Get ready to explore the enchanting Christmas season in London. As the festive season approaches, what we at Coutours love is how the city's yuletide spirit comes to life. There are so many events and activities that we thought we would share some of our favourites as well as some that we think sound fun. Let’s embark on a journey through London’s stunning lights, festive markets, cultural events, and seasonal traditions. You never know, I may see you there…
MARKETS AND EVENTS
Columbia Road Market
This is one of my favourite markets in London. There are so many opportunities for people and dog watching, as well as amazing places to buy unusual gifts alongside the flower and plant stalls. Columbia Road Market is filled with Christmas trees, wreaths, plants, twinkling lights, and other festive decorations, and it is truly atmospheric. There are great places to grab a drink, whether you want hot chocolate, mulled wine, or just a cup of coffee. My advice is to get there early and book somewhere for lunch (The Royal Oak or The Marksman are my two favourites.) You can then enjoy a full East End day out. Word of advice - please do not be one of those people who buy so many plants they can't fit everyone back in the car! Also, don't forget to check the parking restrictions as they apply on a Sunday in this area.
Christmas at Kew: Royal Botanical Gardens
You can stroll along illuminated pathways, meander through the enchanted woods, and marvel at the magnificent light sculptures that bring the natural beauty of Kew Gardens to life in a whole new way. The centrepiece of this event is the iconic Palm House, which is bathed in a mesmerising and ever-changing light display, creating a breathtaking backdrop for the festivities. Christmas at Kew at the Royal Botanic Gardens is a captivating and enchanting way to celebrate the holidays in a setting that blends the natural world with the magic of Christmas, making it a beloved tradition for many in London and beyond. There is a great place within Kew Gardens called The Orangery where you can have a delicious Christmas dinner - very useful if you're cold after wandering around the lights.
The Rubens: Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea is a real must-do in London. If you're a fan of afternoon tea and Christmas, then why not indulge in an award-winning Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea at The Rubens? Curated by Chef Sarah Houghting, a 2021 Bake Off finalist, this special tea immerses you in the holiday spirit. Served in the Palace Lounge, it features scones, finger sandwiches, and festive treats. It's a memorable blend of tradition and winter enchantment. Enjoy a luxurious, seasonal tea service in one of London's most elegant settings.
Christmas Duck Pond Market
Although we haven't yet been to this market, we thought it sounded fun. Set in picturesque surroundings, featuring a carefully curated selection of stalls and vendors offering a wide range of seasonal delights. Expect to find beautifully crafted gifts, hand-made decorations, artisanal foods, and much more. One of the highlights is the opportunity to meet local artisans and producers who showcase their skills and creativity. Additionally, the market often hosts special events and extra entertainment for all ages.
Winter Wonderland Hyde Park
To be honest with you, I'm not a great fan of big markets and fun fairs, but I have been dragged to this winter wonderland so many times that it has grown on me. If you don't like crowds and getting on fast-moving fairground rides, maybe go when it's quieter (mornings to early afternoons) and just enjoy all the other amenities it has. Go for the Christmas market, the ice skating rink, its magical ice kingdom filled with ice sculptures, and its outside yet cosy bars. For adrenaline junkies, there are unlimited ride passes, so you can get your high-octane fix. It's a great place where everyone can enjoy something - from families to thrill-seekers, fair lovers to market goers.
LIGHTS. CAMERA. ACTION.
Fortnum & Mason Christmas Windows
Get there just before the hour chimes and see Mr. Fortnum and Mr. Mason come out to greet you. Evening is the best time to see the wonderful advent calendar on the front of the building. The window displays are usually spectacular. This year, they give you a glimpse behind the curtain of Fortnum's on Christmas Eve, where many of your Fortnum's favourites have sprung to life in preparation for Christmas Day. The display spills out onto the pavement as messages light up in the night sky and a sleigh pulled by hampers flies above the rooftops. Don't forget to pop in and buy your Christmas favourites as it will be busy, so my advice is to pay on the lower ground floor. P.S. I really like the Toffolossus biscuits.
Satanic Flea Market: Anti-Christmas Fayre
None of us at Coutours has yet been to this market but if you're in need of a brief respite from Christmas why not explore the unique world of tarot cards, witchy fashion, prints, taxidermy, zines, spell books, and even authentic human skulls, providing a refreshing alternative to the typical sugary December festivities. Plus, you can unwind at the Electrowerkz bar and restaurant with a scrumptious roast dinner after you've finished hunting for these occult treasures, which make ideal presents for the goth in your life.
Christmas Design Collective @ Connaught Village
Not far from Oxford Street but away from the crowds, this Christmas pop-up gift market showcases the best of London’s independent brands. Connaught Village is a different place to shop within a charming setting where you can bag some cracking presents and brands such as Hum London, Colours of Arley, Domenica Marland, TIDINGS, Faeger, Kokoro, and Max Made Me.
Glide at Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station has recently opened so if you haven't been yet we would recommend it for its shopping, architecture, and places to eat and drink. At Christmas you can enjoy ice skating and we suggest the rooftop bar for drinks with a view. You can literally spend a whole day there, or you can just enjoy the rink. There is also Lift 109, which you need to book in advance, where you can see amazing views across London as well as crazy golf, table tennis, and even VR experiences.
Mayfair (Mount Street)
Be prepared to be in one of the poshest parts of London. Mount Street is filled with designer stores which you are very welcome to visit but we want to concentrate on their illuminations. There are 63,000 sparkling lights in the shape of big blue bows! Once you've seen the lights and you have winced at the prices in the stores, a great place to have some lunch is The Mercato Mayfair. This is in an old church on North Audley Street and there are a whole host of things to eat and drink there.
For further information about any of our Christmas themed tours, visit coutours.co.uk or email Emma at email@example.com.
Don't forget we have gift vouchers for Christmas presents and we also offer private tours for family and friends. Feel free to give Emma a call on +44 (0) 207 118 9090.
As a tour guide and a lover of London, I will be writing a series of interesting stories about London; tales I have heard, places I have visited, tasty food I have eaten and delicious drinks I have enjoyed. Watch out for this every week or so.