WHAT TO DO IN LONDON DURING THE HOLIDAYS
London is already a dreamy city but, during the Christmas season, it becomes absolutely magical! It’s like the WHOLE city is on the same page and on board with decorating everything that you can possibly decorate for the holiday. It’s amazing. The last few weeks I was in London, I made it a point to walk around as much. I was adamant about soaking it all in because, well, Christmas in Florida just isn’t like …. this.
Today, I thought it’d be fun to share some of my favorite things to do in London during the Christmas season! There are pictures of some of the activities and places mentioned but, not all. You really have to go and experience it for yourself!
• Spend a fun evening out at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park! It’s an a massive carnival that has a traditional European market with food and product vendors, fun rides, a carousel with a bar in the middle and a small ice skating rink! Whitney and I went twice and had a blast meandering through, sipping on mulled wine! Highly recommend … just be sure to bundle up! Entry is free!
• Go shopping in Covent Garden in the morning and sip your morning coffee from their wooden benches, adorned with garland and red bows, then grab lunch at The Ivy, a London staple. They have delicious food and bright and fun holiday decor! I love how they use ornaments and flowers in their Christmas tree’s and wreaths. In terms of food, I always get the Shepherd’s Pie.
• Meander through one of the Christmas markets! There are quite a few throughout London. I really liked the one right next to the London Eye at the bottom of the Golden Jubilee Bridge. There’s also a great one further down along the Southbank near the Tower Bridge. The food and product vendors are all mostly impressive. Whitney loved finding a good place that had mulled wine and I loved Waffle On – they had the best waffles!
• Embrace the British culture by trying minced pies, mulled wine and Christmas puddings! Minced pies, honestly, taste a lot like Poptarts, except the filling is rich in fruit and spices instead of fruit and sugar. Not bad! I brought some back for my family to try, as well as mulled wine spices. You can find them at any pastry shop or grocer, and you can find mulled wine at any of the Christmas markets – mentioned above – or Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland!
• Go ice skating at Somerset House, Natural History Museum or Tower of London. Make sure you book your tickets ahead of time. It’s usually between £12-17 [$15-21] and you get to skate for an hour. Also, make sure you set aside some time to take advantage of the cafe’s that are usually within the rink area. They have some really impressive holiday drinks. The ice rink at Somerset House is sponsored by Fortnum & Mason, the Queen’s grocer, and they have an amazing little shop full of holiday trinkets, as well, so be sure to check that out if you go there. Rinks are open from mid-November through the beginning of the new year, except Natural History Museum. It opens mid-to-late October.
• Pop over to the beautiful area of Belgravia for an afternoon treat at Peggy Porschen Cakes. It’s always decorated beautifully throughout the year. They make really yummy latte’s and cappuccinos’ and their cake is TO DIE FOR. Remember this post?
• Get out there and walk around! Here’s one route I took one day that’s great to do during the holidays: Get off at Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly Line, walk up toward The Dorchester Hotel, then turn right into the Mayfair area on South Street. Make your way toward Maison Goyard and through Berkeley Gardens. From there, find your way over to New Bond Street and …. JACKPOT! You’ll find Cartier, CHANEL, and Tiffany’s with beautiful store front decor and The Royal Arcade is right there, too. From there, Regent Street is a mere 5 minute walk so head there next for more lights and splendor! After that, if you’re wanting to get away from the crowds, I’d suggest going to The Churchill Bar & Terrace to warm up! It’s located just on the outskirts of that major shopping area, more near Marble Arch, though, so you may need to take the tube from Bond Street up to Marble Arch [on the Central Line] if you’re tired. But, it’s a great place to unwind after pushing your way through those crowds all day. Their outside seating area is beautiful and kind of reminds me of Narnia! It’s enclosed during the Winter so you’re not really outside, and there is a faux fur liner and blanket on every chair with lights in all the windows.
• Pop in to a proper English pub to warm up, watch sport or grab a nice crisp pint! My favorite around the city is The Albert, down the street from Westminster Abbey, but I also love The Glassblower in Piccadilly, Crown & Anchor in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden and Churchill Arms in Notting Hill. They always have the BEST decorations inside!
• Treat yourself to afternoon tea at The Ritz! This is something I didn’t get to do but my friend, Victoria, did last week and said it was absolutely divine! It books up months in advance so make sure to book this when you book your plane tickets.
• Check out the holiday window displays at Selfridges, John Lewis, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason! My favorites were at Fortnum & Mason. You can’t tell in the photo I included of the one of the penguin and the polar bear but the bottom of it says “Although they were poles apart, they’d never forget a friend overseas. A simple gesture that brings us together, during times such as these.” Usually window displays are all about the THINGS within the store, but I like how F&M’s focused more on the season itself. That one in particular was my favorite window.
• Find a Christmas carol service or concert to attend! THIS site usually has a great list of the major ones, including dates and times! I caught some great carolers in Trafalgar Square when I came out of the National Gallery. It was dreamy to say the least!
• Dine in an igloo overlooking Tower Bridge! I’m not sure if you’ve seen this place on social media but it’s called Coppa Club and it’s located right next to Tower of London. Get off on the Tower Hill stop and it’s a short 7-10 minute walk, depending on crowds. Whitney, our friend Caroline and I went there one night at sunset and, thankfully, didn’t have a long wait to sit in one of these heated igloos. I think it was because we went during the week and we went kind of early, before the afterwork crowd came through. What I liked about this place was that the food was equally as good as the view!
I am quite confident there are so many other amazing things to do during the holiday season in London. These are just the ones I was able to experience. We really wanted to see the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House. We heard it’s great but, unfortunately, we didn’t plan that well enough in advance. My favorite thing to do, personally, was just walking and discovering decorated doors and buildings, etc. I miss London so very much already and sincerely hope this post inspires you to go and see this amazing city during this fun time of year!
What’s the city that is MAGIC in your opinion during the holidays?