The festive season of December is one time the whole world gets down on the streets and enjoys the revelry that fills the air. Shopping for presents, selecting trees, buying that pretty mistletoe to fix above your doorstep and brewing the finest mulled wine—preparations like these never go out of fashion or become boring. In London, the festive season is beyond the usual turkey dinner, Queen’s speech and the EastEnders festive mayhem. In fact there are various ways to notch up the festivities and prepare yourself for the major holiday before it even arrives:
1.Get in the Carol Singing Spirit: A ubiquitous aspect of Christmas is the carol singing, and you will have many ways to do that before the great day. An evening of Christmas carols is a sure fire way to get into the festive mood. You can head over to St Martin-in-the-Fields for a candlelit service of words, music and reflections on the Christmas story.
2.Get Skating: Ice rinks, open up across the city right when the winters descends, and you can take a spin on the ice for the festivity of it. In fact, the capital’s outdoor ice rinks are some of the most magical locations you’ll see all season. Perfect Christmas Eve fun, book your skating session before the rinks pack up for the year.
3.Hyde Park: Every Londoner can vouch for the magical land that Hyde Park turns during this time. With the arrival of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, you can shake a foot-long Toblerone, along with ice skating, mulled wine bars, candy cane stalls and fairy light-lit funfair rides .
4.Notch up the Decorations: You will find some of the best decorations, from Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly offering delights such as exploding table decorations and embroidered stockings, to Harrods’ baubles, refined silver table-wear and scented candles—stores emanate festive odours. The Christmas Shop on Tooley Street is a winter wonderland and is also considered London’s only official Christmas shop. You can also check out candles from Price’s Candles in Battersea, known for its huge warehouse offering anything from the simple cream church stick, to pear shaped table candles in vibrant colours. Those in loss for want of wrapping paper can head over to Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road for a fine collection of bright fun Christmas decorations for tree and table.
5.Find the Perfect Tree: London boasts some of the finest sources for acquiring Christmas trees. While Christmas Forest at St Paul’s Road is known to be experts and offer freshly cut ones at a fair price, you can also visit the Columbia Road Market, which blooms with visitors in the run up to Christmas for their trees costing £15. Try the Camden Garden Centre on St Pancras Way for their healthy variety of trees including the traditional Norway Spruce, the Nordmann, the Noble Fir and the Fraser Fir. If too lazy to move off of the couch, go online to Pines and Needles, an online company that offers festive folk the full Christmas tree package, along with a next day delivery service
6.Give Christmas Dinner a Perfect Headstart: Without the usual turkey and mulled wine, Christmas isn’t complete. Allen & Co Butchers on Mount Street, a butcher’s shop on Mount Street which is over 100 years old, offers customers top quality cuts – notably some excellent marbled Scotch beef, perfectly prepared game and exceptionally lean pork. On the other hand, C. Lidgate on Holland Park Avenue, is known for providing a variety of free range and organic meat and game. For fish lovers, James Knight of Mayfair on Notting Hill specialise in seafood along with free local deliveries and customer accounts, while H.S. Linwood & Sons on Leadenhall Market, offer salmon, snappers, sardines, scallops and sea trout on their open-fronted stall. For some of the best Christmas cakes and pies, head over to Konditor & Cook on Stoney Street, which has the reputation for serving up the best mince pies in London, along with their traditional Christmas cakes, spicy German cookies, sugary Stollen and cinnamon stars? On the Islington’s Euphorium Bakery, on the other hand, offers its customers some top quality British fare every Christmas, including Christmas puddings and mince pies, strudels, apple and ginger cakes and Chocolate Marquises.
7.Shopper’s Stop: This is the season of shopping, and you can choose the days leading up the Christmas to pick up stocking fillers and decorations in the Christmas markets scattered across the city. Those who are busy with last minute shopping, unlike those smug shoppers who were probably done by October, head over to Oxford Street for some of Capital’s best shops for gifts, stocking fillers and decorations. One of the most amazing experiences is the Christmas markets, and London is scattered with many which turn the streets into an enriching extravaganza. Borough Market on Southwark Street is a gourmand’s delight and offers 70 stalls selling cakes, cider, cheeses, hams, bread, fish, fruit and vegetables. There are plentiful of Farmer’s Markets too, which provide an excellent opportunity especially on days leading to Christmas, when produce includes winter root vegetables, nuts, fruit, Bronze and Black turkeys, geese and Aylesbury ducks.
8.An Extra for Christmas Spirit: Stock up on that extra Christmas spirit and head over to Berry Bros & Rudd on St James’s Street for £5 bottles of Berry’s Good Ordinary Claret or £7000 bottles of Romanée Conti, or even The Winery on Clifton Road, whose wooden shelves host gleaming bottles of Burgundy and Claret. Talking about spirit, for some of the most intoxicating coffees, head over to Markus Coffee Co on Connaught Street for sacks brimming over with coffee beans of every different variety for those cold crisp mornings.
9.Gifting Delights: For your loved ones, what better ways to celebrate with than to pick out the perfect gifts? You can choose a variety of Christmas hampers from Fortnum & Mason at Piccadilly for instance, who give the customers exceptional selection of festive treats through speciality hampers, filled with exotic teas, bitter chocolates, buttery biscuits, delicate preserves, rich mince pies and fine wine. Melrose and Morgan on Gloucester Avenue, on the other hand, rustles up hampers with unusual and inspiring treats such as cranberry and chestnut stuffing, warm spiced cider, champagne truffles and Spanish clementines. You can also head over to Charbonnel et Walker on Old Bond Street for their highest quality confectionary since 1875.