With its reputation for gloomy horizons and relentless drizzle, it’s easy to see why London during winter might be boycotted, but Londoners know that the most atmospheric time to discover the capital is by braving the cold.
With Christmas lurking around the corner, London wastes no time in brightening up its streets with colorful illuminations and erecting the enormous Trafalgar Square Christmas tree (a post-WWII gift from Norway), lending the city a festive glow from November until the New Year. With daylight fading fast, the lights provide a glittering backdrop to late night shopping expeditions, as the designer stores of Oxford Street and Knightsbridge (home to famed department store, Harrods) offer up spectacularly opulent window displays and the smell of roasting chestnuts spills out from street side food stalls.
There’s plenty to do come wintertime too, with indoor attractions making the most of the cold weather – special exhibitions and performances are held at museums, galleries and theaters to entice guests indoors, and pantomimes take over the theaters, bringing celebrity faces to the west end stages. Bonfire Night on November 5th offers spectacular fireworks displays at locations throughout the city, followed closely by the processions and fireworks of the historic Lord Mayor’s show, and with Christmas and the New Year around the corner, nightclubs and bars are in full swing throughout the season.
The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is at the top of most people’s winter itineraries with a pop-up ice rink, Ferris wheel, ice sculpture display and circus providing plenty of entertainment throughout the day, as well as a vibrant Christmas market. Ice-skating rinks also spring up at Marble Arch, The Natural History Museums and Somerset House, or you could take part in the city’s Winter Peace Walk – an annual wander around the city’s historical sights.
Finally, there’s no more ‘English’ way to end an evening (or start an afternoon, for that matter) in London during winter than down the pub and wherever you are in the city, you’ll find a traditional pub to keep you cozy as the snow falls outside. Choose one with an open log fire and order one of the curiously-named but none-the-less delicious British suet puddings to warm you up – spotted dick pudding or bread and butter pudding with lashings of custard are long time favorites.
Plan your trip with our free downloadable Insider’s Guide to London