If there’s ever a time to treat yourself, it has to be at Christmas. And in London there’s certainly no shortage of ways to do so. From the city’s renowned restaurants and farmers’ markets, to venues for the performing arts, it seems everyone is getting in on the act, bringing festive cheer to each corner of the capital. Our pick of the best Christmas treats in London will make the coming weeks everything you could wish for.
With Christmas now upon us, the stores of London’s bustling shopping streets are attracting passers-by with their elaborate window displays. Harrods in Knightsbridge is perhaps the best known (its Christmas World sells everything related to the season), while Liberty is the place to go for decadent decorations. If it’s a toy store you’re after, the historic Hamleys on Regent Street is hard to beat.
Warming Winter Drinks
Where better to warm up than in an alpine-style bar in the heart of London. Faux-fur throws and twinkling Christmas lights create a cosy ambience for an evening of warming winter cocktails courtesy of some of the city’s top mixologists. Throughout the festive season, Soho cocktail bar, Archer Street is hosting its own Nordic bar with drinks like “All I want for Christmas”, a delicious blend of spiced plum, cinnamon and Créme de Mure.
Festive Christmas Markets
With so many Christmas markets dotted about the city, it can be difficult deciding between them. We’d recommend starting at London Bridge City Christmas Market, where over 100 vendors sell handmade crafts and seasonal fare. What makes this market stand out is its setting by the River Thames, right by Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
Seasonal Ice Skating
One of the best Christmas treats in London, the arrival of the city’s outdoor ice skating rinks is always welcomed with enthusiasm. One of the most striking for its architectural surroundings and ambience is Skate at Somerset House. The Natural History Museum Ice Rink is equally as enchanting, situated next to historic museum and surrounded by festively lit trees.
Sparkling Christmas Lights
Whether you’re shopping in the West End, picking up gifts at a market or ice skating under the stars, you know you’ll be surrounded by the sparkle of Christmas lights in London. Each year, Oxford Street and Regent Street have a theme behind their illuminations, which in 2015 includes silver lights and golden baubles representing snowfall, as well as golden sequins, cogs and wheels.
Feel-Good Christmas Movies
For many of us, classic Christmas movies evoke a sense of nostalgia. Winterville in Victoria Park is providing an atmospheric setting to embrace these classic films within the enchanted forest of Backyard Cinema. Find your way through a tunnel of trees to the indoor woodland cinema, where movies like White Christmas and Mary Poppins will be screened.
Each Christmas sees the return of the Royal Ballet’s mesmerising production of The Nutcracker, alongside light-hearted Christmas pantomimes and musicals. Laugh along to a performance of Dick Whittington at Wilton’s Music Hall and be enthralled by The Snowman at Peacock Theatre – one of the best Christmas treats in London for families.
Throughout December, spellbinding performances are held by some of the UK’s greatest musicians, choirs and orchestras, including the esteemed Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This year the Royal Philharmonic will also be performing with Chetham’s Chamber Choir at the Royal Albert Hall.
The Wintery Royal Parks
Wrap up warm and take a walk through one of London’s wintery Royal Parks to really get into the festive spirit. Spot herds of deer in Richmond Park, explore the Italian Gardens in Kensington and stop by the park cafés for steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Mulled wine always goes down a (Christmas) treat, too.
Top off your stay with a Christmas Day tour to enchanting sites across the UK.
Header image: At Christmas seek out London’s offering of festive treats © Flickr / Paul Simpson