Christmas means lots of different things to different people – but if you’re planning a visit to the capital over the next couple of months, it’s likely you’re keen to enjoy generous helpings of festive cheer.
All the usual suspects should be easy to find. Shops throughout the city will be decked out in all their festive finery from mid-November, naturally; and the choice of seasonal sustenance in London’s eateries and watering holes will be reliably plentiful.
But what else can you do that truly shouts ‘Christmas’? Quite a lot, it transpires...
Christmas markets in London
You’ll be spoiled for choice, but we especially recommend Southbank and Leicester Square. Southbank Winter Market is part of the Southbank Centre Winter Festival (11 November to 8 January), so not only will you find wooden chalets selling all the festive trinkets you could possibly dream of, but also pop-up food-and-drink outlets and a contemporary circus. Meanwhile, Christmas in Leicester Square will feature a huge grotto for Father Christmas, a traditional market and festive theatre shows. And it’s extremely pretty, if previous years are anything to go by.
MORE ABOUT SOUTHBANK WINTER MARKET >
MORE ABOUT CHRISTMAS IN LEICESTER SQUARE >
Hogwarts In The Snow
Anyone who loves the Harry Potter films (and the original books, of course) will know that the scenery is often at its most magical during wintry storylines. So for the festive season, Warner Brothers’ London studio tour – known as The Making Of Harry Potter – has been impressively decorated with Christmas trees, gifts, food and a large quantity of artificial snow and ice (which looks just like the real thing – and you can even find out how it’s made). The experience is open between 19 November and 29 January; and booking ahead is advised.
MORE ABOUT THE HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR >
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland is absolutely huge – it takes ages just to walk around it – and 2016 marks its 10th anniversary. Whether you explore the Magical Ice Kingdom, watch The Nutcracker On Ice or enjoy the simple pleasure of fairground rides and mulled wine (not simultaneously), there’s bags of festive fun to be had. Best of all, it’s free to enter, so wander in and do whatever takes your fancy. And if you’re in the mood for a spot of skating yourself instead of just watching the pros, the UK’s largest open-air rink should do the trick.
MORE ABOUT WINTER WONDERLAND >
Oxford Street Christmas Lights
Interestingly, 2000s R&B star Craig David is the man with his finger on the switch this year. Hmmm. More interestingly, these festive lights on London’s world-famous shopping street are being turned on for the 57th year in a row – and there are literally hundreds of thousands of them. A total of 750,000 LED light bulbs, in fact; encased within 1779 sparkly, snowball-shaped orbs.
Organisers have teamed up with children’s charity NSPCC for the first time, so visitors are encouraged to donate £5 to dedicate decorations to a loved one. And there’s lots more to enjoy too, including a giant Monopoly board and dice – and the chance to win £200 as you pass ‘GO’. Finally, if you’re a festive lights fan, it’s also worth taking a stroll to Carnaby, the Strand, Duke of York Square, Covent Garden, Regent Street and Seven Dials (among others).
MORE ABOUT OXFORD STREET CHRISTMAS LIGHTS >
Cost-effective, comfortable Christmas travel
Travelling to London can be expensive and stressful at any time of year – so Christmas doesn’t bear thinking about... unless you choose MegabusGold’s sleeper service, that is. We’ve got cosy individual bunks, free wi-fi and a dedicated team of staff, so you can arrive for your festive break feeling ready to celebrate.
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