London transforms completely for the winter festive season. You might spot some decorations put up soon after Halloween, but it’s the second part of November when the majority of Christmas markets get open and shop windows dress for the celebrations. This season unsurprisingly attracts many tourists – so be ready that some locations can be quite busy!
Read about the best spots in London to feel a proper spirit of Christmas below – and don’t forget to accompany it with another necessity: Christmas food!
Last year I wrote a blog about festive afternoon teas, don’t miss it too 🙂
Every year a large celebration marks the turning of the Regent Street’s Christmas lights on! The Spirit of Christmas display continues to stay the same as in a few previous years.
Did you know that this installation was inspired by the very first huge Christmas angels display on the Regent street dating back to 1954? And now those are the most iconic lights of London, do you agree?
Tip: check the decorations of the Maddox Gallery too, you won’t regret it!
Mayfair, one of the most luxurious districts of London, it is full of creativity and sparkles in December.
Head to the Berkeley Square and check the front of the Annabel’s club (one of my favourite instagrammable spots in London), decorations of the Sexy Fish restaurant, and pop for a cocktail with pan – Asian menu at the May Fair bar.
Walk around the Bond street (Old&New) too: Stella McCartney, Cartier, Tiffany&Co, Dior, Victoria Secrets, Fenwick, the Claridges hotel are all breathtaking this year (well, as usual, to be honest).
Don’t miss the arcades too: Burlington Arcade and Royal Arcade are transformed into majestic glittering tunnels every year – and, on top of that, Burlington Arcade celebrates its 200 year anniversary this year!
One of the most iconic areas of London doesn’t disappoint at Christmas at all! Sloane Square gets covered in magical twinkling stars, and King’s road becomes covered with glittering lights and Christmas baubles.
Walk through the tunnel gleaming with lights, admire the facade of the Ivy Chelsea Garden, get a gingerbread muffin and beautifully styled coffee at the Peggy Porschen cafe, taste Christmas menu while seating in a chalet at the Bluebird Chelsea or get ready for a festive celebration at the beautifully decorated Duck&Dry salon! Be ready to meet lots of instagrammers taking shots there too 🙂
I know that Ice Rink of the Natural History museum is one of the places which prepares for Christmas first (and I strongly suggest you to have a look at it too!). I wanted to emphasise the beauty of the ice rink and gorgeous Fortnum&Mason Xmas tree at the Somerset House. It used to be the first place for me to find Christmas atmosphere as my Alma Mater King’s College London was just next door (literally 😅).
Covent Garden stays conservative over the last years: puts a huge glittering Xmas tree in a giant pot (smaller trees are also there) and adds beautiful misletoe and huge disco-balls to its arcades.
But there is more to that: the Christmas lights were lit on by Emilia Clarke and Emma Thompson this year and the whole thing was strongly linked to their latest movie Last Christmas! Shops are decorated fantastically too, both inside and outside – what a nice gifting season destination, isn’t it?
When walking around, stay alert to amazing decorations too, for instance, check the Petersham Nurseries, Ivy and Carluccio’s restaurants.
Leadenhall market is pretty at any time of year but during the festive season it’s particularly pretty with a huge Christmas tree at its center and shops with their decorations up.
Interesting: Everyone knows that Leadenhall market represented the Diagonal Alley in Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone movie – but did you know that this unbeatable cobbled beauty (located in the very heart of ancient Roman London!) dates back to the 14th century?
If you see crowds moving slowly from the Oxford street or Piccadilly towards the Hyde Park in December – they are most likely heading to Winter Wonderland! It is a Mecca of Christmas celebration (sounds like an oxymoron but this is true!) in London with fun rides, food villages, souvenir stalls and many other activities available.
Be ready to spend some time at the entrance as bags are checked by security – safety first – and although there are some plastic shields covering most of the ground the surface sometimes can be wet and muddy. Wearing your most treasured and expensive shoes might not be the best idea!
Christmas markets in London
There are a few Christmas markets in London apart from the Winter Wonderland: Southbank, Leicester Square, Christmas by the River, Greenwich Market, brand new one at the Trafalgar Square… What is your favourite one?
Shop decorations throughout London
If you put the locations on the map, don’t forget simply to look around and check all the winter-inspired spots in other areas of London too! Harris and Harrods at Knightsbridge, Elizabeth street…
… Ivy Brasserie at Soho, Fortnum&Mason, beautiful decorations inside and around the Royal Exchange, lights on the Oxford Street and other places are waiting for you to explore them 🙂
There is only one more issue I wanted to mention. Of course, all these decorations I talk about above are extremely pretty but I don’t have information about how eco-friendly they are and how are they recycled. I really hope that the owners are eco-friendly and are aware of the plastic pollution problem.
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Anna | London & Beyond
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