London may have its days of being too gloomy and too cold but when the festive season rolls in – the city begins to sparkle with magical Christmas lights and decorations and tantalise with the smell of cinnamon, freshly baked cookies, popcorn and ginger bread, making it truly magical.
So my first time to the Square Mile was last Christmas and here are my best things to-do list.
Leave your everyday life behind and allow yourself to enjoy a dazzling array of activities and entertainment at Winter Wonderland. Rollercoasters and fairground rides will keep thrill seekers happy, a 60-metre observation wheel that offers stunning views of the city’s skyline, a huge Christmas market, and don’t miss the Magical Ice Kingdom, an amazing space filled with magnificent snow and ice sculptures. Circus lovers can enjoy their time at Zippos Circus and Cirque Berserk.
Winter Wonderland also offers a selection of themed bars with real fire pits, except for the Ice Bar where even the glasses you drink from are made of ice.
Bonus Tip: Book your online tickets ahead for the main attractions, and keep them printed with you.
Whether you dance on ice like Christopher Dean or scramble around like Bambi, the outdoor ice rinks are some of the most magical locations you’ll see all season. A trip to an ice rink is a must-do for the views alone, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and Natural History Museum Ice Rink are my favorite ice-skating rinks to twirl around in.
A day at Covent Garden:
A beautiful Piazza set in London’s West End, here visitors and Londoners can enjoy its many attractions like London Transport Museum, the Royal Opera House and a lot of gift and food markets. During Christmas, a huge Christmas tree glows with lights on the west side of the square, and a rather magnificent silver reindeer stands majestically on a pile of gifts on the east side. The Lego Santa Express train has pulled into the northeast corner of the piazza, so make sure to pay that a visit. It’s made of 500,000 Lego bricks and even has sound, lights and smoke coming from its funnel. And don’t miss eating at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant there.
Christmas Dance Performance:
One of the best ways to feel festive is by seeing some particularly twinkly toes taking to the London stage. Dance shows like ‘Nutcracker’ and ‘Swan Lake’ seem to be synonymous with Christmas, so book tickets in advance to a show that is sure to get you into the yuletide spirit. I attended The Nutcracker ballet at the Royal Opera House, it was a truly enriching cultural experience, the set design was especially magnificent and the bar service was remarkable.
Street Christmas Lights :
See London at its most bling, be dazzled by the twinkling Christmas lights, including the famous displays on Oxford Street and Regent Street. Explore the glittering shopping streets of Carnaby and Seven Dials, and amble around the giant illuminated Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.
Christmas Shopping at Harrods :
Harrods celebrate Christmas inside and out, the upmarket department store deck their window displays for the festive season. You’ll see the windows are based on the scenes from the theatre, complete with the best lighting, mannequin figures dressed by famous designers, the popular mice (Peter Pumpernickel) and many more visual and sound effects that bring Christmas to life.
From the luxuriant food hall to the floors full of the finest jewelries, Harrods does sell everything you need to celebrate the jolliest season.
If you missed the shopping before Christmas, it’s ok as you can get the best prices on Boxing Day, just be at the store doors by 9:00 am as it will be very crowded. Also, don’t forget London’s tax haven culture, you can redeem the tax at the airport so it’s better if you arrive a couple of hours before your departure.
Tea Time at Fortnum & Mason:
Afternoon tea is quintessentially English, the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is famed as one of the best afternoon tea places in London. It was opened by Her Majesty The Queen, it’s on the fourth floor and according to their website – ‘has since become a stylish destination for the most traditional of afternoon teas’.
Fortnum & Mason have been serving tea with their iconic trademark aqua color tableware since 2012. You can choose your tea from a selection of 30 tea blends that comes with cakes and pâtisserie, scrumptious scones and delicate finger sandwiches, and you also have the option to select your personalized Champagne.
You can’t leave this amazing place without doing some extra shopping, from hand-crafted enamel ornaments to Christmas crackers, their offering of luxury goodies and yuletide gifts will add a festive touch to your experience.
New Year :
Crowds of thousands line the Thames on December 31 to see the live fireworks show. The NYE firework display is splendid, people are happily waiting for a bright start to the New Year and you will find yourself talking and greeting everyone around you.
The best viewing locations are sectioned off and made only available to those who have tickets. You can select your ideal spot when you buy your ticket.
After the fireworks are done, feel free to continue the rest of your night the way you want, we chose a nice Persian restaurant to dine at, the New Year’s celebratory vibes will continue in the streets until sunrise.
Attractions you’d be mad to miss:
• London Eye
• Buckingham Palace
• Westminster Abbey
• Houses of Parliament
• Big Ben
• Tower Bridge
• Hyde park
• National History Museum
The checklist maybe long but since this post is dedicated to cover London in Christmas maybe you can explore the best that the city has to offer later.
Quick shout-out for the Famous London icons like Red Bus, Telephone Booth, Post Box & black cabs which added extra flavor to my London Christmassy journey.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!