Christmas is easily everyone’s favorite time of the year unless you’re a Grinch, I know it is most certainly mine. While in London I got to experience their shift from Fall to Christmas whereas back in the states we start decorating for Christmas right after thanksgiving the brits start stocking their store shelves after Halloween! Not to shortly after Thanksgiving the Christmas Markets are open along with the Christmas themed bars and activities. They don’t have any crazy big Christmas markets like Germany but they do have quite a few. Here’s a list of a few places I was able to go to and some tips!
- Hyde Park Winter Wonderland – this is not just any old Christmas market this is a Christmas market/theme park on steroids. It’s one of London’s main attractions during this time of year. It tends to be crowded during the weekends so I advise going during the week if you can. There are rides and games galore along with endless food and goodies. One of the best parts is the Bavarian Village it made me feel like I was at a Christmas themed Oktoberfest! With so many bars to choose from its hard to pick, they even have two carousel bars! The Christmas market stands were a disappointment to me. They are spread throughout the park BUT they all have the same stuff. Don’t bother to go on the totally opposite side of the park just for different stands like I did because they are all the same with all the same prices. hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
- Winterland – The perfect place for a GNO (Girls Night Out). Usually called Neverland this outdoor bar turns into a winter wonderland playground for adults. You walk through a light covered archway and into this outdoor area covered with wood chips and picnic tables. They have food and a bar along with activities such as mini golf, curling and beer or prosecco pong! The best part is their heated igloos! Get a few of your friends together and all chip in and split this and then get a Golden Swan to enjoy the night! Another plus to this place is it is BYOB! winterland.com
- Christmas at Kew – Kew Gardens was one of my first and favorite places I visited in London and I was so happy to return and end my trip at Christmas at Kew. They decorate the trails with different displays of lights, my favorite was my bubbles. This is a great stop to get in the Christmas mood. christmasatkew.com
- Southbank – Expect this place to be crowded and as I said before, no matter how far you walk there is all the same craft stalls so don’t feel like you are missing out on some good gifts if you don’t walk the whole thing. BUT what you will be missing out on is all the different food stalls there are, for those New Yorkers reading this think of Smorgasburg. Looking left or right you’ll find a food stand it may be confit duck or chicken tenders. Go here on an empty stomach so you can eat your way through the market. After walking the whole thing, you may be thirsty so end the market with a drink or two at the Riedlorkg cider house. southbankcentre.com
- Christmas on the river – Set along the River of Thames this market is the same as the rest repeating the same stalls every five or six feet. The good part about this one though was the views and the variety of food. I was able to have a burrito for the first time in three months and I was not disappointed while admiring Tower Bridge! There is one stand that stood out amongst the rest and wasn’t repeated, they sold handmade wooden sculptures such as ducks and wine stands. I snagged a pair of airplane earrings which was a plus of making the trip there from Telegraphers Lab. christmasbytheriver.com
- Covent garden – Although there isn’t a Christmas market or rides and food stalls like the others it is worth a visit. There’s a giant Christmas tree lit up and many amazing decorations making it the perfect place for photos! Grab a drink at Punch and Judy and watch the street performers from the balcony below in front of the tree and St. Paul’s Church, it’s the best view in the house. If you want to do some shopping there’s the apple market stands to choose from or the stalls in the Jubilee Market as well as the higher end brands surrounding it. coventgarden.com
- Winterville – This was my favorite of them all, I went on a snowy slushy day so there was very few people which was nice. Although it is small they had such a wide variety of things that makes it different from others such as the roller rink and backyard snow kingdom cinema. Their food stalls are all different as well which was nice, grab a baileys hot chocolate to warm up! My favorite part was the market, it was in a tent and when I went they had a bunch of individual designers there selling things from unique backpacks to jewelry made out of Barbie’s. They also have a few different bars to choose from, the beer tent was the warmest! winterville.com
- Regents and Oxford Street – If you are missing the windows and lights of Macy’s in New York city stop at Harrods for their Christmas window displays. Then head over to walk along regents and oxford street, Carnaby street even bond street if you fancy amazing lights.
When it comes to the Christmas markets it works like this: once you’ve seen one you’ve pretty much seen ‘em all. Except for the food I think I’ve learned to go to Christmas markets for the food not the gifts.