Ah, Christmas. We know it’s been thrown at ya since mid-September, but it’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? However, if Christmas spirit is waning a little thanks to weather/cost of living/strikes galore, fear not; we’ve got a host of activities in London that honour time-old Christmas traditions to get you back on track.
1. Eat your body weight in festive food
Come December – well, late November, actually – most restaurants whip out their festive menus, offering feast upon feast of all kinds of cuisines. Now, you can stick with British Christmas traditions and indulge in a range of hearty roast dinners in London if you like: gravy soaked roast potatoes, creamy buttered veg, and your meat of choice will definitely keep you warm in this winter’s chill.
Alternatively, our dear capital boasts a diverse range of cuisines, so why not opt for an alternative Christmas menu instead? From a Filipino feast at Sarap to fine dining Indian dishes at The Cinnamon Club, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The city also has special Christmas lunches and afternoon teas. Get your stretchy trousers on and get eating.
2. Watch Christmas films
There’s a set six-week period each year where you can watch the likes of The Holiday, Love Actually and Home Alone (but hey, no judgement if you’re watching these gems in June), so get that duvet and get watching. Netflix and the like boast a range of classics and newer Christmassy movies, or you can venture to one of the capital’s popup venues for an out-of-home experience.
Once you’ve rewatched your fave festive film for the 100th time, relive them yet again at one of London’s Candlelight concerts. On Saturday, December 17, enjoy 60 minutes of magical movie scores at Candlelight Christmas. String quartet City String Ensemble will perform the likes of Walking in the Air from The Snowman, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree from Home Alone, and Jingle Bells from Elf. A day later, on December 18 (then again on December 21), Candlelight Jazz will offer smooth, jazzier versions of classics such as Winter Wonderland, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas.
3. Indulge in a little nostalgia
The magic of Christmas is all about reigniting childhood imagination, and there are plenty activities in London that fit this festive tradition. Many fan-favourite films have been immortalised in recent exhibitions; take it back to the 80s at the Back In Time exhibition, which champions the Back To The Future franchise, or the 90s with the Jurassic World exhibition.
Up for a road trip? Well, watching the Harry Potter films at Christmas has solidified itself as a tradition in the last few years; why not take it a step further and visit the Harry Potter: The Forbidden Forest Experience? This winter trail takes place just outside of Manchester, and will see you encounter many magical creatures from the series, cast spells, and much more.
4. Embark on a wintery walk
Leading on nicely, our city has a whole host of wintery walks you can enjoy. While the tradition is a Christmas Day walk, there’s plenty of trails to enjoy in London all season – and all year, for that matter. If you’re after something particularly Christmassy though, the trail at Christmas at Kenwood brings sparkle to Hampstead Heath, with multisensory displays of light and sound, gorgeous installations, plus a frenzy of food stalls selling mince pies, mulled wine, spiced cider and more. A fairly light walk stretching less than two kilometres, it’s one for all the family.
5. Get competitive with group games
It’s not Christmas if there’s not an argument over a game of Monopoly, right? If you want to take the competitive spirit out of the dining room and into the capital, BucketRace 12 Days of Christmas Scavenger Hunt is definitely the one to take on with your friends and family. Taking place on Saturday, December 17, the game will see you tour all over London across four hours, completing tasks on a provided ‘bucketlist’. These include the likes of ‘find a taxi serving coffee in Shoreditch’, and ‘serenade a stranger’.
If you’d rather stay indoors, the online Fat Big Quiz of Christmas takes place on Christmas Eve, and will see you virtually battle against other teams in a series of rounds. How’s your geography? What about your character knowledge? You’ll soon find out…
6. Listen to carol singers
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear,” says Buddy the elf. Whether it’s a haunting rendition of Carol Of The Bells, or a more upbeat We Wish You A Merry Christmas, carol singing truly spreads joy; and the capital is alive with the sound of music this season. Forget Sunday’s flower market, it’s all about Christmas on Colombia Road on Wednesdays, with carol performances and late night shopping on December 14 and 21, while there’s Carols at the Royal Albert Hall between December 17–24 too. My personal favourite in previous years has been Christmas carols at St Pauls Cathedral – while there are a few dates, why not head down on Christmas Eve?
7. Give gifts to your loved ones
One of the Christmas traditions that is incredibly easy to uphold in London is gifting! Whether you head to the shops of Oxford Street (and admire the Christmas lights), or one of the many malls around the city, the shopping options are almost limitless.
If you’d rather give the gift of an experience, instead of something physical, snap up a Fever gift card. Available in denominations of £25, £50 and £100, the gift card will unlock opportunities of Candlelight concerts, comedy shows, bottomless brunches and so much more.