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Christmas in London is a magical time of year, and if you’ve been forever dreaming of a white Christmas, England may just be the perfect choice for this holiday season.

Celebrating Christmas in London means carols by candlelight, sipping mulled wine while wandering through Christmas markets, and classics like Scrooge and the Nutcracker on the West End. It means watching as the whole city sparkles from an endless string of festive lights, brisk strolls through snow covered streets, and taking a spin on outdoor ice rinks outside century old castles or on palace grounds.

Photo CC by Jack Torcello

Photo CC by Jack Torcello.

While the major sites, museums and galleries all close down for the 3 day period over Christmas itself (24-26 December), you’ll find there are still plenty of ways to spend a memorable holiday around town.

Here are several things to do in London this Christmas, many of which are free.

London Puts On The Lights

 

London lights up over Christmas like you’ve never seen a city light up before. From Trafalgar Square to the West End, the whole city sparkles in a brilliant display of festive lights which will leave you in awe.

Soak up the sights of city lights by hitting Oxford Street and Regent Street; an evening walk of the city streets is a spectacle you won’t want to miss.

You will find carolers from all around the country in Trafalgar Square singing and raising money for charity, and you may even catch a sprinkling of snow!

London Eye on Christmas night.

London Eye on Christmas night. Photo CC by Mostaque Chowdhury.

While transportation slows down over Christmas, photographers will appreciate empty pavements and bus-free streets which you’ll never find at any other time of the year.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

 

Worried that attraction closures will leave you with nothing to do on Christmas day? Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum is open 365 days of the year!

Spend Christmas day marveling at mad exhibits which showcase some of the world’s most weird and wonderful items. Exhibits include a 13-foot-long Tower Bridge made out of matchsticks, a piece of the Berlin Wall, shrunken heads, a copy of ‘The Last Supper’ painted on a grain of rice and a Swarovski crystal-covered Mini Cooper.

Ice Skate in Front of International Landmarks

 

The Natural History Museum may close down, however the ice-skating rink on it’s grounds stays open through the beginning of January.

Why ice skate? Because there’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than wrapping up warm and strapping on your skates, spending the evening on the ice in front of one of Europes most magnificent buildings.

Iceskating at Somerset house. Photo by fsse8info

Ice Skating Somerset house. Photo CC by fsse8info

You’ll find outdoor ice skating rinks on the grounds of several major attractions, including Hampton Court Palace, Somerset House, the Tower of London and location across central London as well.

Make it to a Christmas Market

 

Christmas markets are perfect for last minute stocking fillers and decorations, and also a fantastic way to wine and dine on festive foods. Sip mulled wine and cider, snack on fine cheeses and chocolates, and stock up on England’s famous mince pies.

Window displays throughout London are also a fantastic way to spend a day; super malls and department stores like Harrods setup window displays that see people lining up on the streets to walk past.

Though there are also options for the hardcore shoppers; come boxing day (December 26), shopping becomes a national sport. Hit up Oxford street for the sales, though make sure you’re ready for the madness.

Midnight Mass

 

Regardless of whether you’re religious, midnight mass at Westminster Abbey is a truly moving experience.

Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey. Photo CC by  Malcolm Browne.

 

Carols by Candlelight – Royal Albert Hall

 

There is no better way to spend Christmas than with a Christmas carol service, and nowhere is more impressive than the annual event at the Royal Albert Hall.

Seasonal classics performed by the Mozart Festival Orchestra in full 18th-century period costume is an amazing experience, and one of the most memorable events you’ll ever attend. Visit Royalalberthall.com to book tickets.

Recommended London Accommodation:

Holiday Inn Kensington Forum

The hotel is conveniently located a 2 minute walk from Gloucester Road tube station where it’s easy to reach Hyde Park, London Eye, Tower Bridge and other main attractions.

It’s central location means there is plenty of access to restaurants and shops in the area, and it’s affordable prices make it one of the best value hotels in the city.

Traveler Tip: Be sure to visit their breakfast buffet – it’s one of the best breakfasts you’ll ever have!

Holiday Inn London Mayfair

Another fabulously located hotel, Holiday Inn London Mayfair is ideally located for tourists/travelers. Right in the heart of London’s west end, walk to many of the famous theatres and catch a Christmas show.

Basing yourself here gives you easy access to shopping hotspots like Oxford Street, Regent Street and Covent Garden. Buckingham Palace is also a short, five minute walk from the hotel across Green Park.

The hotel is right next to Green Park Underground Tube Station which has direct airport connections to Heathrow and links to the Gatwick Express.

Traveler Tip: The Nightingale Bar and Restaurant serves a fabulous Christmas lunch should you not wish to head out in search of a restaurant open Christmas day.

Meg Jerrard is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Sponsored by InterContinental Hotel Group. As always, all opinions are our own.

    31 Comments

    • In which case meet you in London over Christmas next year :D!

  1. I’m obsessed with Christmas (actually just bought some wrapping paper and new lights yesterday-haha) and love, love, love the European Christmas markets. I visited a bunch three years ago (though not London) and would LOVE to go back to do it again, this time I’d add London on the list, although being from the city that boasts the longest skating rink in the world every winter I may skip that park for more mulled cider :)
    Hannah recently posted…The Time I Faked Being Spanish…and Failed EpicallyMy Profile

    • Lol that’s definitely getting an early jump on Christmas, though I totally understand it – I love wrapping gifts and getting into the christmas spirit with wrapping paper and lights!

      Ooooh which skating rink is that? I may have to add it to my own bucket list!

  2. You’ve actually inspired me to look up the cost of flights to London at Christmas time. Unfortunately, they all look too expensive but I’m pinning this for the future!
    Tamara Gruber recently posted…Wait, there are lava fields in Oregon?My Profile

    • It’s a shame flights are so expensive – depending on where you’re flying from it can be a popular time of the year. Hopefully you can get a head start on the rates for next year and jump in before they get too high!

  3. Being so close to London we make an annual trip down over Xmas. We spend time at the theatre and then wander around Hyde Park which always has a Christmas market in full swing, amusements for all age of child and an ice skating ring, plus bars and eateries glory.
    Tam Gamble recently posted…Glamping – Is it for you?My Profile

    • Sounds amazing! So lucky that you can make London at Christmas an annual trip!

  4. Meg, I was so excited to see this post! Christmas is our favorite time of year. To have midnight mass at Webminster Abbey is a dream…maybe next year! Thank you for these great things …
    Brenda recently posted…Duck Duck GooseMy Profile

    • Thanks Brenda! So glad you enjoyed the post – I agree; mass at Westminster Abbey is one of those truly once in a lifetime experiences – and I’ve found masses like these are globally appreciated no matter which religion you practice.

    • I hope you do manage to get there sometime soon! Sounds like it would be absolutely everything you could wish for!

    • Sounds like you would really love London over Christmas then! I hope you managed to make a trip happen soon!

    • Thanks Mary – it truly is a wonderful way to spend the holidays! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

    • Thanks Miriam! I havent been to hamburg yet, though from everything I’m hearing it also sounds like it would be a fab spot for the holidays! Will have to look into it – thanks for the tip!

    • Sounds fantastic! Be sure to hit up Somerset house for some outdoor ice skating while you’re there!

  5. I think London would be great to visit any time of year, but especially in winter! Also, I had no idea that they had Christmas markets– I always think of Germany for that sort of thing. Maybe I’ll have to start making my 2015 Christmas plans!
    Beth recently posted…Foto Friday: Hofburg Palace, ViennaMy Profile

    • Definitely consider London as an option then! And yep, some of the best Christmas markets in the world!

    • Thanks Raphael! It truly is a magical setting!

  6. I love London during the holidays. One of my favorite travel memories is being at the lighting of the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, spending time in festive pubs, and listening the the choir at St. Paul’s.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted…Top 5 Reasons to Visit Emilia-RomagnaMy Profile

    • The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is also one of my favorites – just thinking about it all makes me want to be back there this Christmas!!

  7. I definitely agree that Christmas in London is a great experience! Last year we headed there for New Year’s Eve and experienced the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park which was a really cool experience with a theme park and Christmas market combination! Everything you could hope for in the winter!
    Chris Boothman recently posted…Saturday Snaps #15 – Québec City Cannonball TreeMy Profile

    • Winter Wonderland in hyde Park is the best! I should have mentioned it here actually! Thanks for the tip!

  8. I love visiting London near Christmas, the lights are just so pretty! Sadly, snow is pretty rare before/over Christmas which is a shame because that would make things absolutely perfect!

    I am most likely going to spend Christmas this year in either Thailand or Cambodia, but I will definitely miss the fairytale Christmas I would usually get at home!
    runawaybrit recently posted…My 10 Favourite Cities In The WorldMy Profile

    • I’ve been told of the rarity of snow around Christmas recently – I must have gotten really lucky as the year I traveled we were graced with enough snow to warrant a vicious snowball fight! It really did just make everything perfect :)

      Though that being said both Thailand and Cambodia are fantastic options for countries to spend Christmas – a tropical holiday never goes amiss!

      Happy Travels and happy holidays!

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