What to see and do
- If you’re planning on braving this year’s Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, make sure you seek out the Cedar & Spruce Bar + Kitchen. It is set across a trio of impressive tepees, complete with rustic décor, cosy fire pits and large communal tables and is the ideal place to take a break from the thrilling rides, ice skating, giant wheel. Booking recommended.
- Head to Somerset House after dark for one of its late night skate sessions on offer throughout December. Skate away the evening to Grime, Reggae, Disco and Pop before cosying up in the warm with a cocktail in the Fortnum’s Lodge. For those visiting during the day, don’t miss out on the Gingerbread city inside Somerset House. Made by the museum of architecture, this elaborate gingerbread concoction gives Hansel and Gretel a run for their money. Gingerbread making workshops are also available alongside the exhibit.
- It’s hard to beat Kew Gardens for Christmas light displays. Each year, the gardens are transformed into a light trail which boasts singing trees and dancing fountains. Laser projections will illuminate the iconic Temperate House while the treetop walkway will be adorned with vines of light.
- Help your little ones discover the joy of the first ever Christmas on Sunday 15th December by joining in a living nativity, featuring animals from Vauxhall City Farm. Animals from the city farm will head to Christ Church’s London’s Christmas service in Wheatsheaf Community Centre to take part in a family nativity. There will be carols, Christingle-making, mince pies and hot chocolate for old and young alike, not to mention some new farmyard friends. Meaningful fun for all the family. Sunday 15th December from 3 to 4pm.
- If it’s a cosy winter film you’re after, why not try the pop up cinema at Queens Skate Dine Bowl, central London’s only all-year-round ice rink. Launching on Sunday 1st December, these uniquely festive film screenings will be sure to get even the grumpiest Grinch into the festive spirit. Lounge on candy striped deck-chairs, wrapped in cosy blankets and indulge in classic films. Family screenings take place at 5pm on Saturday and Sunday throughout December while Adult films are shown at 8pm at the weekends. There’s a festive classic to hearten even the most hardened scrooge, whether it’s Home Alone, Elf, The Holiday or Love Actually.
- Meeting Santa has never been easier in the capital – he’s a well travelled soul, after all. Hamleys and Selfridges are always popular honeypots for those embarking on a trip to a grotto. But for something off the beaten track, try the Santa’s grotto in the winter forest pop up in Broadgate, Liverpool Street.
Where to eat and drink
The Sheraton Chocolate Box terrace at the five-star Sheraton Grand hotel on Park Lane is a must for those searching for a spot of festive indulgence. Sample five never-before-seen chocolate bars paired with wintery cocktails. We recommend The Stag, a dark chocolate casing surrounding a rich and buttery salted toffee centre bar, paired with a Dalmore whisky based cocktail with hints of coffee and spice. And if that isn’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, try our guide to London’s best hot chocolates.
Mortimer House Kitchen in Fitzrovia will be serving up festive pre-dinner tipples at its bar throughout December, including Rudolph’s Sour (Buffalo Trace, Maple Syrup, Cinnamon, Angostura Bitters, Egg White) and a warming Hot Toddy (Remy Martin 1738, Fresh Lemon Juice, Honey).
- Marking a new chapter in its 21 year history as a public market, Borough Market has opened The Borough Market Kitchen, featuring a line-up of 21 food traders dedicated to cooking with the best of the market’s seasonal produce. Under the covered roof of Jubilee Place, Londoners and tourists alike can dine elbow to elbow at the communal tables, taking their pick from familiar favourites such as Nana Fanny’s and La Tua Pasta as well as newcomers including JUMA Kitchen, Batera, a pintxos bar from Mimo London, and Brindisa Kitchen.
With at least 30% of the ingredients in every dish sourced from the market itself, guests can take their pick of everything from Scotchtails’ black pudding Scotch Eggs to a warming Beef Panang curry from Khanom Krok or Tartiflette from The Bath Dairy. For those in a rush, The Black Pig’s muffuletta sandwich or SHUK’s Tel-Aviv-style hot fluffy pitas are perfect to grab and go.