If you’re visiting London over the holidays, here’s a guide to some of the capital’s best festive events you won’t want to miss. Dig out your thermals, grab a mulled wine and get in the seasonal spirit.
Visit Kew’s Royal Botanical Gardens in West London for a nocturnal light show spectacular. Follow the illuminated trail which weaves 1.6 miles along tree lined walkways, passing stunning projections and dramatic installations. Walk through tunnels of light and see the flickering fire garden. Don’t miss Aurora, a beautiful simulation of the Northern Lights set to music. Top it off with dinner at the Botanical Restaurant. Advance booking is available till 9 January 2022.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park
Family friendly Winter Wonderland brings its annual festive extravaganza to Hyde Park, a flurry of thrilling rollercoasters, traditional carousels, and the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink. Watch acrobats and circus performers twirl and spin at Zippo’s Circus and gawp at Cirque Beserk’s hire-wire, high-adrenaline antics. Craft your very own winter work of art at the ice sculpture workshop. Shop for jewellery, crafts and gifts at the numerous market stalls. Visit Santa in his grotto, and take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel, where you’ll enjoy superb views across the London skyline. Sip a cocktail in the Ice Bar, or banish the chills with a mug of gluhwein and a bratwurst in the cosy Bavarian Village.
Visit Santa at Hamley’s Toy Shop
Come and meet Santa in his grotto at London’s world famous toy shop. 188 Regent Street will be welcoming Santa and his cohort up to 24 December. Book a meet and greet with the big man and his little elves, and receive a Hamley’s goody bag to take away. Advance booking is essential: one ticket allows entry to the grotto for up to three people, and you can buy additional tickets for a maximum group of six.
Carol singing at St Paul’s Cathedral
What could be more seasonal than dressing up in your winter warmers and gathering beneath the imposing dome of beautiful St Paul’s Cathedral for an evening of Christmas music and carols? Sir Christopher Wren’s London landmark hosts a series of musical events throughout December including several free to attend concerts, organ recitals, and a traditional carol service on Christmas Eve.
Southbank Centre Winter Market
Head to the arty Southbank Centre on the banks of the Thames for a spot of pre-Christmas cheer. Until 23 December this cultural hub transforms into a free to enter smorgasbord of cute alpine chalets and pop up stalls bedecked with sparkling fairy lights. Browse Christmas gifts and artisan crafts, and get your fill of yummy street food and festive drinks.
London Christmas Lights By Night
An open-top bus tour is one of the best ways to see London’s magical Christmas light displays, and this after dark excursion brings you the best of the city in all its illuminated splendour. During a 1 hour 45 minute tour you’ll swing pass the ornately decorated store windows of Regent Street and Piccadilly, and take in London landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and the London Eye. Under 4s travel free of charge. The tour runs till 3 January 2022.
Catch a Christmas Show
For a festive classic, book tickets at the London Coliseum or the Royal Opera House to watch the English National Ballet and Royal Ballet respectively perform The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. Enjoy swooningly beautiful set designs and costumes, and sublime performances by over 100 musicians and dancers. Performances run to 8 January 2022. If traditional pantomime, is more up your alley, check out Pantoland at the Palladium, or Potted Panto at the Garrick, for a seasonal treat of songs, dance and laughs aplenty. Both shows run to 9 January 2022.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com