If you’re visiting or living in London over the winter, you won’t have any trouble finding fun things to see and do. Unlike some cities, where entertainment, shopping and sight-seeing can be difficult to come by in the winter, London becomes even more bustling and active as Christmas approaches. Ice rinks are frozen, Christmas lights are lit, shopping festivals are set up, and carolers take to the streets. To get you started on a few things you can do, here are the top ten things you are going to love if you happen to be in London over the festive season.
1) Ice Skating
Now becoming an annual tradition, both indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks will appear all over London to mark the festive season. Most are open late in the evening and many have special events happening throughout the season. Check out the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park if you can brave the cold or the Westfield London Ice Rink if you prefer to be indoors.
2) Christmas Carols
One of London’s most famous icons is Trafalgar Square and one of the most popular and uplifting events of the year is the Christmas Carol services that take place every year. Throughout December, Londoners can have their chance to get into the festive spirit by singing along with selection of choirs from across the capital that set up in the Square and go through all the classics.
Londoners take their shopping very seriously, and Christmas time in the city becomes more manic than ever. Whether you want to do the West End, Harrods, Selfridges or Westfield London Shopping centre, there are a variety of shops you can go to get your Christmas shopping done.
4) Christmas Lights
London has some of the best Christmas lights in the world with most of them switching on in the middle of November. One of the more famous lights on a single store is probably at Harrods in Knightsbridge followed by Selfridges in Bond Street. It’s also worth checking out lights at Marylebone High Street, Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, and Covent Garden which are sometimes switched on by high profile celebrities. Just recently, pop starlet Rihanna switched on Christmas lights at Westfield London which nearly came to a standstill when thousands of fans showed up to meet her.
5) Christmas Tea at The Dorchester
From 22nd November 2010 – 2nd January 2011, one of London’s most prestigious hotels The Dorchester will hold their renowned Christmas Carol Afternoon Tea in The Promenade accompanied by a local children’s choir. The Christmas Carol Afternoon Tea includes a glass of champagne, a selection of delicious finger sandwiches, festive pastries and mince pies. If you fancy giving yourself a real treat, an afternoon at The Dorchester would be just the ticket
6) London’s Great Christmas Pudding Race
On the 4th December, the traditional Christmas pudding race will take place around an obstacle course in Covent Garden to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Teams will dress up in fancy clothes and race each other around the obstacle while carrying a Christmas pudding on a tray. The winner receives the Pudding Trophy as well as raise money so if you’re interested in taking part and for further details see: http://www.xmaspuddingrace.org.uk
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the traditional English Pantomime keeping you entertained on Boxing Day! Men dressing up as ugly women, great audience participation and array of Z list Celebrities making fools of them for your pleasure! One of the most popular productions in London is the annual pantomime at the
Hackney Empire (showing Jack and the Beanstalk this year) followed by Trafalgar Studios in London’s West End who are showing the classic production of ‘A Christmas Carol from 21st December until the end of January 2011.
8) London Eye
What better way to admire the city of London at Christmas than visiting the London Eye to get a spectacular view. Whether you want a day out with family or friends or the ideal way to spoil your partner, the London Eye provides the perfect getaway from the festive hustle and bustle of the city streets. he London’s iconic landmark will be transformed into a giant Christmas present decorated with its very own Christmas bow and traditional wrapping to ensure visitors feel the Christmas cheer. The festive season will run from 28th November to 5 January 2011.
9) London Santa’s on the Run
On Sunday 5th December, over 1000 runners are expected to take part in a 5K run around Greenwich Park in South East London, to raise money for World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) Each runner will receive a free Santa outfit, complete with snowy beard to run around London and raise at least £100 each in sponsorship. The spirit of the event is ‘taking part’ not ‘winning’ so you can run, jog or walk whatever your age or fitness level. If you are up for it and want to take part check out the official site: http://www.gosh.org/santarun/
10) Tower Bridge European Christmas Market
The Tower Bridge European Christmas Market will take place from 29th November – 22nd December at Potters Fields Park near Tower Bridge. This is the perfect chance for you to get stocked up on traditional Christmas food, goodies and wine and even pick up some present s from the arts and crafts traders. There will also be festive market stalls with traditional Christmas food and drinks like gingerbread, chestnuts and mulled wine! Definitely worth a visit.