London is the quintessential Christmas location. Sure, New York has the ostentatious tree outside the Rockefeller Center and the massive ice rink at Bryant Park Winter Village but there’s an intrinsic sense of romance to our nation’s capital that really comes alive at Christmas. Maybe it’s all Charles Dickens’ fault. The image of a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge with Tiny Tim atop his shoulders parading down the frost encased Victorian streets awash with roasted chestnut vendors is never far from anyone’s mind around this time of year. Nonetheless if you’re looking for a fun city break to end the year the Big Smoke has a lot to offer.
Whether you’ll be staying in one of the many Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites London or are just planning a day trip, there’s plenty to do for all the family. Here we’ll look at some of the many unique sights and attractions to which you can treat your family to make this Christmas that little bit extra special…
Most major conurbations these days have some picturesque markets selling hand crafted gifts and art alongside artisan baked goods and mulled wines but you won’t find nearly as much variety and character as you will in the capital. Leicester Square is, as you might expect, a supremely bustling hub of activity around this time but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park has to be seen to be believed, brimming as it is with seasonal treasures in the park’s postcard perfect grounds. The Southbank Centre is also home to a range of stalls featuring a range of pop ups selling artisan gifts and confections as well as a rotating roster of entertainments. If you’d prefer a little local history and colour to go with your Christmas shopping, take to the Thames for the annual Christmas by the River market in and around London Bridge.
See the lights
Nowhere lights up like London! Part of the unique joy of Christmas is seeing the dazzling winter illuminations and you’ll find some of the world’s finest here. Brave the crowds at Oxford Street to see the legendary illuminations or if that’s a little too subtle for you the Christmas lights at Carnaby Street need to be seen to be believed. The best in the city, however, can be found on the cobbled streets of Covent Garden.
Eat all of the food at Mercato Metropolitano
If your family always argue over where they get to eat, this menagerie of street foods from around the world offers something for just about everyone. Located just outside elephant and castle Mercato Metropolitano is a covered but open air complex in which street food vendors representing all the world’s cuisines come together to wow diners with their range of food and drinks. While Italian foods are a speciality, there are a plethora of other options for the gluten averse. You’ll find plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans too!