Travel Tidbit #5: Christmas in London
While I am a big proponent of Christmas at home (provided you live in a winter blessed location), without a doubt, everyone should experience a Christmas in London. What other time of year does London’s dark and crisp weather actually enhance your mood? The city is decked out with lights and trees, the grand stone sights like Westminster Abbey and the National museum seem even more impressive, the massive parks are spartan without foliage but have an austere beauty, Christmas ice rinks are everywhere, and there are plenty of markets from which to get gifts and holiday treats.
Borough Market, London’s oldest food market, should be everyone’s first stop. Tucked away under London Bridge and cornered by grounds of an aged Church, the market is packed with vendors offering everything from craft cheeses, meats, and fresh produce to ready made Thanksgiving Subs and an endless variety of kebabs.
The West End Christmas lights are a sight to behold. Blanketing the streets from above, pouring down the sides, and springing from the street posts, the sheer number of lights is astounding. And, the tasteful snowflakes and white bulbs keep the atmosphere classy. Crowd watching with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa while munching on the Chestnuts being roasted on every corner is a good start to any night.
Ice skating at the Somerset House feels as great as it looks in the movies. The blue rink is beautiful against the warmly lit building (appropriately in Christmas red) and is flanked by it’s own gigantic Christmas tree. Getting tickets is tricky though and needs to be done days in advance.
Trafalgar Square. Rockefeller Center goes to the White House. The gigantic Norwegian tree is a beautiful ornament for the already gorgeous Square. Cast against the dome capped portico of the National Gallery and beside the Trafalgar Square fountain, the tree is actually tough to keep your wandering eye on. Though best viewed at night, it’s also a necessary day stop for lunch after wandering through the great galleries of art at the museum.
Though I hope Moscow or the Vatican can someday displace to Queen’s home as top Christmas destination, for now I can give no better advice than to spend some time in London for the holidays. The beer, the curry, the breakfast, Tube, hell even the accent- all better when paired with silver bells in the city. If you can believe it, it’s even better than Bangkok.