A SPARKLING CHRISTMAS IN LONDON
Christmas is the most magical time of year to be in London. From the shopping streets bedecked in glittering lights and decorations to the scent of mulled wine in the air, it’s hard to beat the capital for festive fun and a chance to welcome in the Christmas spirit.
Need inspiration for the holiday season? Then read on.
The perfect family-friendly activity in the winter months is ice skating, as it offers a great opportunity to level the playing field between parents and children. In fact, you’re more likely to see dad struggling to stay on his skates then any of the kids.
Take advantage of the ice rinks set up at Hampton Court Palace, the Natural History Museum, Somerset House or the London Eye. Such stunning backdrops are unmistakably London and will make for wonderful family photos.
Warm up with a hot chocolate or mulled wine after all that skating and slipping about.
Hogwarts in the Snow
We all know from the Harry Potter books and films that Christmas is one of the most exciting times at Hogwarts. No scene could possibly excite a child more than the banquet in the Great Hall to mark the festive period and you can experience it for yourself and your family at the Warner Bros Studio Tour.
From festooned Christmas trees to flaming puddings, the Great Hall will transport young fans right into the adventures of Harry, Hermione and Ron. Look closely at the fireplaces and explore the Gryffindor Common Room for special treats.
A blank of snow covers the Hogwarts castle model, adding to the magic.
Now in its 12th year, Winter Wonderland has become a must-visit for families spending any time in London during the Christmas period. The annual event transforms Hyde Park into an enchanted paradise, offering a wide selection of attractions and comforting seasonal food.
Discover mythical water creatures carved out of ice and snow in the Magical Ice Kingdom; watch as acrobats take to the air at the Zippos Circus; and take in views of the London skyline from the Giant Observation Wheel.
There’s also the opportunity to purchase seasonal gifts and decorations at the Christmas markets and refuel at the Bavarian Village or Ice Bar.
One of the great things about visiting London in the run up to Christmas is that you can get many of your gifts without it feeling like a chore. The shops and streets are so well decorated it’s hard not to get into the spirit, and you can combine it with some lovely experiences for yourself.
The main square in Covent Garden is home to one of the largest Christmas trees in the capital, while Selfridges on Oxford Street always has a spectacular window display. Take the kids to Hamleys, so they meet Father Christmas and explore some of the toys they might like for Christmas.
Then, of course there is Harrods, which is lit up with 11,500 bulbs - a wonderful sight to behold.
Introduce your kids to an enchanting Christmas tale by attending a performance of the Nutcracker by the English National Ballet. More than 100 dancers and musicians will grace the stage at the London Coliseum to bring the music of Tchaikovsky to life.
Set on Christmas Eve in Edwardian London, the frost-covered land plays host to Clara and her Nutcracker doll, as they meet a whole cast of intriguing characters. The quality of the dancing is second to none and the magic of seeing the ballet in London at Christmas time will not be lost on the audience.
Giving your children an appreciation for ballet is one of the best Christmas gifts they could receive.
Carols in Trafalgar Square
Picture the scene, Trafalgar Square is buzzing with people and a traditional choir breaks into song by the huge Christmas tree at its centre. It’s a long-held practice in the run up to Christmas and a really special moment for those who witness it.
The schedule consists of 40 choirs, each taking their turn to sing the likes of Ding Dong Merrily on High and Deck the Halls for an hour of an evening. Wrap up warm and join in with the carols under an inky winter sky.
It’s the perfect way to start an evening in London, followed by a hearty dinner close by.
Image credit: _ultraforma_ via iStock