Eyeskate, You skate!
The Coca Cola London Eye Frostival is in full swing, and this year the size of their popular ice rink has increased, so that more of us can glide gracefully across the ice -or not! Skate hire is included with your ticket and stabilising seals are available for small children. Adults who are more like Bambi than Torvill and Dean just have to chance it! The glittering lights of the London Eye, Jubilee Gardens and the riverside provide a festive backdrop in the evenings, and if you fancy a turn on the big wheel after a spin on the ice, combo tickets are available.
See a family show
Instead of the usual pantomime, take the kids to see a heartwarming family story. The Railway Children is a classic tale of how community spirit, hope and bravery triumphs in difficult times. The stage at King’s Cross theatre has been built around a real train track, and features a 60 tonne steam locomotive. Go on, wave at the train – you know you want to!
Shop at a Christmas Market
Get into the spirit of Christmas by visiting a Christmas Market – those cute little chalets, twinkling lights, gluhwein, bratwurst, roast chestnuts, hot chocolate, and handcrafted gifts – great fun! The Southbank Centre Winter Festival has loads of family activities and live entertainment, and is a good place to buy gifts for foodies. Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland has ice skating, a festive fairground and santa’s grotto. If you’re buying for someone arty, the Tate Modern has some intricate handmade decorations, beautiful Christmas lanterns and unique art and craft works.
Take Afternoon Tea with champers!
Christmas is a time for tradition and nostalgia, and a quintessentially English afternoon tea provides both! An afternoon tea for two experience on a riverboat is the perfect antidote to all that frenzied Christmas shopping. Have and glass of champagne, enjoy dainty sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, cakes and a pot of tea, then go upstairs for a 360 degree view of London’s famous landmarks. Indulge yourself, or purchase as a gift voucher for friends or family.
Sing Christmas Carols!
The St. Paul’s Cathedral Advent and Christmas Services are extremely popular. A carol service aimed at children takes place at 11am on the 19th of December, and the blessing of the crib and lighting up the Christmas trees is on the 20th at 3.15. Hear the magnificent Cathedral choir sing on the 23rd, 24th and 25th December – the services will be relayed onto a screen in Paternoster Square for those unable to get into St. Paul’s.
Go back in time on a Horse Drawn Tour of London’s Christmas Lights
Queen Victoria was a big fan of Christmas and her consort Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to Britain. Imagine her delight if she could see the spectacular decorations that illuminate London today! Take a trip on an authentic Victorian horse drawn carriage driven by a coachman in period dress, with a team of horses clip clopping at a leisurely pace around the sights.
Visit Kew Gardens at night
The gardens are fabulously festive during the day, but even more special after dark, on the magical Kew Gardens winter trail. Walk along a mile long sparkling pathway, admire the dancing fountains, the geometric light projections in the Bamboo Gardens and the Hindu mandala formed with hundreds of torches in the scented Fire Garden, then visit the Christmas Village which has seasonal treats, Santa’s grotto, festive music and vintage fairground.
Sail with Santa!
Santa Claus has parked his sleigh and boarded a river boat for a jolly ride on the Thames, and he has a special present for all the children who join him! They also get a Christmas cookie and soft drink – parents can enjoy a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine. The Santa Cruise sails from Tower Pier at weekends, and on 21st – 24th December.
Escape to Stonehenge on Boxing Day
Craving a bit of downtime after the big day? Take a coach trip from London to the ancient stone circles of Stonehenge and absorb the peaceful atmosphere. See the impressive exhibitions at the new Visitor Centre, the replica Neolithic houses, then gaze in awe at the mighty stones.
See the New Year’s Eve fireworks from a riverboat
Welcome in the New Year away from the jostling crowds on the land and get the best view of London’s spectacular firework display by taking a riverboat tour. Why not make a night of it and go on a New Year’s Eve dinner cruise with live music and dancing, then go up on the top deck just before midnight to see the night sky burst into colour!