...frantic shoppers whizzing down Oxford Street, mittened fingers clutching hot chocolates, bustling pubs spilling out onto the streets. And while your life may not resemble a scene straight out of Love Actually, wandering Covent Garden in the shimmering streetlights is enough to make anyone feel like the main character in a holiday film. From pubs to spend your cold wintery evenings in, to the best festive lights, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to a quintessential Xmas city trip.
We’re starting off strong with the most Christmassy activity we could think of - ice skating. Always a classic, it’s the perfect opportunity to wrap up warm, and make some beautiful (or embarrassing, depending on your skating skills) memories on the rink. Head down to Somerset House where the courtyard is transformed into an ice rink once a year, complete with magical lighting and contemporary music. Mind, this outdoor fun calls for layers up to your ears, so make sure your hoop stack is on point.
Each year, Kew puts on a light display that stretches two kilometres - filled with activities and soundscapes. It’s an extraordinary experience that’ll get you in the festive spirit right off the bat. To see more glowing lights, and without the entry fee, head to central to take in some of the city’s finest displays. Regent Street boasts glittering angels, while Oxford Street is sprinkled with shining stars - and continue through to Trafalgar Square to see the famous 20-metre high tree gifted to London by Norway every year.
While squeezing in a cinema trip may be out of the question for those wanting to see the sights, if you’ve already exhausted London’s best bits, opt for a festive film instead. The Backyard Cinema, based in Wandsworth, is an amazing immersive experience where you can catch an old favourite in their winter-themed hall. This is ideal for those visiting with kids and a must-visit if you find yourself at a loose end this Xmas.
For a festive walk, take the tube to Chalk Farm and go for a stroll through Primrose Hill. Overflowing with cosy cafes and quirky charity shops, this village-like area is a lovely day out for friends, couples and families alike. From there, it’s a fifteen-minute walk to Camden Market where you can find street food and myriad gift shops. Or, for a slightly less touristy trip, head to St John’s Wood where there are pubs aplenty and the renowned Abbey Road Studios, after which The Beatles’ 1969 album was named.
There’s no shortage of traditional pubs in London, a haven on every street corner to nip out of the city’s metropolitan buzz. At Daisy, we think the best pubs make you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time, and that’s exactly what Mr Fogg’s Tavern is known for. Less than a five-minute walk from Covent Garden Market, it’s an old-style tavern that serves classic pub food and, crucially, mulled wine from November onwards. Other spots we’d recommend include The Churchill Arms in Kensington, where the owners deck the exterior out in Christmas trees once a year, as well as The Harlequin in Clerkenwell, which has a cosy fireplace and a not-so-secret secret garden.
Twinkling lights, the aroma of mulled wine and the excited chatter of eager shoppers; what can beat the classic Christmas market? Head down to Covent Garden’s Christmas Village, open from the 8th of November, to stand under the stunning mistletoe chandeliers. The piazza is also home to London’s largest hand-picked tree, standing at an impressive 60 feet. From there, take a five-minute diversion to Neal’s Yard, where the colourful street is decked out in lights and trees.
Christmas shopping in London isn’t quite the same without a peruse of some of its most decadent department stores. Harrod’s in December has its own magic, famed for its yearly Brompton Road window display and, of course, its endless selection of gifts. Head to John Lewis, or Harvey Nichols, for a chance to try on some Daisy pieces in-store.