A London Christmas- what to do during December in the UK capital

There is no place in the world like London at Christmas! Ok, so maybe I’m a little bit biased. And it’s not like I’ve spent significant time in other countries to say that either- haha.  I see photos of American cities and am equally “ooooh” about the visual feasts and activities going on there. It’s just CHRISTMAS, and you can’t beat it for the joy and the celebrations and the thanks for your love and connection to others. Still, my focus and love (and blog!) is for London so I’m going to tell you that if you’re deciding to be here for December you have made such an amazing choice.

There’s certain things I like to tick off during December. Have I eaten enough of our sweet mince pies? Stuffed my face with the German stollen or Lebkuchen? Bought a Terrys Chocolate orange? Mulled wine? Seen enough Christmas lights?

I’m writing this round up of London Christmas events a little late, granted, but to write up and give you recommendations from all the beautiful activities I like to try and see and do. It’s me looking back on what was such a super but hectic month, and I’m using my downtime (and poorly time) to catch up on what I’d recommend anyone to do and hopefully you can use this for prompts for Christmas 2019 and beyond!

  1. Think the best of Christmas themed ballets and theatre plays that you could shake a stick at and choose one! My Christmas rituals are to attend a Matthew Bourne ballet at the Sadlers Wells theatre in Barbican. It’s just a quick trot from Angel station.  I have seen “The Red Shoes”, “Cinderella” and in 2018, an all male cast for “Swan Lake”.  The impressively thought out modern twists make these ballets accessible for all, so I really recommend these as an “entry point” for ballet if like me, you’re not a seasoned ballet connoisseur. Seats are released in April from as little as £12 which for the OCD organised among us feels really fun and super organised to get sorted! It’s a steep theatre in terms of seating, which can be a bit scary if you pay for the cheaper seats and are sat what feels like in the sky, but I’ve got used to it now and don’t have any issues seeing the stage- great view points.

sadlers wells 2

I also either like to attend a pantomime or a play, and in 2018 I saw the most amazing version of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” at the Old Vic theatre in Waterloo. Again, the seats are released super early during the year and again, I recommend looking then for the best pricing and seating range you can afford or want to go for. Honestly, it was absolutely beautiful and there are so many highlights from the month, but this was totally up there if not maybe my favourite activity from this last London Christmas, and I’m seriously eagerly awaiting the release of seats for Christmas 2019. Stephen Tomkinson who is a famous English actor played Scrooge for this production and did an wonderful job, and the theatre gave free mini mince pies and clementine’s and served yummy mulled wine amongst other things at the bar. It was atmospheric, a really special way to spend time with one of my favourite people, and who doesn’t love the message that the tale of Scrooge hits home?

Alternative suggestions: The London Colliseum by Tranfalger Square does a lot of beautiful classical ballet versions of the Nutcracker or Swan Lake and if you jump in early, you can get some great prices for both this very historic venue and beautiful event.

 

2. Enjoy Christmas Lights! Everywhere.

I wish I had some earlier evening shots to display how really pretty these actually are.  Our evenings are dark super early so unless you have daytimes off to capture the lights in the afternoon, you’re stuck with the dark ones I’m afraid!

Covent Garden, Seven Dials, Oxford Street, Regents Street, Trafalgar Square and the Strand are some of the most beautiful walks you can do to soak up and take in the visual displays all around you. My favourite photo from the above is just of the phone box with some twinkly lights in the background, that was taken in Angel. London shops, hotels, historic buildings are of course all lit up and looking extra shiny and wonderful at this time of year.  London for free, and London looking even more incredible.

 

3. Somerset House

I think if I had to recommend one main iconic London building for Christmas festivities, I’d choose Somerset House. It gets of course a little busy (no- make that very busy) but it has lots of ticks: a huge tree, an ice rink, and a mulled wine and baileys bar. It’s the place to go with your children, with a friend as I did, or with work colleagues for that annual outing. It’s also the perfect place to don reindeer antlers and Christmas hats and pose in front of the beautiful Fortnum and Mason’s tree for your friends new and beautiful camera!

Photo credit for main photo to my superb photographer friend Helen Perry. Follow her  @christianahelenperry on Facebook or Instagram.

 

4. Famous London hotels for sophisticated and posh London. You’re worth it and these are dreamy!

Claridge’s has been on the must visit list for some time. It’s one of your key London hotels that you should factor in for a visit anytime of the year, but especially Christmas. It’s just behind Bond Street tube station, off Oxford Street, and it’s a real wow factor moment, when you see it for the first time, all lit up.

They unveil their Christmas tree every year, and this year the “Tree of Love” was designed by artist Diane Von Furstenberg. It was the first time I had visited, and seen their tree, and I of course loved it! I was totally enthralled by the elegantly dressed husband and wives and families who were obviously in London on a very special break, enjoying their stays. My friend Sanjay and I were happy enough for photos in the lobby for this one 🙂

Another first time visit: I attended the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone for a bloggers event in early December. It’s another one of the classic London hotels which offer super service, gorgeous rooms and exquisite afternoon teas. I absolutely loved the mix of their palm tree and Christmas tree combo in the main dining area!

 

5. Wreaths and pretty door facades of Hackney.  My favourite pastime on a day to day basis in my local area was to pick out my favourite wreaths. I love a Christmas tree in a window, and a pretty wreath on a door. Wreath making course for 2019 anyone?!

 

6.  Buy local (if you can- I recognise buying local is not in everyone’s budgets) and where it’s not possible to buy local, support who you like with a “like” on Instagram to support small businesses. I visited my Winter Market at one of the churches in Stoke Newington and had a browse at more unique and bespoke gifts and walked away with a handful of business cards and people I am now following for a more personal gift.

“We Built this City” on Carnaby Street is a year round shop I would totally recommend for something really special and individual- a great gift for someone at Christmas, but anytime to be honest!!

 

 

7. Check out Christmas themed breakfasts and brunches- plenty of alternative choices for the vegans and veggies here! One of my favourite places to pop into was “Deliciously Ella’s” deli just behind Oxford Street (and you should see the streets Weighhouse Street where the deli is situated connects to- serious London love!)  for a spiced hot chocolate, porridge and vegan mince pie!! The deli is also stocked full of beautiful Christmas flowers, and was Christmas jumpers and music and happy atmosphere abundant!

 

8. Places I didn’t and haven’t gotten to but totally recommend you check out are Chiswick House and the lights there, and Kew Gardens which does a display every year which is meant to be out of this world. You have to book in early to get a ticket for Kew so be organised! The Charles Dickens museum must be lovely at Christmas and I normally love the Christmas shop at St Martins in the Crypt by Trafalger Square, but they didn’t seem to be there when I popped in this year!

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Photo credit again to my lovely friend @ChristianaHelenPerry who does the most gorgeous formal and informal portraiture

I’d love to know what your favourite Christmas London highlights are and what I can put on my list for the next one?

Happy January all and wishing you a fabulous New Year!!

 

 


2 thoughts on “A London Christmas- what to do during December in the UK capital

  1. Great article. Christmas themed breakfasts are a first for me, never heard of those before. The Christmas at Kew event is so amazing to see! Great lights and music, can be busy but we booked ahead and got in early enough. The live films at Christmas are also a good time, we saw Home Alone at the RAH with orchestra, definetly inspired the festive feels.

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    1. Ahhh thanks very much! Well I have never heard of that and it’s going on the search list ASAP- the Home Alone at the Royal Albert; wow! Jealous re Kew 😊 Must have been terrific! Your Home Alone/classical music experience has reminded me (alert- non Christmas theme and something to check out!!) that I think a group called “Backyard Cinema” do something similar with an orchestra to Romeo and Juliet, in the Union Chapel, Islington! Apparently it always sells out. It’s a bit pricey post Chrimbo spends right now, but maybe something to look at! Thanks for commenting x

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