Travel & Recreation

Visit London for the Holidays! Here’s What To Do in London For Christmas!

London is one of the world’s most exciting cities with incredible dining, art, shopping, architecture, history and cultural options. There is something for everyone in the Queen of England’s hometown. During the holiday season, London becomes that much more splendid with Christmas markets, holiday performances and halls decked out galore.

Stroll around Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, or the British Museum for history and culture. Head to Saville Row and Burlington Arcade for  bespoke fashions. If you’re up for a little exercise to put in the Christmas spirit, the Magical Ice Kingdom in Hyde Winter Wonderland Park or the Ice of the Tower is ideal for ice skating.

Whatever suits your fancy in London, it will be a unforgettable way to spend the holidays. For more ideas about what to do in London, head to

See What’s Happening in London for Christmas!

AttractionsHyde Park Winter Wonderland
23 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
This year welcomes a breath-taking new addition to this year’s Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, the Magical Ice Kingdom, a spectacular ice and snow sculpture experience created from over 200 tonnes of ice and snow over four months by 20 sculptors. Other attractions include: the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, a giant observation wheel, along with Christmas markets, Zippos Circus, and the ever popular Bavarian Village, serving bratwurst and mulled wine. In addition, there will also be many more restaurants and bars, as well as traditional and thrill-seeking rides. For more information contact Anna Hope on 07867 500502 / [email protected]Cutty Sark Christmas
1 and 2 December 2012
Families of all ages can drop in between 11.00am-1.00pm and 2.00pm-4.00pm to make Christmas tree decorations inspired by the many shapes on the ship. The sessions are free when a main entry ticket to the famous tea clipper is purchased. For more information contact Kiren Pooni on 0207 886 8442 / [email protected]

Tudor Christmas
Old Royal Naval College, 15 December 2012
Children aged five and up can experience a Tudor Christmas at the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College. Visitors will become part of the royal household to find out more about Christmas traditions at Henry VII’s favourite residence, Greenwich Palace, and make their own Christmas decorations to take home. For more information contact Belinda Hallworth on 0207 886 8456 / [email protected]

Winter Festival
Kempton Park, 26 and 27 December 2012
It’s the must see British sporting occasion at Christmas time and tickets for the William Hill Winter Festival at Kempton Park Racecourse on Boxing Day and Thursday, 27 December are on sale now. Racing fans, who were lucky enough to witness Kauto Star’s historic fifth win in last year’s William Hill King George VI Chase, won’t want to miss the magical spectacle if the legendary horse takes his place in the race on Boxing Day this year, as it could be the last time Britain’s best-loved jumper appears on the track. The scintillating sporting action on Boxing Day includes three Grade One Jump races – the William Hill King George VI Steeple Chase, the Christmas Hurdle and the Feltham Novices’ Steeple Chase. On day two of the Festival the highlight of the day is the Grade Two Desert Orchid Steeple Chase. For further information, please contact Kempton Park media office on 01932 782292Exhibitions

Christmas Past: 400 Years of Seasonal Traditions in English Homes
Geffrye Museum, 27 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
Recapture the magic of Christmas with a visit to Christmas Past. Each year, the museum’s eleven period rooms are decorated in authentic festive style, evoking some of the rich and colourful traditions and celebrations of Christmases past which are often forgotten amid the hubbub of the modern festive season. From feasting, dancing and kissing under the mistletoe to playing parlour games, decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties, Christmas past illustrates how Christmas has been celebrated in English middle-class homes from 1600 to the present day. For more information contact Nancy Loader on 020 7749 6026 / [email protected]Entertainment

Robin Hood
Greenwich Theatre, 22 November – 6 January 2013
This all-singing, all-dancing pantomime is one for the whole family and follows on from the success of last year’s spectacular production of Aladdin making it one not to be missed. For more information contact Kiren Pooni on 0207 886 8442 / [email protected]

The Snowman
Peacock Theatre, 28 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
The stage show based on Raymond Briggs’ classic book and the subsequent film has become a much-loved festive tradition at the Peacock Theatre, and returns for a record-breaking 15th year. Featuring Howard Blake’s Walking In the Air, performed by a live orchestra. This is the perfect Christmas treat for all the family with its wonderful mix of storytelling, spectacle and magic. For more information contact Eugenie Dunster on 020 7863 8122 / [email protected]

Christmas Carol Concert
Old Royal Naval College, 2 December 2012
The Old Royal Naval College will launch its Christmas celebrations with a Christmas Carol Concert in the Chapel on Sunday 2 December. From 6.30pm, carol lovers can join Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice for a torch-lit procession by the Sea Cadets with carols led by the ORNC Chapel Choir. Tickets are priced from £20, which includes a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. For more information contact Sophy Norris on 01392 426287 / [email protected]

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty
Sadlers Wells, 4 December 2012 – 26 January 2013
New Adventures’ 25th year of celebration culminates with the world premiere of Matthew Bourne’s latest re-imagining of a ballet classic. Sleeping Beauty sees him return to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete the trio of ballet masterworks that started in 1992 with Nutcracker, continuing in 1995 with the international smash hit, Swan Lake. Bourne’s production introduces Aurora at her Christening that same year, when fairies and vampires fed the gothic imagination, before the story moves through the ages to the modern day; a world more mysterious and wonderful than any fairy story! Featuring designs by Olivier Award-winners Lez Brotherston (set and costumes), Paule Constable (lighting) and sound design by Paul Groothuis in specially recorded surround sound. This haunting new production is a gothic romance for all ages; a supernatural love story across the decades, that even the passage of time cannot hinder. For more information contact Simon Raw on 020 7637 8866 or [email protected]

Hansel and Gretel
National Theatre, previews from 7 December
Based on the story by the Brothers Grimm, the cast includes Ruby Bentall. The production will be designed by Vicki Mortimer, with lighting by Jon Clark, movement by Joseph Alford, music by Paul Clark, sound by Gareth Fry and puppet design by Toby Olié. Katie Mitchell returns to the National Theatre to stage the classic fairytale. She will once again collaborate with Lucy Kirkwood and designer Vicki Mortimer to conjure the world of Hansel and Gretel in an intimate and magical new production especially suitable for 7 – 10-year-olds. For more information contact Philippa Crossman on 020 7452 3236 / [email protected]

Midnight’s Pumpkin
Battersea Arts Centre, 10 December 2012– Sunday 13 January 2013
This Christmas, Battersea Arts Centre is the only place to catch Kneehigh, as they present
Midnight’s Pumpkin – their footloose and fancy free take on the classic fairy-tale, Cinderella.
As December resolutely rolls around, a right-royal-Kneehigh-knees-up will be landing in Battersea Arts Centre’s Grand Hall. Renowned theatre makers Kneehigh invite you to an evening of dancing, storytelling and celebration as they present Midnight’s Pumpkin, a seasonal show with a difference. Preparations are well underway for a Royal Ball as the Prince – Charming of course – is in search of a bride. But to find her he must get past a talking pumpkin, ugly sisters, a batch of severed toes, formation dancing and a particularly stringent midnight curfew. Kneehigh mischievously twists this classic fairy-tale into their home spun aesthetic, creating a playful and tongue in cheek show for everyone from six to one hundred and six. The audience are invited to get involved by donning their dancing shoes and dressing to impress the Prince. For more information contact Miranda Marcus on 020 7326 8259 / [email protected]

Slava’s Snowshow
Royal Festival Hall, 17 December 2012 – 7 January 2013
Slava’s Snowshow is a visual masterpiece loved by children and adults alike. A combination of theatrical clowning and stunning spectacle, the show is performed by a highly renowned company of clowns led by Slava Polunin. The show creates a dream-like world where one extraordinary image melts into another culminating in a stunning finale leaving the audience literally knee-deep in snow. Influenced by artists such as Chaplin, Marcel Marceau and Engibarov, Slava Polunin and his company have taken clowning out of the world of circus, and brought it to theatre lovers, fellow practitioners and families worldwide. For more information contact Charlotte Bayley on 020 7831 7657 / [email protected]

Christmas Festival
Royal Albert Hall, 12 – 24 December
The annual Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival returns to the Hall with the best festive entertainment in town! From carol singalongs for the whole family to Handel’s Messiah, the festival promises to have something for everyone in the magical countdown to Christmas.
For more details and full listings please visit or call our Box Office.

Christmas shopping, markets and events

Selfridges Christmas Shop
Selfridges opened its biggest ever Christmas Shop on Monday 3 September, and has pulled out all the stops to create a festive utopia, that will capture the imagination of every customer, with a scent’acular festive aroma as they walk around. With over 85,000 decorations, 6,000 crackers and 28 different types of Christmas trees, finding the right look for your home this season has never been so simple. For more information contact Georgia Frost on 020 7318 2499 / [email protected]

Christmas markets on the Southbank
16 November – 24 December
The wooden huts of the Southbank Centre Christmas Market will return to Queen’s Walk along the river, with stalls to buy gifts, food and drink. Further festive food offerings can be found at the much-loved Real Food Christmas Market (14 – 16 December). Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the Christmas Chocolate Festival on Southbank Centre Square. A selection of inspirational gifts and fun decorations for every age can be found at Southbank Centre’s shops and Foyles book shop. The canopies of twinkling lights will transform the Southbank Centre site into a stunning, magical and festive area where visitors can relax and enjoy the atmosphere, shop and eat. For more information contact Helena Zedig on 020 7921 0847 / [email protected]

Carnaby’s Christmas light switch on
8 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
Carnaby will be collaborating with The Rolling Stones in celebration of their 50th Anniversary for the 2012 Christmas installations. Carnaby is world famous for its music heritage as well as its fashion heritage and this year’s Christmas designs will be a very special project with the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world. The Christmas decorations will consist of huge 3D spheres suspended throughout Carnaby Street containing gold and silver vinyl records emblazoned with the bands iconic artwork and album covers. The Carnaby arches will also be dressed with The Stones iconic tongue logo.  The outdoor installations tell a visual story from the band’s creation in the 1960s to the present day. A limited edition canvas shopping bag will also be available for Carnaby shoppers. For more information contact Sarah Mole on 020 7287 9601 / [email protected]

The world-famous Oxford Street Christmas lights
The festive season only really kicks off when the world famous spectacular and iconic Oxford Street Christmas Lights are turned on.  For the 53rd year, tens of thousands will gather on Oxford Street for the unveiling of Christmas in the West End with a star-spangled event. Dating back to 1959, the annual Oxford Street Christmas lights scheme, funded by Oxford Street retailers, is made up of LED bulbs, which use 75% less energy than conventional bulbs. For more information contact Lucy Hemelryk on 020 7828 0118 [email protected]

Lighting up Regents Street
The switch on of the Christmas lights in Regent Street, London W,1 is on Tuesday 13 November, 2012. Visitors can download the recently launched Regent Street Shopping App which showcases Regent Street’s diverse shopping, fashion and lifestyle offer to make their Christmas shopping easier. Regent Street continues to attract new international and domestic shoppers who are drawn by the impressive array of flagship stores including the largest Burberry in the world, Superdry, Apple, Ferrari, Anthropologie, Banana Republic and Liberty. Visitors are also able to extend the Christmas cheer in one of the many restaurants and bars located within Regent Street and its Food Quarters – Heddon Street and Swallow Street – including tibits, Momo and the roof top venue at Aqua.  For more information please contact Lucia Ruz at Sister on 0207 287 9601/ [email protected]

Get into the Christmas spirit at Greenwich Market
10 – 24 December
Greenwich Market, home to up to 150 craft and designer maker stalls, and the adjacent eclectic shops and boutiques make Greenwich the perfect one stop shop for really different gifts and stocking fillers, original artworks and handcrafted toys, fashions, handmade jewellery, beauty treats and delicious festive foods and drinks. For more information contact
Jennifer Hall-Thompson on 020 8683 9595/ [email protected]

Greenwich Market Christmas lights switch on
28 November 2012
Greenwich Market will switch on the Christmas Lights with the Children’s Lantern Parade to kickstart this year’s celebrations. The procession starts at 4.00pm at Discover Greenwich, in the Old Royal Naval College and ends in Greenwich Market for the big countdown led by the characters from this year’s panto Robin Hood at 4.30pm. Revellers can join in with the singing of Christmas carols, meet Father Christmas in his Greenwich Grotto and shop late through 7pm. For more information contact Belinda Hallworth on 0207 886 8456 / [email protected]

All aboard the Liberty Express
The Liberty Christmas windows 2012 take inspiration from the Victorian age of
the steam train and specifically Queen Victoria’s train carriage which was a decadent saloon designed for the most opulent of comfort. The Liberty Express departs on the 8th September with the opening of the Liberty Christmas shop on the 4th floor. This year it has expanded
to take over the central atrium of the 4th floor too which opens a week after the east
atrium gallery. Themes for Christmas baubles reflect Victoriana with a strong Dickensian overture celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens this year. For more information contact Simon Midgley on 0207 573 9503 / [email protected]

Exclusive decoration and Christmas cards from the Design Museum
Forget the pine needle palaver if you pick up a Christmas tree designed exclusively for the Design Museum by award-winning interior and surface designer Giles Miller. The Design Museum shop also offers a selection of stylish seasonal greetings cards to send to all your friends designed by Daniel Heath and Donna Wilson. For more information contact Jordan Lewis on 020 7940 8761 / [email protected]

Give a world-first this Christmas
The View from the Shard opens 1 February 2013.
Let your loved ones enjoy London like never before – as they take to the dizzying heights (800ft/244m) of The View from The Shard, the new premium visitor attraction at the top of The Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building and London’s newest landmark. For more information contact William Kallaway on [email protected] / 020 7221 7883.

Ice RinksTwo Ice Rinks
Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City
London’s trendiest Ice Rink is back at Westfield this winter. This year, you’ll be spoilt for choice with two ice rinks – one at Westfield London another at Westfield Stratford City. Visitors can take time out from shopping for skating fun under Westfield London’s stunning glass roof and dazzling Christmas lights, or if you prefer the open-air, head to Westfield Stratford City’s outdoor rink and enjoy breathtaking views of the Olympic Park. For more information contact Rowanne Yahir on [email protected]

Natural History Museum Ice Rink
Set within the historic Victorian grounds of the Natural History Museum, the ice rink is decorated with 76,000 fairy lights that adorn the surrounding tall trees with a backdrop of one of London’s landmark locations. The impressive 1,000 square metre ice rink is one of London’s must-see winter attractions. Guests can warm up in the cosmopolitan and cosy Café Bar, offering a menu of sumptuous food, hot and cold drinks and entertainment for all to enjoy. For more information contact the press team on 020 7942 5000 / [email protected]

Ice at the Tower
Tower of London, 17 November 2012 – 6 Jan 2013
Nestled against the magnificent fortress of the Tower of London, the outdoor ice rink creates a wonderfully festive scene. Cold skaters and spectators can thaw out in the Ice Rink café and bar by warming their hands on a hot chocolate or mulled wine and munching on mince pies. Open from morning to night, the ice rink is ideally situated for a lunchtime skate or an after-work party, followed by a well-earned treat in the ice rink bar which also serves draughts, wines and spirits and provides the perfect experience to unwind and have fun. For more information contact Anna Hope on 07867 500 502 / [email protected]

Skate at Somerset House
16 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
Somerset House ice rink returns for its annual season from, with a spectacular programme of activities on ice in a beautiful setting. This season’s highlights include, Club Nights with a glittering line up of DJs, a luxury pop-up shopping mall called the Christmas Arcade, Skate School and Penguin Club for the children, and a great selection of food and drink at Tom’s Skate Lounge, devised by Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, and Fernandez & Wells café and bar, located in Somerset House’s East Wing. For more information contact Natalia Christina on 020 7845 4619 / [email protected]

10 years of Palace skating
Hampton Court Palace, 1 December 2012 – Sunday 13 January 2013
Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink is delighted to be celebrating 10 years of winter skating this year at the truly splendid setting of Henry VIII’s red brick Tudor Palace. Situated on the banks of the River Thames, the Palace provides a perfect picturesque location for festive skating and even more so at night when it is beautifully illuminated. Skaters and spectators can warm up inside the Ice Rink Café with winter warming drinks and festive treats and relax after their skate or watch others take to the ice. For more information contact Anna Hope on 07867 500 502 / [email protected]

Eyeskate at the EDF Energy London Eye
Guests are invited to glide across the ice under the silhouette of London’s most iconic landmark, where they can also opt to experience the London Eye or the London Eye River Cruise to enjoy the best of London at Christmas. For more information contact Alison Metcalfe on 0207 413 3060 / [email protected]Santa’s Grottos

Two Christmas Grottos:
Westfield Stratford City and Westfield London
Back by popular demand! Enjoy the ultimate Christmas grotto experience with a brand new 3D story that will take kids and adults alike on a magical festive journey. Santa Claus will be taking pictures with his little helpers and treating all his visitors to early Christmas presents! For more information contact Rowanne Yahir on [email protected]

Desperately Seeking Santa
Santa’s elves are preparing to greet thousands of children from as far afield as China, Australia, USA and Russia – and will be able to understand these languages. Children will be taken through a magical Christmas themed maze before being welcomed by Father Christmas and his team of elves.  For more information contact Lucy Gillis on 0207 896 3404 / [email protected]Winter wonderland at Kew
Princess of Wales Conservatory, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew
8 -23 December, 12 midday until 3.30pm, last entry at 3pm.
Little ones will have the chance to visit Santa, enjoying a magical ride on the stunning vintage carousel and wonder at the beautiful Christmas tree in the Gardens. For more information please contact the RBG Kew Press Office on 020 8332 5607 or email [email protected]

Festive Food & DrinkTaste of Christmas
ExCeL London, 7 – 9 December 2012
Taste of Christmas is the UK’s biggest Christmas food festival, a celebration of food, drink, restaurants and world-renowned chefs and is a key event in preparing passionate foodies for the festive season. To celebrate the world coming to London in 2012, this year’s Taste of Christmas will be launching a brand new feature called ‘Festive Flavours of the World’. This will showcase the best quality international festive cuisines and take visitors on a journey of discovery to find out how different countries and cultures celebrate Christmas. Alongside a mouthwatering international feast, the festival will showcase unique Christmas gifts, celebrity chef cooking demonstrations and expert master-classes in essential skills for Christmas dining, seasonal baking and festive decorations. Giving the show an even more festive feel is a Christmas choir and acoustic music. For more information contact Lauren Libin on 020 7291 3000 / [email protected]

HotelsClaridge’s’ legendary Christmas pudding
A little help from secret Santa is on its way this festive season as Claridge’s unveils the ultimate Christmas pudding, created from the same recipe used for over a century in the hotel’s famous kitchens. Part of a true Claridge’s tradition, the hotel’s pastry chefs have created 150 limited-edition puddings to be enjoyed at home. Available online as well as directly from the hotel, the puds are the most-wanted gift this holiday season! For more information contact Christina Norton on 020 7201 1664 / [email protected]Roux Christmas Pudding – The Langham
This festive season The Langham, London will be offering guests a true slice of Christmas with its exclusive Roux Christmas Pudding that is also available to take home. The luxury hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Roux at The Landau, will debut Albert Roux’s legendary Christmas pudding. Packaged in a beautiful Roux at The Landau box, the famous pudding will also be available to purchase from the restaurant, providing the ultimate Christmas gift for foodies. For more information contact Gemma Frenzel on 020 7938 5002 / [email protected]Nicholas Kirkwood Christmas tree – Brown’s Hotel, December 2012
Rocco Forte’s Brown’s Hotel has announced a unique festive partnership with award-winning British shoe designer, Nicholas Kirkwood – famous for his statement sculptural footwear. This December, Nicholas Kirkwood, will decorate the Brown’s Christmas tree, taking inspiration from British art and sculpture and will reworking traditional Christmas decorations using light and reflection to create a traditional tree with his signature off-beat aesthetic and crowned with a decorative pair of heels. Visit Brown’s Hotel over the Christmas period to indulge in the Festive Afternoon Tea, seasonal cocktails and Christmas menus in HIX Mayfair including various carving masterclasses with Mark Hix. For more information contact Sophie Darley on 020 7518 4169 / [email protected]Christmas Packages at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall
This Christmas, the 5* London Marriott Hotel County Hall is offering a range of packages, including, from the Jazz Residential Package complete with overnight stay, live jazz, breakfast dinner and cocktails, to the Shop in the City package including; overnight stay, £50 John Lewis vouchers, pre-shopping tea and crumpets, in room breakfast and access to spa areas. There’s also the Christmas in the City package offering 2 nights stay, three course meal, breakfast, Christmas lunch and access to relaxation areas in the spa. Visit the London Marriott Hotel County Hall for other festive treats such as Christmas afternoon teas, spa treatments, and Gillray’s dining packages. For more information contact Emma Wayman on 0845 0941 007 / [email protected]

Here are some Hotels and happenings in December that might strike your fancy!

The Wellesley – Knightsbridge, opening December 2012
The Wellesley is to be a 36-room luxury townhouse hotel located in Knightsbridge and featuring some of London’s most sumptuous suites. The hotel will take on both a contemporary and classic style with interiors created by the award-winning Fox Linton, combining the building’s 1920s art deco design with stylish modern additions. As well as the rooms, The Wellesley will incorporate a Cigar Lounge & Terrace – featuring the UK’s largest bespoke humidor – The Crystal Bar with its whisky and cognac wall, the elegant Oval Restaurant, and a dedicated Jazz Room which is to showcase both established and up-and-coming Jazz acts in an intimate atmosphere. For more information contact Louise Swanne on 020 7629 2899 / [email protected]

December menu at Seven Park Place – St. James’s Hotel and Club
Locally sourced seasonal ingredients are a feature of William Drabble’s cuisine at Michelin starred restaurant Seven Park Place. Each dish starts on a farm or in the sea, it then takes those farmers and fishermen, to get up early in the dark (mostly rainy) mornings to harvest that produce, which is then prepared, carefully packaged, taken on a journey and delivered to the restaurant. The ingredients are then painstakingly prepared, cooked and presented by a trained team of professionals both in the kitchen and the restaurant. The December menu will include: poached tail of native lobster with cauliflower and truffle, saddle of venison with juniper jus and milk chocolate with pain d’épices and clementine sorbet. For more information contact Benedetta Fullin on 020 7316 1650 / [email protected]

Cafe Royal Hotel – Opens 1 December 2012
Cafe Royal will be launched as a luxury hotel on 1 December 2012. Its reopening heralds the return of an iconic London institution which has continually evolved to define and capture the mood and style of the capital throughout its 150 year history. Located on 68 Regent Street – with elegant Mayfair to the west and creative Soho to the east – Café Royal sits in the heart of London’s beating West End. It features 159 rooms and suites, an array of dining venues, a private members’ club, The Café Royal Club, high-tech meeting rooms and Akasha, a holistic wellbeing spa. For more information contact Mathura Premaruban on 020 7406 3349 / [email protected]

Cocktails & Mocktails – Royal Garden Hotel, 5 December 2012
Join the team this December for a cocktail demonstration with expert bar team at Park Terrace Restaurant. Discover the secrets of our signature cocktails accompanied with a selection of light bites expertly prepared by the team of chefs. For more information, contact Anita Benyon on 020 7361 1998 / [email protected]

Martini Movies – One Aldwych, Sundays throughout December 2012
Martini Movies offers food and film fans the opportunity to enjoy a Grey Goose Martini cocktail, a private screening of a great film and a delicious brunch in Indigo restaurant as part of a special Sunday package…. there’s even popcorn to enjoy. This fabulous package is priced at £42.50 per adult including VAT, excluding service charge and runs on select Sunday afternoons in December. One Aldwych also offers a Martini Movies film and accommodation package for the ultimate getaway. It is priced from £320 for two people sharing an Aldwych room including the dinner & movie experience and breakfast the following morning. For more information contact Howard Rombough on 020 7300 1077 / [email protected]

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