Wrap up warm and set off around the city to admire some of London’s Christmas light displays. Here are some of the best displays near LSE:
Oxford Street and Regent Street.
Brave the Christmas shoppers (or make a start on your own gift buying!) while you admire the spectacular displays suspended above you. London’s busiest shopping streets have pulled out all the stops:
Oxford Street: 1,778 snowball-like decorations (and 750,000 LED lightbulbs) light up the road, inspired by falling snowflakes. The charity partner for this year's lights is the NSPCC.
Regent Street: More than 300,000 Christmas lights are used in the "Spirit of Christmas" installation that lights up the whole of W1, making this the biggest and most spectacular parade of Christmas lights in the capital.
Take a short trip with friends to Covent Garden Piazza to admire the 40 mistletoe themed over-head lighting displays inside London’s most famous Market Halls and the Royal Opera House. Outside on the cobbled piazza there is also London's biggest hand-picked Christmas tree, and a magnificent silver reindeer statue.
Walk along the illuminations of the Strand to Trafalgar Square to see the towering Norwegian Christmas tree which is a gift to the people of London from the people of Norway. It is a time honoured tradition dating back to 1947, and the tree is a symbol of gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II. The lights along Villiers Street have been powered, for the first time, by used cooking oil from local businesses, making it an examplar of sustainability.
Christmas carol concerts will take place throughout the city in December. They are a Christmas tradition in the UK and an opportunity to experience an evening of Christmas cheer with songs, candlelight and often a mince pie or two. Some of these are held in grand venues, such as Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral, while others are smaller affairs to raise money for charities. Visit Time Out or Visit London to find out more information about some carol services that are being held around London.
Soak up the holiday atmosphere and visit one of London's many Christmas Markets. Traditional European-style markets sell handmade gifts, German sausages and glühwein within festive wooden chalets. There are also smaller independent markets which sell a range of original artwork, handmade goods, or ethical items. Visit Time Out or Visit London for a comprehensive list of markets around the city.
Winter theme parks
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
In addition to a Christmas market, there are over 100 rides and attractions, many bars and restaurants, and even a magical ice kingdom. Entry is free, although there are additional charges for many of the attractions. Winter Wonderland can get very busy (especially at the weekends), and is out in the open so it may be advisable to visit on weekdays and to wrap up warm. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is open from 10am until 10pm every day until Monday 1 January 2018, excluding Christmas Day when the attraction is closed.
Southbank Winter Festival
German-style wooden chalets line the southern bank of the River Thames, selling hot drinks, festive foods, and plenty of gifts or treats. The market forms part of a Winter Festival which also includes a cider lounge, roller disco and a calendar of shows. Admission is free, however there is a charge for rides and ticketed entertainment.
As the weather gets colder, ice rinks open throughout London for the winter season. Somerset House and the Natural History Museum are home to two of the most recognisable ice rinks in the city. The London Eye, Canary Wharf and the Tower of London also provide spectacular settings to skate within. Visit Time Out or Visit London for a list of the city's rinks.
Festive films and theatre
Catch a showing of your favourite festive film in one of London's Christmas film screenings this December. The Prince Charles cinema has a packed schedule of holiday films and there are pop-up cinemas in the Royal Academy, a bakery and even a former workhouse and psychiatric hospital. On a budget? Cinemas often offer reduced price tickets for students (£5 for some screenings at the Barbican). You can also pick up pre-watched DVDs relatively cheaply from charity shops and online movie-streaming services will likely add Christmas titles throughout December.
Many theatres will also stage Christmas-themed plays, musicals and ballets throughout December and January. Traditional festive tales include The Little Match Girl (Hans Christian Anderson), a Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens) and the Nutcracker. The Snowman will be on at the Peacock Theatre, which is right on LSE's doorstep, and the popular movie Nativity! has been adapted into a musical. Look out for reduced-price student tickets and last-minute ticket returns to cut costs.
A pantomime is a form of theatrical entertainment which involves music, topical jokes and slapstick comedy. They are a Christmas tradition in the UK which is usually aimed at children but enjoyed by audiences of all ages. See Time Out or Visit London for a list of all the pantomimes taking place in London this Christmas.
Museums and galleries
The Geffrye Musem of the Home has a special Christmas Past exhibition which is open until Sunday 7 January 2018.
Many museums and attractions will be closed for several days over the Christmas and New Year period. Opening hours will vary between each individual museum or gallery, so it's best to check with them directly before travelling.
Here are the Christmas closure dates of the biggest museums and galleries in London:
- The British Museum: closed 24, 25, 26 December 2017 and 1 January 2018.
- Imperial War Museum: closed 24, 25, 26 December 2017
- Museum of London: closed 24, 25, 26 December 2017
- National Portrait Gallery: TBC
- Natural History Museum: closed 24, 25, 26 December 2017
- Victoria and Albert Museum: closed 24, 25, 26 December 2017
- Science Museum: closed 24, 25, 26 December 2017
- Tate Galleries: TBC
Need more inspiration?
Need more inspiration to keep you occupied this Christmas? Check out the below links for some different ideas: