Christmas is genuinely my favourite time of the year and having a toddler allows me to vicariously live through the magic of Christmas with him! What tops just Christmas on its own, is Christmas in London. Having visited many places around the world at this festive time of year, I find it hard to find any where that beats how London celebrates Christmas. The lights, the carols, the Christmas activities, and just the general joyous spirit is to be found everywhere you visit. Best of all you can enjoy the many Christmas markets with sweet smelling mulled wine and delicious English Christmas treats like mince pies. Each Christmas we tend to go all out to make it super special for Alexander. I have listed my top recommendations to try if you are visiting London or are in London in December, with kids.
1) Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
As usual, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland did not disappoint this year. Its growing bigger every year and the crowds are larger, reflecting its popularity. This year we loved the German food stations for the most delicious mulled wine and hot dogs; amazing family friendly area with rides suited for toddlers and younger children; and the great shows on offer. We managed to see Paddington on Ice which was magical for our Paddington-loving Alexander but there was also Zappos Circus and an ice sculpture wonderland to visit. Factor spending a full day here and if prebook an activity, you can avoid the crazy long queues. Definitely also avoid the weekends if you are going with younger kids, as this was the busiest time for sure. Winter Wonderland generally runs from mid-November to the first week of January.
2) Children's Christmas Concert at the Royal Albert Hall
This is one of our favourtie Christmas activities for children. Its a fun, interactive Christmas concert at the beautiful iconic Royal Albert Hall. It's fully booked every year and myst be the only Christmas concert we have gone to where literally not a seat is empty. Book in advance in October to ensure you get good seats. We find the arena to be the best area to be seated for a super fun filled experience.
3) Christmas Ballets: Swan Lake and the Nutcracker and the Royal Opera House or London Coliseum
Its never really the festive season for us without seeing either the Nutcracker or Swan Lake. Both the Royal Opera House and London Coliseum host these and on some years, so does the Royal Albert Hall. My personal favourite is the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House, but all productions are simply spectacular. These ballets are incredibly popular so book by the end of October for good seats.
4) West End: Christmas Pantomimes or The Snowman
We watched The Snowman this year and I have to say I was so impressed. The production is perfectly suited for younger children, Alexander couldn't stop dancing! There are also many Christmas pantomimes showing all over London
5) Santa's Grotto visit at Harrods, Hamleys or the Royal Albert Hall
Our favourite Santa's Grotto visit is definitely Harrods. Each year, it gets more magical. The kids step into Lapland, get a chance to post their letters to Santa and then have a personalised visit with Santa who already knows exactly what they want, who they are and their favourite activities. Unfortunately, as of last year, it is only available to Harrods rewards members who reach a certain spend. We also visited the Grotto at the Royal Albert Hall which is incredibly interactive and I have been told that the grotto at Hamley's is also magical so we will be trying this out next year.
6)Afternoon Tea at The Savoy, Claridges or The Lanesborough
Of course, afternoon tea in London over the festive season is a must, but beyond this, the decor at these three hotels is simply fabulous at this time of year, and should not be missed! This year there was a lego exhibition at The Savoy in aid of charity, and Claridge's had the most fabulous Christian Louboutin-designed tree. The Lanesborough's decor is always stunning and understated and it's always a super special place for us, as this is where we got married.
7) Ice Skating at Somerset House or the National History Museum
Ice skating against these iconic backdrops is a must! My personal favourite is the National History Museum which also has skates for the younger ones too
8) See the Christmas Lights on Regents Street, Oxford Street and Piccadilly Street
Every year the Oxford and Regent Street Xmas lights are just magical. Also try venturing on Haymarket to see more elaborate lights.
9) Christmas Markets at Covent Garden
Covent Garden always has the most amazing festive decorations and traditional little market. Perfect for some mulled wine and pictures with their beautiful Tiffany decor, for this year.
Wishing you a joyous festive period and a Merry Xmas!
The Kensington Diary