With ice rinks popping up all over town and the streets awash with glittering lights, Christmas shopping in London makes for an atmospheric experience. Here are a few pointers to get you started.
1) Christmas markets will be held all over the capital this year, but one of the most popular is Southbank’s Traditional Christmas Market (Nov 16th – Dec 24th) set in a prime location, beneath the iconic London Eye. Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland hosts another popular choice, the German Christmas Market (Nov 23rd – Jan 6th) where shoppers can sip mulled wine and gingerbread while browsing handcrafted gifts, then burn off the calories at the park’s ice rink.
2) If you need an excuse for indulging in some serious spending, London’s premium department stores host an array of Christmas events, with spectacular decorations, window displays and Santa’s grottos. Head to Harrods, Selfridges or Fortnum & Mason for some of the best window-shopping in town, or if you’ve got kids with you, don’t miss Hamley’s, London’s seven-floor toy mega store.
3) If you can’t resist the shimmering fairy lights of the high street, November 24th is the best day to hit the shops in central London. The American Express Shop West VIP day offers car-free shopping throughout Oxford Street, Regent Street and the West End. Not only that, but the streets will be lined with ‘gift gurus’ handing out freebies, discount vouchers and free shopping advice.
4) The Dazzle Jewellery Exhibition returns between Nov 5th- Jan 6th, showcasing contemporary jewels and artworks in the halls of the Southbank National Theatre. Admission is free, so even if you can’t afford something sparkly, you can check out the array of works from new and established designers.
5) Don’t spend all your money before Christmas, though – savvy shoppers know the best time to pull out the credit card is for the post-Christmas sales. Starting from Dec 26th, the crowds will be descending on London’s shopping districts to pick up some of the biggest bargains of the year, so get there early if you don’t want to miss out.