Those of us who grew up in the southern hemisphere miss out on a lot of the things you might typically associate with Christmas. There’s no roaring fireplace, no snow falling, not even a real Christmas tree. My family’s Christmases usually involve a BBQ or seafood and avoiding the heat by staying in the air conditioned house or taking a dip in the pool.
This year will be my 3rd Christmas away from home. Even though I still find it a little weird being cold in December, I love how London really seems to embrace the Christmas spirit. These are my favourite ways to celebrate the festive season on this side of the world:
Throughout November and December London’s famous shopping streets (Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street) are adorned with magical Christmas light displays and decorations. You’ll also find giant Christmas trees in Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden.
From late November until early January, a large area of Hyde Park is transformed into a Winter Wonderland, complete with fairground rides, a giant ferris wheel, food stalls, Christmas markets and an ice rink. This year they’ve also added an ice bar and I’m pretty excited to check that out!
Temporary ice skating rinks pop up all over London during the festive season. I never learnt how to skate back in Australia but I now try to go to at least one of these rinks every year so I am gradually improving. So far I’ve skated at Somerset House, Hampton Court Palace, Canary Wharf and the London Eye.
Southbank Christmas Markets
I love German Christmas markets and on London’s Southbank you’ll find traditional wooden chalets serving up festive food, drinks and unique gifts. The Christmas Market is part of the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival so you can also enjoy some live entertainment while you’re in the area.
Mulled Wine and Cider
I’m not much of a wine drinker for most of the year but a mulled wine or cider is perfect on those cold winter evenings! I’d never tasted either of these before moving to London but basically it’s red wine or cider mixed with a few spices (usually cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg), served warm. It’s Christmas in a glass!
Harrods has spectacular Christmas window displays every year and you’ll find some of the cutest tree ornaments in their Christmas World which has been open since July! I also love going to Selfridges to see their Christmas shop and window displays.