It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and what better place to spend it than in London. The capital city of England attracts tourists and locals to converge on the streets and holiday attractions to celebrate the Christmas season with loved ones and friendly strangers.
Lights and Sounds
The iconic streets of London reveal subtle clues of its rich history. The sight is always a spectacle to behold on its own, but starting November, participating streets transform into displays of lighting arrays that illuminate the buildings and sidewalks.
Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street in particular join in on the fun every year. The world-famous piazza at Covent Garden features a re-enactment of the nativity through digital paintings that change throughout the day.
Other participating streets such as Marylebone High Street and Carnaby Street plan their own light shows, commissioning local artists and digital experts. “Switch-on ceremonies” are often hosted by celebrities who participate in switching on the lights and often include street concerts or other live performances.
Wander and Watch
The Christmas Tree on Trafalgar Square is a fixture in London during the holidays. The people of Norway deliver a 20-meter Norway spruce tree to London annually as a gesture of gratitude for their assistance in World War 2. The tree is adorned with sparkling lights and Norwegian designs. The community gathers around and sing carols all through the night.
Stroll and Shop
Christmas is not complete without a visit to your favourite shop to update your wardrobe or to buy gifts for your loved ones. Starting mid-November, you can head along Queen’s Walk between the London Eye and Southbank Centre for a day of Christmas Market shopping (more info: www.christmasmarkets.com/UK.html). Enjoy the bargains while having a sip of German mulled wine as the kids take their turns riding the carousel. The amazing selection of collectibles, ornaments and gift ideas are displayed on wooden chalets as familiar Christmas tunes fill the air with the holiday spirit.
Meet and Move
Before Christmas, your kids would want to have a talk with Santa to tell him they’ve been good. You may choose between the grotto at Kew Gardens, Hamleys, Harrods or Selfridges for a chance to visit Father Christmas. You might also want to check the schedules for pantomime shows around the city (www.bigpantoguide.co.uk/london.php).
During the holidays, Hyde Park in London transforms into Winter Wonderland (more info: www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com), with activities and attractions catering to everyone of any age. You might try ice skating (check out: www.londonforchristmas.com/pages/whatson/skating.html), experience the rides or marvel at the creations in the Magical Ice Kingdom.
Tickets for the ice skating and shows within the Winter Wonderland could go early, so you better book yours as early as possible. For family accommodation near these holiday sites that doesn’t eat up your Christmas budget, visit www.amhursthotel.co.uk.