Ah, winter. The nights draw in, the days become shorter and the weather is colder and wetter. Disheartening? Well, maybe slightly, but certainly not if you happen to be in London. That miserable combination certainly doesn’t stop the UK’s capital from continuing to be a thronging hotspot of fun and amusement! With 6 hostels within the confines of the North Circular, YHA are perfectly positioned to offer great value accommodation for your winter trip to London.
A somewhat obvious choice maybe, but no guide to winter in London is complete without mention of Winter Wonderland, London’s giant-sized celebration of all things Christmas within Hyde Park. Celebrating its 10th year, and with Christmas markets, ice skating, a Ferris wheel and plenty more on offer, make time during your trip to the capital to enjoy this Christmas cracker.
Top tip: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is always extremely popular, so be sure to book in advance to enjoy some of the more popular attractions – particularly ice skating.
Harrods?! Well, yes, Harrods may not be the cheapest shop in the capital but it’s certainly the most popular when it comes to visiting London during the winter months, especially in the lead up to Christmas. Located in Knightsbridge, a salubrious area of West London, the store has everything from Disney toys to designer trainers, fancy chocolates to face creams across its 7 floors. It’s well worth a visit.
Top tip: If you’re travelling on a budget, don’t be put off. Ignore the price tags and just enjoy the opulence and craft which goes into dressing the windows, floors and shelves of one of the world’s most famous retail outlets.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Once Christmas is over with and thoughts wander towards the dreaded return to work, it’s important you’ve got some great New Year’s Eve plans to keep your thoughts occupied and to see in the New Year with a smile on your face. What better way to spend it than in London, watching one of the most spectacular firework displays of the calendar year?
Top tip: Sadly, due to demand and safety concerns, the event has required customers to have tickets since 2014. Therefore, to avoid disappointment, ensure you purchase a ticket in advance.
Starting on 23rd November, Kew Gardens will be lit up with wonderful illuminations to celebrate the arrival of the festive period. A one mile trail winds its way through the garden to bring you the perfect after-dark experience. The display will include a scented garden, a tunnel of lights and laser beams dancing over water.
Top tip: Tickets are cheaper when booked in advance, and cheaper still when booked during an off-peak period. Check the website for more details on pricing and for what to expect from a trip to Kew Gardens.
Oxford Street Lights/Shopping
If you’re yet to embark on your annual raft of Christmas shopping, then England’s most famous high street might be on your list of potential destinations from which to buy those all-important gifts. As has been the case for the past 3 years, the street will be lit up by a series of lights, making the experience all the more festive and enjoyable. And of course, Oxford Street is littered with an enormous range of shops, including John Lewis, an enormous Topshop and plenty of other high street favourites.
Top Tip: Oxford Street is the UK’s busiest high street and is particularly so during the run up to Christmas. Whilst crowds of some degree are inevitable, to avoid the worst of them, try to visit during midweek if possible.
Sporting events on Boxing Day
Whilst many countries call a halt to most of their sporting events during the colder months, in the UK the Christmas period serves up a feast of sporting activity for everybody to enjoy. Boxing Day is a particularly big day on the British sporting calendar, with a host of sporting fixtures scheduled for supporters to enjoy following the excesses of Christmas Day. The Premier League sees home fixtures for Tottenham, Chelsea and Watford. If football isn’t your thing, horse racing fans can enjoy the grade one King George VI chase at Kempton Park, easily within easy travelling distance of central London. And if you can’t quite face leaving the house and all those leftover chocolates, you can always turn on the television and watch the showpiece Boxing Day Ashes test match from the MCG.
Top Tip: As has been the suggestion for much of the above, please plan ahead and attempt to purchase tickets for all of these events in advance to avoid disappointment.
Pantomimes in London
No trip to the UK over the festive period is complete without a visit to a pantomime. (Oh no it isn’t!) While London may have a pedigree for something a little more serious on the stage, the city also plays host to a number of pantomime performances, featuring a number of celebrities! With productions including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin, there’s plenty of choice for a chuckle.
Top Tip: If you’ve never been to a panto before, be prepared for audience interaction, including singing along and joining in with jokes! It makes for a brilliant family afternoon or evening! (Oh yes it does!).
Head to one of London’s museums
London is awash with museums, and luckily, many of the best ones are free! With highlights including the British Museum, The Natural History Museum and the Imperial War Museum, there’s plenty to learn and discover from the capital’s most creative curations.
Top tip: If you fancy something a little more off-piste and off the beaten track, try the Museum of Brands or the Dickens Museum. The Churchill War Rooms are also fascinating, though a little more expensive.
Trampolining with Flip Out
If the thought of Christmas and all things festive fills you with dread, or you just fancy getting away from the busy streets, there are worse places to spend an hour or two than at Flip Out! The capital’s largest trampoline facility, the space has more than 120 interconnected trampolines, ideal for a stress busting session of fun, away from the hustle and bustle of life at this time of year.
Top tip: Couple your trip out west to Wandsworth by heading onwards to our next recommendation…
Go for a wintry walk in Richmond Park
Complete your chilled-out afternoon with a walk around Richmond Park, one of West London’s quietest spots, and also one of the most beautiful, particularly during the winter months. You can’t completely escape the festivities – there are 630 deer to which the park is home!
Top tip: Whilst the deer certainly form part of the experience of heading to Richmond Park, please ensure you stay safe and respect the animals by keeping a reasonable distance away from them.