Pleasure or Pain? Christmas Events in London

Christmas being the most joyous time of the year results in London putting on fantastic entertainment for us to celebrate. Some events are genuinely wonderful, but equal amounts are abysmally bad. Predicting which pile these events will fall into is not as easy as it seems.

Below, I have taken three famously festive day trips in London and given you four of my recommended movements at each one. I have also given you the estimated cost. I hope this will allow you to make better excursion decisions this December and choose the event that sounds right for you.

1. Winter Wonderland. Open 21st Nov – 4th Jan 10am – 10pm daily, free admission

Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is the homing beacon of Christmas in London. It is an eruption of flashing lights, giant pretzels, bobble hats and wellies and you will either adore it or loathe it but you’ll never know until you try it. Here’s what I’d do to entertain myself…

winter wonderland borough market somerset house

  1. Find any form of bar and double-park yourself with large helpings of mulled wine. If you’ve planned ahead you’ll have a hip flask filled with something to warm you up a little more.
  2. Search high and low until you find the singing reindeer. He is unlike anything you will have seen before. His wisdom and his dulcet tones whilst singing jingle bells will warm your cockles. Watch him for 15 minutes or so and feel your mood change.
  3. This is one of the most important steps: consume all or parts of three pretzels: start with a poppy seed pretzel, move onto a crispy cheddar cheese pretzel and finish with a cinnamon & raisin pretzel. Pretzels are amazing and should be celebrated in their own right.
  4. Now it’s Fairground ride power hour time: starting with the Winter Wonderland Express, Coaster Crazy, the Power Tower, the Star Flyer and finally wind down on the calming carousel.

Top tip: do not go anywhere even remotely close to ‘Santa Land’. It is swarming with screaming children high on candy canes and it will destroy your glowing festive ora.  

Total cost: £35pp

2. Borough Market – Open Weds – Sat, free admission.

Bare in mind these four steps will take you approximately 5-6 hours due to chronic overcrowding, but are they worth it? (I think so….)

winter wonderland somerset house monmouth coffee borough

  1. Go directly to an English wine bar called Wine Pantry’ and drink one bottle of Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine – it is absolutely delicious, miles better than high street Champagnes. Don’t sit down, drink up and move on – there is a lot of ground to cover at this market.
  2. Go to Jill’s Natural Preserves and buy as many chutneys, jellies and jams as your cupboard.. (pantry?) can hold. They are absolutely divine, everybody adores them, even when on small stale pieces of dried sampling bread. Go Jill!
  3. Wonder through the market and pay particular attention (I’d like you to mourn if you can spare a minute) to the turkeys, rabbits and pheasants strung up by their little necks – isn’t that festive? (not my thing). What is far more enjoyable is the BAKERY SECTION! Get stuck in.
  4. Nip to (aka queue for 45 minutes) Monmouth Coffee and buy one of the silkiest, most sublime flat whites to have ever met your lips and calmly walk away from Borough Market before any uncontrollable people traffic rage kicks in.

Top tip: Wear steel cap boots in preparation for the toe tredders.

Total cost: £45pp

3. Ice Skating at Somerset House – 11th Nov 2014 – 11th Jan 2015, apx £15pp

Many people wouldn’t let Christmas pass without donning some skates.  This is what I’d do…

somerset house ice skating christmas events

  1. Shuffle into the beauty that is Somerset House’s courtyard, put your skates on, hobble onto the ice, sliiiiiiiiiiiiide across to the opposite side of the rink, and GET OFF the ice. Honestly, it is not an enjoyable activity. Just me? Surely not.
  2. Go to Tom’s Kitchen (within Somerset House) for a thoroughly British Daylesford 7 hour Confit Lamb with Balsamic Onions followed by a scrumptious cheeseboard with Quince Paste and Biscuits.
  3. Saunter out of Somerset House past the dedicated skaters who in trying to have fake fun ended up battering their coccyx and kneecaps to mush.
  4. Jump in a taxi and head to Soho’s wooden-clad Nordic Bar for Scandinavian ‘Snow Cone’ and ‘Ski Breeze’ cocktails.

Top Tip: The two cocktails and home rule. December is a true test of drinking stamina so don’t go OTT in one night. You will lose.

Total cost: £75pp

The top choice for me has to be WINTER WONDERLAND. It ticks all the festive fun boxes and no matter how drunk, childish or boring you are you will always be welcome and it’ll drag a few smiles out of you at the very least.

x The London Whistler x


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