There’s a myriad of festive fun to be had in London this Christmas, but to get you started, here are a few suggestions.
1) Christmas lights: London’s shimmering decorations are some of the best in the world and none are as impressive as the Oxford Street display, in the heart of London. November 5th was the official lights-on date, marked by a celebrity studded ceremony and crowds of thousands. This year’s lights were switched on by British pop stars Robbie Williams and Leona Lewis, and viewing places will be ticketed so book your place now.
2) Kew Gardens: London’s famous gardens get seriously festive from December 8th, with a range of activities for young and old. Take a free guided Winter Walk where you can marvel at the park’s glittering Christmas decorations, enjoy a horse and carriage ride, or send kids off to meet Santa at his grotto. A vintage carousel, special Christmas gift shop and daily children’s entertainment will also be featured.
3) Hit the ice: Hyde Park, Somerset House and Hampton Court Palace all host popular open-air ice rinks throughout the holidays, but if you fancy slipping and sliding beneath one of London’s most popular historic landmarks, head to the Tower of London. The Tower’s ice rink is open between November 17th and January 6th, nestled in the grounds of the dramatic fortress.
4) Reindeer petting: Santa’s antlered pals will be greeting kids each Saturday until Christmas Eve in Covent Garden, and keeping Santa company in his grotto at London Zoo. Alternatively, head to the Winter Wonderland weekend (December 11th-12th) at the London Wetland Centre, where fluffy Huskies will be pulling the sleighs and posing for photos instead.
5) Santa Run: Burn off some of those Christmas calories in the name of charity, by taking part in London’s annual Santa Run. Held on December 9th in Greenwich Park, over 1,000 runners will undertake a 5k run around London decked out in Santa suits (provided free if you raise over £100 for the World Cancer Research Fund).
6) Harrods Christmas World: The capital’s ever-impressive Christmas shop displays make even window-shopping a festive experience, but for the ultimate in decadent decorations, pay a visit to the world-famous Harrods. The iconic department store hosts a ‘Harrods Christmas World’, with a Santa’s Grotto, snowglobe village, gingerbread Harrods shop front and a replica Tower of London. If you can’t afford the £1,299 box of luxury Christmas crackers, you can at least pick up a bauble or two as a souvenir.