Christmas is the perfect excuse to get out and explore the lavishly decorated city of London, to partake in less traditional but more exciting outdoor celebrations
Christmas is a time of family gatherings and reunions with friends from far and wide, but often people fall into the temptation of hosting these get-togethers at home, staying indoors throughout Christmas. Yet London is full of even more sparkle during this festive period, and there are plenty of activities for the whole family to get involved in. Here are my top three suggestions for festive-themed events across the city:
A traditionally European concept, Christmas markets in London have developed over the past few years and are just as good as their European counterparts.
Winter Wonderland is likely to be the first to come to mind for an outdoor Christmas gathering. It’s a great idea for families, young couples or teenagers; the rows of stalls, stacks of rides and the giant Ferris wheel and ice rink definitely draw in the crowds. However, London’s contribution to Christmas markets doesn’t stop at Hyde Park.
The Southbank Centre’s Traditional Christmas Market poses a worthy challenge. Appealing more to foodies and gift shoppers, this market has more of an authentic London feel due to its setting and local suppliers among the 80 wooden huts. This market provides the perfect excuse to amble along the scenic South Bank with friends and family in all its festive, lit-up glory.
The Real Food Christmas Market is also close by, serving up warming seasonal treats such as gingerbread tree decorations and roasted almonds. And, for good measure, they have also thrown in a Christmas carousel for the kids.
Another London market which has been transformed Christmas-style is Covent Garden Christmas. You’ll find festive edible treats at the food market here too, but there is also a large Lego advent calendar, while on Saturdays there is a live choir and reindeer-petting area – ideal for younger members of the family.
Keep cash and lots of change with you if you head out to these, as many of the stalls won’t accept cards.
The ultimate outdoor Christmas activity is ice skating – a pastime that most Londoners will venture out for. London becomes an ice skater’s heaven during this season as rinks are installed in almost every borough. Many of the best rinks are latched on to some of London’s most iconic landmarks, providing a scenic setting.
Some of the bigger, notable ice rinks include Somerset House, The Natural History Museum and The Tower of London. But they can also be found further out at Canary Wharf and Hampton Court Palace. To avoid the queues you can book in advance for them, and group tickets are generally cheaper.
Many of these rinks will disappear quickly in the new year, and as they are only around for a short period of time they are definitely worth a trip, so gather up a group and get your skates on. However, make sure you wear extra layers, it will make the ice hurt less should you fall over!
Once again London’s iconic landmarks get involved in another authentic Christmas tradition: carol singing. This will definitely get you into the spirit of the season and even if you’re not so keen on joining in, it’s just as good to watch too. The annual service at Trafalgar Square is world renowned and provides the perfect chance to admire the large Christmas tree in the centre. Carol singing takes place every evening between 11 and 22 December, and is led by a variety of London groups each night.
Another popular location is St. Martin’s Courtyard where soulful Christmas Carols are sung loud and proud by the London Community Gospel Choir. Mulled wine and roasted chestnuts are also served, but check the dates before you head out for this one, as it does not take place every evening.
These are just a small selection of events taking place in London. There is a lot more to get involved with, for example, many of London’s famous cultural centres are hosting Christmas inspired events, including The Royal Albert Hall, The Barbican, and even London Zoo, which this year has got into the Christmas spirit with its own herd of reindeer!
After all this activity, you can end the day by tucking into one of the many festive Christmas menus being offered up at various London restaurants. Of course, if you’d rather leave the most important meal of the day up to the professionals, then many good restaurants open on Christmas Day too, including Cinnamon Club and Bluebird.
So don’t stay indoors, get out and explore your city with those closest to you.
Image from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatpicturegalleries/8123380/London-in-winter-the-capital-prepares-for-Christmas.html
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