‘Tis the season to be jolly, drink mulled wine, throw the diet out the frosted window, and eat to our heart’s content. The festive season will soon be in full swing and there’s going to be plenty of fun to be had. We have created a list of London’s festive highlights for you to enjoy.
Enter the enchanting experience of Kew gardens at Christmas at Kew, which has been running for 6 years, and is now bigger and more impressive than ever. The winter trail takes you on a tour of the garden transformed into a magical winter wonderland with over a million twinkling pea lights and thousands of laser beans.
Indulge in a festive beverage and treat and pick up something special at the gift shop. If the little ones are in tow, pop down to see Santa and the Elves or have a go on the vintage fairground rides.
To make the occasion even more special for the family, Kew are now serving Christmas dinner at Kew’s Botanical Restaurant. Bear in mind there are only two seating’s available, at 5pm and 8pm, and that places must be pre-purchased with your trail ticket.
5pm–10pm, 22 November 2018 to 5 January 2019
Adult tickets from £16.50, Children’s tickets from £10.00
Christmas dinner £35 adults/£15 children
Get merry in a cosy igloo
Winter igloos are popping up all over London. And where better to get merry with friends and enjoy a cosy meal than in a wintery igloo overlooking London. You can find yourself an igloo in Tower Bridge’s Coppa Club, South Bank’s Jimmy Lodges, and rooftop igloos in Finsbury Square’s Aviary, and Tobacco Dock’s Skylight.
Skylight has been reinvented for the festive season. The festive line-up includes; skating, ice-hockey slap shot and street food. A rooftop may seem like a chilly place to hang out in such arctic conditions, but be reassured the many patio heaters, the cheese fondue and mulled wine will keep you feeling toasty.
Get your skates on
Do you float around the rink like a dream, fly around like a speedy ninja or are you more like Bambi on ice? Regardless of your skating style, this Christmas activity is sure to have you feeling festive.
Without a raised eyebrow in the house, our favourite ice rink is at the Natural History Museum. The beautiful old Alfred Waterhouse buildings plays backdrop to an enchanting open-air ice rink surrounded by fairy lights and with a stunning Christmas tree in the middle.
10am – 9pm, 25 October – 20 January 2019
Adults from £12.65, children from £8.80, families from £39.60
If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of central London, then why not head to Surrey. Hampton Court Palace forms the picturesque sixteenth-century surroundings for a huge 1,040 square metre outdoor ice rink. Warm up in the café bars and choose from a selection of warming drinks, delicious seasonal treats, wines, beers, ciders and mulled wine.
10am – 8.45pm, 23rd November – 6th January 2019
Adults £14.50, children £10.50, families £42.00.
Indulge in a luxurious festive feast
Indulge in the luxurious feast at the Knightsbridge hotel and restaurant – The Lanesborough – this festive season. This magnificent and enchanting venue will bring you the perfect festive experience. The Michelin star Celeste restaurant will be serving an extravagant festive lunch and dinner menu from the 24th November to the 23rd December: the perfect setting for a family lunch or dinner with friends or colleagues.
24 November until 23 December. Served from 12pm to 2.30pm
3 courses £45.00pp, and wine pairing £40.00 supplement per person
Watch a Christmas classic
Nothing says Christmas like being snuggled up watching your favourite Christmas movie. Throw in a live orchestra, the opulent setting of the theatre, and a glass of Prosecco and it’s the perfect festive evening. If you fancy a rom-com, Love Actually is playing in Theatre Royal on the 2nd December 2018. Alternatively, Home Alone is playing in the Royal Albert Hall on the 22nd December 2018.
If munching on a mince pie and singing along to Elf in a cinema is right up your street, the Prince Charles Cinema has a variety of film options throughout December to attend.
Backyard cinema offers a cinema experience like no other. Tucked into the heart of Winterville in Clapham Common is a cinema disguised as an enchanted forest. Playing a selection of Christmas favourites most nights, this pop-up cinema also has a bar with live entertainment.
Prices, dates and locations vary
Visit a Christmas market
If you feel like exploring some Christmas markets, you are in luck because Europe has a stocking full of incredible markets to visit. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors vote their favourite Christmas market on European Best Destinations. You can see the results here.
Not surprisingly, Europe’s favourite Christmas market (3 years running!) is Zagreb in Croatia. Zagreb’s market is spread throughout the city. This is a truly phenomenal experience with incredible lights, decorations and daily open-air entertainment to view while browsing around the stalls.
Brussels Christmas market is ranked eleventh on the list. This charming Belgian attraction is one of the largest and most popular events in Europe. The scenic cobbled streets of Brussels are brought to life with Winter Wonders, a 2 km-long stretch of snow-dusted market chalets, lively bars and pop-up restaurants. Brussel is just over 2-hours on Eurostar from London. The ideal destination for a weekend break.
30 November 2018 until 6 January 2019
If you are looking for something closer to home and family friendly, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderlands could be the answer. The market is made up of 200 wooden cabins selling culinary delights, handmade crafts and beautiful pieces of jewellery, as well as an open-air ice rink, fun fair rides, an observation wheel, ice bar, circus, and the Snowman™ Experience. Expect it to be VERY busy.
23rd November 2018 until 6th January 2019
Feel Christmasy at Trafalgar Square
Each year, Norway kindly gifts Trafalgar Square a magnificent 20-metre-high Christmas tree from the forest of Oslo, as thanks for Britain’s support in World War II. This tree is transformed with energy-efficient lights which will be switched on between 6pm and 7pm on Thursday 6th December. Carol singers gather around the tree from the 10th-21st December to sing carols for the crowds of spectators.
Performances take place from 4pm-8pm on weekdays, and from 2pm-6pm at weekends.
Are you struggling for present ideas this year? Branch out from the usual Terry’s chocolate orange and scarf combo with something more personal. Or refresh your Christmas decorations with something a little more special. Culture whisper have created a list of festive arts and crafts workshops happening this festive season: everything from table decorations to family Christmas baking.
Prices, dates and locations vary
Have a winter warmer in Lodge d’Argent
In December, Lodge d’Argent is transformed into a cosy winter wonderland inspired by the Little Red Riding Hood story. Enjoy a winter warmer cocktail or a glass of bubbly surrounded by frosted Christmas trees and fur blankets with stunning views of the city.
Do a Christmas deed
Christmas is the season of giving, so why not give back to the less fortunate this season? There are plenty of places looking for volunteers. To find volunteering opportunities in your area, visit Do it and pop in your postcode.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of festive highlights for December 2018.