Whether you’re visiting from elsewhere or a resident already, London feels that much more special as the year draws to a close. Read on to find out how you can really get into the spirit of Christmas this year.
It’s November, which means the magic of Christmas is slowly starting to fill the air. You may smell hints of cinnamon, clove, and pine all around the city as stores begin to transform from ordinary to festive overnight. You’ll definitely see the glittering lights adorning streets, trees, and walkways. The city is getting a magical makeover complete with wondrous sights and experiences to make the festive period feel more special than ever.
It’s not just the city’s décor spelling Christmas, there will also be a whole host of festive things to do in London over the coming weeks. Whether you’re visiting from elsewhere or a resident already, the city is bound to feel that much more special as the year draws to a close. Not sure where to start? Our guide to Christmas events in London will inform you on the best things to see and do, whether you’d like a sweet day out for the whole family, a romantic evening with your loved one, or simply an extra special way to shop for all those Christmas presents. This festive season, The Ritz is also hosting a series of special Christmas events, inviting you to experience the magic and luxury of a Ritz Chritsmas inside the historical hotel.
Read on to find out how you can really get into the spirit of Christmas this year.
Christmas Days Out In London
One of the most exciting things to do in London at Christmas is see all the different lights adorning neighbourhoods. You’ll spot neighbourhoods that start to twinkle from early November onwards, but it’s in and around the West End that they’ll really shine. It’s easy to take in all the sights with a well-planned walk – just be sure to dress warmly and make plenty of stops for tea and hot chocolate.
The Regent Street lights are must-see; angels – with the wings spread wide over the road – hang elegantly, illuminating the path ahead from the minute it gets dark. This is the country’s largest light display with forty five golden angels to spot all together. The nearby Carnaby Street is more eclectic, taking inspiration from the area’s music past. This year, the lights are a kaleidoscope of colours and shapes giving the area an additional boost of fun and eccentricity. Walk to Oxford Street to see thousands of stars twinkling away in the night sky, then make your way to Marylebone to see how the high street has been transformed with sparkling arches and baubles.
Bond Street has pulled out all the stops together with the multiple designer flagship stores which reside there. This year, the lights take inspiration from the British monarchy and the crown jewels to delight visitors. Finally, wander over to Covent Garden for your final visual Christmas feast. A large Christmas tree stands tall in the square while the market piazza is decorated with large lit-up baubles and mistletoe decorations. Once a day, you can experience a snow shower, making it feel like even more of a festive wonderland.
One activity that’s sure to delight families, couples, and singles alike is the skating rink at Somerset House. In recent years it has become an iconic destination for lovers of all things festive as the already beautiful, historical courtyard undergoes a glittering transformation complete with a 40ft Christmas tree. Skate under the open sky, take in the neoclassical surroundings and make a stop afterwards for a luxurious hot chocolate or a glass of champagne.
For a musical interlude, head to St Paul’s Cathedral on the 26th and 27th of November to hear Christmas carols performed. The cathedral itself is an architectural wonder, designed by the acclaimed architect, Sir Christopher Wren, and worth seeing any time of the year.
The Best Spots For Christmas Shopping In London
When it comes to shopping, London isn’t short of options, and this is especially true during the winter months when stores infuse their interiors and exteriors with lavish festive decoration. Whether you’re looking for gifts for all the family, something that can’t be found elsewhere, or a luxury item for a loved one, London will have something for you.
If you’re the kind of person who wants to tick off all the gifts on your list at once and have a fantastic time doing it, then heading to a department store will satisfy you most. Harrods is a natural choice; it houses an incredible number of departments, including children’s and even furniture. It is of course a luxurious way to spend your Christmas shopping day and you will need a full day to see all the goods on offer. On the lower ground floor, you’ll also find Harrods Christmas World, an astonishingly decorated space dedicated to the festivities. Selfridges is always worth a visit, from its imaginative window displays to the variety of goods. It also has a dedicated Christmas space filled with seasonal wonders, like decorative items that are exclusive to the store.
For those who want to shop in a more boutique-like atmosphere while enjoying the benefits of a department store, Liberty is for you. Set in a stunning Tudor-style building, the store is famous for its uniquely printed fabrics, an edited selection of designer goods and homewares. Liberty’s dedicated Christmas floor is filled with unique baubles and accessories which you won’t find elsewhere.
Book lovers, or anyone shopping for a booklover, should absolutely make a stop at one of London’s incredible book shops. Hatchards proudly holds the title of the oldest bookseller in the UK – it was founded in 1797. Today it sells all the popular titles in an elegant environment, plus they also stock a selection of rare and even first edition books. Visit the store in St. James’s to find the perfect literary gift. Maison Assouline should also be on your list. Part bookshop, part lifestyle concept, the flagship store (which used to be a high security bank) is located inside a 1922 building in Piccadilly. Inside, you’ll discover a lavish emporium of style and culture, filled with Assouline’s colourful and collectible books. Hand-picked vintage finds, candles, and accessories accompany the pretty tones.
Unique and rare gifts aren’t easy to find. However, head to the Burlington Arcade and you’ll discover special and exclusive brands housed under historical arches. There you’ll find Maunder Watch Co, an independently owned, family-run business that specialises in vintage luxury watches. Art galleries, Gagosian and Opera Gallery, are worth a visit for art lovers; leather goods can be purchased at SWAINE or Sermoneta Gloves, jewellery at Lily Gabriella and Cara Jewellers. And if you’re stuck on a gift idea, cashmere items are almost always sure to delight – head to Begg x Co, N.Peal or Cashmirino.
Only a short walk away from Burlington Arcade is Bond Street, the world-famous shopping destination is always a feast but at Christmas it becomes ever more magical, complete with an enchanting tree outside Ralph Lauren. Satisfy all the luxurious cravings here as you stroll between Cartier, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Dior, and many more.
Extra-special Christmas Events In London
The Ritz is of course embracing the festive season, decking the halls with not only holly but also velvet, lights, and baubles. The Ritz’s Christmas tree is always spectacular, and it often gets named as one of the best in London. Besides the luxuriously festive décor, there are a multitude of Christmas events at The Ritz to enjoy for all.
It may only be November, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t start sprinkling festive cheer into your social calendar already, like with a special Christmas Afternoon Tea. During the festive season, The Ritz’s famous Afternoon Tea transforms into a seasonal wonder. It all begins in The Ritz Club, now styled to look like an Edwardian wonderland complete with a lavish tree, and accompanied by the sounds of The Ritz choir performing carols. You can expect traditional finger sandwiches, a selection of cakes and pastries, alongside mince pies and Champagne to complete the feeling of a festive celebration.
‘Festive Live at The Ritz’ will transport you to a bygone era with a refined dinner, followed by dancing. Dine at the Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant, enjoying four courses of refined British food. You can expect only the finest ingredients, always seasonal and sourced from the best producers, alongside a selection of cocktails and fine wine. After dinner, the dance floor opens, inviting guests to sample classic dances, like the Charleston, with the guidance of professional dancers and accompanied by a live band. During the festive season, ‘Live at The Ritz’ can be experienced every Wednesday and Saturday until the 30th of December.
The magic of Christmas Eve will be captured perfectly by The Ritz when it hosts the Christmas Eve Gala Dinner Dance on the 24th of December. Escape into a world of magical anticipation and let The Ritz show you why it understands Christmas like no one else. The black tie gala dinner will be held at the Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant, where you will be served a seasonal and festive five-course meal. The London Dance Orchestra and Majella Presents dancers will be providing the evening’s entertainment. You can choose to follow your meal with a dance or simply relax to the music while enjoying an after dinner cocktail.
To experience Christmas in a uniquely luxurious and traditionally British manner, The Ritz will be hosting a lunch and a dinner on Christmas Day. The Christmas Day lunch will be prepared by The Ritz’s Executive Chef, John Williams MBE, and his highly talented brigade of Chefs. You will taste a six-course menu with dishes like Dorset crab, Bresse Duck, and Isle of Mull Scallop. Besides a sumptuous meal, you will also experience live entertainment courtesy of Ellington’s Quartet, who will transport listeners to a bygone era of jazz; Kate, an award-winning jazz singer, will also perform a tasteful selection of soul, RnB, and pop classics, accompanied by a pianist. That’s not all – a magician and caricaturist will be providing even more entertainment during the lunch, plus you can expect a visit from Father Christmas with a gift for every child present. A Christmas lunch at The Ritz is the ideal way for the whole family to enjoy delicious, world-class food in the sumptuous surroundings of the hotel’s décor, accompanied by thoughtful entertainment that’s sure to make the lunch a memorable one.
The Ritz will also be offering Christmas Dinner on the day should you wish to enjoy a festive meal a little later on. Once again it will be served in The Ritz Restaurant and prepared by Executive Chef, John Williams MBE, and his wonderful talented team. The dinner will consist of four elegant courses, cooked using the finest British ingredients. The evening’s entertainment will be provided by a live five-piece band while singer Dee performs.
Don’t let the celebrations end just yet. At The Ritz, festivities continue all through Boxing Day too. If you missed out on a festive Christmas Afternoon Tea, why not enjoy it on Boxing Day instead. You’ll sample all the traditional accoutrements with a choice of eighteen different teas, a glass of champagne, and the all-important mince pies.
Unwind after the Christmas rush with a beautiful four course lunch served at the Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant. As always, our chefs will be using fine, seasonal British ingredients to create elegant dishes that will delight the whole family. Live music will feature as part of the lunch with a performance from the acoustic duo, Two Men and a Box.
The Boxing Day Dinner will likewise feature four scrumptious courses served in the stunning restaurant. You can expect a modern interpretation of traditional British dishes, created using carefully selected seasonal ingredients. Fine wine, cocktails, and champagne will be available to accompany your meal. Once again, live entertainment will complete the festive atmosphere with music from The Wild Tonics, a band who take well-known songs and transport them back in time to the 1920s. As well as listening to the music, you will be invited to the dancefloor to dance the evening away.
Though it doesn’t always snow in London at Christmas, the city’s festive spirit and cheer is undeniable everywhere you turn. From light-adorned streets, dressed-up Christmas trees, and stores all offering their visions of a wintery wonderland, it’s easy to experience the magic of Christmas in the city. However, for the ultimate indulgence – where every detail has been thought of thoroughly – there’s nothing like a taste of Christmas at The Ritz. Be sure to dedicate an afternoon or an evening to see how serious we are about the luxury of the festive season or opt to dine with us on one of the main Christmas dates to experience a truly unforgettable festive meal.