Christmas is the time of year where being in a city like London is a gift.
The winter cold sets the mood for all the Christmas festivities in London, with mulled wine, Christmas decorations and various other things to enjoy during the holiday season.
After living in London in 2014-2015, and experiencing two Christmas day lead ups in London, (with a Christmas in Germany and also Paris), it is pretty safe to say that a Christmas in summertime temperatures is just not as exciting now – and will forever be ruined from here on out.
Maybe it is the endless Christmas films we have been exposed to, all covered in snow and festive cheer; but Christmas is easily more festive in a cold environment: sitting by a fireplace, all rugged up in scarves and mittens, eating Christmas inspired snacks and drinking hot alcoholic drinks.
I am a goner for life.
If you are planning a trip to London over the festive season, what should you make sure you see and do there?
Here are some must-do’s regarding Christmas decorations and Christmas markets that I completely recommend one does in London at Christmastime. Missing these would be a regret in themselves. I’m sure they have added even more each year since I was there too. The best thing is you can actually walk to and from each of these – so you don’t have to go far to find them – which I love about London this time of year.
Be sure to check out this 3 Day Itinerary with the London Pass from California Globetrotter whilst you’re traveling in London, for some money saving tips and some really cool attractions to see!
Christmas Decorations in London – Regent Street
By far the best Christmas decorations one can see in London are those which are found on Regent Street and Oxford St. These are just amazing to walk below. You will take tons of pictures here – though on a normal day this will always make the list for being one of the best places to take pictures in London.
The Regent Street Christmas decorations are just like icicles. Spanning the length of Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus they light up the entire street in Christmas cheer. This is my favourite Christmas themed street to walk along. It is just beautiful.
Each year there is a different theme. In 2014, it was the latest Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb film which saw all the different characters appearing in the line of decorations.
There are beautiful London Christmas windows at the iconic Hamley’s Toy Store on Regent Street, as well as the Carnaby Street decorations just off Regent St, so don’t miss out on seeing both of these as well when you’re there.
Christmas Decorations in London – Oxford Street
Walking along Regent Street to the intersection of Oxford Street is another beautiful street, where an endless amount of Christmas balls are found hanging above. It is quite beautiful to walk along here, especially as many stores have their Christmas store exteriors up like John Lewis and House of Fraser making it even more stunning to see.
Walking from Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square is also quite nice with decorations throughout and a small Christmas fair right at Leicester Square with games and rides.
Christmas Decorations In London – Trafalgar Sqaure
Trafalgar Square which is a short walk away from Oxford Street, also has a big Christmas tree, and with a view of Big Ben in the distance, it makes for a very festive shot. I love this view at night time – at Christmas or not!
Christmas Decorations In London – Covent Garden & Leicester Square
Continuing on to Covent Garden market, you have a beautiful Christmas tree, decorations lining the tops of each street in the Covent Garden area, and giant Christmas baubles above the actual market area.
If you are looking for one location that feels like Christmas in London, it is right here.
Christmas Markets in London
There is an endless array of free Christmas markets within the London area so the options are endless as to what Christmas market you wish to enjoy.
From the Tate Modern to the London Eye with smaller markets, to larger events like Winterville and Winter Wonderland, there is enough in this city to please any Christmas addict. The best part is that they all have a massive German feel to them with bratwurst, crepes, Gluhwein and the like; although the real German ones are the best to experience, but it is a nice attempt nonetheless and worth experiencing in London.
In 2013, I went to the Southbank Christmas market at the London Eye, which was busy but a nice enough market to spend the evening looking around, eating Nutella crepes and drinking mulled wine. It wasn’t too big and there was enough variety to please everyone. There is also an ice-skating rink there as well for all of the skaters out there.
Christmas In London – Winter Wonderland
One of the most popular Christmas activities in London is Winter Wonderland – the Christmas event in Hyde Park; which I have attended with friends previously.
This event was free which means that if it is not raining and is a weekend night, the crowds will come in droves, which they did on these occasions. It took about 10 minutes to get inside and once in, it is pretty full with people EVERYWHERE.
I can’t speak for the MANY rides and games to play that they had there and their wait times, but there were a heap of them and enough to please any youngster for sure.
My friends who were largely Canadian and British, and myself, preferred to pass the time eating everything from pretzels to bratwurst (or even currywurst which I love!) and drinking steins of beer and mulled wine in the Bavarian village pop up bar, which was 2 storeys and filled with tables for people to sit at and enjoy themselves for hours.
Although it was very busy the only thing that this affected was the wait for the bathroom, but there were many so it wasn’t more than about 10 minutes to use them – although they weren’t the nicest by the end of the day. It was a fun afternoon/evening, and I would go back if I was in London next Christmas.
If you do go to Winter Wonderland, be aware that Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner stations are often closed or off limits at peak periods due to crowds and safety. Try and walk from other areas or catch a bus to Hyde Park if you can.
If all of this doesn’t inspire you to visit London at this time of year, then you are not missing anything. But if you want to see all of these in the flesh then get your butt to London town next year.
For more London Christmas inspiration, check out this post here on even more things to do in London. If you are thinking of crossing the water and heading to Europe, definitely read what it was like for me to spend Christmas Day at Disneyland Paris too!