Every year, few other cities do Christmas like London. Shop windows with different stories on display. Each trying to encourage you to escape the cold and warm up inside. Trees of various shapes and sizes. Streets decorated so you can almost hear the sound of sleigh bells even in your imagination. And if you take time away from the stress of Christmas shopping, then allow yourself time to take in the special feels of it all.
No question that all the major department stores pull out all the stops to catch the attention of frantic shoppers. Past years have seen Harrod’s teddy bear and mice put on a show and this year’s partnership with Dolce and Gabbana keeps up the theme of someone hard at work but you cannot help but love what Hamley’s have got this year. The world famous toy shop has a display inspired by the most adorable of TY Beanie Babies. Penguin and pals wrapped up and skating like all do!
TREES ON DISPLAY
Of all the many Christmas trees in London, most significant has to be the Norwegian fir tree in Trafalgar Square. An annual gift from Oslo to London since after WW2 as a token of appreciation. And being able to catch the carol singers (usually on weekday evenings) is something extra nice.
Likewise, Covent Garden will never be the same without its giant red tinged tree, nor the shiny Rudolph on the other side of the market.
There is something full of all things great and wintry when you see a tree juxtaposed with a building as iconic as St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background. Don’t you think?
Ice skating I cannot do. My balance will topple me over and I will abstain from any offers for now. But the installation of the skating rink outside the Natural History Museum some two months in advance is always the first sign that Christmas is coming and it is time to prepare.
But more cosy is the ice rink outside Somerset House, skating in an area enclosed in the quadrangle.
As early as the first week of November are the street lights of Oxford Street and Regent Street switched on. Each one feels like a different story is being told.
Last year, the angels of Regent Street, an update on a popular 1950 decoration proved so popular it has been revived again.
No baubles on Oxford Street this year, but rather a display of stars in conjunction with the NSPCC’s Make-a-Wish foundation.
Explore the side streets as well and you find many other installations. Most notably have the be the blue arches of South Molton Street – you feel like walking through each arch takes you a step closer to Santa’s Grotto!
And then there is this feathered ball that has made Bond Street its home.
I will admit that London, compared to many other cities across Europe is not really the first place that comes to mind when you think of Christmas Markets. With so many lavish stores and bright decorations it seems that you forget about the prospect of visiting a chalet for a cup of mulled wine and a Bratwurst. But from the South Bank in full view of Tower Bridge to the more intimate Leicester Square Winter Market, you can certainly get your festive fix here.
What’s more the perennially popular foodie hub of Borough Market gets into spirit with festive takes on international foods. And for full family fun of Christmas Markets and fun fairs, well you cannot miss out on a trip to Winter Wonderland, can you?
So on that note from London to the world – a very Merry Christmas to you all!