Despite being the setting for Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, the attitude of this capital city is far from “Humbug” when it comes to celebrating the festive season. Indeed, it seems that with every year that goes by, London strives to improve on its previous performances by rolling out even bigger and better decorations, lights, attractions and general merrymaking in a bid to become the most Christmassy of cities.
Visitors to England’s capital this winter can’t fail to feel the Christmas cheer as they negotiate the main shopping streets with their glittering window displays, bundle up in hats and mittens for a stroll through the parks, or marvel at the myriad landmarks as the strains of caroling fills the air with festivity.
Whether you live in London or are visiting for a Christmas break, here are some tips on where to look if you’re hoping to get the most Christmas for your money while out and about…
London’s Christmas lights are arranged somewhat strategically this year, with different Christmas-themed items depicted above each main street.
Oxford Street shimmers under giant twinkling snowflakes, while Carnaby Street is adorned with a sparkly holly leaf and berry garlands, as well as enormous mistletoe chandeliers which change color in time with the music. An illuminated cobweb of stars scatters the length of Regent Street, decorated with images advertising the animated 3D film ‘Arthur Christmas’, and St Christopher’s Place is a fun-fest of huge colored baubles and glitter balls.
Ice Skating Rinks
Outdoor ice rinks seem to have sprung up all over the city, one of the most impressive being the grand courtyard at Somerset House, which has transformed into an icy paradise presided over by a huge Christmas tree decorated by Tiffany’s and inspired by carousel animals. This rink holds a skate school with sessions for children and disabled people, as well as ice dancing lessons, late-night skates and club nights.
Other outdoor rinks of note include the Natural History Museum’s 1,000m² rink, alongside which is a less imposing rink for children, all surrounded by trees decked in fairy-lights giving the impression of a snow-globe fantasy world. Canary Wharf also has its own rink situated in the midst of the towers, which is recommended by “Time Out (London)”.
Christmas Markets and More….
Take a walk through any part of London and you’re bound to stumble across all kinds of festive markets and Christmas fairs. It seems everywhere you look at the moment there’s another “Winter Wonderland” springing up, but Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is certainly a wonder to behold this year, with a Christmas market of over 100 stalls, a giant observational wheel and the biggest outdoor rink in the UK, as well as Santa Land and a fully heated and covered restaurant/bar for when Jack Frost starts to nip!
A trip down the Portobello Road will uncover the Bad Santa’s Grotto, a seasonal exhibition where Bad Santas paint, rap, and beatbox, alongside street art photography displays and a Christmas market.
Even London Zoo is getting its Christmas on, with London’s very own reindeer herd taking up residence at the “Reindeer Lodge” exhibit every weekend from November 26th until Christmas (when, of course, they’ll be packing up their antlers for the long overnight trip delivering presents to all of the world’s good children!).