Even though Thanksgiving has yet to happen here in the States, the Christmas season is upon us both at home and abroad. In London, November is when the holiday really kicks into gear as the streets become lined with decorations, and many Christmas events help residents and visitors to get into the spirit of the season. In our first real post-pandemic Christmas, you can expect many London holiday traditions to return like they weren’t able to for the past two years. We’re going to share five things you can look forward to in London this Christmas below, and you can share some of your own favorite experiences with us in the comments.
It’s hard to imagine celebrating Christmas without Christmas light displays and, from commercial high streets to important landmarks, London lights up the city like nowhere else in the world. Regent Street features large angels in their display this year while many twinkling stars great shoppers over Oxford Street. Plenty of London’s neighborhoods get in on the action as well and every place with a light display has its own theme. The best way to see most of the displays is with the Christmas Lights London by Night bus tour.
Christmas at Kew
And speaking of lights, Kew Gardens puts on its own impressive show every year with Christmas at Kew. Kew Gardens opens up its grounds to many winding trails of light, including a new “fire garden” for 2022. Of course, lovely plants and brilliant lights aren’t the only things Kew has to offer during the holiday season and you can also expect to have a visit with Father Christmas and eat up many delicacies from the street food vendors. You will need to make sure you buy tickets before setting out for the event, which you can do on Kew Gardens’ website.
Pantos, or comedic (and sometimes raunchy) retellings of famous fairy tales around the holiday, are one of London’s great Christmas traditions. This year includes some traditional tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk or Mother Goose along with more nontraditional pantos including Elf and Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol. Any show you go see may have a celebrity or two in the cast, such as Clive Rowe as Mother Goose or Dawn French as the Dame in Jack and the Beanstalk. Of course, for the over-18 crowd, you can attend the drag panto Sinderfella or something less crude like the Nutcracker.
If you have trouble thinking of a last-minute gift and want to bring back something for your friends and family, London’s Christmas markets offer plenty of opportunities. From unique hand-crafted gifts to decorations for your home, you can find items of all types along with some great holiday-themed food and drink. There are plenty of great holiday markets to pick from in London, really anywhere there’s enough space to host one, but some of the best include the Christmas by the River near London Bridge, the Covent Garden market hosted under the shopping district’s Christmas lights, and the King’s Cross Christmas Markets.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
And now we go to the grandaddy of all Christmas events in London. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a special experience that combines all of the events mentioned above (well, except Kew Gardens). Winter Wonderland has its own Christmas Market, street food vendors, lights galore, and any number of rides and attractions that will keep you busy for hours. You can also experience ice skating, the circus, and an entire village made out of ice. No matter how you want to experience the holiday season in London, you can find it at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.