The uber famous city of London goes all out when it comes to Christmas. I got to visit London for a second time in early December and feel head over heels in love with the city again. I first visited London many moons ago during the summer Olympics. Of course it being London, it rained pretty much the whole time. Despite this, I fell hard for London. I have been wanting to head back for a visit for years now but life seemed to always get in the way. Finally, after realizing all my girlfriends had done their dues and visited me in New York, Paris and Bali, I decided it was my time to visit them. And if you have to visit when it is cold, why not visit London during the holiday Season? So that is exactly what I did. I timed it out and did my research so I would arrive after the Christmas markets were open in late November.
I expected London to be frigid and wet, but was pleasantly surprised. It rained all of once during the week of my travels and it was a little sprinkle in the morning. The weather was surprisingly mild, especially compared to New York. I landed at the perfect time as all the markets had gone up a few days prior to my arrival. I was excited for the Christmas markets and the lights but was blown away with how magical everything was. London was like a Christmas globe, minus the snow. Everything was 100 times cuter with the lights and decorations. The markets were stunning and so much more festive than I imagined. Visiting London during the holiday season was a dream come tree and I can’t wait to visit again next year! Below is my list of the top things to do in London during the holidays.
Top Things to do in London During the Holidays
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland
If there was only one thing you had to do on this list, it would be Winter Wonderland. Hyde Park is transformed during the holiday season into quite literally a winter wonderland. There are Christmas markets, food stalls, ice skating and even rides. When I visited Ashley and loved feeling like kids and riding the roller coasters, fyi epic views of London. There is also a wood fire heated tent where you can enjoy some mulled wine or hot cider. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is an absolute must for any visit to London during the holidays. Entrance is free and you pay as you go for rides, food and drink. Open until January 5. More info here.
Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park
Syon Park’s 600-year-old woodland garden will be transformed by beautiful illuminations and lights come the holiday season. A natures lovers dream, this event has been taking place for fourteen year and still it is magical each time. Following a path you are enchanted by lights, lasers shows and so much more. It sells out so book in advance. More info here.
Ice Skate in London
The unofficial winter sport (according to me) comes to London around the holiday season. There are many places to go ice skating in London, so keep your eyes peeled. Some notable places include; Somerset House’s glorious 18th-century courtyard ice rink, Henry VIII’s home at the Hampton Court Palace, and the Natural History Museum’s magical ice rink. For a truly magical experience take in the London skyline as you skate around the rooftop ice rink at Skylight.
Home to London’s world-famous Christmas tree, Trafalgar Square is a must when in London. Every year Norway sends Britain a Christmas tree, as thanks for help during World War two. The tree’s journey to London begins in November. The Lord Mayor of Westminster (British ambassador to Norway) and the Mayor of Oslo gather in Norway for a ceremony in which this year’s tree is chopped down. The tree then travels via ferry and lorry to arrive in the square. Since 1947, this act of goodwill has drawn crowds from all across London and the world. Following tradition, the tree will be lit on the first Thursday in December, this year that is December 5th. More info here.
Christmas time is the perfect time to cozy up and watch a film. Head to the backyard cinema where they are showing Christmas favorites all month long. With an enchanted forest, icy passages, and a through-the-wardrobe style entrance this is more than your average movie theater. From 1 November, step inside The Snow Kingdom, find the hidden entrance, follow the subterranean passageway, navigate the magic ball pit river, and reveal the password that gets you entry. Once done, relax on a giant bean bag in front of a Christmas classic. Tickets sell out fast so be sure to book in advance. More info here.
For those looking for a more luxury Christmas experience, head to winterland. Fulham’s riverside pop-up, brings a mini alpine village to London. Cozy up in hunting lodges (sans the hunting), with fire pits or log cabins. The main draw is the igloos and hot tubs which sell out quickly. General entry is 5 pounds, but you can book igloos, tables and even hot tubs for more. More info here.
For the trendiest igloos head to the Coppa Club. “Cosy blankets, evergreen trees, cruelty-free sheepskin rugs, recycled wool blankets and breathtaking riverside views,” is what you can expect at the Coppa Club. These igloos are in high demand and must be book in advance online. If you can’t manage to get a booking online, they have a select few igloos for walk ins. The igloos are open as early as 7AM so for walk ins to better your chances head there early. More info here.
The Winter Forest at Broadgate Circle
The perfect place to sip a cocktail after work is the Winter Forest at Broadgate Circle. Surprisingly busier during the week than on weekends, it is magical destination. They are teaming up with mental health charity, Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest, to raise funds so it’s a great way to do some good. More info here.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without some epic markets. The top markets are Southbank Centre’s Winter Market, Christmas by the River at London Bridge City and the Greenwich Market.
See the Lights
There is something so magical about London all lit up for Christmas. There are beautiful lights throughout the city but some notable locations are Oxford Street, Carnaby, Covent Garden, Seven Dials, Bond Street, Regent Street and the Duke of York Square. For a unique sighting seeing check out this tour that takes you to all of London’s glittering lights in a vintage double decker bus.