Christmas Markets, incredible lighting displays, festive decor, amazing shopping and dining, seasonal shows and events, and lots of entertainment are just a few of the many reasons that visiting London at Christmas is a must.
I’ve been fortunate to spend time in many world class cities at Christmas time – Los Angeles, New York, Paris…and I have to say, no one does Christmas like London.
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I had seen pictures for years, following bloggers and social media accounts that highlight London at Christmas and two years ago I had the chance to visit on a work trip during the beginning of December. Seeing how magical it was I knew I had to take the kids back to see it in person.
Traditionally, December (and winter in general) are the low travel season in London which makes traveling there to see the festivities even easier.
The weather in London at Christmas can be cold and wet, but if you pack the right gear, you won’t be slowed down by a little rain. It rains in London year-round after all, so it’s not really that different with the exception of the temperatures being a bit colder.
London is so beautiful year-round, that when you add in a bunch of fresh greenery and twinkle lights all over the place, it shines like nothing you’ve ever seen. Every store front and street has decor everywhere you look.
Here are a few of my favorite things to do in London at Christmas.
Attend the Carols at Royal Albert Hall – This may have been one of my favorite music/concert/arts events that I have ever attended. It was SO. MUCH. FUN!!! Amazing performers, the Royal Orchestra, soloists and a sing-a-long. It’s a total party.
Have a Christmas Themed Afternoon Tea – There are SO many fun, beautiful and delicious Christmas themed afternoon teas to choose from. Check out my post all about the best Afternoon teas in London and look for their seasonal offerings.
Walk Down Regent Street to See the Lights – or choose pretty much just about any other main street in the city center and you will see gorgeous lighting displays. There are double decker bus tours you can take that will drive you all around to see the lights too.
Visit Winter Wonderland – Every Christmas Hyde Park converts a big section of the park into a Winter Wonderland carnival. It is so fun to visit this wintertime fair and drink hot cider, ride rides and shop fun vendors. It’s a great time for the whole family, a date night or a girl’s night out!
See the Christmas Tree and Market at Trafalgar Square – food and gift vendors from all over gather in cute little booths on Trafalgar Square during the month of December. Grab a hot bratwurst and shop for gifts for loved ones back home.
Shop along Bond Street and Oxford Street to see incredible window displays – Bond Street is the home of the most exclusive stores with the most incredible elaborate holiday displays. Wander down this Rodeo Dr. of London and explore all the fun sites.
Eat Dinner at one of London’s very festive pubs or restaurants – you’ll be hard pressed to find a restaurant in town that doesn’t dress itself up for Christmas, but some definitely stand out. Clos Maggiore is a favorite, 34 Mayfair often does an over-the-top display and all of the Ivy Restaurants are sure to be pretty. Nothing says Christmas like cozying up in a corner booth at a decorated pub by the fire for some sticky toffee pudding!
Around every corner, down every street and alley way, in every park, store front, you name it…you can’t help but see festive displays everywhere you look. The best part of being in London at Christmas is just being in London.
Wander the streets, grab a hot cocoa (look for a Knoops – it is divine!) and feast on all the beauty that is around you. It is truly remarkable and if that doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit, I don’t know what will.
There are concerts and seasonal performances at just about every cathedral (look up events at St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey), Christmas markets in parks and squares all over town, and special decorations in hotels lobbies, restaurants and shops on every corner.
And the lighting displays down the major streets throughout the city definitely don’t disappoint. There are so many pretty places to see. Borough Market, Covent Garden, Seven Dials, Neals Yard, Mayfair, Marylebone, Belgravia, Chelsea…the list goes on. Just enjoy wandering and being surrounded by Christmas cheer!
If you are looking for festive places to stay, here are some of the most beautifully decorated (and some of my favorite) places in town.
Claridge’s – Super high end but also known as THE place to stay at Christmas (or any time of year for that matter!)
The Langham – I have not stayed here, but walked through it. It is gorgeous, and always gets high marks…and hits all the lists of best dressed at Christmas.
The Cadogan a Belmond Hotel – I LOVE this small, boutique hotel and at Christmas it is even extra perfection.
The Mandarin Oriental – A small but beautiful lobby and well appointed rooms. Some with Hyde Park views which are stunning! Rooms here can be tight. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite when we stayed which was a treat.
The Savoy – A stately more traditional big hotel that has been a staple in the city for decades. They really go all out for Christmas.
The Ritz – Not the Ritz Carlton, but the famous London Ritz in the heart of the city. Another big, traditional stunning hotel that has been famous for decades. Known for their afternoon tea too.
Visiting with your family? Check out my favorite place to stay in the whole city with a family here, and my other top picks for hotels with family rooms in London.
Be sure to check out these other posts of fun things to do and see while you’re in town!
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I hope you enjoy this beautiful city in all of it’s Christmas glory!
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