Date Published 17 December 2015
10 Things to Do This Christmas in London
The Christmas period is a magical time in London. Late night shopping under the dazzling lights of Oxford Street; sipping a mulled wine from mittened hands in Hyde Park; mooching around the myriad Christmas markets - there's no denying that London transforms itself over the Christmas period. Here are 10 things you must do in the capital over December.
10) Those Christmas Lights…
London lights up at Christmas. Take a stroll through the West End in the evening, one of the few times it's really worth visiting the big stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street! And it doesn't have to cost you a penny. The lights are switched on in early November.
9) Get Your Skates On!
Every winter, outdoor ice skating rinks appear all over London. They open from mid-November to mid-January and most are open late in the evening and have special events happening throughout the season. A particular highlight is the rink at Somerset House, offset against the Thames.
8) See the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree
Trafalgar Square benefits from a huge Christmas Tree each year as a present from Norway for the country's help during the Second World War. The tree is usually over 20 meters high and 50-60 years old. The lights are switched on in the evening on the first Thursday in December. The tree usually stays till the Twelfth Night of Christmas, 6 January, when it is taken down to be chipped and composted.
7) Sit On Santa's Knee (best reserved for the little ones)
You can meet Santa in London's department stores. Take the kids to sit on Santa's knee and tell him what they want him to bring them for Christmas. Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City have an unforgettable journey to the North Pole accompanied by everyone's favourite Shrek characters for winter 2015/16. Adventure to Santa's Grotto, A DreamWorks DreamPlace – takes visitors through fun, interactive and personalised activities on their adventure to Santa.
6) Get Festive At a Christmas Fair
Shopping is a tradition at Christmas (regrettably), so seek out some vintage, bespoke items at one of London's various Christmas fairs.
5) Culture Shock
The English National Ballet Christmas Season is a fabulous tradition which has included The Nutcracker since 1950. Set in a world of frosty Edwardian elegance designed by Peter Farmer, this captivating production takes audiences on an enchanting journey with Clara, her Nutcracker doll and the magician Drosselmeyer. English National Ballet's dancers bring to life Tchaikovsky's eternally popular score.
4) 'She's Behind You!'
We have a wonderful English tradition of family theatre where men dress as fat ugly women and women star as the lead 'boy'. Oh, how could you not enjoy this? There's great audience participation when we get to shout, "He's behind you!" when they can't see the baddies. Catch Jack and the Beanstalk at Hackney Empire from November 21st - January 3rd.
3) Run Amok at the Great Christmas Pudding Race
On a Saturday morning in December, about 150 race contestants wear fancy dress and run around Covent Garden while trying to balance a Christmas pudding on a plate! Obstacles, such as balloons full of flour, are put in their way to make it even more fun to watch. It's a charity event to raise money for Cancer Research.
2) Take a Blast From the Past at the Geffrye Museum
Each year, the Geffrye Museum's twelve period rooms are decorated in authentic festive style, providing a magical glimpse into Christmases gone. Christmas Past explores the origins and meanings of some of our more common customs, from kissing under the mistletoe to decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties.
1) Joy To The World
Get goosebumps taking part in one of London's many carol services. Popular ones include Trafalgar Square, St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.