Christmas in London
By Rowena Carr-Allinson
Christmas in London (Flickr: nanimoshiranai)
Few places do Christmas as well as London. Experts in all things cosy and Christmassy, Brits know how to celebrate the holidays, and make the most of the holiday spirit. The British capital is awash with fun things to do, and fantastic decorations that will have the kids bewitched.
Here are some of the many Christmas activities you can partake in with the kids in London.
Join in the carols
Trafalgar Square Carolers (Photo: Diliff)
A great British tradition, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the carols. All over town, from St Paul’s Cathedral to Westminster, festive songs ring out. Join in at one of the many events held all over town throughout December, for example the Kensington Palace Carols from December 8-15 to really get in the mood. (Tip: Discover the 30-foot Christmas tree with stories of Christmases past – as well as minced pies and mulled wine for the grown ups.)
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland at London’s Hyde Park (Flickr: Garry Knight)
During the holidays (Nov 21 – Jan 4), London’s most famous park, Hyde Park, is transformed into a Winter Wonderland. A cornucopia of market stalls, grottos and mulled wine, it runs daily from 10 am till 10 pm. You’ll find an Ice Kingdom with frozen sculptures, 200 stalls, carousel, rides and a Bavarian village amongst other delights. (Tip: Although it’s free to get in, one must purchase tickets (in advance) for the ice-skating, the Zippos Circus and the Giant Wheel. )
Ice Skating at Somerset House (Flickr: Mike T)
Skaters can join in the fun at the Winter Wonderland or choose from several other locations throughout the city including Broadgate, Wembley Park, Canary Wharf, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens or the Jubilee Gardens’ “Eyeskate” below the London Eye. The most picturesque though have to be the rink at Somerset House, Hampton Court Palace and the Natural History Museum’s. Real fairytale stuff! (Tip: Too cold to skate outdoors? Try indoors at Westfield mall.)
Over the festive period, London’s theaters are packed with kid-friendly shows. Whether you wanted to revisit Peter Pan on stage, discover CinderMouse or take in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, you’ll find a great choice of old classics and new adventures to introduce to the new generations. Sure to bedazzle the young audiences, it’s a great place to start their theater going habit. (Tip: Want to try something really British? Head for a ‘pantomine’ or ‘panto,’ a sort of spoof type show where the kids can get involved with some serious heckling which is all part of the fun. )
Meet the main man
London offers an array of Santa’s Grottos, from the big malls to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park or even in the Rainforest Café. It’s amazing where you can find that big bearded man these days! Head out of town for something a little quieter, in the beautiful setting of Kew Gardens where the snowflake-laden grotto is set in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. (Tip: Don’t miss Kew Gardens’ lovely Victorian carousel, vintage rides, and market stalls.)
Roam the Christmas markets
Spitalfields Market (Flickr: Spitalfields_E1)
Gingerbread, decorations, arts and crafts… You’ll find all manner of goodies and gifts at the many London Christmas Markets. Just the place to stock up on some unusual quirky stocking fillers and gifts for the entire family. (Tip: Try the Southbank Centre (from Nov 12 to Jan 4) for something different, from sheepskin rugs to wreaths and lobster mac’n’cheese.)
(MORE: Find great kid-friendly London hotels to stay in during your visit.)
Ride a bus
Explore the city by double decker red bus. On the top deck, you’ll be that much closer to the Christmas lights that illuminate the streets. Take a leisurely ride down Oxford Street, much to the delight of little ones who will revel in the red bus experience. (Tip: Try and sit on the first row’s ‘front seat’ which is always very popular and offers great views and the best ‘driving’ experience for the kids.)
Rowena Carr-Allinson contributed this to MiniTime.