Travel

Joy to the World: Celebrating Christmas in London

The air is starting to feel a little more crisp here in London. Autumn came early and so has winter it seems. As the holiday season approaches, I cannot help but reminisce last year’s festivities. Christmas in Europe is already wonderful, but Christmas in London magical. Yes, there may not be any snow… just snow fluffs here and there. Yes, there is no sledding or skiing. Nonetheless, the holiday season takes London by storm and there is plenty of holiday merry-making to be had!

Decorations

Perhaps years ago Christmas decorations in London were subpar, but now you can walk almost anywhere and run into some holiday cheer! Some of the best areas to walk through during the Christmas season include Covent Garden, Carnaby, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly, and Bond Street.

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Along Regent Street you’ll find all the store fronts heavily decorated with holiday scenes. My favourite store to check out is Hamley’s, the ginormous toy store, but plenty of other shops go all out like the department stores. I love all the shoppers bustling away with Christmas lights above them. Other highlights include Fortnum and Mason, Harrods, Liberty, and Selfridges.

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Victor and I attended the official Christmas lights switch on event along Oxford Street. It was pretty neat to see the lights turn on all at once. However, the weather that night was no cooperating so it was freezing with a light shower. I am impressed with how many people showed up the event though. It’s hard to crush that Christmas spirit.

As you can probably imagine, holiday lights are all over London. Stars, angels, trees, wreaths, mistletoe, bells — everything you can imagine!

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For a spectacular display of lights, I highly recommend Christmas at Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens is already an amazing place to visit, but the holidays really make nature shine. The magical event is a trail of lights which you follow for about an hour or so. There are over one million twinkling lights!

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From the retelling of the 12 Days of Christmas, to a fantasy world of candles and flowers, I truly enjoyed my nice, long walk through Kew.

Markets

While maybe not as grand as other Christmas markets throughout Europe, London has plenty of its own small, cute markets. There are some annual markets, as well as a couple new ones that pop up each year. I think I went overboard last year (I think Victor would agree…) but Christmas markets just make me so happy. In addition to the markets I feature below, I ran into so many other traditional, cabin-like Christmas markets. They are everywhere!

Leicester Square

A relatively new market, this market location makes a whole lot of sense. Leicester Square is within an even larger square, so there’s plenty of room for a small market. Santa makes a visit and there are also some small shows.

Tate Modern

Quaint like the Leicester Square Market, the Christmas market outside the Tate Modern is fun because it’s right by the river. It has wooden chalets, a fairground carousel, Christmas music, festive street food and a riverside bar. I opted for some mulled wine and roasted chestnuts!

Country Living Fair

In addition to the traditional, German Christmas markets, I also splurged and paid for entry to the Country Living Fair. I like this market because 1) it’s huge, 2) it has so many gift options, and 3) it’s in North London which is a little bit out of the way for tourists. I got most of my Christmas gifts from this market, so for me the £14.50 price tag was definitely worth it. Included in the price is also several glasses of wine — not a bad way to shop!

Winter Wonderland

The biggest winter event in London is Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. It is a huge festivity. There are stalls upon stalls of merriment. From hot chocolate to chestnuts to churros, you can find whatever your heart desires.

Besides shopping options, Winter Wonderland also has plenty of fun rides and games. You can go ice skating, enjoy a show, or drink some mulled wine.

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My favourite part of the festival is the Magical Ice Kingdom. It is a walk-through experience full of fantastic ice sculptures. Last year it was themed around the arctic. This year it’s going to be themed around ‘Deep Sea Adventure’! Look out for mermaids!

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Of course there is so much to see in London besides what I’ve mentioned. I have a long list of new places to visit! You can’t go wrong with a holiday event in London. My only advice is to make sure to bundle up because London winter is really crisp! Happy holidays, everyone!

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