Winter in any major capital city is bound to be memorable but especially so in London, where the chilly season is blessed with countless things to get up to.
Here are just ten of them:
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
For the tenth consecutive year, the east section of Hyde Park will be transformed into a festive paradise for six weeks from mid-November.
The world-famous Winter Wonderland [pictured] is often imitated but rarely bettered and the organisers have really upped their game for 2016’s event.
Aside from having the largest open ice-rink in the UK, the event includes three new live shows, Zippo’s Christmas circus, a giant observation wheel, a bar constructed entirely from ice, and loads of great places to eat and drink festive fare.
Entry is free so you can have a good browse before deciding where and when you want to part with your cash.
Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions
Pokémon has returned to the mainstream with a bang in 2016 and this video-game concert (yes, you read that right) consists of orchestral arrangements accompanied by carefully timed visuals that draw from recent and classic Pokémon video games.
The event also claims to give fans the chance to experience the evolution of the Pokémon franchise like never before with the opportunity to meet up with like-minded fans to catch, battle, and trade Pokémon from your favorite games.
So if Pokémon is your thing, this is unmissable. It takes place at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th December.
Westminster’s most well-known public square will be home to London’s biggest Christmas tree, which is donated every year as a gift from the Swedish city of Oslo. Schedule your visit right and your time there may be soundtracked by one of the many carol services that occur throughout December.
Trafalgar Square is drenched in history too, with some amazing cultural spaces and the must-see National Gallery just a stone’s throw away.
The nearest Tube station is Charing Cross on the Bakerloo and Northern lines.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
A breathtaking fireworks display illuminates the London night sky at the stroke of midnight every New Year’s Eve. Demand for a decent view has escalated in recent years to the point that tickets are now sold via the UK government’s website for a spot on the South Bank. You can still enjoy the display from many areas around London though.
New Year’s Day Parade
More than 8,500 performers representing 20 countries will form this 2.2-mile parade, now in its 31st year. Expect dancers, acrobats, clowns, drums, and floats aplenty when it sets off from the Ritz Hotel, before trailing past Piccadilly Circus and down Lower Regent Street, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall before finishing up at Big Ben.
You can watch it for free but if you prefer a seat, tickets for erected grandstands are also available for the best views.
Watch the Great Christmas Pudding Race
This festive twist on the traditional egg-and-spoon race may sound like a new thing but 2016’s event – held in Covent Garden on Saturday 3rd December – will be its 36th year.
Teams of six try to tackle a tricky course as quickly as possible in a bid to win prizes and raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Proceedings kick off at 11.15am, with the first race starting at 12.10pm.
Watch the Peter Pan Cup
For those enjoying Christmas at the Grand Royale Hyde Park Hotel or any hotels near Bayswater station, head over to Hyde Park lake to see the hardy if slightly bonkers Serpentine Swimming Club brave the icy waters.
This traditional 100-yard race, which has been happening every Christmas Day morning since 1864, begins on the lake’s south bank at 9am and again, is free to watch.
Go ice skating
Gracefully gliding around one of London’s many outdoor ice rinks is one of the most wintery things you can do. There’s no shortage of options either, with several just a short journey away from the Grand Royale London Hyde Park.
We’d particularly recommend you consider Eyeskate, which sits at the foot of the London Eye big wheel by the Thames, and the 900 square metre ice rink surrounded by the grand 18th-century Somerset House.
- Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (a 0.9-mile, 17-minute walk from the Grand Royale London Hyde Park Hotel)
- Natural History Museum Ice Rink (1.2 mile journey for 16 mins, alight at South Kensington Station on the Circle line)
- Westfield Ice Rink (2 miles, 17 mins, Shepherd’s Bush – Central line)
- Eyeskate (3.4 miles, 26 mins, Waterloo Station – Jubilee line)
- JW3 On Ice (3.4 miles, 31 mins, Finchley Road Station – Jubilee line)
- Skate at Somerset House (3.2 miles, 23 mins, Holborn Station – Central line)
- Broadgate Ice Rink (4.8 miles, 25 mins journey, Liverpool Street Tube Station – Central line)
- Tower of London Ice Rink (5.1 miles, 37 mins, Tower Hill – Circle line)
- Canary Wharf Ice Rink (7.8 miles, 30 mins, Canary Wharf Station – Jubilee line)
- Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink (11.5 miles, 1 hour 9 mins, get the Richmond train from Wimbledon Tube Station (District line), then the 111 bus to Hampton Court Gardens)
Most of these close some time in January so double-check these ice rinks are still open before travelling.
Magical Lantern Festival
Bring in the Chinese New Year of the Rooster with this stunning trail of beautifully sculpted lanterns that take all shapes and sizes from wildlife and nature to animals and architecture.
This year’s theme is ‘Explore the Silk Road’ and begins with a 15-metre wide recreation of London’s Houses of Parliament before going on to represent Europe, Central Asia, Egypt, India, Ancient China amongst others.
This mesmeric outdoor event at Chiswick House Gardens in west London runs from Thursday 19th January until Sunday 26th February.
See a new show
London’s West End is already jam-packed with many much-loved shows but how do you fancy something new?
Be the first to see these new productions when they open this winter:
- Amadeus (Olivier Theatre from Thursday 26th January 2017)
- An American in Paris (Dominion Theatre, from Saturday 4th March 2017)
- Buried Child (Starring Ed Harris at Trafalgar Studio One from Monday 14 November 2016 until Saturday 18th February 2017)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Directed by Sam Mendes [Skyfall, American Beauty] at Theatre Royal Drury Lane from Saturday 7th January 2017)
- Dead Funny (Starring Katherine Parkinson, Steve Pemberton, Ralf Little, at Vaudeville Theatre from Saturday 4th February 2017)
- Hamlet (Trafalgar Studio Two from Tuesday 6th-Saturday 31st December)
- King Lear RSC (Barbican until Friday 23rd December)
- Lazarus (David Bowie jukebox musical at King’s Cross Theatre until Sunday 22nd January 2017)