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Experience London in December

An English Winter Wonderland

There's an inexplicable charm about London in December. A carefree, festive atmosphere grips the capital as locals and visitors prepare for Christmas. You'll love the dazzling window displays on Oxford Street or Kensington High Street as you shop for those last few gifts, and the whole family will enjoy discovering the unique seasonal attractions that make London in December so special, like the Somerset House Ice Rink or the ice rink at the Natural History Museum. Bundle up for Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park or the Greenwich Wintertime Festival at the Old Royal Naval College. Alternatively, spend the day indoors at the National Gallery or the British Museum. There are so many exciting things to do in London this December, from quintessentially British events like the Great Christmas Pudding Race to pre-Christmas parties at some of the city's glamorous entertainment and nightlife venues.

Christmas Pudding: A Great British Tradition

Visiting early in the month? Be sure to catch one of the most unusual London events in December: the Great Christmas Pudding Race. The Christmas-themed obstacle race takes place in and around the Covent Garden Piazza from 11 a.m. on the first Saturday in December. Now in its 37th year, this fun day out to benefit Cancer Research UK is ideal for all ages, and you can expect lots of Santas, superheroes, and cartoon characters as the teams battle their way to the finish line with their Christmas puddings. 
Covent Garden is known for its shops and theaters, so why not combine the event with a bit of shopping or a show when you're in that part of London this December? The iconic neighborhood is conveniently close to hotels like Victory House, London Leicester Square, and the world-famous Savoy Hotel, and it's within easy reach of most parts of the city by Underground or bus. 

Wintertime at the Southbank

Looking for London events in December that you can share with your family or friends? Discover Scandinavia by the River Thames. The Southbank's Wintertime festival teams up with its year-long Nordic Matters event to bring you lots of fun-filled exhibitions and attractions. Dive into a tasty fondue and a warming mulled wine, unwind at the authentic Finnish sauna on the Queen Elizabeth Roof Gardens Terrace, or accompany your own tour guide through nine rooms devoted to Swedish pop sensations Abba. Abba: Super Troupers is a thrilling one-hour immersive experience for parties of up to 16, and it's suitable for children over the age of seven. Don your glitter and flares and prepare to sing along to hits like Waterloo and Mamma Mia as you (re)visit the 70s in swinging London.

Get Your Skates On!

Ice skating has become something of a tradition in London in December and there are certainly plenty of ice rinks to choose from. Somerset House Ice Rink is one of the most impressive, as well as one of the best-known. It's open from November until January and you'll love gliding around the ice that covers the majestic 8th-century courtyard with the fabulous Neoclassical building in the background. Try late night skating to music or enrol the kids in the Skate School and Polar Cub Club for the day. 
If you're staying in a hotel close to Canary Wharf like the Ibis London Docklands Canary, you'll be just a short walk from Canary Wharf Ice Rink. Here, you can skate through an illuminated woodland trail or on the under-lit main rink before ending your visit with a glass of champagne or mulled wine at the bar. The English capital is certainly not short of frozen fun this winter. Other great alternatives for your visit to London in December include the wonderful ice rink at the Natural History Museum and the charming Broadgate Ice Rink.

Shows That You Won't Want to Miss

There's so much more to London in the wintertime than shopping and sightseeing. The last month of the year brings some of the best shows to the capital. Thus, you'll find a great program of shows in London in December that cater to all tastes. Disney on Ice at the O2 from 20th to 30th of December is fun for the whole family and an exciting festive treat, while The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre is guaranteed to melt your heart. Famous productions like The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre or 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane are great choices if you're celebrating a birthday or anniversary. They're also the perfect antidote to the great British weather that is part of London each December!

Shows That You Won't Want to Miss

There's so much more to London in the wintertime than shopping and sightseeing. The last month of the year brings some of the best shows to the capital. Thus, you'll find a great program of shows in London in December that cater to all tastes. Disney on Ice at the O2 from 20th to 30th of December is fun for the whole family and an exciting festive treat, while The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre is guaranteed to melt your heart. Famous productions like The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre or 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane are great choices if you're celebrating a birthday or anniversary. They're also the perfect antidote to the great British weather that is part of London each December!

Musicals to Put a Spring in Your Step

Sing along to your favorite Abba songs at Mamma Mia at the Novello Theatre or revisit Oz with an evening at Wicked at the Apollo Victoria during your stay this December. A popular show like Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre is sure to warm your heart during the coldest evenings. Did you know that Les Mis is one of the longest-running musicals in London? The famous tale based on Victor Hugo's epic novel and set at the time of the French Revolution has been wowing the capital's theatre-goers for over 30 years. 
If you prefer contemporary shows, there are some terrific musicals in London in December. For example, you could make Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue one of the highlights of your trip to the capital. The spectacular production is a must for Michael Jackson fans with its jaw-dropping dance routines, stunning sets, and timeless hits like Billie Jean and Thriller. Or why not book tickets for School of Rock at the New London Theatre in Drury Lane? The show is the recipient of the 2017 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music and includes original songs from the movie and new material by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Christmas Markets: An Integral Part of London in December

If you're still deciding what to see in London in December, you might consider adding some of the city's Christmas markets to your list. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is among the biggest, and it's conveniently close to some great hotels in the center of the city like the Mercure London Hyde Park Hotel and Mercure London Paddington. Shop for alternative gifts like hand-made picture frames or jewelry in the Angels & Fairies market or stock up on candles, decorations, and Christmas essentials at the traditional market. Alternatively, the Southbank Winter festival combines a classic Christmas market with exciting exhibitions, street performances and shows.

Spend the Day at the Greenwich Wintertime Festival

Set aside a day to explore the Greenwich Wintertime Festival while you're in town this December. The Old Royal Naval College is part of the UNESCO Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and the festival is a delightful blend of traditional architecture and modern features. Shop in the Christmas market's white geometric pods against the iconic backdrop of the River Thames and the Cutty Sark or skate under a canopy of shimmering lights on the Greenwich Wintertime ice rink in front of the Old Naval College. 
Feast on delicious street food, see a screening of The Snowman accompanied by the East London Brass Band, or take the kids to visit Santa before he sets off on the year's most important journey. They'll love the elves, acrobats, magicians, and reindeer that are part of this festive experience. As the sun sets over the Old Royal Naval College, make your way to the Mirror Stage and enjoy the perfect end to your outing as you dance to DJs and bands well into the night.

Shop on the High Street or Cross to the Road

Kensington High Street is the ideal place for a one-hour shopping spree in West London in December. The area isn't as busy as Oxford Street or the massive Westfields malls, but you'll still find all your favorite brands. Popular stores include Zara, Calzedonia, and TK Maxx, and there is a good branch of Waterstone's bookshop. Luckily, you're just a short walk from Kensington Gardens and other local attractions include the Design Museum and the Royal Albert Hall. 
Camden High Street might not immediately spring to mind when you're deciding what to do in London in December. The street is mainly full of fast food outlets and food stores like Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, although, again, there is a very good branch of Waterstone's. However, if you head north towards Chalk Farm Road, you'll come to the world-famous Camden Market and Stables Market. One of the capital's biggest tourist attractions, the iconic market combines famous brands and quirky one-of-a-kind shops with a picturesque canal-side setting. And best of all, if your December visit to London doesn't allow you much time, you can cover most of it in one hour!

Discover the Delights of Clerkenwell

Whether you're visiting London in December for a few days, a week, or longer, it's well-worth checking out some of the capital's trendy neighborhoods like Clerkenwell. Just a stone's throw from central hotels like the Hotel Pullman London St. Pancras, Mercure London Bloomsbury, or the Jesmond Dene Hotel, Clerkenwell and is known for its famous markets, cosy gastropubs, and exciting nightlife and entertainment venues. 
The area around Roseberry Avenue, Clerkenwell Road and Farringdon Road was once known as "Little Italy" and history buffs can visit St. Peter's Church, a Grade II Listed building which was consecrated in 1863. When the first Italian immigrants arrived in the 1850s, they supplanted the thieves and pickpockets who had brought notoriety to the district. They were the inspiration for Charles Dicken's classic tale, Oliver Twist and the Charles Dickens Museum on Doughty Street offers a glimpse at the writer's life from 1837-39. Take a stroll across the historic Clerkenwell Green at the center of the old village, which, ironically, hasn't featured any grass for 300 years.

After Dark in Clerkenwell

To bring an end to your tour of Clerkenwell this December, enjoy a celebratory Christmas-themed cocktail at a trendy bar or dance the night away at Fabric, one of the capital's most popular nightclubs. Go along for legendary FabricLive Drum & Bass night on the 8th or see top DJs including Patrick Topping, Monki, and Timo Maas on the 15th. Or, complete your day with a fabulously festive show; Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella' at Sadler's Wells adds a dash of magic to London in December.

Contemporary Music in the UK Capital

The city boasts some of the most impressive music venues in the world and rock, indie, and alternative fans are in for a treat in London in December. Grab tickets for Mark Lanegan at KoKo on the 12th. The legendary US singer has a massive following thanks to outstanding solo albums like Bubblegum, Blues Funeral, and Gargoyle and, as almost always, he's supported by the wonderful Duke Garwood. 
Catch Stone Sour at the O2 Academy Brixton on the 4th or 6th, or see rockers Five Finger Death Punch at the SSE Arena, Wembley on the 21st; they're both set to be among the season's top concerts in London. If you love the 70s and 80s, London in December is the place to be on the 1st as The Prince Experience covers famous hits like 1999 and Purple Rain at O2 Academy Islington and disco sensations Shalamar will help you "Make This a Night to Remember" at Clapham Grand while on their 35th anniversary tour.

Exciting Things to Do With Kids in London

If you're bringing the kids to London in December, you'll already be looking for ways to keep them entertained. Fear not, you'll find plenty of things to do in the English capital for younger visitors. Celebrate the festive season with a Hogwarts in the Snow Tour at Warner Bros. Studio. Children of all ages will love seeing the Great Hall decorated with sparkling Christmas trees. The famous table is set for a feast laden with fiery Christmas puddings and delicious festive treats. 
This year, visitors to London in December can also see the preparations for the Yule Ball for the first time as the top section of the hall is transformed into a snowy wonderland complete with a magical orchestra. The Natural History Museum is a thrilling place for kids at any time of year. However, come to London in December and the courtyard turns into one of the capital's most beautiful ice rinks. After braving the chilly weather, look for unusual children's shows, like the Showstoppers Kid's Show. This seasonal celebration is audience driven so the kids get to decide what happens next. This show is just one part of the Christmas in Leicester Square event from the 16th to the 30th of December.

Magical Events for the Festive Season

There are dozens of indoor and outdoor December events in London to choose from and some are truly enchanting. See Matthew Bourne's beautiful production of Cinderella at the Sadler's Wells Theatre. The famous venue is home to the Sadler's Wells Ballet and this magical show is ideal for dance fans and little girls who are longing to become ballerinas. Although the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House is intended to celebrate the end of the Chinese lunar year and the start of the New Year, it runs from November until mid-January and it may be a welcome change from all those Christmas lights. This year's theme is the Silk Road and the festival is a fun choice for families as well as a romantic outing for couples who are planning to visit London in December.

Why Visit Kew in December?

If you like to keep things traditional, why not head west to Kew? Christmas at Kew is spectacular and it's certain to be one of the highlights of your stay in London in December. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is within reach of hotels like Ibis London Shepherd's Bush Hammersmith and Novotel London West, and easily accessible from the rest of the city by convenient road and rail links. You'll be rewarded with a dazzling after-dark light display. A sparkling trail of over one million lights meander through the Gardens passing heritage trees and iconic buildings. 
Enter a fairy-tale land where the trees sing and giant baubles shimmer. See the Fire Garden and be entranced by the fabulous laser and light show that illuminates the magnificent Palm House. Kids can chat with Santa and his elves or try classic fairground rides at the North Pole village while adults toast marshmallows on the fire and sip on hot chocolate or mulled wine. There's just no way around it: December in London is truly magical.

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