London - The place to be this Christmas
London is a fabulous place to visit at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas. Certainly there are other cities to see, both in Europe and further afield, with their trendy Christmas activities and highly decorated buildings, although nothing quite beats the magic of London. From the majestic and iconic River Thames weaving its wondrous route through the city, spectacularly lit with twinkling decorations, to the famous historical buildings along the river bank, bejewelled with festive adornments-making this the most recognisable festive city on earth.
Many people ask what makes London so special at Christmas. Well, the answer is simple. As well as London’s 2000 years of history to explore at this time of year, there are also a plethora of wonderful events and attractions on offer to make your Christmas time truly special.
Christmas activities and unmissable delights, unique to London, make coming here a really special experience to be cherished and remembered- London has it all. So less of the ‘Bah Humbug’ approach to Christmas….why not ‘don’ your smartest Santa hat and prepare yourself for the some of the best, unmissable delights of the season. You won’t regret it!
Here are just a few of the things that contribute to making London so spectacular at Christmas. The list is by no means exhaustive, but will help to whet your appetite and put you in the festive spirit.
Christmas Light Displays
London manages to overcome the dark and dreary winter nights in December by providing us with thousands of spectacular light displays all over the city. Oxford Street alone, London’s fabulous shopping area, will transform the skies with over 750,000 twinkly lights. Additionally, department stores such as Harrods and Hamleys toy store, will surpass themselves again with festive makeovers in their shop windows and sparkling light extravaganzas, providing the most truly mesmerising illuminations imaginable. Central London, never to be outdone, adds that festive touch of sophistication and (let’s be honest), bling, to the proceedings, with landmarks such as Trafalgar Square’s enormous Christmas tree resplendent in Yuletide gaiety, with its gleaming array of lights delighting your every thought.
Everywhere you look a glorious plethora of ostentatious glitz awaits you. Examples can be found all over the city, from Carnaby Street, Kensington and Knightsbridge with their unique range of shops, to the world famous Kew Gardens, whose Christmas spectaculars provide an amazing treat for visitors. With laser displays, giant baubles and singing trees to astound you, what’s not to like? This, along with the mile long, twinkling path of over a million Christmas lights illuminating ancient trees and buildings, will leave you with a festive glow like no other, (apart from that acquired by the odd sherry or two!)
If you prefer to be guided to London’s prettiest Xmas illuminations, then why not try the unique Christmas Lights Bike Tour? On this 2 hour, unforgettable tour, you’ll be able to witness many of London’s famous landmarks and buildings, festooned with thousands of lights and decorations. You’ll also experience a few of London’s glorious festive markets, enabling you to pick up a quirky gift or two, along with hearing a range of hilarious tales about London’s history. A great experience that only London can provide.
London’s Christmas markets, Fairs and Festivals
If you want to be at the centre of London’s festive events then head on down to some of the world’s best Christmas markets. Although other countries may have the snow to create Yuletide nostalgia, London isn’t without its fair share of atmosphere! Covent Garden is a prime example of this and is utterly irresistible at Christmas. Its stylish stores, market buildings and cobbled square give it an air of bygone days. Here you can savour the beauty of Christmas whilst meandering below the many elegant mistletoe chandeliers. You could combine your gift finding experience with a quality meal within the piazza, where you can take a break from the Christmas hustle and bustle whilst listening to a range of street entertainers. Alternatively, try sampling some of the food from many of the capital’s finest street vendors, selling every conceivable multicultural dish known to man - an experience not to be missed. Many other such markets are dotted all over London, the Southbank Centre Wintertime Market and Hyde Park Winter Wonderland to name just two. Selling a plethora of hand crafted offerings and foodie gifts, visiting these venues will certainly put you in the festive spirit, and you’ll also be in the midst of some superb seasonal events into the bargain. Alternatively, if you want a venue combining 17th C London architecture with the 19C nostalgia of the Cutty Sark tea clipper whilst browsing, then the Greenwich Wintertime Festival will certainly provide an unforgettable wintertime festival experience. Within the world heritage listed Old Royal Naval College, this very intimate festival/market will appeal to everyone. You’ll be entertained comprehensively by theatre, street performers, live music and children’s shows, along with being able to taste some of London’s finest festive favourites. This magical wonderland is made complete by a visit to Santa and his Greenwich launch pad, as he gets ready for his Christmas deliveries. Wander amongst the 500 Christmas trees or marvel at the incredible ice skating performed by world class skaters in this fantastic Christmas destination, unique to London.
Whilst on the subject of the big man himself, although he is super busy at this time of year, Santa always makes a point of visiting our incredible city, turning up in the strangest London venues imaginable! His hideaways at the London Zoo and the winter paradise of the London Wetland Centre for example, will delight young and old alike. Santa may originate from Lapland, yet here in this wildlife wonderland you will experience exciting sleigh rides with huskies, making your Christmas complete. Alternatively, you could opt for a winter sightseeing tour on the Thames with Santa, where adults can enjoy mulled wine and mince pies while sailing by London’s famous landmarks, whilst Santa distributes a range of goodies to the children on board.
Only in London! - Enjoy London’s quirkier activities
Great Christmas Pudding Race
No other capital in the world can boast such bizarre, yet entertaining, fun filled Christmas days out as the 38th annual Great Christmas Pudding Race, which takes place in Covent Garden. Imagine 150 Christmas puddings tackling a festive obstacle course, hurtling around obstacles including foam jets and flour-filled balloons, whilst negotiating and balancing Christmas puds on paper plates and you pretty much have it. It’s all in aid of Cancer Research UK. Teams of 6 can register to compete, or you can simply show up and support to have a fun day out.
Doggy Style Christmas Market
London has always been a city of dog lovers- and the’Doggy Style Christmas Market’ typifies the unique Christmas activities that London has to offer. You’d be ‘barking mad’ (get it?) to miss the opportunity to pick up a stocking-filler of luxe doggy accessories from this canine themed market, with stalls full of ‘houndy’ goodies for our four legged friends. Dare we say it? ‘Happy howlidays.’
London Pantomime Horse Race
Alternatively, why not forget the Grand National and prepare for the horsey fun at the London Pantomime Horse Race? Certainly one of the world’s daftest and wackiest of annual events, this ‘Race Day’ event features over 30 costumed nags, dressed in the style of iconic Film & TV characters. Panto-Horse teams must navigate various pit-stops and unexpected obstacles during the quarter mile street race.
Take a trip to the Panto or Theatre Land
London has that special ‘wow factor’ at any time, but especially at Christmas, when it comes to its world class theatre. Taking in one of the capital’s seasonal extravaganzas will make any visit complete. From musicals and operas featuring famous artistes, to traditional pantos like Snow White or Aladdin in historic venues like The London Palladium or The Royal Albert Hall. The latter is beautifully transformed into an enchanting Christmas experience of music, dance, film, comedy and much more, so why not take your visit to a new level and pay them a visit?
Ice Skating in the Capital
During the ‘Little Ice Age’ during the 17th-19th C, ice skating was common during the winter on the River Thames. No longer unfortunately, as the river freezes over no longer, however London still boasts many glorious venues where you can skate in enchanting surroundings to your hearts content.
The famous Natural History Museum is home to one such ice rink. With the elegant backdrop of the Waterhouse building and surrounded by the magical trees laced with fairy lights, you can glide majestically around the beautifully adorned Christmas tree. With indoor café, bar and viewing balcony overlooking the ice you can also enjoy a restful drink or a toasted marshmallow after your skate. Another stunning setting is Somerset House, whose 18thC courtyard is the place for a winter escapade. This 900 sq m outdoor rink is ideal for families and you can combine skating with winter dining at the famous Fortnum Lodge, which offers champagne and mulled wine. The Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade and the ‘Skate Lates’, (a range of programmed events throughout the winter period), are also unmissable treats.
Celebrate a Traditional Christmas in London
Experience the Christmas of long ago.
London does Christmas traditions like no other city on earth. If you want to experience a Christmas of yesteryear, then there’s nowhere better than Hampton Court Palace. Here you can take part in a range of yuletide activities, like finding out about food and cooking in Christmases past and discover how the Tudors celebrated. You could even join the Christmas ghost tales or create a Victorian Christmas, in a hands-on workshop.
Sometimes people are so engrossed in their preparations, that the real meaning of Christmas is often forgotten. So why not be a part of the traditional Christmas carols and services at a range of venues throughout the Capital? St Paul’s Cathedral holds a charming Christmas day church service, whilst the Albert Hall’s ‘Carols by Candlelight’ is a true delight. And for a real sense of what makes London so special at Christmas, head off to Trafalgar Square. This iconic venue has been the setting of many glorious celebrations in the past and forms the backdrop for a magnificent Christmas tree, donated by the people of Norway each year to express their gratitude for Britain’s support during WW2. Around this tree, choirs perform atmospheric carol concerts in the run up to Christmas, which everyone can sing along to, creating a very moving, reflective and peaceful, break from the frenzy of the day.
So there you have it…. Christmas in London has always been special because it has everything that you could possibly want in a city at this time. Its fabulous culture, heritage and tradition combined with the incredible façade of modern day London, undergo a major, festive transformation, making London ablaze with colour. Added to this all the vibrant, yuletide activities on offer, along with the wealth of superb stores and attractions available to you and you have everything in the mixing pot to make London one of the most recognisable and visited, festive cities in the world.
London certainly has everything to make your Christmas trip truly unforgettable. From the ‘oh so silly’ Christmas pudding races, that could only happen in London, to the range of superb shows and pantos in the finest, most iconic theatres in the world. Add to this London’s unbeatable skyline with its awe inspiring, magnificent architecture, decorated in all its festive glory and you have it all. Combine everything together and you have a holiday made in heaven. London is one of the most celebrated and recognisable cities on the planet! Don’t just take our word for it! Why not come and experience it for yourself and sample some of London’s unmissable Christmas delights? You certainly won’t regret it!
If you decide on an extended stay we suggest you opt for a serviced apartment rather than a hotel stay. Not only will you be more comfortable in your own, luxurious surroundings which we regard as a ‘home from home’, but you’ll avoid the often expensive, yet impersonal experience of a hotel. Euracom has a vast range of comfy apartments for short or longer stays, all at the most competitive rates. Here are 3 of this month’s featured apartments. Why not check out what they can offer?
These Central London spacious, serviced apartments are in the desirable area of Putney Bridge. Having recently undergone a full refurbishment, they have been tastefully redecorated/ modernised, whilst retaining the full character of the building without compromising on all the modern conveniences you would expect. For just £808p/w for a studio apartment, they make the perfect spot to explore all the festive attractions that London has to offer, whilst relaxing in a ‘home from home’ environment. Close to a range of attractions such as the River Thames and the Hammersmith Apollo.
Within the heart of prestigious Mayfair, these superb serviced apartments have been designed to provide every comfort and the utmost privacy. Self-catering with fully fitted luxury kitchens, spacious reception rooms & dining rooms, these well-appointed, luxurious apartments are perfect for those looking to entertain. Ranging from £1316 p/w you can choose from studios or one/two bed apartments. With almost every facility & convenience you could want available to you, such as marble en-suite bathrooms and well-designed bedrooms/lounges equipped with superb quality English made furniture, they provide the perfect base from which to explore all of London’s festive landmarks. If you are looking for a luxury short stay apartment to rent in central London, these are the apartments for you. Within walking distance of the underground and close to the stylish Mayfair shops and Hamleys toy shop which are so spectacular at this time of year, the apartments are only a short distance to famous 'London Palladium' which is quite simply the most famous variety theatre in the world.
Ideally suited for corporate/ business visitors, or leisure travellers wishing to stay in the heart of the City’s sensational tourist attractions, these self- catering serviced apartments have been tastefully furnished in a contemporary style. With a carefully coordinated colour scheme and personal touches giving them that ‘home from home’ feeling, they provide the perfect short stay apartment in London. With nightly rates starting from only £140, the spacious living quarters are all fitted to a very high standard, featuring a comfortable lounge, fully equipped kitchen & modern bathroom. Many apartments have balconies giving scenic views of London’s striking Christmas skyline. The apartments are located close to the famous Tower of London and well placed to explore some of the Christmas festivities in the renowned Borough and Spitalfields markets. There are a variety of trendy bars, restaurants and shops within walking distance of the apartments.
© Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)]