The Best of Christmas in London From A Local’s Point of View (Including Christmas in London with Kids)

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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.

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.

Festive events in London
The entrance to Dennis Severs’ House lit with gas lamps.

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?

Festive events in London
The Churchill Arms in Notting Hill is as festive as you can get.
Festive events in London
The trees are all held up by netting. Let’s hope a strong wind doesn’t blow!

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.

Gingerbread City

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.

Festive events in London
Geometric animals and expensive accessories in the Harrods’ windows.

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.

Festive events in London
My daughter punching a very British festive fairy (inadvertently).

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).

Festive events in London
Harrods makes gift giving easy
Festive events in London
The food hall decked out for the holidays to distract you from the prices of the products.
Festive events in London
These prices are fine if you send your butler to shop for Christmas and you don’t see the bills.

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.

Mexican flavoured Bavarian pretzels
You’d think you were in Germany with these Mexican-flavoured Bavarian pretzels at Winter Wonderland Hyde Park.

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.

Tip! If you are going to Winter Wonderland Hyde Park with children, go early in the day on a weekday. Winter Wonderland is open from 10AM-10pm for about 6 week from mid- November to early January.

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.

Note! Hogwarts in the snow is super popular. Buy your Hogwarts in the snow tickets early or face extortionate prices from resellers.

Christmas Window Displays

Like in Paris, New York and other big cities, the big hotels and department stores do very creative festive displays.

 

Festive events in London
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel decked out for the holidays.

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.

Festive events in London
Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.

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.

Festive events in London
Because nothing says Christmas like giant creepy-crawlies.

Dolce and Gabbana went back to Sicilian roots with a decadent store front display.

Festive events in London
I’ll take the bags, leave the cannoli.

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.

Festive events in London
It’s called Fighting Fire with Ice Cream because “Christmas Tree in Ice Block” would have been too bourgeois a name.
festive events london
The Christmas tree in a block of ice:  as cold as the spirit of the season captured in the heart of capitalist London (or something like that) Photo credit: Kings Cross.

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
trafalgar square tree and fountain
The Trafalgar Christmas tree is donated by Norway every year as a thank you for British help during World War 2.

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

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.

Somerset House ice skating rink
Somerset House ice skating rink

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.

Note!  The switch on days fo the Christmas Lights in London tend to be a big street party. They also happen in November because Christmas in London starts pretty much immediately after Halloween (and there are glimmers of it in the stores as early as September).

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.

Oxford Street Lights
Oxford Street lights at Christmas and traffic is as busy as ever

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.

Carnaby Street Christmas lights
Carnaby Street Christmas lights 2019 highlights environmental pollution

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.

Top Tip!  The Christmas lights at Kew are truly magical and you will want to spend time outside. Wrap up warm because it gets COLD (even the hot chocolate you can buy won’t make up for hats, scarves and gloves.

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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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Christmas in London with kids
There are plenty of things to do over Christmas in London including if you are spending Christmas in London with kids, such as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts in the Snow, or Winter Wonderland? Check them all out! #christmas #london #christmaslights #kidfriendly Christmas Vacation | Christmas Travel | Unique Christmas Experiences | England | UK United Kingdom | Family Friendly Travel Destinations | Travel with Kids | Vacation #travel #vacation #familytravel #travelwithkids #wanderlust #England #UK

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24 thoughts on “The Best of Christmas in London From A Local’s Point of View (Including Christmas in London with Kids)”

  1. London is at its finest during the Christmas season and your lovely photos do indeed capture the holiday spirit. Thanks for sharing and happy Holidays to you.

  2. I would love to visit this house during Christmas time when it’s decorated. I particularly liked the video with the dim light and the delicious food platter. Christmas time is really a wonderful time..and miracles happen during this time.

  3. This time of year is just so much fun with all the amazing Christmas decor. The Churchill Arms looks so intense! Hahahha, I’ve never seen Christmas decor like that 🙂

  4. I would love to visit London over Christmas – I was so disappointed that I missed the festivities during my year there – I went over for a gap year work placement but arrived in January, and then left for home mid December. Will have to get back so I can enjoy what sounds like an amazing atmosphere 🙂

  5. OMG! That pub is hilarious! I’d love to see that in person and visit at night because I’m sure with all of the lights it looks quite different. That tree in the ice is always really intriguing. Some places just really go beyond with the holiday decor. I LOVE it!

    1. I was wondering about the poor pub guys who had to haul 90 trees onto the roof and then strap them into place. My husband is exhausted bring one home and up the stairs 🙂

  6. That Christmas tree in that block of ice is beautiful! I’m not digging the insects in the windows, must be a thing! The outdoor ice skating rink, along with all the sparkly lights look amazing!

  7. I’ve always heard of Harrod’s and wondered what their displays would look like. I guess I was expecting over the top but that may distract people too much from their goods? Anyway, I really like the looks of that Christmas Tree in a block of ice. Such a simple concept, but very cool.

    1. Harrods does OTT very well – they throw heart and soul into it. I mean seriously – this is the most restrained I’ve ever seen it look. Not sure why that is the case this year.

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