Christmas is a magical time for children, and getting the best out of London in the run up to Christmas makes it just as much fun for the adults too. No Christmas is complete without a trawl around London’s best festive hangouts. It’s a joy to see the awe in your children’s faces when they marvel at Selfridges window displays, take in the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square, or whizz around the ice rink at the Natural History Museum.
Whether you live in London or you’re just visiting for the day, having a plan is definitely worthwhile. London’s bigger than you think. Taking in two or three attractions in one day can be exhausting, especially if you’re trekking across the metropolis to get from one place to another. Do your research and pick the top two places or events you’d like to visit. Don’t try to pack too much in. If you’re schedule is too tight, it’s easy for the fun to get sucked out of the day.
Pick your favourites and allow a bit of flexibility for going with the flow. There’s absolutely no fun in a military operation. Here are some of our favourite festive sights, events and cool Christmas stuff for kids to do in London. These places are sure to bring out the playful child in you too.
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
It’s a busy festive, family-friendly hit. From fun fair rides to Zippos Circus, a gigantic big wheel and a Magical Ice Kingdom, there’s something to satisfy the festive spirit in all ages. It’s best to plan tickets for the attractions in advance. Open from Friday 18th November to Sunday 2nd January (except Christmas Day). If fun fairs, lights and a buzzing festive crowd up for a thrill are what you are after, then Winter Wonderland will knock your socks off.
The after-dark botanical wonderland at Kew offers spectacular illuminations. The festive garden trail has a tunnel of lights, laser beams and fairy-tale avenues. Santa and his Elves greet children in the North Pole village, plus there’s a charming gift market and vintage fairground rides.
A sparkling experience for adults and kids alike. You’ll need to book tickets in advance, which have a timed entrance to make sure your wander along the magical garden trail isn’t overcrowded. Open 5pm-10pm (last visit at 8.15pm) on most days from Wednesday 23rd November to Monday 2nd January.
The Winter Festival at London’s South bank
A great place to get into the festive spirit, London’s South Bank offers a vibrant Christmas market. As well as a food market and a roller disco, there’s also the London Eye to consider. The Southbank Centre offers an eclectic mix of winter performances from festive big band karaoke to winter choirs and a folk takeover. For some events you’ll need to book tickets in advance. (Psst there’s no Ice Skating at the London Eye this year).
The Best of London’s Christmas Lights
There’s nothing quite like the sparkle of London’s Christmas lights. Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street get a fabulous makeover. If you can stand the crowds, your kids will love the Selfridges window displays and what child wouldn’t want a peek in Regent Street’s much loved Hamley’s toy store. Covent Garden is gloriously decked out with beautiful decorations, and Carnaby Street is filled with a glitzy and quirky display.
Ice skating in the Capital
No trip is complete without a glide around one of London’s festive ice rinks. Set in some of London’s most iconic locations, take your pick from the Natural History Museum, Somerset House, Hampton Court and the Tower of London. There’s also skating fun to be had at Canary Wharf, Broadgate, Alexandra Palace and Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
Leicester Square’s Magical Vibe
Leicester Square is worth popping into while you are on the merry-go-round of family Christmas fun. With a quaint Christmas market and a Santa’s grotto, the whole family will love the magical winter vibe. La Soirée Shows at the vintage Spiegeltent are for adults only.
The Big Panto and Show Guide
With a glitzy line up of sensational shows, why not round off your day in London with an unforgettable festive outing. From classic fairy tales to modern performances, there’s something to keep the whole family entertained. Our top 7 are:
- Peter Pan Goes Wrong (The Apollo Theatre)
- Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes (World Premier of new ballet at Sadlers Wells)
- The Railway Children (King’s Cross Theatre)
- Cinderella (The London Palladium)
- The Snowman (The Peacock Theatre)
- Potted Panto (The Garrick Theatre)
- Disney on Ice Frozen (The O2)
The Best Santa’s Grottos
For younger children, a trip to Santa’s grotto is an essential stop on your special festive day out. As well as the regular department stores, meeting Saint Nick is possible at Leicester Square, Kew Gardens and Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
If you’re searching for something a bit different, Sutton House has a surreal Santa’s sleigh, while the Museum of London sets Santa in a Victorian grotto. One-hour river cruises with a Santa experience give you a chance to relax while cruising. AS well as a gift from Santa, the kids get a soft drink and a cookie, while adults get to enjoy a mince-pie and a glass of mulled wine. Or, the Royal Albert Hall offers exclusive children’s tours of the magical concert venue, solving puzzles on the way to Santa’s grotto.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working with London based nanny and childcare specialist Harmony at Home, who were consulted over this post.
Until Next Time… Charlotte x