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Any London “Must See/Do” Things in Dec?

Any London “Must See/Do” Things in Dec?

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Old Dec 1, 17, 9:07 am
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Any London “Must See/Do” Things in Dec?

Hi all-
I’ll be in London for work in a couple of weeks, with an afternoon and several evenings free. I’ve been to the city enough times before that I’ve seen the usual touristy things, but I’ve never visited in December. Are there any special holiday/seasonal things (lights, window displays) that I should make sure to do/see in the city? I see online that there are a number of Christmas markets - are any of those particularly worth a visit? Also if there are any seasonal food/drink specialities that I should try, I’d love to hear about them, Thanks much!
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Old Dec 1, 17, 11:43 am
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Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is interesting. Not been this year yet but I enjoyed it last year.
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Old Dec 1, 17, 12:00 pm
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There's a skating rink at Somerset House, the grand 18th and 19th century building that houses the Courtauld Gallery, with added features such as some special music late nights and food from Fortnum and Mason available. https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/wha...somerset-house
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Old Dec 1, 17, 12:39 pm
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Might try a traditional Pantomime. The Hackney Empire does one. The Palladium has one but it's not a traditional panto.

There's an outdoor ice rink at the Natural History Museum and Tower of London.

You can get a Groupon/Wowcher/Living Social for some of the bus tours at night to see the Christmas lights.

Last edited by MoreMilesPlease; Dec 1, 17 at 12:48 pm
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Old Dec 2, 17, 10:07 am
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Thanks much! Those all sound like fun. Do let me know if you have any other ideas as well.
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Old Dec 2, 17, 4:32 pm
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The Christmas lights are up and on. As well as the main Oxford St / Regent St ones, make sure you see the parrots down Carnaby St. Bond St has some nice ones they've used before. The shops have their displays out too. Try Timeout.com for this and more.
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Old Dec 2, 17, 5:28 pm
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In addition to the other ice rinks mentioned, Hyde Park has an outdoor ice rink and a bit further afield Hampton Park Palace also has one.

Kew Gardens is decorated with lights and has other attractions for Christmas.
https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/what...ristmas-at-kew

As suggested above you might want to look at a few of the ezines for information on Christmas popups by restaurants and stores that turn their terraces and rooftops into Christmas dining/drinks attractions.
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Old Dec 8, 17, 4:04 am
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The ice rinks are all over the city now! It's a rather lovely tradition. And it looks like a dusting of snow will arrive this weekend, which will plunge Londoners into panic, while Scots watch and laugh

https://www.timeout.com/london/thing...ting-in-london

As well as Winter Wonderland, Clapham Common has its Winterville:

Winterville 2017 Clapham Common

There's also a Christmas market at the South Bank Centre - go early to avoid painful crowding.

Also worth seeking a carol service, regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof:

https://www.timeout.com/london/opera...-london-choral

As for food, you'll find mince pies everywhere at this time of year (that's mincemeat - preserved fruit - not minced meat). About 10 years, it was decided that it was trendy to do a star top instead of a solid one. And about 3 years ago, some people started out the abomination that is an iced top.

A traditional Christmas meal these days is turkey-based, with roast veg (although more traditionally, it's other birds) and eternally divisive Brussels sprouts. You'll find variations of this of varying qualities at restaurants and pubs all around the city in December, although often catering to drunk office parties. You can get a good version of it (and IMO the duck is better than the turkey) but just ask to be sat away from that great big table with the Christmas crackers laid out on it... Many places seem obsessed with "finger food" for parties, which seems to be a million variants of beige-coloured pastry-based snacks. Supermarkets pile these things high, too, and certain people have a pathological need to fill their freezer with them so they can quickly put them in the oven "in case someone pops round" in the one day the shops are shut. You probably won't need to experience these being force-fed to you in the week after Christmas after they've inevitably not been eaten.

December is a month of excess for quite a number of people, especially in London. Expect to see a lot of drunkenness - moreso than usual.

Mulled wine is also popular (you may also see mulled cider), particularly at the (German-inspired) Christmas markets. A lot of other German Christmas treats (e.g. Lebkuchen, Stollen) have also become popular in recent years (thanks, Aldi!) as well as some Italian ones (Panettone, Pandoro). Traditional Christmas cakes here are either a dense marzipan-covered fruitcake (Christmas cake) or a fruit pudding that has basically spent a year being soaked in alcohol, set alight, then served with cream Christmas pudding). Our old cuisine matches our winter climate

If you want to get out of London, Bath has a great Christmas market, and Birmingham's and Lincoln's vie for the title of largest outside Germany. These are all easy train journeys, but for added atmosphere, there are charter steam trains running to some destinations specifically for them (IIRC it's Bath and Salisbury this year).
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Old Dec 8, 17, 4:09 am
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Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park can be fun but crowded and fairly expensive. If you plan on going and want to do stuff like ice skating then book in advance. If you're looking for a Christmassy feel in general then the Southbank Centre has good stuff going on e.g. Christmas market, pop-ups etc. It's worth a look if you're in the area. There's a small market in Leicester Square, which places you well if you want to see stuff like the massive tree in Trafalgar Square, mooch around Chinatown, or head over to Covent Garden to see the shops and displays there. This is the more obvious stuff but it's worth a look.

If you want ice skating then there are a few options around town. Somerset House is a lovely setting. There's a decent rink at Canary Wharf, if you're in the area.

If window shopping is your thing then Fortnum's is worth a look, and places like Harrods. I was there (Knightsbridge) last weekend and Harrods is nice enough, but to be honest I'd only head there if I wanted to shop too. Carnaby St has already been mentioned and is worth checking out, not least because one of the nicest shops in London is at the top of it - Liberty - and is well worth a mooch as it's such a lovely experience.

Pantomime ('panto') is a thing, but more for kids. There are a number of 'alternative' pantos and Christmas shows, which can be excellent. One of the pub theatres near me - kingsheadtheatre - has something on. I'd recommend one of these types of show in general, if you've not been to a small 'back of the pub' theatre, as the experience is great.

As for seasonal food and drink, the main seasonal food is stuff like mince pies, available absolutely everywhere. And Christmas pudding. For drinking, if you want to be British then just go for quantity . The mantra "because it's Christmas" can take on an extra-special meaning for having that 4th/5th/6th glass of whatever..

Enjoy!
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Old Dec 8, 17, 4:30 am
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Originally Posted by London_traveller View Post
Pantomime ('panto') is a thing, but more for kids.
Oh no, it isn't!
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Old Dec 8, 17, 5:14 am
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I was in London last week. Lots of sparkling decorations in the shopping areas, mulled cider in Covent Garden was delicious and the skating rink in the Tower moat looked interesting. It's a great time to be in the UK because while the Brits are very dedicated to Christmas the season seems less cloying and irksome than here.

What I like to do most when visiting there during the festive season is buy Christmas cards. Unlike the syrupy sweet Christmas cards commonly found in North America, British cards are more to the point and the humourous ones seem funnier than the offerings on this side of the pond.
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Old Dec 8, 17, 11:06 am
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I'm excited to check out the science museum in two weeks. Unfortunately it's not convenient to get to from where I'll be coming (Kings X).
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Old Dec 8, 17, 11:45 am
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Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
I'm excited to check out the science museum in two weeks. Unfortunately it's not convenient to get to from where I'll be coming (Kings X).
It's a straight shot on the Piccadilly Line. The ride takes 15 minutes and trains run about every 10 minutes.
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Old Dec 8, 17, 3:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Giggleswick View Post
It's a straight shot on the Piccadilly Line. The ride takes 15 minutes and trains run about every 10 minutes.
Thanks for the clarification--I must have read something incorrectly.
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Old Dec 8, 17, 4:05 pm
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At least every 5 minutes. South Kensington station even has a special tunnel that leads directly to the museums (Science, Natural History and V&A).

Avoid rush hours, though, the line gets unpleasantly overcrowded.
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