CHRISTMAS IN LONDON 2018
The countdown to Christmas is well and truly on! And while it’s getting a more than a little bit colder outside, it’s a super excuse to get cosy inside. There’s a sack full of things to do in London this winter, from finding the coolest new pop-ups to trying out the hottest cocktails (butter rum anyone?). We’re going to make sure you know about all of London’s most dazzling Christmas light displays and magical shopping experiences where you can find the best presents. And we know we’re biased but the South Bank and Coca-Cola London Eye really are totally unmissable at this time of year.
LONDON’S MOST DAZZLING CHRISTMAS LIGHT DISPLAYS
The Coca-Cola London Eye Winter Light Display
Are you ready? Every Saturday night after sunset, from 24th November until Christmas, there will be a special light show illuminating the skies from the Coca-Cola London Eye on the South Bank.
Carnaby Street has shot to the front in recent years as London’s most anticipated and Instagrammable Christmas light display. This year ask yourself is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?... because they have the world’s first Queen-themed (not that Queen) Christmas light display to celebrate the release of Bohemian Rhapsody the movie.
London’s busiest street is quite literally lit. And alongside all the street lights are some of the world’s best window displays. Selfridge’s have a team of 100 working on theirs and were the first in the world to do the big unveil back in October. Like Carnaby Street, they’ve also gone with a musical theme featuring rock legends to have us all rockin’ around the Christmas tree.
Last year’s captivating angel lights were so popular that the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ themed display is back for 2018. It’s flying all the way up Regent Street and past all our favourite stores like Hamleys, Ted Baker and Ralph Lauren.
We think it’s worth the visit for the 55-foot tree alone. It’s got 115,000 lights on it! The lovely cobbled piazza will also have an adorable reindeer light display and a brand new ‘infinity chamber’ light installation. Come for the lights but stay for the boutique shops, olde worlde pubs and marvellous street performers.
With seven little streets leading to the iconic Seven Dials monument, these light installations are just a stone’s throw from Covent Garden and are more of an intimate affair but equally as gorgeous. While you’re there don’t miss the hidden in plain sight delights of Neal’s Yard.
CHRISTMAS ON THE SOUTH BANK
The South Bank is only a short stroll from Covent Garden or Trafalgar Square or hop on the tube to Waterloo or Westminster stations.
Coca-Cola London Eye
With a big helping of festive sparkle, the Coca-Cola London Eye is the perfect place to capture the magic of Christmas in the capital this year. See the Christmas lights glow across London and sip champagne from a height of 135m as you enjoy a rotation in a cosy capsule. And who will land the important job of navigating Santa and his Sleigh through London's skyline? Join the magical Elves Eye View event from November 24th and throughout December.
The Southbank Centre has pulled out all the stops again this year with their winter market. Quite frankly, we can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend or a couple of hours after work. Meander around the stalls checking out the handmade and festive gifts with a cup of mulled cider to keep you toasty. Try and keep your hands off the different world cuisines on offer from some of the finest food traders. Think bratwurst, cinnamon buns, hot smoked salmon, waffles, and Bar Under the Bridge is serving a full cheese-themed menu. If you’re after something a little more relaxed in terms of shopping and dining, head to Gabriel’s Wharf, tucked between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges.
Festive and Free Films
The House of Vans under Waterloo Station host free films, old and new, in their uber-cool underground cinema. Right now they’re showing comedy cult classics and also have a Little Rippers Film Club on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The kids can go to skate school before the movie and parents can get brunch there or watch the film too. You’ll hear a train going over every now and then but it’s a small price to pay.
You’re spoilt for choice on the South Bank for cinemas and theatres. For the flicks, as well as House of Vans, there are the Odeon BFI IMAX, with the UK’s largest screen, and the BFI Southbank right on the river. It’s neighbour, the National Theatre always puts on outstanding theatre shows and this season is no different with War Horse returning and also the brilliant Hadestown. Down the road, the historic Old Vic is host to the Christmas classic A Christmas Carol and The Globe is running Macbeth as part of its winter programme.
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IN LONDON
As well as all the main shopping areas mentioned above with their wonderful light displays, the ginormous Westfield shopping centres in Kensington or Stratford won’t fail in giving you a huge dose of retail therapy. Or if you’re wanting something other than the big brands, head off-piste to find real hidden gems. For the most unusual gifts, Brick Lane is the place to go, or for handmade items and artwork try Old Spitalfields Market. In the south, Kingston-upon-Thames and Lordship Lane in East Dulwich have plenty of perfect present places to choose from and in the north head to Regent’s Park Road in Primrose Hill or Stoke Newington Church Street. If money is no object then Marylebone High Street and Kings Road in Chelsea should be top of your list.
LONDON’S BEST WINTER POP-UPS
Winterland London’s Alpine Club
It’s apres ski 1980’s and 1990’s style at Neverland London in Fulham which has re-opened for the festive season complete with curling and cocktails, fondue and fire pits.
Pergola Paddington Central
Situated over two floors with four restaurants, two bars, seating for 850 diners and now with a roof on top to keep your tootsies warm.
Jimmy Garcia’s The Lodge on the River
Jimmy’s Lodge is back on the South Bank with private dining igloos, hot cocktails and festive feasts.