I love Christmas in London, It’s the best place in the world to celebrate the festive season IMO.
I have so many lovely childhood memories of the capital, from the annual visit to Hamleys I would make with my grandparents each year when I was really little (complete with peanut butter sandwich for the car journey) all the way to watching the Oxford Street Christmas lights getting switched on whilst I was at Uni (hello Peter Andre and Katie Price singing A Whole New World – jealous much?). So you know, me and London and Christmas go way back.
But every year there is always something new I want to do or see as the Christmas Events calendar gets a revamp. And this year is no different with a ton of cool things going on in the city. Here’s a few of my old faves as well as some new events popping up this year!
Omgosh is it Christmas yet?!
Christmas at Kew
Kew Gardens are pretty as punch 365 days of the year, but at Christmas the Royal Botanic Gardens come alive at night with a display of over 60,000 lights! The mile long trail takes visitors though lots of lovely light installations and it sounds so festive! You gotta see some pretty lights at some point this winter right? Well Christmas at Kew sounds perfect. And actually quite romantic should you want a festive date night. Just add hot chocolate.
Christmas at Kew takes place from Weds 23rd November 2016 – Mon 2nd January 2017 with timed entries between 5pm and 8.15pm. Tickets from £16, find out more here.
Images below by Jeff Eden, RBG Kew.
A staple in London’s festive calendar, Winter Wonderland has come a long way since the first one 10 years ago (which was pretty much a big wheel and a couple of market stalls from my memory). These days, Winter Wonderland is just that, a wonderland full of amazing things to do and see. So much so that you could easily visit a few times across the season.
When I worked in London this was the perfect after-work venue for a delicious dinner from one of the food vans, a glass of wine and a catch up around a roaring fire in one of the bars, plus a chance to listen to some live bands. Go one step further and head to the Bavarian village for a big night out with your pals, or even head to the ICE BAR! Alternatively come here for a fun day out with the funfair, circus and ice skating rink. Honestly, SO MUCH STUFF TO DO HERE.
The best part is it is completely free entry so it is possible to have a cheap night here. It is open from Friday 18th November 2016 to Monday 2nd January 2017 – 10am to 10pm every day. Find out more here.
Images below courtesy of Plus 1 Communications.
One of my favourite Christmas in London memories is going to see The Nutcracker with my friend Laura a couple of years ago. It’s the only ballet I’ve ever seen so I’m not exactly an expert in this area, but I thought it was magical. We were definitely in the nosebleed seats so I would pay more for a better view next time, but it was so Christmassy and amazing, I loved it! The best part is it started snowing as we left the theatre. A bloody Christmassy treat.
The English National Ballet is showing The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum between 14th December 2016 and 7th January 2017. More info available here.
Images below courtesy of the English National Ballet.
See a Pantomime!
The panto isn’t for everyone. I get that. I mean it’s very British and fun, but also very cheesy and immature, so I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But I’ve been raised on pantomimes. Every year since I was a baby I’ve gone to a Panto with the whole fam in the run up to Christmas Day, so it is an integral part of my Christmas experience. Oh no it isn’t! Lolz. Panto bants.
Anyway there’s a whole bunch of options available so check out this list by Time Out to scout out the best ones.
Christmas Cocktails on the London Eye
If you’re from London, chances are you’ve either never been on the London Eye or went on it once in the year 2000 when it was brand new and shiny. Because no-one really goes on the tourist attractions in their own city, right? Well I was one of those people that had only been once in 2000, until last year when the lovely people of Southbank invited me for Christmas cocktails on the London Eye. And it was so glam. Nothing feels more fabulous than seeing the city lights of London from the sky with a delicious cocktail in your hand. Well two actually. Last year London Eye offered guests two cocktails, some nibbles and two rotations of the London Eye in it’s Winter Cocktail Experience.
The Coca-Cola London Eye are yet to announce whether they will be bringing back the Winter Cocktail Experience in 2016-17 so fingers crossed they do!
See the Christmas windows on Oxford Street
No Christmas in London is complete without a mosey around the shops on Oxford Street. I mean, it’s packed full of tourists and I normally start regretting it an hour in, but the pretty lights along Carnaby Street and Regent Street normally make it worth it. Plus it’s an excuse to see the wonderful Christmas windows in all of the department stores. Selfridges in particular is one of my absolute faves and worth the walk down to the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street IMO. There’s normally a guy outside selling roasted chestnuts too, so there’s that. Hello Christmas.
Christmas Afternoon Tea at sketch
Afternoon Tea always feels like such a treat and I love that there are lovely Christmas versions all over the capital at this time of year. Some can be a lil too posh for me but the afternoon tea at the top of my wishlist is ‘The Night Before Christmas’ Afternoon Tea at sketch. This includes sketch signature sandwiches, scones and jam, Christmas Petit Gateaux, and a Bûche de Noël served from the trolley. YES, festive AF.
Plus sketch itself is an Instagrammer’s dream, all pink and luxurious and beautiful. And this Christmas they also have special art and flower installations and choralist performances and all sorts. Someone wanna take me, yes?
The Night Before Christmas Afternoon Tea at sketch is running all of December and you can find more info here.
Images below courtesy of sketch London.
Hogwarts in the Snow
YAASSS HOGWARTS! I’ve been to the Warner Bros Studio Tour: Making of Harry Potter twice this year. TWICE. And I completely love it. There’s the Hogwarts Express, the Knight Bus, Diagon Alley, the Great Hall, it’s fantastic if you’re a die hard Potterhead like me, ok? Well this Christmas they’re jazzing up the giant model of Hogwarts avec some pretty festive snow!
But hey wait, that’s not all!
The Great Hall will be decked out with Christmas trees and the props for the seasonal feast, the Gryffindor Common Room will be decorated with the original Christmas props and you can even discover how film-makers created fire, ice and snow that never melts! BRB gotta go buy tickets…
Hogwarts in the Snow is running from Saturday 19th November 2016 – Sunday 29th January 2017 and you can find out more over here.
Image below courtesy of Warner Bros Studio Tour.
Ice Skating at the National History Museum
I love ice skating in London at Christmas time and there are SO MANY options to choose from. I’ve tried a lot of them but my favourite is the National History Museum. It’s quite a modest rink, it’s not massive but it feels less packed than Somerset House, you don’t have the queues of Winter Wonderland and it just feels more festive than places like Tower of London. I mean not only do you have the backdrop of the gorgeous NHM building, but there’s also a 40ft Christmas tree decorated in Swarovski crystal ornaments and fairy lights. What can I say, I’m a magpie.
The National History Museum Ice Rink is open from 27th October 2016 – 8th January 2017 and prices start at £12.65 for adults, find out more here.
Images below are © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.
Mulled cider and cheese at Borough Market
Borough Market is London’s oldest food market and is a great place to just wander round and sample the culinary delights. And at Christmas that means lots of delicious cups of mulled cider, nutmeg jam and festive gingerbread! Plus there are decorations and bells and choir performances across the season, perfect.
What I absolutely can’t wait for though is their Evening of Cheese on the 14th December. With cheese connoisseurs all over the gaf I’m determined to put together the ultimate cheeseboard this Christmas. Watch this space.
For more information on Borough Market, head over here.
Ice some Christmas biscuits at Biscuiteers
Biscuiteers has been on my list for ages. Not only do these sweet boutiques in Notting Hill and Northcote Road sell delicious biscuits and cookies and treats, but they run professional icing masterclasses! I’m really keen on trying one of these classes to pick some tips and generally just have a bit of fun icing some biscuits for a couple of hours.
Well this Christmas they have a few festive versions from assembling and icing your own gingerbread house to learning how to perfectly ice a Christmas cake. There are even classes to ice characters from The Snowman onto biscuits! I think it sounds really fun.
Find out more about Biscuiteers Icing Classes over here.
Images below courtesy of Biscuiteers.
There you have it, some AWESOME events going on in London this Christmas. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to eat roasted chestnuts and drink mulled wine like now.
What do you think of the London events this Christmas? Any I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!