The twinkling London streets at Christmas

In Christmas, Days Out, Life, London, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, UK Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Ahh, London just surpasses itself at this festive time of year, the glistening historic streets embrace all that is ho ho ho.
 
Angel’s soaring overhead along Regent Street, ice rinks full of children’s laughter and shop fronts wrapped up like Christmas gifts.

So following on from a 'Few Hours in London' in 2016 & 'A Few More Hours in London' in 2017 we are ready to explore.

Overlooking the Natural History museum's ice rink at dusk.  The ice looks busy and skaters circle the Christmas tree at the far end of the ice rink.

Natural History Museum’s ice rink

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You’re never too old to believe in Santa, London is a Christmas lovers paradise.

Where did we start?

Unable to resist the lure of ‘the smoke’ at Christmas, we venture up to England’s capital city to unwrap even more of those Yuletide locations.
 
This time Gary and I head to South Kensington, which is just a short stroll to the Natural History Museum.

The Natural History museum's ice rink at dusk with the Victorian building that houses the museum in the background. The trees surrounding the rink are decorated with thousands of fairy lights.

Nightfall across the Natural History Museum’s ice rink

Dust off your ice-skates and go for a spin, with the spectacular museum behind you. Festive tunes are playing and the irresistible aroma of chocolate-covered nuts as you twist and swirl around the ice.

A traditional carousel in front of the Natural History Museum In London’s South Kensington.

Natural History Museum’s merry-go-round

If trying to balance on two tiny blades isn’t your thing then, take the more sedate option of the merry-go-round.

Our favourite travel reads

There is only one Harrods!

Meandering along Brompton Road, we see way ahead of us the beautiful lights that trace the iconic London store of Harrods. With the fluttering flags of the world around its rooftop, it looks so elegant.

A side view of the Harrods Department store decorated with hundreds of small lights and a pair of Christmas trees above the main entrance.

Harrods

Harrods is such an incredible sight in London, and it attracts so many visitors, just to view from the outside.
 
The Harrods department store covers around five acres which is quite a progression, from when it was founded way back in 1849.
 
Be warned Harrods even has a dress code.

A view of the Harrods Department store in the evening decorated with hundreds of small lights and a pair of Christmas trees above the main entrance.

Harrods, luxury department store

Make a day of it!

If you have the time pop into one of the free museums here. You have the choice of the Natural History, the Science Museum and also the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Retail therapy

Strolling further along into Knightsbridge there is certainly no lack of money here. We pass Harvey Nichols’s flagship store on the corner of Sloane Street. This luxury department store is even older than Harrods as it was established in 1831.

The Harvey Nichols store at dusk in London's Knightsbridge.

Harvey Nichols

Opposite Harvey Nichols is the stylish 5-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel Hyde Park. Recently undertaken a full refurb this exclusive hotel has welcomed some highly notable visitors, but I'm not a gossip.

Red bus turns in front of the elegant Victorian Mandarin Oriental hotel, Hyde Park, at dusk.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Hyde Park

A helpful guide

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.


Winter Wonderland

We reach Hyde Park, to what has now become one of London’s most popular Christmas events ‘Winter Wonderland’.

Crowds in front of the green entrance to Hyde park's Winter Wonderland with stalls from the barbarian village in the background.

Entrance to Winter Wonderland

Entrance to Winter Wonderland is free, you can then either pre-book any rides or shows you want to visit. Or, see where the day leads and pay on arrival.

The Ferris wheel and fairground rides within Winter Wonderland in London's Hyde Park.

Rides in Winter Wonderland, your age doesn’t matter

Take a stroll around the Bavarian Village, sample some bratwurst and gluhwein and if you’re wrapped up warm then head to the ice bar for a cocktail.
 
There are plenty of things to keep the young and old entertained here.

Stroll through Mayfair

What Gary and I love is just strolling around the streets of London and just seeing where the twinkling lights and the enchanting Christmas baubles guide us.

A beautifully decorated ornate entrance in London's Mayfair

Festive doorway in Mayfair

Al fresco dining in London’s Mayfair in the early evening in the run up to Christmas.

Street side dining

In and around Mayfair, it is just wonderful, there are so many charming porches, shop fronts and hotels entrances, you just keep stopping.

A festive window display from Pasticceria Marchesi, an Italian bakers in London’s Mayfair

Pasticceria Marchesi, Milanese pastry shop

As we wander into Berkeley Square, we come across Annabel’s, an exclusive private member’s club. Recently opened in its new home, a Grade I listed Georgian mansion.
 
A little sophistication is called for to enter here. However, no expense is spared here on exterior illumination, and it looks stunning.

The massive Christmas Tree facade to Annabel’s Private Member’s club at dusk.  This year’s display is a white Christmas tree, decorated with golden baubles, topped with a golden star.

Annabel’s Private Member’s club

Iconic Bus Tour

If you’ve spent a day on your feet, then why not enjoy London’s Christmas lights from a vintage bus. You’ll be chauffeured around for over 2 hours, and you won’t miss a thing.


Bond Street – Old and New

New and Old Bond Street just oozes sophistication, how can you resist stores like Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci.

An illuminated white serpent with amethyst eyes above the Bulgari store in London’s New Bond Street.

Bulgari in New Bond Street

Well, I manage to, as Gary only brings me here when the shops have closed for the evening.

A close-up of an illuminated Christmas light feature hanging above New Bond Street in London’s West End.  The ribs of the bauble resemble silver peacock feathers.

New Bond Street Chandelier

A view down New Bond Street in London’s West End decorated with illuminated silver peacock feathers, and giant baubles above the junctions.

New Bond Street Christmas lights

My favourite decorative store along New Bond Street is Cartier. Every year they make it look incredible. It is charming to see how many shops make an effort; it really is appreciated.

The Cartier store in London’s New Bond Street, decorated as a giant Christmas present, tied up with an illuminated red bow.

Cartier, New Bond Street

Two beautifully decorated stores, ready for Christmas, in London’s New Bond Street early in the evening

Boodles and Cartier

As you effortlessly amble into Old Bond Street, you are met with the beautiful Tiffany & Co. and the bright lights of Stella

A profile shot of the entrance to Tiffany & Co at dusk decorated for Christmas.

Tiffany & Co., Old Bond Street

Stella McCartney’s store, decorated for Christmas, in London’s New Bond Street.

Stella McCartney, Old Bond Street

Something to make your travels easier?

Arcades

The elegant, stylish arcades around this part of London must be seen. They are the height of sophistication and have been serving their local patrons for over a hundred years.

Looking along the Royal Arcade in London’s West End decorated for Christmas.

The Royal Arcade

Looking along the Piccadilly Arcade decorated for Christmas.  The stylish shopping thoroughfare is restrained in it’s decoration for the festive period.

The Piccadilly Arcade

The Victorian ‘Royal Arcade’ opened in 1879, the Piccadilly Arcade opened in 1909. Although the Burlington Arcade is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2019. An interesting fact about Burlington Arcade is that it has it's own police force, 'The Beadles', England's oldest police force.

Want to discover more than about London?

We've 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.


Our Tip

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

Elegance of London

Another store that always goes that extra mile is Fortnum & Mason along Piccadilly. This year their incredible front of house display was a huge advent calendar. Each twinkling sash window was lit up with a number.

London’s favourite food store, Fortnum & Mason’s, decorated for Christmas as a giant advent calendar, illuminated in a festive red colour.

Fortnum & Mason's

Just a short hop from Piccadilly and you are in Regent Street. The home of some wonderfully elegant buildings and everyone’s favourite toy shop ‘Hamley’s’.

A view along Regent street with its illuminated Christmas Angels outstretched between either sides of the wide shopping street.

Regent Street

Looking up to the the illuminated golden angels that decorate Regent Street at Christmas.

Angels soaring above Regent Street

Be equipped

Bring a brolly, a warm coat and comfy shoes, it is London after all.

Quirky London

For that little bit of something different, you must head to Carnaby Street. All along this pedestrianised lane in Soho, you’ll see some unusual sights.
 
This year’s festive theme on Carnaby Street is ‘One Ocean, One Planet’.

The illuminations above Carnaby Street with a One Ocean, One Planet theme as Christmas shoppers go about their festive fun.

Colourful Carnaby Street

The illuminations above Ganton Street, just off Carnaby Street.

Ganton Street

As you stroll the full length of the street keep looking left and right, there is always something weird and wonderful happening.

Kingly Court, off Carnaby Street beautifully decorated for Christmas

Kingly Court

Looking along Beak Street after dark with blue neon signs indicating you’re in Soho, and you’re close to Carnaby Street.

Beak Street

We still believe

For all, you non-believers out there, don't forget!

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

A red neon sign in a shop window on Regent Street asking "Have you been Naughy or Nice?"

What have you been?

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Inspired to visit London?

During the Christmas celebrations, I just love watching it come to life of an evening.

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About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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