Bonfire night is over which means it is officially Christmas, right? So if you want to fully embrace the most wonderful time of the year, here is my guide to get you feeling merry and bright whether you are a London local or are visiting over the festive period.
To get you in the Festive Spirit
For free fun (and booze): Bubbles and Baubles at Skylight
Christmas has arrived at Tobacco Dock with Europe’s only rooftop ice-rink with panoramic views of the city, street food, mulled wine and igloos available to pre-book for groups.
On 28th November you can start getting the festive feels by joining in with their Christmas tree decorating for free. They are recycling trees from an old event, and you can decorate with some of their decorations, but if you bring your own bauble you can trade it in for a glass of bubbly. The best Christmas jumper will also win a free bottle of Moët!
Note that ice-skating can’t be pre-booked.
For the best of London at Christmas: Various London Locations
During November, London puts on her Christmas dress and she is looking her best. Pretty much everywhere in the capital is dressed for the festive season, but my favourite places to see the Christmas lights and decs include Covent Garden (where you can grab a cheeky mulled wine from the market while you soak up the atmosphere), Seven Dials, Carnaby Street, Bond Street and Duke of York Square in Chelsea. And let’s not forget the Christmas tree of all Christmas trees in Trafalgar Square.
In terms of shops, Liberty has the most magical Christmas floor with the most beautiful and decadent decorations under a ceiling of fairy lights with Christmas songs playing. Fortnum and Mason know how to embrace all the seasons, but the festive months are definitely their forte. Other shops worth visiting include Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
For the ‘gram: Dalloway Terrace
I included this in last year’s guide and I’m doing it again as this is the ultimate Instagrammable winter dining experience. They go all-out with their winter instalment on their covered cosy terrace which is made extra snug with heaters and blankets. You feel as though you have stepped out of busy London and into a winter haven.
If the surroundings weren’t enough (even the Grinch would find it hard not to feel the Christmas magic), the seasonal food and drink menu will warm your heart. Truffle cheese fondu. Enough said.
For the 3 hour bottomless brunch: All I Want for Christmas is Brunch
If I wasn’t abroad on 14th December, you’d better believe I would be making an appearance at The Great Exhibition in Dulwich. Instead of the usual one and a half hour bottomless boozy brunches but THREE HOURS of Prosecco/Mimosas/Bloody Mary’s with a choice of 10 food options including gluten free and vegan options! Live performances, quizzes and giveaways and the price tag is very attractive at only £30.
For the gluten free folk: Indigo, One Aldwych
Fellow coeliacs, we do not need to miss out this season as Indigo are delivering the goods with a festive set menu at their gluten free restaurant. £25 for two courses or £30 for three at this beautiful venue with the view of a 25ft Christmas tree. They also offer discounts for groups so could be a great venue for a Christmas work dinner as certain dietary requirements are already catered for.
You can also incorporate a three course meal with their Film & Fizz experiences where you can watch a festive favourite with a glass of Champagne before your dinner.
For a bit of everything: Winter Wonderland
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland really does have it all. From live entertainment, bars, countless food stalls, rides, shows to watch and lots more. You can easily spend hours there as it is HUGE.
My top tips from Winter Wonderland would be to go earlier rather than later. It can get super packed as it gets close to Christmas, so if you head there earlier in the season it can be a more relaxing environment. For families I would say that it’s best to head there during the day as again it’s quieter and people can get pretty boozy as it turns dark and the work day is over.
My final tip is to shop around for your mulled wine. I found certain vendors where the wine was several pounds cheaper! They all sell mulled wine, but if that isn’t the main drink they are selling, it is sometimes a little more affordable for this market, which does come with a London price tag.
For cheese lovers: Southbank Winter Market
This year alongside their usual Christmas market lit my magical lights selling all the gifts and food/drink you could wish for, they also have two new pop-ups this year. One is called Bar Under the Bridge and it has a cheese themed menu. Think cheese boards and baked camembert alongside classic cocktails.
They also have The Circus Bar in front of Royal Festival Hall which is a cosy spot with fire-pits to warm your fingertips as you tuck into some tasty food options or a mulled wine/cider (or two because it is Christmas after all).
For those who don’t have time: Westfield Christmas Market
So you are running out of time and Christmas is fast approaching and you feel like you haven’t had the chance to embrace your inner Buddy the Elf. In between your Christmas shopping, Westfield Stratford are having their own Christmas market. So when you need a break from getting all your gifts, you can pop outside and soak up the market atmosphere.
Christmas Outings for mates/dates/families
For the most magical cinema: Backyard Cinema
I’ve already been to visit their new permanent home in Wandsworth and it is super lovely. Winter Night Garden and Christmas at The Snow Kingdom have you entering the cinema through an immersive and imaginative experience. You can watch some of your fav Christmas classics on their comfy giant bean bags.
They also have bars and street food available in their heated terrace area including vegan and gluten free options to make the most out of your trip either before or after the film.
Get booking ASAP as it gets booked up quickly.
For ice-skating: Various London Locations
London is full of ice-rinks as the temperature drops in the UK. The stand out ones for me with the most beautiful backdrops (worth embarrassing yourself on the ice for) include The Natural History Museum, Somerset House and The Tower of London.
For a classic Christmas Treat: The Nutcracker
The ultimate family theatre trip to the Coliseum to watch the English National Ballet perform the Christmas Classic. Tickets would also make an amazing Christmas present to enjoy before it ends on 5th January.
I hope the rest of your year is filled with hot chocolates, Mariah Carey being played on repeat and the best of London at Christmas.