Christmas lights, markets, ice-rinks and fireworks: winter in the capital

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Christmas Lights

Whatever you come to London for this winter, you won’t be short of things to do and see. From the ever-popular Christmas lights of the West End to the capital’s multitude of festive markets and its ice-skating rinks to its fireworks-fuelled celebrations at New Year, you’re truly spoilt for choice…

Find the Christmas lights illuminating

If bling’s something of a thing for you, then you mustn’t miss the Christmas lights; the neon that dominates the shopping thoroughfares and their stores’ windows in the weeks running up to the yuletide itself. From Oxford Street through Carnaby Street, all the way down to Covent Garden, the streets are all filled with sparkle come the night-time – it’s a sight for sore eyes, indeed.

Christmas Lights

Make for a Christmas market

There’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than by visiting one of the city’s many Christmas markets. Whether you try the mega Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, the Winterville winter festival on the South Bank – or, indeed, anywhere else – you’re bound to find exactly the bauble, tree-topper or city-break souvenir you’re after and, of course, take advantage of the chance to try a glass of mulled wine and a traditional bag of roasted chestnuts.

Christmas market

Skate the day away

Just like its plethora of Christmas markets, its outdoor ice-skating rinks have filled the capital in recent years like never before (combined, you might say these two kinds of an attraction truly makes for a throwback to London’s famous ‘frost fairs’ of centuries past). A word to the wise; the most scenic and atmospheric rinks are likely to be found at South Kensington’s Natural History Museum, Victoria Embankment’s Somerset House and Canary Wharf.

Ice Skating

Watch a classic festive flick

Popular throughout the year, London’s Rooftop Film Club comes and goes with its features and varies its venues throughout the city too. This winter, perhaps mercifully, it’s heading inside for its seasonal programme, so Peckham’s shabby-chic Electric Theatre’s where to head for some terrific classic Christmas movies this autumn, while you soak in the old-school urban glamour of the location’s velvet curtains and its menu of warming cocktails.

Take a tour of London’s haunted pubs

Did you know that a good many of London’s old pubs are haunted? And did you know that, come the winter (or, indeed, during any season of the year) you can go on a tour of them? Winter’s, indeed, the time of year to do so, though, when ghost tales seem all the more resonant and the warm hearths of said watering holes are particularly appealing when you come in the from the cold of the outdoors – or, given we’re talking of spooky locales here, are they…?

Partake in a ‘capital’ panto

There are few more eccentric and innately British traditions than popping along to a pantomime (or panto) this time of year in the UK. And, this 2018-19 theatre season, London’s resplendent with them – as it is most years these days. The big glossy effort’s undoubtedly Snow White at the huge and glamorous London Palladium, but don’t overlook the charms of Aladdin at the Hackney Empire (the 20th in 20 years at this venue, which is ideal for those staying nearby at The Montcalm London City at The Brewery Hotel) or Peter Pan at Richmond Theatre.

Ring in the New Year in style

Finally, who could overlook the huge draw that’s New Year’s Eve in London Town? Don’t doubt it; there’ll be special ticketed events to book up for (be sure you do so well in advance!) at many of the city’s bars and nightclubs, as well, of course, as the traditional fireworks display on the South Bank (where the London Eye’s its focal point).