Christmas plans in London
No matter where you go, in London Christmas always finds you. Of course, it must be said that the city adopts the Christmas season with great dignity and does not disguise itself. It's the darkest weeks of the year, at four in the afternoon it's already night, but in London the darkness seems part of a set designed to make Christmas shine even more. It's cold, but hot wine and cider will make you warm. And when you have finished seeing everything there is to see in London at Christmas, keep in mind that there is always a cozy pub with a burning fireplace where you can take refuge.
What to do in London this Christmas © Alamy
BACK TO BE A CHILD IN WINTER WONDERLAND
If you are visiting London with children, this festival that is this tenth anniversary this year will drive you crazy. Installed in the royal park of Hyde Park, admission is free - what is not cheap are the attractions inside - and more than a festival is a world of Christmas fantasy. Winter Wonderland began as a Christmas market and that spirit is preservedThere are dozens of stalls where you can buy everything from handmade ornaments for the tree to chocolate with churros or the traditional mulled wine. The attractions range from ferris wheels and roller coasters to a magical world of ice sculptures, circus performances or a cocktail bar where chairs, tables and even glasses are made of ice.
Get carried away by Christmas in Winter Wonderland © Alamy
SKATING ON ICE BETWEEN HISTORICAL BUILDINGS
Few things are more Christmas than ice skating rinks. In London there are dozens and they see old and young staggering on the skates. Are you one of those who go to the fence or throw yourself without fear through the middle of the track? Among the most emblematic is the one that is installed in the courtyard of the neoclassical palace of Somerset house, the one in the garden of the Natural History museum, the one located in the pit of the Tower of London or if you want more modern buildings and skate in a corridor under trees with Christmas lights, which is in full Canary Wharf, between skyscrapers.
Somerset House in London © Alamy / Mónica R. Goya
GO SEE THE BALLET OF THE NUTCH
Tchaikovsky is one of the great protagonists of London Christmas, or rather his ballet, The Nutcracker. First performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, this ballet is so popular in the British capital that it is performed simultaneously in different theaters and stages of the city. But nevertheless, the real dilemma is usually between going to the Royal Opera House or The Coliseum theater. In the first The Nutcracker is played by the Royal Ballet, which this year celebrates Sir Peter Wright's 90th birthday with his production, while the second is played by the National Ballet of England. Also in Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park you can see an ice skating version.
SEE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN CARNABY STREET
This year the Christmas lights of Carnaby Street are inspired by the Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition, You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970. The exhibition places Carnaby in the epicenter of that Swinging London and during this Christmas its thirteen streets are decorated with posters that recall the ideals of that time, such as love, hope or joy. In addition to Carnaby Street, the lights of nearby Regent Street -where since 1881 the city's most famous toy store, Hamleys- and Oxford Street They are among the most visited in the city, as well as those in Covent Garden.
Carnaby Street, epicenter of the Christmas store © Mónica R. Goya
WALK THROUGH THE SOUTHBANK CENTER WINTER FESTIVAL
In the Southbank, the south bank of the River Thames, there is always something interesting. During the Christmas season, the pedestrian promenade is transformed into a kind of Christmas avenue thanks to the winter festival of the Southbank Center. Dozens of wooden cabins with colored lights house stalls with all kinds of Christmas gifts, as well as typically Christmas food. In addition, there are free events, such as theater or concerts. If you visit on the weekend, explore the Southbank street food market -Frenchie duck burgers are exquisite-. Another good option is to get into Swedish culture by visiting the cabin Rekorderlig, where you can try Scandinavian specialties in the heat of the fireplace.
Market in the Southbank Center © Alamy
DISCOVER CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS OF THE PAST AT THE GEFFRYE MUSEUM
This museum offers a glimpse into the past and allows us to sneak into the Christmas traditions of the last 400 years of English homes. In this free exposure, that close on january 8Or, the museum's period rooms are decorated with Christmas motifs, music and lights and each one represents a different era. Also you can discover the meaning of some Christmas traditions, such as hanging Christmas socks or kissing under the mistletoe. If you fancy a coffee and a delicious bun, the Swedish bakery-cafe Fabrique is next to the museum, under one of the arches of the tracks, and at this time they have the saffron rolls that are traditionally eaten on Saint Lucia's day ( December 13) in Sweden.
Geffrye Museum at Christmas © Alamy
LISTEN TO THE VILLANCICOS AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL
Opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall is a truly spectacular auditorium, so you should not miss the opportunity to enjoy Christmas concerts there. One of the best is the Carols by Candlelight, which literally means Candlelight carols. The artists are dressed in eighteenth-century costumes and the setting of the stage is inspired by candlelight. The program includes among others the Christmas sequence of The Messiahfrom Handel, Silent Night of Gruber or the Laudate Dominum from Mozart.
The eternal Royal Albert Hall © Alamy / Mónica R. Goya
ADMIRATE THE GREAT CHRISTMAS TREE OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE
London's most famous Christmas tree is European, specifically from Norway. The giant spruce - a tree similar to the common spruce - is a gift from the Norwegians to London and is decorated in the style of the Scandinavian country, with more than 900 light bulbs placed vertically along the 25 meters which measures the tree this year. This tradition began in 1947 in recognition of British support during World War II. If you go, take the opportunity to stop by the exhibition Beyond Caravaggio, which explores the influence of the Italian painter in the work of his contemporaries, until January 17 in the National Gallery.
Admire the Trafalgar Square tree © Alamy
DON'T MISS THE LUXURY SPARATING OF THE BIG WAREHOUSES
At Christmas the department stores put all the meat on the grill and in their windows show creative ideas that have been cooking for months. This year one of the most beautiful showcases is that of Liberty, which has partnered with the Royal Ballet to exclusively show scenes of The Nutcracker. So, This is the first time in history that there is no product in its windows. Another one that is worth not getting lost, not only because the sets are a delight, but also because of the motto of the campaign, which is Together is better, is that of Fortnum & Mason. Perhaps inspired by the climate of division that has been installed in the country since the Brexit campaign began, from Fortnum & Mason they propose unusual couples, like bull and porcelain e invite you to leave the differences behind and simply celebrate being able to meet and be together. Other interesting showcases are those of Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and John Lewis.
'The Nutcracker' in Liberty © Mónica R. Goya
According to the British edition, in its printed version of Time Out magazine, Italian cuisine is the favorite of 49% of Londoners. Perhaps that is why it is not surprising that the panettone is already one more in the Christmas section of the supermarkets of the capital. In the Italian delicatessen Lina Stores, one of the few independent stores that still survives in Soho, delicious artisan panettones can be found. If you are more of British Christmas gastronomy, then go for the mince feet, a kind of sweet tartlet stuffed with fruit.
Lina Stores, Italian pleasure © Alamy / Mónica R. Goya
SPEND THE RATE IN A PUB WITH FIREPLACE
If you do even half of all of the above, what you most want when you're done is to find a pub where you can hang out in the warmth of a fireplace. The Southampton Arms is, according to them, the only pub in London that is dedicated exclusively to British ciders and craft beers. It is located in North London and has a certain old-school air, from the time when pubs did not belong to chains. They only accept payments in cash and seeing tourists is not very common. Also in the north, in Hampstead, is The Spaniards Inn, one of the oldest pubs in London and immortalized by Dickens in his first novel. It is worth trying their mulled wine, for which they have a special recipe from the house. In The Clapton Hart, located in east London, in addition to a food menu that includes vegetarian and vegan dishes They have drinks from Hackney craft breweries as well as international, and the best, board games, perfect for spending hours by the fireplace. Finally, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, in Fleet Street, a pub that has been in the same enclave since 1538 and which they say Twain and Dickens were regular customers. The pub was rebuilt after the fire of 1666 and although it is no secret, it is well worth a visit.
The Southampton Arms pub © Alamy