I figured that is made sense to experience a traditional Christmas in the country that I am living in for the first time, as oppose to traveling to a nearby country for the holidays. So London was my chosen city to celebrate the joyful season and it was my intention to participate in as many Christmasy themed events as possible.
Back in Sydney, you may find a few houses scattered along some popular streets with house decked out in festive lights, or the occasional Sydney Bus that transformed itself into a mobile tinsel-snow flaked riding sleigh with a Santa dressed bus driver, or the large displays in the windows of Myer and David Jones in the city centre. So for me, it was such a joyful surprise when I started seeing all these elaborate festive decorations flood the city streets of London.
If you would just like to see all the things I got up to this Christmas season in London, press play on the video below. I had my very first attempt at making a vlog (I’m certain the technique needs improving but enjoy) Otherwise, keep reading.
Christmas Wreath Making
It all began when my friend sent me a link to an event where you get to make your own traditional Christmas wreath…for free! I was 100% to get creative. The Meanwhile Club were hosting this event at Lower Marsh Markets, near Waterloo. All the materials were provided for you and you could get as creative with your designs as possible. I absolutely loved this. In fact, I stood out in the freezing cold 1°C for 2.5 hours just to perfect mine. By that stage, my fingers were way too cold to actually do any more. But I was quite satisfied with my finished product! To add to this experience, there was a Big Red Double Decker city bus that had been converted into a performing stage where we had the pleasure of a choir singing some funky renditions of all the popular Christmas Carols.
City Christmas Lights Chasing
Just when you think to old archieticual designs of the buildings in the busy streets of London City central aren’t beautiful enough, during the festive season, these buildings become gorgeously decorated with glittering lights of all designs- making the sight just too much to handle. You’ll find yourself constantly looking up whilst walking along the streets, so don’t be too surprised if you carelessly bump into anyone. Best places for photo ops are Regent Street, Oxford Street, Bond Street, and in my opinion definitely head to Covent Gardens and Carnaby Lane for some eclectic festive vibes. There are some amazing open rooftop bus tours that you can take, which specifically route out the best possible lit up streets at that higher vantage point, almost as if you’re touching the decorations. There are also some bike tours that you can participate in, similarly which take you on specific routes to view the lights around the city. Unfortunately, I did not get to do either of there, though I definitely would recommend it just for some fun!
For Carols, you basically just need to step out of any tube station and you will find yourself being entertained by some carolers who are there to deliver some Christmas cheer whilst raising money for a charity. Or of course, you can purchase tickets to a more formal Christmas Carol performance. I personally went to the Traditional Carols By Candle Light performance in the Royal Albert Hall. I am not much of a singer at all but thought that it might be a fun experience. The only carols I’ve participated in are the once I’ve helped arrange at school or in church. But this experience was something on another level. The only thing I was disappointed about was the fact that they did not give out any candles. I thought the words “Carols by Candlelight” meant you get to hold a candle…but probably a good thing for me, as I would of course be so distracted with playing with fire anyway! Though it was so special that candles were definitely not needed! Standing on the Gallery level allowed for an overall view of the entire dome, the acoustics in that hall were remarkable and the choir sang so elegantly. The whole concert was based around the most traditional Christmas carols, with a host engaging and entertaining the audience through light hearted comedy. If you watch the video, you can see how they were all dressed in the old style clothes…not sure what they are called. But it was classic and definitely traditional.
Scattered around London, and also most of Europe, you will find a special Christmas market to enjoy a hot glass of Mülled wine, a bratwurst topped with sauerkraut and a selection of hand made Christmas treats. Each market usually has something different to offer. Some of the ones I went to in London was the Dolce & Gabbana Christmas Market in Harrods, Christmas in Leicester Square, The Winter Forest of course the major festive markets of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Though I must say, the Christmas markes in London are nothing compared to those in Germany (will make a post on these also) As I went to 3 major cities across 5 days and probably a total of 11 different themed Christmas markets. #obessed!
Some of the markets also have a lovely iceskating rink attached to the, I was spoiled in Stuttgart (Germany) because my friend Nadja and I had the whole rink to ourselves, no one to bump into or be judged if we stacked it. Was perfect. But back in London, they were all constantaly filled with eager skiers. So crowded that it seemed difficult to move around freely. So I decided not to skate but I thoroughly enjoyed watching from the outside with a deliciously brewed hot chocolate in my hands. The more larger skating rinks to go to are the ones at Somerset House or the one outside the Natural History Museum- this one was especially beautiful as it was based around leafless trees, bound in twinling fairy lights with a gorgeous Christmas tree in the middle.
My tree hunt
I have always wanted to trek to a forest and cut down my own tree, though have never been in the right place to do that. This year, I came close. London are very big on using real Christmas trees as oppose to store bought synthetic ones. So of course I got in on that tradtion and went down to the local Christmas tree man who was selling a whole range of sized trees. As I left this to quite late, there were not many left, but I managed to find a cute one, perfect for my place. And I decorated it with some cheap decorations I bought from the handyman shop down the street. So random, but in the end the tree actually looked so beautiful I was so happy each time I looked at it. Simple but stunning J It truly added to the Christmas spirit. AS well as this, it also made my little Christmas wreath not look lonely and out of place.
Christmas Day and a Traditional High Tea
Christmas day arrived and I was not going to spend it alone. One of my friends invited me to a festive inspired High Tea at the Langham, London. Everythign was perfectly curated from the tunes of the pianist to the flavours and designs of the sandwiches and desserts. I didn’t take any photos as I was trying to vlog the experience when I could, but really everything was so creative, delicious and satisfying. Thinking about all of those now makes my mouth water. I think I had about 5 different teas, as well as 2 glasses of bubbly. Definitlly the most amazing high tea I have ever attended.
All in all, this Christmas in London was an incredible experience. I enjoyed diving into the British festive culture and participated in many things that I would not have ordinarily done back in Sydney. I know it is well past Christmas as I post this blog, but if you ever find yourself in London over the Christmas period, these are just some things that I encourage you to participate in.
The only thing that I could have hoped for would be if it snowed on Christmas. Because really, who doesn’t like a white Christmas?!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed all the celebrations. Hope you enjoyed reading this too. Let me know in the comment section below what you did for Christmas this year or if you have ever been to London over the festive season.
Lots of Love