Best London Spots For This Festive Season
IT’S CHRISTMASSSSSSSSSSS! Literally one of my favourite times of the year and where better to be soaking up the festive season that in our wonderous city. Christmas has always been very close to my heart as my Dad is absolutely mad about it. I’m talking a 10 foot tree each year, the outside of the house head to toe in lights, those old 1980s shiny ceiling decs – it’s all going on. Hence, I really do have what I can only describe as a passion for all things Christmas and experiencing it in London. Get ready for a tinsel-tastic list of thrills for the Christmas lovers and the less keen – there really is something for everyone.
So I see you rolling your eyes like ‘what is this basic list behaviour about?!’ But Winter Wonderland is an absolute classic and let’s be real you know you missed it in 2020. If you don’t know anything about Winter Wonderland, it’s located in Hyde Park and packed with festive attractions with Christmas themed rides, shows, market stalls, street food and performances. Imagine anything Christmassy and I can pretty much guarantee it’s there. For the first time ever, you need to purchase tickets to enter (RIP free entry) which are priced at £5 or £7.50 at peak times. However, if you book £20 worth of activities in advance then the entry fee is waivered which is worth it I’d say. I’m literally obsessed with Winter Wonderland and have done it all and it really never disappoints. I’d definitely recommend going in the evening, it’s so much more magical seeing everything lit up. Also, fit your visit in before Christmas, the vibe is slightly dead after the big day’s been and gone. My top recommendation would have to be a visit to the Magical Ice Kingdom. Created with 500 tonnes of ice and snow which is sculpted to create a magical mystical world. Expect characters, slides and thrones in this enchanted ice palace. A brilliant experience and a chance to get some cute snaps along the way. Adult tickets are £8 and children are £6, the website suggests it takes 30 minutes but you could easily while away a lot longer exploring all of the secret passageways and finding the wizards, elves, unicorns and dragons along the way. A couple of tips, make sure you wrap up nice and warm as it’s -10°C inside and I’d especially recommend having a nice thick pair of gloves on.
Catch a pantomime
I absolutely love panto! My best friend and I have a longstanding yearly tradition of going for a Christmas dinner and then off to a panto, it’s always something I look forward to each year and I highly recommend starting this with someone you love. My bestie and I always go to the yearly family friendly offering at Hackney Empire. This was the pantomime he visited as a child and it really is brilliant. Expect fantastic costumes, casting and comedy! It’s very London-centric with the classic fairy tales twisted up to reflect London life – it will definitely feel personalised and close to home. Plus the Dame, played by Chris Rowe, was literally nominated for a Olivier Award for his pantomime performances and is stunningly funny and wonderful each year. This year it’s Jack and the Beanstalk (and I’m already booked in for late November and we treated ourselves to a box for the first time!) with tickets starting at an incredibly reasonable £10. If you can, drop in a lil donation with your tickets as theatres could really use to extra dosh now to keep their brill work going. Also, for a pre Christmas dinner, I’d recommend Pub on the Park for a fabulous meal before settling down for the show.
A lesser known Christmas evening out but absolutely fantastic for families, couples, groups of friends alike. Running throughout November, head to the park in the evening and see it transformed into an Enchanted Woodland as you wonder through magical light and music displays in the 600 year old gardens. Finally, finish up in the spectacular Great Conservatory for an epic laser light display which is a pretty phenomenal way to end. Don’t worry about having dinner beforehand as there’s some fab food trucks with tasty treats, mulled wine, hot chocs (spiked or not). Tickets are £10 and this is a great budget-friendly alternative to Christmas at Kew and a little more quaint and endearing if I say so myself.
The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is a must visit London freebie. The Christmas tree has been offered as a gift to Britain by Norway for our support in World War II since 1947. The tree is a 20 foot tall Norwegian Spruce lit up in ice white lights, it is a spectacular sight in the midst of central London. The tree is lit up at the start of December so you might want to head down for the lighting ceremony or, if you miss that, check out the Mayor of London’s website to find out when carol singers will be performing throughout December too. You’re also in the perfect location to nip round to Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street on foot for a self-directed Christmas lights tour!
Christmas is such a magical time, I hope you enjoy it and have a bit of time to try one of these festive ideas. There’s so much going on in the city during this period and I’m sure you won’t be at a loss for experiences. Don’t forgot the heart of Christmas is time with our friends and family, and after missing out on that last year, I wish you the most fantastic time with your loved ones!