by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:28th December 2016

A hop, skip & a jump from the Thames

Where the magic happens

London is a huge city at the best of times, but in the festive season, there are glistening lights and twinkling trees tempting you everywhere.

So, which way do you turn?....... if you only have a few hours you’ll be amazed at what you can see.

The 14th century Leadenhall Market is a striking sanctuary in the City of London for 11 months of the year, but at Christmas time Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley is magical.

With Christmas trees peering down on all the boutiques and bars.

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The Christmas Tree in the centre of Leadenhall market under its ornate cast-iron roof
The centre of Leadenhall Market at Christmas

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Christmas in the shadow of the Tower

One of London's Ice Rinks
Heading southeast you reach one of London’s iconic landmarks the Tower of London. If you peer over the wall into the moat, where in 2014 a sea of poppies flowed through, you are now greeted by a sea of ice, with one amazing backdrop.
The Tower of London Christmas ice rink in front of the tower's walls
Skating on ice in front of the Tower of London
Remember to book your one hour slot.
The Tower of London from the south bank of the River Thames at night
The Tower of London at night

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Christmas by the Thames

Down by the river
Your eyes are automatically drawn to another London icon, Tower Bridge. For me this bridge means London like no other landmark. Every commuting day for 27 years I travelled past it and never became bored of its presence.
Tower Bridge at dusk lit for Christmas
Tower Bridge

If you've yet to discover London and its ancient history, then let's start planning. I find these DK Eyewitness Travel Guides invaluable. They're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.

You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.

Hidden Christmas in London

St Katharine Docks

Before you rush south across the bridge take a few steps back to the hidden oasis of St Katharine Docks.

The 45ft Christmas tree here is wonderful, set on a central pontoon floating in the middle of the dock. On the hour, the 14,000 twinkling lights and the 5ft star come alive.

A Christmas Tree of lights on a pontoon in St Katharine Docks in London
The Christmas Tree in St Katharine Docks
Have a wander as you’ll see some of the yachts have had a little festive splash on them as well.
Boats in St Katharine Docks in London decorated for Christmas.
The twinkling marina at St Katharine Docks

Christmas on the Southbank

Now I’ll let you cross Tower bridge
A Christmas tree in front of an illuminated Tower Bridge.
A Christmas tree in front of Tower Bridge
From the south of the Thames, Tower Bridge and the City of London look amazing, and Christmas time is no exception.
The lit Tower Bridge at night, and iconic London backdrop.
Tower Bridge at night
As you stroll past City Hall you meander into the ‘London Bridge City Christmas Market’.
A Christmas Tree entire constructed of lights with a bright star on top in the courtyard in front of London's County Hall
The tree at City hall
On the south bank of the River Thames, the Christmas by the River market, with the illuminated Tower Bridge in the background.
Walking along the 'London Bridge City Christmas Market'
There are over 100 German-style cabins here, tempting you with delicacies and gifts from near and far.
A Christmas Market stall set out in front of London's City Hall selling Chocolate kisses cakes, just like the German Christmas Markets.
Kisses for a pound at the Christmas market

Christmas everywhere in London

Hays Galleria
Sandwiching this market is Hays Galleria. This elegant Grade II listed building was once a working wharf in the Pool of London, for ships to bring in tea & other produce.
The Navigators Steampunk Statue in Hayes Galleria illuminated for Christmas in London
The Navigators Sculpture in Hays Galleria
The large Christmas Treen in Hayes Galleria, part of the London at Christmas celebrations
The Christmas tree in Hays Galleria

My Dad worked on the Thames as a Lighterman for many years, so this part of London always brings back happy memories to me.

Today the impressive glass vaulted ceiling gives you cover to shop and dine in stylish surroundings.

The footpath alongside London Bridge City Pier at Christmas
The London Bridge City Pier

We have a little book on our shelves that we sometimes delve into when we're about to hit an area of London.

Packed full of historical facts, and broken down into the different regions of London, it's a great resource to help you see what's hidden in plain sight.

Available in Kindle & Hardback editions, it's an excellent addition to anyone's collection who loves London.

Lighting London at Christmas

The Shard
This impressive glass structure piercing through the sky comes alive of an evening. With a wonderful light and beam display illuminating the London skyline until 2am.
The illuminated tip of the Shard at Christmas from Clink Street with the remains of Winchester Palace in the foreground.
The Shard and the ruins of the Winchester Palace
The illuminated tip of the Shard at Christmas from Duke Street Hill in London
The Shard light display

One side of London at Christmas

Keeping south
Up and over London Bridge keeping south, you drop down into Borough.
Southwark Bridge, across the River Thames, lit at night for Christmas
Southwark Bridge
As you continue hugging the backs of the Thames, you pass some fine pubs if you fancy a pit stop.
A traditional pub in London, just off London's Southbank.
The Mudlark pub
The outside of The Anchor Pub on London's Southbank at Christmas
The Anchor Pub at Christmas
Then into sight comes the historic Globe Theatre.
The Globe Theatre on the London's Southbank decorated for Christmas in London
The Globe Theatre

Christmas in the Shadow of the Tate Modern

Off to the Gallery

The Christmas Market at Tate Modern on Bankside returns for the 3rd year.

This lovely traditional style Christmas market is full of tempting goodies from candles, wooden toys, decorations, baubles and many other handmade items.

A stall on the Christmas Market at Tate Modern selling traditional German ornaments.
Traditional gifts
That’s before you even start on the festive food and drink, it wouldn’t be the same without a bratwurst and gluhwein.
A drinks stall with large copper cauldrons on the Christmas Market at Tate Modern
Mulled cider
A family buying waffles from a stall on the Christmas Market at Tate Modern on Bankside
Something to eat
Then if you are brave enough there is the Victorian carousel for the young and old. There’s even a traditional Christmas wooden pyramid.
A giant wood Christmas pyramid above a food stall at the Tate Modern Christmas Market
The pyramid at the Tate Modern Christmas Market
A brightly lit classical carousel next to a German wooden Christmas pyramid at the German festive market in front of the Tate Moden Gallery
The carousel at the Christmas Market at the Tate Modern

Christmas in the centre of the City of London

St Paul’s Cathedral

Strolling over the Millennium bridge heading north across the Thames, you are greeted with another iconic landmark.

The amazing St Paul’s Cathedral, in all its wonderful glory.

A view of St Paul's Cathedral from One New Change at Christmas
St Paul's Cathedral from One New Change
A Christmas Tree, decorated with blue lights, in front of St Paul's Cathedral in London.
A Christmas tree in front of St Paul's Cathedral
Another sight you could never get tired of.
A view along Bow Lane to St Paul's Cathedral under a blanket of Christmas Lights
Lights over Bow Lane
The bell tower of St Mary-le-Bow, home of Bow Bells, after sundown, lit up for London at Christmas
St Mary-le-Bow
A candelabra at the centre of a blanket of Christmas Lights over Bow Lane in the City of London
Over Bow Lane

Short and sweet…just how I like my glühwein

Although this is a very short glimpse of London at Christmas, it takes you through some extremely historical areas of this glorious city.

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