by Janis on 20th December 2017 / 0 comments

Christmas in London is irresistible

Last Christmas Gary and I popped to London for a few hours to enjoy the festivities around Tower Bridge and along the Southbank of the Thames.

We were amazed that within a reasonably short distance how much fun could be had and the effort the locals had gone to, to show off London at its best.

So, after our annual pilgrimage in early December 2017, to visit some European Christmas markets, we decided to pop to London again and discover the delights around the West End.

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Discover London at Christmas

Go where the lights take you

In some ways, it’s probably best that you don’t really have a specific route in mind.

There are so many sparkling lights & trees alluring you, that you just keeping wandering to wherever tempts you the most.

The Afternoon Tea Bus Tour in a traditional London Red Bus on the streets of London at Christmas
A red London bus
Yet, you’ll be surprised how much you can discover in just a few hours.

Find your accommodation

Have a peek at the latest offers from Booking.com, our preferred hotel booking website.
Booking.com

London's Christmas Ice Rink

Somerset House
We headed to Somerset House first, not that we are ice skaters, but it’s quite amusing watching the British trying to stay upright. Although I didn’t see any children’s helper penguins or polar bears……I would have needed one of those.
Skaters on the ice at London's Somerset house after the sun has gone down.
On the ice at Somerset House

The hosts for this year’s event are Fortnum & Mason, so no expense has been spared.
Somerset House is a lovely place to visit all year around, and you may also recognise it from it from various film locations (particularly the opening credits of Love Actually).

A large decorated Christmas tree, in front of the blue ice rink, set against the backdrop of pink lit Somerset House, in London.
The Christmas Tree in front of Somerset House

Remember

To book your one hour slot for skating through the Somerset House website.

The best of London at Christmas

Off to the Garden
Just a short stroll and you wander into the spectacle of Covent Garden, and I love this place any time of year, always brought alive by street entertainers.
Christmas illuminations in Covent Garden in the shape of giant bunches of mistletoe bound by silver ribbons.
The decorations at Covent Garden
The magic has been sprinkled here in sleigh loads, giant reindeers, a glimmering Christmas tree and giant mistletoe that nobody could avoid standing under.
A giant illuminated model reindeer outside Covent Garden in London for Christmas.
The Reindeer at Covent Garden

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.

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The streets of London at Christmas

Seven Dials
Slightly northwest of Covent Garden is Seven Dials (and certainly worth a visit), once again the effort that has been made by the local boutiques is enchanting.
The lanes off of Seven Dials lit for Christmas in London
The view from Seven Dials
The seven narrow streets converge into one tiny chaotic roundabout, with the centrepiece being a Doric column.
The column at the centre of Seven Dials surrounded by Christmas lights
Seven dials at Christmas
Which strangely has only six sundials at the top of it (the road plans changed from six to seven after the column was built).

Our Tip

Avoid always taking the tube, your favourite places maybe nearer to each other than you think.

Leicester Square at Christmas

Onto the movies
Now we head to Leicester Square and the glistening billboards of the latest movies. Here we find that a traditional Christmas market has sprung up in the park. It would be wrong not to head in and taste the wares.
A Christmas Market stall in London's Leicester Square full of decorations
A Christmas stall in Leicester Square
Although London was a bit on the moist side this evening, it certainly didn’t dampen the atmosphere, particularly that Luke Skywalker had returned to town in “The Last Jedi”.
Crowds in the Leicester Square Christmas Market in Central London
Leicester Square at Christmas

Our next stop at Christmas

Trafalgar Square
Even though London is a big city, a short stroll is often all that’s required to emerge upon your next historical discovery. If you are in the heart of the West End, Trafalgar Square is always a draw.
The illuminated Christmas Tree reflected in a fountain in London's Trafalgar Square at night
Trafalgar Square at Christmas
You can’t miss the 25-metre high Christmas tree, which has been given as a gift from the people of Norway to London traditionally since 1947. This is in thanks for Britain's support in World War II.

Exploring London at Christmas

Where the lights take you
We strolled in the direction of Regent Street up Haymarket, only to be drawn towards Regent Street St James’s, by its captivating lights and tree.
An illuminated traditional Christmas tree decorated with giant red baubles in Central London at Christmas
The Christmas Tree at Waterloo Place
This was definitely worth the detour & such an elegant road.
A view along Regent street with its illuminated Christmas Angels outstretched between either sides of the wide shopping street.
Regent Street Saint James's at Christmas

Point to note

Even though London is spectacular during the day, it truly comes alive after dark.

Stylist London at Christmas

Sophisticated Arcades

Who could resist this stylish part of the city, I just love the arcades that cut through the centre and offer a shopping experience like no other.

‘Piccadilly Arcade’ from Jermyn Street to Piccadilly, ‘Burlington Arcade’ from Piccadilly to Burlington Gardens and ‘The Royal Arcade’ which runs from Albermarle Street to Old Bond Street.

Picadilly Arcade, a row of bespoke shops, in an ornate pedestrian thoroughfare in the west end of London, selling the finer things in life
Picadilly Arcade
A look along Burlington Arcade at Christmas
Burlington Arcade
Inside the Royal Arcade at Christmas
The Royal Arcade at Christmas

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.

I never knew that about London Cover

Regent Street at Christmas

A display like no other
300,000 twinkling little lights illuminated Regent Street for another year, ’The Spirit of Christmas’ is the largest display of lights in the capital and is truly stunning.
Looking up to the illuminated golden angels that decorate Regent Street at Christmas in London.
High above Regent Street at Christmas
It will certainly stop you in your tracks.
A red bus under the illuminated angels decorations in London for Christmas
Angels above Regent Street
Illuminated Angels, with wings spread out, along London's Regent Street in the run up to Christmas.
The view down Regent Street

Shopping in London at Christmas

The merchants
There are so many eye-catching stores in the West End, many of whom have gone that extra mile to make the celebrations special.
The Cartier store in London's New Bond Street decorated as a brightly lit gift box.
The Cartier store on New Bond Store
My favourite has to be Cartier’s & Fortnum & Mason.
The grand Hatchard's Booksellers store on Piccadilly decorated for Christmas
Hatchards Booksellers to the Royal household
Fortnum & Mason's on Piccadilly decorated for Christmas
Fortnum &; Mason's store at Christmas
Hamley's, the toy store on Regent Street, decorated for Christmas
Hamleys on Regent Street
The quirky Vintage Showroom shop decorated for Christmas in London
The Vintage Showroom
However, for us travellers, a trip to Covent Garden will always include a visit to Stanfords, for all your travel literature needs.
The outside of the Standford's store in central London at Christmas on a wet night
Stanfords travel bookstore

Have You?

Enjoyed London at Christmas? There's so much to see from East to West, North to South, What's you're favourite part of the city?

More of London at Christmas

What also caught our eye

Narrowing down the photos for this post was tricky, as there was so much that grabbed our attention.

Here are a sneaky few more;

The vibrant Carnaby Street in London decorated for Christmas
Carnaby Street at Christmas
The Strand in London on a wet December night illuminated for Christmas.
The Christmas lights down The Strand
Floating illuminated angels hanging over Charles II Street in the West End of London at Christmas
Lights apart from Charles II Street
Floating illuminated angels hanging over Jermyn Street in the West End of London at Christmas
The lights above Jermyn Street
The Ritz hotel on Piccadilly decorated for Christmas
The Ritz hotel at Christmas
An illuminated star hanging above New Bond Street as part of London at Christmas
The end of New Bond Street
A view along New Bond Street in London decorated for Christmas
Looking along New Bond Street
A giant illuminated Christmas decoration hanging over New Bond Street
Elegant New Bond Street
The Palace Theatre in London's Cambridge Circus illuminated at night
The Palace Theatre

Another short and sweet tour of Christmassy London

Although this is a short glimpse of the West End of London at Christmas, it takes you through some iconic and much-loved parts of this magnificent city.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

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