5 of the merriest things to do in London at (or near) Christmas

Christmas at Trafalgar Square

Shimmering lights adorning the streets, roasted chestnuts over-spilling in the yuletide markets and mulled wine to warm even the coldest of your cockles; yes, the festive season is always hugely anticipated wherever you may be on the planet, yet should you find yourself in London in the run up to the yuletide, it can seem all the more magical.

Indeed, the UK capital’s plazas and squares – from Trafalgar Square to Covent Garden and many more besides become illuminated and bustling with eager shoppers and eagerer revellers in the last few weeks of the year, ensuring that Christmas is an experience in the city unlike anywhere else. So, what ought you definitely do if you’re planning on booking hotel London for – or during the run up to – Christmas…?

See the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square

Christmas at Trafalgar Square

Famous throughout the nation, a giant, majestic tree sourced from Norway has stood in the centre of this grandest of London piazzas every Christmas since the end of the Second World War. Why? Because the very first was a gift from the nation of Norway to the British people as thanks for the latter’s efforts in WWII. Don’t forget to check out the other things to be experienced in Trafalgar Square during the ‘Holidays’, including the Christmas tree’s lighting, carol-singing in the run up to the festivities and a torch-lit procession marking the blessing of the sacred crib; just the thing before an evening’s dinner at restaurants near Bayswater.

Go ice-skating at Somerset House

Somerset House

Just as pop-up outdoor cinemas have become the toast of the town in summer, come the winter months pop-up ice-rinks can be found dotted here, there and everywhere throughout London. One of the most popular – and for good reason – is the rink that’s erected in the square at the Victoria Embankment’s Somerset House venue every year; a 900m2 outdoor rink, it’s not just perfect for a couple of hours’ worth of skating by you and yours but hosts other things like concerts too. Alternatively, you might want to check out the ice-rink that goes up outside South Kensington’s Natural History Museum, with its awesome backdrop that’s the museum’s incredibly elegant frontage.

Visit Leadenhall Christmas Market

Leadenhall Market

Located in the heart of The City, Leadenhall Market is an indoor market hall with a terrifically ornate Victorian-era roof that’s simply perfect for a little yuletide retail therapy in the run up to the main event itself (not least because it’ll keep you out of the autumn/ winter chill!). Indeed, the fabulous ceiling’s more than topped off the magnificent Christmas tree and all the delightful trinket-selling and fashion-vending stalls, as well as the restaurants, cafés, eateries and bars that line the market’s interior. A very special setting for a spot of Christmas (souvenir) shopping and no mistake.

Lose yourself in childlike fun

You’ll doubtless come across a number of fun-fair-like rides here and there in the city in the run-up to the festivities-proper, but if you like the idea of being spoilt on this front then be sure to pop along to Hyde Park from the end of November onwards, where the great natural expanse is filled by the multiple-event-toting Winter Wonderland or to the firm family favourite (all around the year) that’s the South Bank where, come Christmas-time, will discover a carousel and Ferris wheel in addition to its German-style outdoor Christmas market.

Toast to the season

Finally, if you’re tired silly from all that Christmas shopping, ice-skating or riding on fun-fair-rides then you’ll need some refreshment and what better than enjoying a classic pint or two of beer in a traditional London pub. Just the thing to warm your feet (and everywhere else!) next to a roaring fire on a cold, dark, November/ December’s evening. Of course, no decent London watering will serve beer alone – how about mulled wine, even? You’ll find such Victorian-built establishments throughout the city, of course; so, it’ll be more than easy to chance upon one where you’re staying – whether that’s one of the discount hotels Bayswater, like the Grand Royale London, or anywhere else.