9 ways to celebrate Christmas in central London
With many of our past and new clients already enquiring and booking their corporate Christmas parties in the different spaces at Tower Bridge on the key Christmas dates, to help you plan ahead we have decided this month to look at the nine top ways to celebrate Christmas in central London in 2019.
1. Winter Wonderland
For more than a decade, the magical Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park has been growing year-on-year as its popularity as the landmark annual Christmas event continues to break records. This fun Christmas-themed festival is set in the 350 acre central London Royal Park, which is home to Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, Speakers’ Corner and the Serpentine Lake. Winter Wonderland remains a free to enter visitor attraction where advance tickets to individual attractions can be bought online. Visitors are spoilt for choice with over 100 rides and attractions with Winter Wonderland boasting nine rollercoasters, fairground rides, ice skating, countless food stalls, festive bars, live music, acts and shows like Peter Pan on Ice and The Snowman Experience in 2018, a Comedy Club and jaw-dropping theming throughout; no wonder thousands descend over the six weeks it is open from mid November until January each year to indulge in the seasonal spirit. Many visit this festive extravaganza multiple times, especially families. Many of us can’t stop ourselves from visiting after work to imbibe the jovial atmosphere and some festive cocktails or mulled wine. Sign up to organiser PWR Events Limited’s newsletter on https://hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/ where you will hear first about this season’s dates, new attractions, competitions, discounts and how to sign up for the Coaster Pass which offers easy tap and ride access to all nine stunning rollercoasters.
2. Christmas lights
There’s no doubt that London looks its very best when blinged-up with its world famous Christmas lights and decorations which can be enjoyed free of charge when you’re wrapped-up warm and shopping. Gazing skywards to the traditional twinkling ropes of lights and new annual festive designs of places like Oxford Street, Regent Street, Covent Garden, Bond Street, Harrods and Marylebone is one of London’s true joys – especially when a celebrity is switching them on. There’s a new theme every year at the renowned Carnaby Street (2018’s theme was “Queen” to mark the release of the film Bohemian Rhapsody). Attractions like Kew Gardens take lighting to the next level with over a million lights and thousands of laser beams lighting up the trees and a Laser Garden. Syon Park also light up their Enchanted Woodland and the Great Conservatory with interactive light sculptures and twinkling lights which are a sight to behold. You’ll not be able to miss the Christmas lights show at The Shard and the kids will love the animal sculptures at London Zoo.
3. Southbank Centre Winter Festival
Every year the riverside area becomes a Christmas haven with beautifully lit trees, festive food, drink and gift stalls, wooden chalets giving a German Christmas Market vibe, shows, choir performances, family-friendly activities and alpine-themed igloos at the snowy retreat Jimmy’s Lodge. Traditionally it runs from the first week in November until the first week of January. Entrance is free, as are some of the events. Others are ticketed. The baked Camembert at Bar Under The Bridge with a festive cocktail or spiced cider is a delight.
4. Ice Skating
Since the frost fairs, London has always had an affinity with ice skating every Christmas as traditional pop-up ice rinks appear outside the capital’s top attractions, sometimes at street level, sometimes on roofs. They usually appear from mid November until the middle of January. Our favourites beneath the twinkling lights with bars and festive food offerings are Tower of London where you can skate on the moat, Somerset House with its giant Christmas tree and festive stalls, Natural History Museum with its entertainment and stunning Christmas tree, Canary Wharf which is the only one under cover and has a skate path, the newly renovated Alexandra Palace with its Christmas market and the breathtaking Hampton Court Palace. For rooftops, visit the epic urban après skate themed Skylight London at Tobacco Dock with its DJs, igloos and ice hockey or the more traditional one on top of John Lewis in Oxford Street sponsored by Sipsmith.
5. Winterville, Clapham Common
South London’s festive destination organised by Field Day and Street Feast boasts a Christmas market, Solo Craft Fair, a huge ice rink, a roller disco, attractions like the ultraviolet lit Plonk Golf, Bus King Theatre, fairground and Backyard Cinema’s Winter Night Garden, Street Feast food market, entertainment in the Spiegeltent and Chivaree Circus plus there are plenty of bars. Entry is free with some attractions payable and bookable in advance. https://winterville.co.uk/
6. Christmas Markets
We’re lucky to have Christmas by the River at Bankside below us at Tower Bridge for stocking-fillers, street food and pop-up bars. Other notable ones are Leicester Square with its Spiegeltent (both adult and child-friendly shows), the wooden chalet themed traditional market at Kingston, the King’s Cross Canopy Market, Camden Market, the covered Greenwich Market and Maltby Street Night Market.
7. Secret London Runs
Christmas is not about excess and gluttony for all. This company organises running tours, either 5km or 10km, and their guides are fun, knowledgeable about their history and they will show you a different side to London. Many of the running tours are themed so you can learn, solve clues and keep fit! Prices start at £17 for 5 km runs.
8. Pop-up cinema
In the stunning Rivoli Ballroom, 350 Brockley Road, Crofton Park SE4 is a pop-up cinema where they show classic Christmas movies like Elf and Home Alone, with tickets from £12. It’s a great cosy spot with craft ales, festive drinks and snacks, particularly if the weather is bad. https://www.rivoliballroom.com/cinema-nights
9. Christmas carol concerts
Not forgetting the reason for the season, there’s nothing more festive than enjoying a choir singing Christmas carols on a winter’s night in some of the finest buildings in London. Some services are free (like the Trafalgar Square choir sing-alongs under the famous tree) whereas others, including charity fundraisers, are ticketed. You’ll never forget the atmosphere in the grandeur of venues like St. Paul’s Cathedral with carols and celebrity readings, the majesty of the Christmas Festival at the Royal Albert Hall with its varied program of festive events, or the iconic Westminster Abbey. Our local favourites are the annual traditional Candlelit Carols concert at Southwark Cathedral and Carols at The Ned. The stunning St. Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square has a renowned Christmas Celebration which also comes highly recommended.