Part-time traveller, Full-Time Brummie

24 hours in Festive London

Title Page: 24 hours in Festive London

It’s been a long time since we visited London at wintertime and I put the call out on social media, friends and family to give me their tips and recommendations. With just 24 hours in London – culminating in the launch of the Landscape Photographer of the Year exhibition at Waterloo Station – we stopped centrally at the Travelodge Covent Garden this time round. No schlepping in from Tower Hamlets this time round.

So where did we go for a festive vibe? It was mid-November so London hadn’t quite got all it’s Christmas razzle-dazzle on but it gave a pretty decent showing…

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is one of my favourite places to mooch around at any time of the year, and it’s no exception at Christmas. It has one of London’s largest Christmas trees on the Piazza and as expected, it’s beautifully decked out. Inside the market itself are huge baubles and glitter balls strung from the ceiling, and some pretty huge mistletoe chandeliers if you fancy a smooch! And of course, there’s no end of shops to pick up a few last minute pressies, from quirky independents to high-end designer and well-known high-street brands. You’re also only steps away from Seven Dials, also looking pretty spectacular this wintertime.

The magnificent silver reindeer statue outside Covent GardenDramatic pink and grey clouds over an early evening Covent GardenGiant mistletoe chandeliers: Christmas time at Covent Garden

London’s famous shopping streets

Some of the most iconic shopping streets in London put on their twinkliest outfits for the festive season. We were lucky to be able to see the Regent Street angels in all their glory as the street was closed to traffic on the evening we were there… no fear of being run over by a black cab or a London bus despite being in the middle of the road! Each street and area has it’s own signature light displays – my favourite being the carnival vibe of Carnaby Street, resplendent with its own giant parrots.

Regent Street lights at ChristmasThe colourful carnival festive lights of Carnaby StreetFestive lights at South Molton Street, London

Winter Wonderland

One of the thing’s you shouldn’t miss is the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Although you may want to pick your time carefully. We originally went to visit on the Sunday evening, only to be met with with a writhing heaving mass of bodies waiting to go through the bag check at the entrance. Instead we returned on the Monday afternoon, where it was the complete opposite with only a few hardy souls milling around.

It’s a sprawling celebration of all things Christmas, festive, wintery and fun. There are plenty of fairground rides, from the tame to the ridiculous, food stalls, winter markets, a circus, hook-a-duck and other assorted games, and plenty of bars to get all your glühwein cravings satisfied. There’s a revolving bar, a carousel bar, karaoke cabins – and my favourite – a bar with stools with animal legs. I’m easily pleased. And there are the more traditionally cosy snugs, grottos, lodges and yes, a giant Bavarian beerhall if you want to drink something alcoholic before being flung around on a gravity-defying ride.

London's Winter Wonderland in Hyde ParkA colourful carousel at London's Winter Wonderland in Hyde ParkFairground rides at London's Winter Wonderland in Hyde ParkThe Bavarian Village at London's Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

South Bank

I love to stroll along the Thames, and the South Bank always seems to have some sort of event or market on whatever the time of year so its unsurprising that in winter time the riverside walk is lined with Nordic-inspired wooden huts selling all manner of warming food, mulled alcohol, sweet treats and crafty stuff. It was also a handy final stop before schlepping off to Waterloo Station, where the organisers of the Landscape Photographer of the Year exhibition kindly plied us with free wine to make the late night train ride back to Brum a little more fun…

City views from the South Bank of the River Thames, LondonCPF Photography's autumnal canal photograph on display at London Waterloo Station

What are your favourite festive cities? Have you been to London at Christmastime? Let me know in the comments!

24 hours in Festive London - Pinterest -


31 responses to “24 hours in Festive London”

  1. I wish I could be in London at Christmas time!!

  2. Looks beautiful at Christmas. I too love mooching around Covent Garden 🙂

  3. josypheen says:

    I always love the lights on carnaby street, they are always more interesting than the surrounding area… and because once you’re on that street, you might as well look at the shoes in irregular choice. 😀

    I also love the Southbank. It’s so nice to wander along there, even though it can be a bit chilly…

  4. London looks gorgeous at this time. The lights and decorations are just magic. I would love to see it at this time and celebrate a white Christmas one year. Merry Christmas Em. Xx

  5. Susannah says:

    This is brilliant!! I was born in London so it is my hometown but hardly ever go back now, though you’ve made me want to!! London does Christmas beautifully. Your pictures are lovely!! Hope you have a very meery Christmas xx

  6. That is strange I thought I had answered as I know I read this post days ago. Love the Christmas decorations, not so much the crowds and madness associated with it. Just came back to civilisation a few days ago, we were up in the hills! Merry Christmas Em 🙂

  7. thebeasley says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I agree that the Carnaby Street ones are the best. So bright and cheering. Love London at Christmas. I went to York the other week and that was so lovely & Christmassy.

  8. Lutheranliar says:

    I love London, and miss my frequent trips there back when I was a world-roving Ad Girl. Once, while staying at Brown’s Hotel during the Christmas season I returned from a meeting to find that the staff had put up a Christmas Tree in my room. It was real fir, and decorated, complete with twinkling colored lights. It was so lovely I almost hated to leave!

  9. Um. I really want to go here right now! That angel alone looks worth the trip. I like that you gathered all the suggestions from friends together to make the trip “be all it could be.” I’ll have to try that idea the next time I have a special trip in mind.

  10. Em Linthorpe says:

    Ahhh, festive London, it looks great! I’ve heard about how great the Winter Wonderland is. I need new glasses though, I thought that inflatable dude was Freddie Mercury ahahahah! Merry Xmas, have an amazing one xx

  11. This post really wants me to visit london during Christmas even more !!! Great pictures!
    Xoxo Annaleid

  12. chiara says:

    I wish I could see London around Christmas, it sounds pretty magical. Another city I really want to visit around Christmas is NYC.

  13. Wow. London is stunning at Christmas. I had almost forgotten 😊

  14. gemmaorton says:

    I’ve not been to London around Christmas, this has made me want to visit! I’ve pinned this for future reference 😊

  15. Trudy says:

    Gorgeous shots. You sure got around in 24 hours!

  16. […] Photographer of the Year exhibition launch at Waterloo Station. We took in the sights and sounds of festive London, visited the British Musuem and found a secret popup bar overlooking Marble Arch and Oxford […]

  17. […] for a weekend evening, it’s very busy (did we learn nothing from last week’s trip to London’s Winter Wonderland?) so we leave Rathausplatz behind in search of a slightly less manic […]

  18. London is simply one of the most festive places to spend Christmas, it’s one of my favourite places to be during the winter months!

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