The first snowflake has officially fallen and the advent calendar windows are starting to be opened but if after all of that you’re still missing some Christmas magic, here are some of my favourite FREE places in London to help get you in the Christmas spirit:
Once again Regent Street have their beautiful angel Christmas lights that sparkle and glow magnificently. Nothing makes me feel more in the Christmas spirit. For true Christmas magic follow the angels all the way to Hamleys and tap into your inner child (it is Christmas after all).
Just tucked behind Regent Street is the magnificent Carnaby Street where you can experience a different kind of Christmas. This year they have opted for a Christmas carnival theme. With birds of paradise and all the bright colours you could imagine. Pay the spectacular Choccy Woccy Doo-Dah a visit and get some Christmas chocolate inspiration. Or if beauty is your thing, get lost in the likes of Benefit, Urban Decay, Mac and Too Faced for all your Christmas wish-list dreams.
Also just off Carnaby street is Liberty London. Founded over 142 years ago it is one of the oldest and most spectacular department stores in the country. With its mock-Tudor exterior and dramatic window display it’s enough to get that warm fuzzy feeling and that’s before you’ve even visited the 4th floor. Take the lift to their Christmas shop for unique Liberty gifts and stunning tree decorations. They have everything. Think personalised baubles for your pet to stunning peacock tree decorations. It’s near impossible to resist them all.
Leicester Square Christmas Market
Whilst it may not be the largest Christmas market in London, year on year it becomes one of my favourites. At any time of year there is something special about Leicester square, so add some Christmas magic and you have a truly beautiful mix. Be sure to check out the craft stalls and the mini pancakes to feel truly Christmassy.
WinterVille – Clapham junction
Think of it as almost a mini winter wonderland. Whilst not as spectacular, it’s certainly cheaper and far less crowded. With a bouncing beer tent, ice skating and alcoholic hot chocolate on offer it is certainly not one to be missed.
For me, it’s the epitome of Christmas in London. There is no greater feeling than stepping off the tube at Bond street station and seeing beautiful lights wherever you look. Year on year the window displays set it apart from your normal London shopping street. Be sure to check out “Moz” in John Lewis and the neon “with love” at Selfridges for a true feeling of Christmas.
It’s no secret that the London Underground is a quickest and most convenient way to get around the city. However t also means that it is far too easy to spend most of our time looking at tunnels under ground and missing everything that there is to see above it.
This weekend Transport for London teamed up with Walk London for their first weekend of free walking tours throughout the City in 2017. Me and Tom were fortunate enough to get ourselves booked on 2 of the 40 walks they were running this weekend.
What happened on the day?
The first walk saw us gather outside Bank station to follow a walk based on the Central tube line, ending at Chancery Lane. The tour guide Mark was excellent at providing us with interesting information throughout the walk. We stopped at various points of interest (including the story behind the golden pineapples at St Paul’s!) and it was great for me to see a part of central London I had never even been to before. I also found out why the logo at work is what it is and came away with some excellent quiz trivia. At the end of the walk Mark even signed a copy of his book “Walk the Lines” which we picked up for a tenner (bargain!)
Our signed copy of “Walk the Lines” following our Central Line Walk
After a quick coffee break near Chancery Lane, we hopped on the tube and made our way to Westminster for our second walk of the day. Starting just outside Westminster station we took in New Scotland Yard, the remains of Whitehall Palace and the beautiful Somerset house. The trivia took us through Harry Potter, Paddington Bear and The Savoy Hotel before finishing at one of our already favourite wine bars in the city (it’s also rumoured to be the inspiration for The Leaky Cauldron).
Want to get involved?
TfL and Walk London organise these weekends of free walks 3 times a year. The next one is scheduled for the 20th/21st May, the one after that will be in September.
Can’t wait that long?
There are various other walking tours which offer different tours to suit different interests. http://freelondonwalkingtours.com/ have seven different tours from Royal London to Jack the Ripper and Soho and the West End and they are just one of many tour operators throughout the City.
Not one for mixing with a group/want to find your own way around?
The TfL website has loads of maps to cover everything there is to see in London in the walking section. They also provide a “walking tube map” an alternative to the conventional map which gives you the walking distances between stations. You might be surprised at just how short some of the distances are. If you want a bit more direction whilst exploring on your own there are loads of walking books available on Amazon or in stores such as Oliver Bonas.
We can’t wait to get out with our new book and explore what else we can find above the underground!