No doubt you will have had the dulcet tones of Cliff Richards, or the jarring scream of Noddy Holder or some other such cheesy Christmas tune (or maybe you’re lucky and only get Fairytale of New York stuck in your head) pervading your thoughts and alerting you to the fact it is the holiday season.
And the bane of the holiday season is of course, having to buy people gifts. But, this does provide an excellent excuse to find Christmas fayres, or indeed fairs, or special displays and events where you can immerse yourself in the festive spirit.
Here are some we think are worth taking some time out to see.
Golden Tree in St Pancras
I don’t know whether or not Londoners consider us to have an iconic Christmas tree. There is a mammoth one in Trafalgar Square every year that comes from Norway which is worth boggling at. It really is huge. But St Pancras are doing a good job of providing an ‘alternative’ iconic Christmas tree every year. Last year they had a massive tree made out of lego and this year it’s a golden tree! St Pancras station is actually quite a nice spot to have a stroll around, as it has lots of little shops and some pretty good food provisions (Sourced market in particular). With this glistening addition it is even more so worth taking a trip here, but there’s not just a golden tree festooned with ‘medals’ – you can also hunt for five other medals hidden around the station for a chance to win prizes!
Christmas Arcade in South Bank
You might already know that Somerset House is a bit of a Christmassy destination because it has an ice rink every year. But also, in its interior, it houses the Christmas Arcade, which is a series of pop-up shops, one in each of 14 rooms to amble through. The entrance has some hanging ‘Bonbon Balloons and you can also take advantage of a Christmas Shop, pick up a hat from Christy’s London, or indulge in some gorgeous jewellery from Electrum. There’s a sweet shop selling festive choccies and lollipops with ice skaters on them (very apt considering the rink outside) but my favourite room was that of Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. There are all sorts of concoctions in here, as if the place has been curated by a sinister Willy Wonka (I mean, more so than normal, he was always a little sinister). You can buy ‘ear wax’ and ‘moonlight’, or try on an invisible coat (not only does it make the wearer invisible but also unsmellable, unhearable and the coat itself is invisible). You can also buy what I think are bath salts made from various sources of tears. Utterly charming!
Christmas Fayre in South Bank
A stalwart Christmas destination (and destination throughout the year truth be told) is the South Bank. At this time they’ve got a Christmas fayre. Little log-like cabins line the Thames selling lots of trinkets that can be bought for presents for others, or for Christmas decorations at the house, and there is plenty of food and drink to keep you going. There’s something like 80 different huts, selling handmade soaps, jewellery and toys. There’s mulled wine of course, German bratwurst (well, it is sort of a German market) and the ubiquitous crepe stall. Twice a day, at 1:30 and 7 there are also carols being sung! What could be more Christmassy than that? Put on some mittens and maybe one of those hats with animal features that everyone is wearing and join in the fun.
Street Feast Grotto
If you’re feeling peckish and fancy a bit of being on trend to jingle your bells then head over to Old Street and delve into the Street Feast Grotto. They have some of the finest purveyors of street food on rotation in the Shoreditch Tunnels. It’s a solid line-up but if we absolutely were forced to pick a favourite (we’re not but I’m going to), I’d definitely say try to time your visit in order to get a Yum Bun or a Big Apple Hot Dog. But that’s not all they have lined up. There are ‘warming winter cocktails’ with their Santa Baby! Pop-up cocktail bar, and End of the Line are putting on the entertainment. Expect live art displays and art exhibitions and there is also some live printing provided by Hit + Run. It’s open from noon until 11, but don’t turn up on a Monday as that’s the one day it’s closed!
Selfridges in Oxford Street
And finally, yes, the crowds around this part of town are completely infuriating, but at this time of year it’s worth braving them to get a taste of Christmas in London … A tradition for me and my family at this time of year was to take a trip to Selfridge’s to see the wondrous window displays full of what seemed to be toys come to life. I vaguely remember scenes of elves moving and ‘making’ toys which we found captivating. These days there’s less of the moving automata but the windows are still elaborate and impressive, and on the western corner there’s a sweet factory display full of cogs and conveyor belts. Each window is lined with what I can only describe as ‘hedges’ full of lights sparkling and sparkly of course means Christmas. But of course it doesn’t end there. The lights across Oxford Street are a bit of a destination in themselves but you should also take a wander around St Christopher’s Place and, if you can keep your jealousy in check, around the Bond Street area as there are some very pretty light displays around these parts too. It can’t help but make you feel in festive fettle.
Written by Jamina Ward ginglelistseverything.blogspot.com