Christmas in London

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Living in London for the first time in years has given me a fresh appreciation for the festive delights that pop up as soon as December 1st arrives. I work just off Oxford Street, and depressing as it is that I arrive at and leave school in the darkness, this is made much more bearable by the suspended orbs of light that dangle like baubles from the trees along Tottenham Court Road. The shops are all full of fancy window displays, there are Christmas trees everywhere you look, the banks of the river are swarming with the wooden huts of a German Christmas market, and the shrieks of skaters and the scent of mulled wine float gently on the air. Yes, it’s unbearably crowded in the shops and I wish that people would stop hitting me with their enormous shopping bags, but it’s worth it to experience the way in which London comes shimmering to life at Christmas time.

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A few weeks ago I went to Kew Gardens to experience their Christmas light show; it was incredibly impressive, and I particularly loved the ‘Fire Garden’, which was a section of the grounds filled with sculptures that were lit by hundreds of burning candles. It’s hard to get across in a photograph, but it transported me to another world; it felt practically pagan, and I imagined that this was perhaps what our Stone Age ancestors did on the Winter Solstice, thousands of years ago. There were plenty more lovely sights to see, with all sorts of creative blends of lights and flowers that took my breath away. It’s well worth a visit if you can make it before Christmas.

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Somerset House and the Natural History Museum have the most impressive ice skating rinks in London, and though I am no ice skater, I always appreciate their beautiful decorations and love stopping by to watch the people skate. The enormous Christmas tree at Somerset House is a real beauty, though it’s nothing compared to the colossus that has been erected at Covent Garden, which truly is a tree worth a special trip to see. This year Covent Garden has been decorated with giant mistletoe leaves and berries, and looks absolutely gorgeous; whoever is responsible for the designs is clearly a real talent, and I think it’s a wonderfully inventive take on Christmas lights.

There’s plenty to look forward to for me, yet; I’m off to Westminster Abbey for carols on Thursday, the Royal Albert Hall for carols on Saturday, and the ballet at Sadler’s Wells on Sunday, before heading back to Kent to spend Christmas in the countryside with my family. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year; thank you so much for reading my blog and I hope next year to be a less sporadic presence…




  1. So lovely, really makes me want to visit London …..although I hate certain aspects of it! Thanks for all your posts, happy new year, Jenny

  2. We were in London yesterday, and were also very impressed with the decorations at Covent Garden. A very Merry Christmas to you, and a happy New Year.

  3. For several years now I have so enjoyed reading your blog. Would be very interested in knowing a bit more about your teaching. I assume that you are now at a new school since you say you are in London. What year/age level do you teach? Also how are you coming on that book you spoke about some time ago? Are you still working at it.? Just curious….I wish you the best and happiest of holidays from the far side of the “pond”….
    Margo Boylan
    Old Forge, NY USA

  4. Oh, this looks so festive, beautiful! I’ve not felt festive at all this year and now I’m thinking it may be down to not heading up to London for the first year in ages.

  5. I can just picture it, Rachel! Christmas in London and then seeing the fireworks over the Thames at New Year is at the top of our wishlist once our sweet pooch is gone…but let’s not talk about that. Have a wonderful time drinking in all that the Christmas season has to offer.

  6. I spent one Christmas in London eons ago. I used to walk across regent street and Piccadilly and I thought it was magical. I am from India so nothing of this scale ever happens there. I loved listening to snatches of christmas songs as you walked down the streets, while shopkeepers handed out samples of hot tea and cake. Now I live in Los Angeles and though it gets chilly and festive, its not the shivering-to-death-would-love-some-hot-cocoa kind of Christmas.

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