Winter Enchantment in London

London’s winter wonderland will cast its spell on you

Issue: Dec 2009

Put on those boots and join these skaters at Hyde Park, the largest ice-skating rink in London
Put on those boots and join these skaters at Hyde Park, the largest ice-skating rink in London
Photo credit: Graham Ettridge

Londoners celebrate the Yuletide in style. As the deciduous trees shed their last autumn leaves in submission to the approaching winter, the capital begins frenzied preparations for the 12 days of Christmas. Watch this city transform into a wonderland of winter-exclusive attractions.

Hyde Park was first opened to the public by King Charles I in the early 17th Century and is London’s oldest park. Here, Zippo’s Christmas Circus Show promises to bring cheer and laughter to children and adults alike. Be entertained by 40 minutes of acrobatics and tricks by clowns and Santarinas.

If you are in the mood for some icy action put on your skates at the city’s largest open-air ice skating rink. The adrenaline junkie in you will be spoilt for choice with the fairground park rides and park attractions. Try the “bungee dome” which is a cross between a trampoline and a bungee, under a domed sphere.

An evening stroll in the park for some bracing air is made more romantic because it is lined with festively illuminated trees. Listen to the cherubic voices of the carol singers performing Yuletide melodies.

Itching for more triple spins practice? Visit the outdoor ice-skating rink at Canada Square Park beside Canary Wharf Tower, the tallest building in the UK.

Santa’s Secret Village Christmas Experience

Bring out the child in you with a day at Santa’s Grotto
Bring out the child in you with a day at Santa’s Grotto
Photo credit: Mark Koenig

Get close to Santa at this grotto experience with the Claus family on South Bank. Listen to jolly Santa’s fascinating stories over tea, freshly brewed by Mrs. Claus, as you decorate a gingerbread Christmas card in her kitchen.

Do your Christmas shopping at Cologne Christmas Market, a traditional German Christmas Market at Queen’s Walk and pick out exquisite Christmas gifts and delicacies from wooden chalets chockfull of surprises.

If you enjoy winter sports, the O2 arena is well worth a visit. The 45-m long artificial indoor twin slopes in Greenwich, are built only for the winter holidays. Ski, snowboard or sled here. Newbies can learn the ropes and snow tube (glide down on a giant inflatable ring) here.

Looking for a real slope? Catch a short plane ride to Newcastle Airport, and drive yourself 30 minutes to Glenridding, Greenside. At Raise, an 800 m high mountain, ski tows and hikes are an hour’s walk up the valley.

Big Ben heralds the New Year

Welcome the new year with spectacular fireworks at the London Eye
Welcome the new year with spectacular fireworks at the London Eye
Credits: Bubex.
Count down to the New Year at the London Eye with the ringing chimes of Big Ben. The spectacular views of London from 50 m above the ground are a must-see. The giant observation wheel has a full 360o panoramic view and heated gondolas. You can hire private and VIP pods which have leather seats, screens, tinted windows and optional champagne!

The skyline bursts into flames at the stroke of midnight as fireworks blaze skywards from barges along the River Thames. This is a spectacular moment not to be missed!

Boogie all through the night but spring out of bed by noon to witness the New Year procession from Parliament Square to Berkeley Street. This three-hour long annual parade has 10,000 performers representing 20 countries worldwide. It has raised and donated nearly a million pounds to London-based charities.

At home in the city

Citadines London South Kensington
Citadines London South Kensington
35A Gloucester Road
London SW7 4PL

While in London, stay at this cosy serviced apartment right in the heart of the most Victorian area of the city. This eclectic district holds a mixture of magnificent buildings, chic gardens and stylish boutiques. This ideal location is a stone’s throw from Hyde Park and Harrods the department store which dresses up beautifully for Christmas.

A fully-equipped kitchen allows you to try your hand at local winter cuisine such as whole garlic and rosemary roast chicken using fresh ingredients from nearby markets. Embrace the serene charms of the London cityscape over Christmas pudding with a pot of Earl Grey Tea, from the comfort of your balcony.

Ascott Mayfair London
Ascott Mayfair London
No 49 Hill Street, Mayfair
London W1J 5NB

If you want to be pampered in chic accommodation, look no further. This luxurious serviced apartment is located near Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. You can watch the New Year fireworks from The Terrace. The spacious and exquisitely designed rooms are tastefully furnished to reflect the architectural splendours of the sophisticated Art Deco period.

Spending the day indoors? The concierge will help you order popular comfort food “bangers and mash” and a traditional Sunday roast. With a choice of food deliveries from a selection of restaurants from around the area, you can relax in the landscaped gardens with a martini, shaken not stirred ala James Bond. But if you want to shake off the wintry chill spend a little time in the steam room and sauna.

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