Christmas is magical the world over, but Christmas in London is a treat for all your senses. Pack your skates, don't forget your hat and glove, and enjoy a city that thrives on tradition.
1) Go Ice Skating
Make plans to spend a day at the open air rink at Somerset. The tree is breathtaking, the company is excited to be there, and if you stop for a cocktail after your visit, the experience is remarkably British. Make sure you stop by the Fortnum Arcade for a bit of shopping. If skating isn't your favorite thing, remember that there's a viewing area where you can watch others perform while you stay snuggly warm.
2) View the Lights
A trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens will put you in the Christmas spirit with over a million bulbs. In addition to the lights, there's a special holiday breakfast with the Claus Family for the kids, and a train display. Once the sun goes down, take a stroll through the Rock Garden. A weekend visit will give you the chance to hear any number of musical groups perform the sweetest music, that of an English Christmas. Be sure to stroll through the shops as well, as many places put up light displays to rival their neighbors, and the winner of this contest will be you!
3) Have Dessert
There are any number of delicious cakes, cookies, puddings and pies that will serve the Christmas spirit, but if you're looking for a true British Christmas treat, seek out
- mince pies
- Christmas pudding
- trifle, and a
- yule log
If you've never prepared any of these foods before, seek out a shop or restaurant that offers a traditional tea and treat yourself to dessert before dinner. One of the challenges of these dishes is that they can take a great deal of time. For example, the British Christmas cake can actually be baked in September and fed or marinated in brandy until Christmas Eve. You're on holiday, so let the professionals handle it.
4) Hit a Pub
While you're walking the city of London, don't forget to stop for a pint at a local pub. It may be cold outside, but London pub life doesn't stop for winter. Take a stroll through Hyde Park, study the displays and the beautiful lights, and treat yourself to a pint of British ale. You can enjoy a building covered in Christmas trees with a trip to the Churchill Arms in Kensington, or snuggle into a warm chair over at Little Nan's on Deptford Market Yard for a cup of mulled cider with a dash of spiced rum. The whole city is getting their Christmas on, so cuddle in and enjoy yours, too!
5) Take a Carriage Ride
Your exploration of London's Christmas traditions must include a carriage ride through Richmond Park. Savor all of the sensory portions of the experience; the jingling of the horses, the clopping of hooves on cobblestones and the sights of old London. Make sure you dress warmly; London is cold in December and the wind off the water can be quite damp. In addition to your hat and gloves, make sure you invest in good gloves and warm boots for your carriage ride across Richmond Park. Special thanks to Charles the 1st for creating this remarkable park!
6) Bring an Empty Suitcase to Fill!
You must shop during your Christmas in London. Consider packing a small suitcase inside a bigger one so you can enjoy some space for treats from the Schmidt Christmas market. Treat yourself to Christmas Decorations bought directly from London so you can create true British Christmas Decor in your own space when you get home. No matter what, treat yourself to some tree decorations to remember this remarkable visit.
Christmas poppers, or crackers, are loaded with silliness to raise your spirits and get you in the holiday spirit. Why visit London if you don't plan to wear a crown, even if it is just a paper one? Even strangers, seated side by side, can pull a popper and have some fun together, thanks to the crowns and silly jokes.
8) Receive the Greetings of the Season from Her Highness
The Queen's yearly address is a tradition that continues, no matter the state of the world. It was begun by her grandfather in 1932 on the radio, and her uncle continued the tradition. Fix yourself a slice of Christmas cake, light a fire, put up your new Christmas Decorations and turn on the telly to celebrate the season with Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. This remarkable woman has guided her nation through many ups and downs, but a London Christmas isn't complete without her best wishes.
9) Christmas Dinner
If you just had turkey in the states for Thanksgiving, make sure you save room for your British Christmas Turkey. This dish will be prepared with all the fixings, including stuffing, cranberry sauce, and Brussel sprouts. Also, keep an eye out for roast parsnips. This delicious veggie is a common side dish for a Christmas dinner. They may be served with a drizzle of honey, but really good parsnips need nothing but butter, heat, and a bit of salt and pepper. Consider a trip to the Schmidt Christmas market for a hostess gift to give when you arrive for your London Christmas feast.
10) Take a Cruise
Visit the West End and cruise the Thames so you can enjoy all the Christmas lights visible from the river. You'll find plenty of places for a nosh before and after your cruise, and the staff will do their best to provide unbeatable service. Your Thames cruise will feature champagne, poppers or crackers, and the best British snacks, including rich golden cheeses. As ever, the Christmas Decor will be plentiful on the cruise, from tiny trees to sparkling icicles.
Shop Now at Schmidt Christmas Market for all your Christmas Decor