From the City of London to the West End, Londoners take Christmas in London is taken very seriously. There are plenty of things to do over Christmas in London including if you are spending Christmas in London with kids. Among the cool Christmas London Events to do are visit the displays of Christmas lights in London, a traipse through Harrods Christmas and enjoy Winter Wonderland Hyde Park.
- 1 Christmas London Events
- 2 Christmas in London With Kids
- 3 Christmas Window Displays
- 4 Christmas Trees in London
- 5 Christmas Markets in London
- 6 London Ice Skating Rinks
- 7 Christmas Lights in London
Christmas London Events
You can only experience these Christmas London events in this city.
A Dennis Severs’ House Christmas
Dennis Severs was an American with way too much money and a love for period architecture. He restored a house in Spitalfields where the Huguenot silk weavers had settled in the 18th century after they had fled persecution for their faith from France. The house is now ‘still life drama’ with each floor showing how the fortunes of the house (and occupants) fared from the 19th century to the 20th century.
For Christmas the house is decorated like it would have been during the period portrayed included smells and noises. I really did feel like I had my own Ghost of Christmas past leading me through the house. Needless to say, the Victorian period did make you feel you were hanging out with Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol in all of their sad squalor.
No photographs are allowed inside the house but the museum does have a YouTube video showing you what to expect.
The Most Festive Pub in Britain
The Churchill Arms in Notting Hill in London has been called the most festive pub in London. It’s got 90 Christmas trees strapped to its outside and is decorated with 21,000 lights. I would say having a pint (or two) inside counts as a festive event in London don’t you?
Great Christmas Pudding Race
One of the wacky things that you can do for Christmas in London is the Great Christmas Pudding Race. People dress up as their favourite Christmas character and race through the piazza at Covent Garden dodging obstacles and holding that most British of all Christmas food, a Christmas Pudding.
Join the Great Christmas Pudding Race as a participant or just watch the race. Participants need to be 14 year old and come up with a minimum of £600 to donate to the cancer charity, Cancer Research UK.
The annual Museum of Architecture Gingerbread City is a design-lovers treat. Gingerbread City is a whole city made out of gingerbread by leading architects, designers and engineers. The exhibition runs from early December to early January.
Every day there are also gingerbread workshops for children to create their own gingerbread masterpiece. I have to confess that when my children made their gingerbread creations last year, their houses got gobbled up long before Christmas itself.
Christmas in London With Kids
A Harrods Christmas
Harrods this year went with a very British fairy tale Christmas theme. The windows were decorated with mannequins of children and animals. I guess in times of world uncertainty it all goes back to children and animals (and very expensive accessories). I found it underwhelming – perhaps all in just too good taste. Let’s face it, no one goes to Harrods to experience good taste.
The Santa Grotto at Harrods is in the massive toy department. The appointments open in August and it is usually full up by October. I remember taking my kids to the Santa Grotto each year and dreading having to go through the toy department. It definitely is a lesson in fortitude.
At the Harrods Food Hall Christmas is a special time. It you has great gifts if you need something easy to give someone you don’t know very well. It’s easily packaged and the Harrods name conveys that you care (enough to pay over the odds).
Winter Wonderland Hyde Park
Can I say I dread Winter Wonderland Hyde Park? It’s a common feeling among London parents. Although located in Hyde Park, Winter Wonderland can get super busy especially in the evenings. Moreover, even though Winter Wonderland Hyde Park is extortionately expensive once you are in inside.
On the other hand, Winter Wonderland Hyde Park is loved by younger Londoners. The attractions though are ticketed from traditional amusement park rides, to an ice skating rink and Christmas circus.
A Harry Potter Christmas
For all you Harry Potter fans, you need to take the Warner Bros studio tour just outside of London. The usual studio tour shows Hogwarts dressed up for Christmas in a show entitled Hogwarts in the Snow.
Christmas Window Displays
The Harvey Nicks window displays were not as colorful as last year. They were more interesting though than Harrods. A certain Let Them Eat Cake attitude prevailed.
I have no idea why some of the stores in London and New York both insisted on having insects in their windows. I personally found it creepy even if the fashionistas declare that insects are a big thing for next season.
Dolce and Gabbana went back to Sicilian roots with a decadent store front display.
Other Christmas Window Displays in London to check out are:
- Liberty London (Regent Street)
- Hamley’s London (188-196 Regent Street)
- Selfridges (400 Oxford Street)
- Fortnum & Mason (181 Picadilly)
Christmas Trees in London
My favourite of the Christmas Trees in London EVER was in front of the art school, Central Saint Martins, in Granary Square in Kings Cross. The 17 foot Christmas tree with 1200 lights is frozen in resin created to look like a giant block of ice. The ice puddles into the fountains in which it is located in an effect created by 550 pounds of melted clear wax. It’s called “Fighting Fire with Ice Cream” by Alex Chinneck who is known for creating OTT public works of art.
In addition to the Granary Square Christmas tree which is always super cool, there are other more traditional Christmas Trees in London to check out:
- The Covent Garden Christmas Tree
- The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree
- The Somerset House Christmas Tree
- The St Pancras Christmas Tree
Christmas Markets in London
Southbank Winter Festival
The Southbank Winter Festival is an annual event that features one of the Christmas markets in London as well as an adjoining food and drink area. Along with the Southbank Winter Festival, there are the usual buskers, and carousel. Entry is free.
Christmas By The River
Also on the south bank of the Thames, Christmas By The River stretches from Hays Galleria to London Bridge. There are around 50 Christmas market stalls for you to browse.
Christmas In Leicester Square
Christmas in Leicester Square has a Santa’s Grotto, assorted Christmas shows as well as a small Christmas market.
Canopy Market is a regular weekend market in Kings Cross. In addition to opening daily for the festive season, Canopy market turns Christmas-themed for the holidays as well. There is food, crafts and music every weekend all with a design flair thanks to the proximity of Central St. Martins nearby.
Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre
For one weekend in December, Hampton Court Palace is turned into a Christmas extravaganza. The Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre has live cooking demonstrations by famous chefs, live music and 100+ vendors selling artisanal wares from their stalls.
The Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre tickets are free with regular tickets to the palace itself. Hampton Court itself is transformed into how Christmas in Tudor times would have looked. There are also activities scheduled to keep kids entertained.
The Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre is held in 2019 on December 6-8.
London Ice Skating Rinks
So many of London Ice Skating rinks have a magnificent setting against the backdrop of historic period buildings that you will be spoiled for choice.
Somerset House Ice Rink
The London Ice Skating rink at Somerset House is a magical setting. Set in the courtyard of this magnificent period house which still dwarves the 40 foot tree, skaters twirl under lights. If you aren’t skating Fortnum & Mason have a Christmas shop where you can warm up with hot chocolate.
Natural History Museum Ice Rink
The Natural History Museum Ice Rink has been around as long as I can remember. It is open from mid-October to mid-January.
Tower of London Ice Rink
The Tower of London Ice Rink is another beautiful setting near the river Thames. In the evenings, there is a light display of snowflakes on the Tower of London itself. It is open from mid-November to early January.
Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink
Unlike the Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre, the Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink is open from mid-November until early January. The Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink is huge and definitely less crowded than the more central London ones.
Camden Market Ice Rink
The Camden Market Ice Rink is small yet the largest one in North London. Winter sees the North Yard turned into a 25 meter ice rink along with a Santa Grotto for the littlest ones. The Camden Market Ice Rink is open from mid-November to early January.
Christmas Lights in London
Christmas lights in London seem to be where the big shopping destinations are. Not surprising – you want to keep the punters in the Christmas mood while they are emptying out their pockets.
Christmas Lights on Oxford Street
The most famous Christmas lights in London are over the shopping mecca that is Oxford Street. In 2019, in celebration of 60 years of Christmas lights will have 27 “light curtains” totalling a whopping 222,000 lights.
Christmas Lights Regents Street
It’s all angelic for the Christmas lights Regent Street shows off. It’s the “Spirits of Christmas” display, get it?
The floating angels of Regents Street represent the largest display of Christmas Lights in London. Regent Street celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2019.
Carnaby Street Christmas Lights
Just a couple of streets over from the Christmas Lights on Oxford Street, the Carnaby Street Christmas lights in 2019 are spotlighting the pollution destroying the Earth’s oceans. Using recycled materials like plastic bottles and bubble wrap, the street is a twinkling display of jellyfish, coral and other sea creatures.
Covent Garden Christmas Lights
The thousands of lights that make up the Covent Garden Christmas lights lead you to the piazza where the usual ginormous Christmas tree and reindeer are on display.
Seven Dials Christmas Lights
The Seven Dials section of Covent Garden has a separate Christmas display from the Covent Garden piazza. Giant glowing stars light up the street as part of the “Starry Night” design.
Christmas Lights at Kew
Christmas at Kew Gardens is a special walk-through event where the gardens are all lit up. You will walk through a tunnel of light and see a light and music display at the Palm House Pond. We go with the kids every year to see the Christmas Lights at Kew.
What do you think? Are you now excited about spending Christmas in London? The days may be short and dark, but there is plenty of sparkle in the city nonetheless.
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