Christmas Shopping in London
London is one of the best cities in the world to go shopping, but it really comes into its own at Christmas time. Here are some of the best places in London to experience the festive spirit while you shop.
Many of London’s historic department stores have dedicated Christmas departments. Harrods devotes a large section of its third floor to Christmas World, filled with decorations, gifts, cards and the store’s famous Santa’s Grotto, which is open throughout November and December. Another historic London store, Selfridges on Oxford Street, has a Christmas Emporium on the fourth floor. This features snowmen, Santas, polar bears and thousands of Christmas decorations. Liberty on Regent Street is always stylish, with its distinctive Tudor-style building, and includes a Christmas shop with many gifts featuring their iconic Liberty print as well as glamorous decorations. Christmas food and drink is a speciality of Fortnum & Mason, who also offer many seasonal things to do such as Carols by Candlelight and several workshops and demonstrations for those wishing to make their own Christmas puddings, cakes and yule logs.
The arches and columns of Covent Garden’s covered piazza are always a picturesque place to shop, and December sees the shopping centre looking even more wonderful, with a huge Christmas tree, a giant topiary reindeer and countless lights and decorations. There is even a chance to meet live reindeer, who accompany Father Christmas every Saturday, and special pantomime performances alongside the year round free entertainment that is a favourite on days out in London. Visitors should check What’s on in London listings for times of the performances.
Christmas Food Shopping
The Southbank Centre near Waterloo Station is home to the Christmas Real Food Market, which offers a wide range of seasonal produce, from wild game to mince pies, and has a useful taste-before-you-buy policy. The Southbank Centre also hosts the Christmas Chocolate Festival in December, giving shoppers a chance to buy the perfect gift for any chocoholic and many great things to do such as cooking classes, demonstrations and chocolate afternoon teas.
Many of London’s top tourist attractions include opportunities for Christmas shopping during the festive season, and offer a chance to find the perfect present while also enjoying great days out in London. Kew Gardens have a seasonal evening event, ‘Christmas at Kew,’ which includes a boutique Christmas market selling food, drink and gifts from charming wooden chalets nestled amongst trees hung with lights. The Natural History Museum opens its annual open air ice rink, featuring in many What’s on in London guides, and is surrounded by stalls selling gifts, food and drink. Similar market stalls can be found in Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, together with a huge array of festive fun, from carousels to ice sculptures. A complete German-style Christmas market can be found on the South Bank of the Thames, where wooden chalets line the Queen’s Walk from the London Eye to Waterloo Bridge. Shoppers can sip ‘gluhwein’ and nibble on stolen and gingerbread as they browse the stalls filled with handicrafts and listen to carol singing from local choirs.
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