After a tumultuous week – what with the British elections and a personal emergency – I’ve never been more pleased that the weekend is here! I feel so drained and off-track, you cannot imagine! I am also sorry that I couldn’t keep our weekly chat, but frankly I wasn’t able! Now that everything’s passed though, I can go back to things I love visiting and experiencing in London and tell you all about them. Now that we are getting so close to Christmas, I couldn’t help but write about several markets all around London. And I know that you know what’s coming; it’s Winter Wonderland (but not only that…) So, read on and find out!
This is probably the single, most-visited Christmas attraction in London. I know for a fact that Londoners flock to it and tourists from the UK and abroad just love it (and love visiting it). Winter Wonderland is not only a Christmas market; sure you can find stalls selling anything from jewellery to accessories and toys, but Winter Wonderland is way more than that! There are pop-up bars/pubs and restaurants and as many attractions as you can imagine. There is also an ice skating rink, a giant wheel, and even a magical ice kingdom, which is a walk-through attraction that you can stroll around. If you are a fan, don’t forget to try the rides, games and roller coasters, they will make your day. For these attractions you will need to pay, however if you don’t want to visit them, Winter Wonderland is essentially free!
The one thing that I love in Winter Wonderland is the Bavarian village. This is Oktoberfest and Christmas all rolled into one! For one it’s covered and always packed; a welcome change from (normally) the cold outside. You can buy there bratwurst and beer or get a nice mulled wine and listen to live music and DJs every single day. It’s fun, it’s enjoyable, it’s as cheesy and kitsch as it should be, but most of all you can sing as loud as you wish! Winter Wonderland really brings merry into Christmas (and why not? I think everyone wants that touch of festive atmosphere and making merry in their lives, even more so before Christmas!)
Leicester Square Christmas market
I wasn’t expecting to like it so much, but I did! With all the comings and goings at Leicester Square, this Christmas market is like a breath of fresh air. It’s so festive… and Christmassy in the middle of restaurants, cinemas and shops in the area! Lights, Christmas trees and Bavarian-style wooden huts welcome you and transport you somewhere magical. As usual you can find bars, selling glasses of mulled wine or hot chocolate (basically anything hot goes), restaurants – or rather street food stalls – serving you Christmas treats and bratwurst and other stalls selling little gifts and decorations. From Christmas house decorations to accessories, jewellery and toys, there’s plenty of inspiration found here. Just be aware that if you are thirsty and want a bottle of water, you will get a… can of water, because apparently they are not allowed to sell bottles? Oh, I don’t know, that’s what they told me last time!
For our little friends there is Santa’s grotto, where they will meet Santa and tell him their fondest wish. There is also going to be story-time, children will get a small gift and you can even purchase photo memorabilia after the session. It’s not completely sold out, so you can find some tickets for your little ones in the coming days. But better book now online, rather than wait. For the bigger children among us, there’s also a Spiegeltent, hosting a variety of performances like the La Clique cabaret show, a drag Christmas variety show, or Lickable, a Christmas cabaret. If interested, there are still some slots available, but be quick! Otherwise there are still quite a lot of things to do at Leicester Square Christmas market.
Christmas market at Tate Modern
You could find this against the stunning backdrop of Tate Modern on the one hand and the Thames on the other. Seriously, this is ideal for after-work shopping and browsing. I first visited it after work three years ago with a friend and we loved it! We absolutely loved it! As it was quite small and close to the tube and train station, this made it a perfect destination for some decompress after 5. This market was designed more like a traditional Christmas market rather than a Christmas attraction, like the ones mentioned before. Still though, it was small, cosy and so… festive, so definitely worth a visit!
Featuring wooden chalets in front of the Tate Modern, selling intricate decorations, jewellery and woollen accessories, the Christmas Market at Tate Modern was a fantastic way to spend a day outside London. Feeling peckish? There were stalls selling bratwurst with chips and pulled pork, as well as hot drinks and beverages. The good thing was that you didn’t have to wait to be seated or even go to one of the nearby benches out in the cold; there were benches with heaters that you could sit and enjoy your drink or food, without a care for the world. Unfortunately I am told that this market is cancelled, but you can easily find the Winter Market at Southbank Centre, which is close by. You are welcome!
Christmas at Somerset House
If you are thinking about an ice rink, then the Somerset House is the place to go! Going on for 20 years, the ice rink is utterly beautiful and festive and ideal for having a fun day out. I visited this one four years ago, but I didn’t dare enter it, as I was afraid of not only being extra ridiculous (despite knowing how to dance, I believe I have two left feet when it comes to ice skating), but also breaking an actual leg! Even though my friend suggested renting a couple skates and joining in on the fun, I wasn’t convinced! Plus we learned later that slots were sold out for the day, so he was lucky not to carry me to the nearest A&E!
If you prefer having your two feet on the ground, so to speak, you can always look around at the pros skating, listen to some killer music or even take a stroll at Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade at the West Wing of Somerset House. Filled with food, teas and gifts by Fortnum and Mason, it will be perfect for all your Christmas shopping. If you are starving, you can stop at Fortnum’s Lodge and experience some fine dining at its best. There you can have chocolate fondue and champagne, or wine and mushroom cheese fondue among others. Happy times!
Last but not least, don’t forget to walk through Carnaby street! Queen-inspired like last year, or calling on all environmentalists like this year, a visit at Carnaby is a must! Project 0, a charity that works for water conservation have collaborated with Carnaby to create Christmas lights, made from recycled plastic. A Christmas take on sustainability and ocean protection? We’ll take it, thanks!
Till next time,