all part and parcel of the season. Here are 8 things that are fun to do pretty much anytime during the festive season in London whether you live here or you're just visiting.

1. South Bank Centre Winter Market
On my first Christmas in London, the South Bank Centre Winter Market was one of the first fun things I did to celebrate the holiday season. We happened on it by chance and I'd never seen anything like it. We strolled around, sipped mulled wine by the river, browsed the stalls and enjoyed festive delights like Dutch pancakes. It's a great way to get into the holiday mood and you might find some unique gifts for the people on your Christmas shopping list, or even yourself. Click here for more information on the South Bank Centre Winter Market.

2. Ice Skating
There's ice skating all over London during the holiday season and there are few better ways to do something active that helps to get into the mood. Somerset House, the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum are the most notable locations, but there are spots to enjoy this winter pastime throughout the city. You'll most likely want to book in advance as these activities tend to sell out, but it will give you something to look forward to! Click here for more information on ice rinks in London.

3. Winter Wonderland
Every year a section of Hyde Park turns into a literal Winter Wonderland with rides, attractions, food stalls, market stalls and beer gardens that attracts visitors from near and far. It's a lot of fun, but be ready for the crowds. Grab a mulled wine and a bratwurst before riding something silly. Enjoy the atmosphere while taking in all the fun trinkets on display in the markets. It's a good time no matter how you decide to navigate it and it's perfect for adults and/or children. For more information visit hydeparkwinterwonderland.com.

4. Christmas Films at Prince Charles Cinema
The Prince Charles Cinema is one of my favourite places in London. A repertory cinema that has an ever-changing programme of films that ranges from the old and obscure to the fun cult films of the 80's & 90's to the trendy new blockbusters that have just been released, there's always something worth seeing at the Prince Charles. At Christmas however it's even better, with festive films and events almost every evening. Whether you prefer a simple film screening or something more involved like a sing-a-long, you'll find the yuletide night at the movies you're hoping for at this Leicester Square cinema and the choice is so varied that I'm sure you'll be pleased. Die Hard, Love Actually, Home Alone, Elf, A Muppets Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street are just some of the holiday movies on offer. Advanced reservations are recommended. For bookings and more information visit princecharlescinema.com.

5. Take in the Lights on Regent Street & Carnaby Street
The lights on Regent Street and Carnaby Street are always my favourites as they tend to be extravagant and themed. It doesn't hurt that you can experience them while doing some fabulous shopping at the same time.

6. Illuminations at the London Zoo
The London Zoo celebrates Christmas after dark while all the animals are tucked away in their beds with an illuminated walk that is sure to dazzle. As with many other attractions in London at Christmas, you can find mulled wine and hot chocolate to enjoy and there's also a vintage carousel to ride. Advanced booking is recommended. For more information, visit christmasatlondonzoo.seetickets.com.

7. Visit the Charles Dickens Museum
A museum that celebrates the life of the man who gave us A Christmas Carol, the Charles Dickens Museum is the author's former home. This small museum is well worth a visit, but doesn't have to take up much of your time if you don't want it to. They also have a range of events on during the holiday season. For more information visit dickensmuseum.com.

8. Christmas at Kew
Kew Gardens puts on a magical display every year at Christmastime and this year they're introducing some all-new installations. Sparkling lights and laser projections are part of the show while guests enjoy spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate. There's also street food along the trail, a fire pit where you can toast marshmallows and family rides like a carousel and helter skelter. Advanced booking is required. Tickets are £18 for adults, £11 for kids aged 4-16 or £52 for a family ticket. Children under 4 years old go free. Click here for more information or to book your tickets
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