The best ways to get into the Christmas spirit!
Ah, Christmas… it’s the most wonderful time of the year (and we know that you couldn’t resist singing those words!) The problem is that with everything you have to bear in mind over the festive season: from family and friends to sorting out the Christmas dinner to making sure you’ve bought presents for everyone – as well as all of the other things that we encounter in day to day life it’s unsurprising that time can sometimes feel as though it’s running away from you. In an effort to make things that little bit easier, we have made a list of all some of the best, budget Christmas happenings that you can take part in and enjoy without busting the bank. Trust us, ‘yule’ not regret trying out some of the things on our list…
#1 | Visit the Museum of Architecture: Gingerbread City | Kensington | Free
Check out some real culinary architects as the Museum of Architecture challenges designers and bakers to create complex buildings out of gingerbread. Visitors can check out their efforts and vote for their favourites with donations. The building that raises the most wins. Forget a taste of victory… this will be a tasty victory!
When: 7th-22nd December 2016 (Monday-Sunday 10am-7pm).
Where: 10 Thurloe Pl, South Kensington, SW7 2RZ.
#2 | Visit one of London’s Christmas markets | Various locations | Free
Get in on some Christmas shopping and pick up gifts, trinkets and hand-crafted goods at one of London’s several Christmas Markets. There are lots to choose from, so check out our list of London’s best alternative Christmas Markets.
#3 | Learn to make a festive bobble hat | Southbank | £10/£5
In the true spirit of Christmas… dispose of ugly unwanted Christmas presents… only this time you’ll be learning to make old or unwanted jumpers into bobble hats in this workshop from TRAID. All the tools and materials are provided and no previous sewing experience is necessary. (£10 full price/ £5 for concessions).
When: 10th December 2016 (2pm-4pm).
Where: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX.
#4 | Take part in the Yule Jog | Various locations | £13
If you want to take in the festive sights on London but don’t think you’ll have time to fit everything in, why not take them all on at once, whilst running. Don’t worry if you can’t keep up however, you can choose a pace and length when booking, there are plenty of breaks for festive fairytales and each run ends in the pub. Also included in the price is a Santa hat. Better get ho-ho-going!
When: Various dates, depending on your preferences.
Where: Various starting locations.
#5 | Indulge in an all black Christmas feast and cocktails | Hoxton | £3-£25
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Well Kraken is planning a black Christmas, with an all black festive feast and cocktails. Head there for black bar snacks (£3) and black cocktails (£5) or if you are feeling flush, stick around for the whole feast! (£25) It’s not just burnt… we promise!
When: 5th-7th December 2016.
Where: Beagle, 397-400 Geffrye Street, Hackney E2 8HZ.
#6 | Head to one of London’s great department stores | Various locations | Free
If you are feeling like getting into the Christmas mood, you should head over to one of London’s most famous department stores. They don’t do things by halves and are always decked out with the most wonderful displays and who knows, you might even pick up a gift or two.
Where: Various Locations.
#7 | Watch the Peter Pan Cup | Hyde Park | Free
Unfortunately you can’t take part unless you are a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club (not that you’d probably want to!) but feel free to watch. The race is about a 100-yards and was started in 1864 but was only renamed the Peter Pan Cup in 1904 when J M Barrie presented the first Peter Pan Cup. So if you are about on Christmas Day… give it a watch!
When: 25th December 2016 (the race begins at 9am sharp).
Where: The south side of the lake, Hyde Park W2 3XA .
#8 | Attend a Christmas-themed lecture | Barbican | Free
Join Professor Michael Slater at the Museum of London in a discussion over Charles Dickens’ contribution to the Christmas season as we know it now.
When: 6th December 2016. (6pm-7pm).
Where: Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN.
#9 | Play in some real snow | Paddington | Free
Head down to Merchant Square at the beginning of December to see the square, which is right next to the Paddington Basin, filled with 65 square feet of REAL snow and you can get in on the action for free! There will also be plenty of local restaurants on hand to keep you fed.
When: 2nd-4th December 2016 (10am-6pm).
Where: The Pavillion, Merchant Square, W2 1BF.
#10 | Get your skates on at one of London’s many skating rinks | Various locations | Various prices
There’s nothing more festive than ice skating, so we’ve put together a list of some of the best places to check out this winter if you fancy getting in the Christmas spirit by taking friends or family out on the ice.
When: November 2016-February 2017.
Where: Various locations.
# 11 | Join a massive Father Christmas-themed pub crawl | Various locations | Free
Be a part of one of London’s most unusual sights: hundreds of merry-makers dressed as Father Christmas’ joining together on an en mass pub crawl. The route will be released a few days before on the event’s Facebook page and there are only two rules… “be nice to children and don’t get too drunk around them”… simple as that!
When: 10th December 2016. (Walk begins at 11am).
Where: Sign up for route details.
#12 | Head out to a pantomime | Various locations | Around £10-£15
There’s nothing better than a good panto (oh yes there is!) to signal the beginning of the festive season. And of course, there are absolutely loads across London, featuring all of your favourite folk stories and fairy tales. Admitedly some are expensive but there are loads of ways to cut costs, including going off peak, concession tickets and at many, children go free or half price! Here, is a great list of all the best pantos in London.
#13 | Walk around a Winter Wonderland | Hyde Park | Free
Winter Wonderland, which is one of London’s most popular Christmas attractions is now in it’s 10th year. As it’s free, (though you still have to pay for rides and ice skating) it can get VERY busy, so aim for mornings or week days if you are looking for a slightly more restful experience.
#14 | Do a self-led Christmas tour of London | Various locations | Free
There are a huge number of self-led, walking tours of the city available on the internet and it’s an easy and cheap of exploring the city during the most festive season of the year. If you are handy with a map, you can even plan one yourself. Cover even more ground by hiring out a Boris Bike for the day (though unfortunately this does cost money!). Start planning now by looking at the best Christmas light displays in London.
#15 | Hear Christmas carols at St Paul’s Cathedral | St Paul’s | Free
During the Christmas period, nearly all of the services that take at St Paul’s place are free and unticketed. Doors open an hour before the start time, so rememeber to turn up early (espeicially as Christmas approaches, as these are likely to be the busiest times). The services are beautiful and definitley a sight to behold in the grand surroundings of the Cathedral.
#16 | Take part in the Great Christmas pudding race | Covent Garden | Free
If you have ever wanted to see people in fancy dress trying to complete a course whilst balancing a Christmas pudding; this is the place to do it. Raising awareness for Cancer Research, this silly (but funny event) is now closed for entrants, but you can still go and check it out!
When: 3rd December 2016 (Event starts at 11am).
Where: The race begins in Covent Garden.
#17 | Travel back in time and see how Christmas was celebrated 400 years ago | Hoxton | Free
Every Christmas, see the Geffrye Museum transformed into a festive version of itself, complete with decorations a tree, and other props for a faithful representation of the way Christmas would have look in every period of the last 400 years.
When: Until 8th January 2017 (Tuesday-Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays, 10am-5pm).
Where: 136 Kingsland Road, Hoxton E2 8EA.
The Geffrye Museum is on our list of the best quirky and free museums in London. See what else made our list here!
#18 | See London’s largest Christmas tree lit up | Trafalgar Square | Free
As a thank you for London’s support during the Second World War, Norway has presented a massive, 20m high Christmas tree every Christmas since 1947. The tree, which is over 50 years old will be lit on the first of December to mark the countdown to Christmas and from the 5th of December, carol singers are invited to sing beneath the tree every day (4pm-8pm on weekdays and 2pm-6pm on the weekend so there is always something to see!
When: The lighting ceremony takes place on the 1st December 2016 (beginning at 6pm).
Where: Trafalgar Square.
#19 | Watch a Christmas film or two | Herne Hill | Free
Over the month of December, Free Film Festival will be screening 12 free films at various locations across Herne Hill. All of the events are indoor, so you don’t have to worry about wrapping up warm and no tickets are required! Just turn up, although don’t forget to turn up early, as space is offered on a first come, first served basis. Films being screened include ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, ‘Trading Places’ and all of the films pictured above.
When: 4th-19th December 2016.
Where: Various locations across Herne Hill.
Check here for a full programme of films.
#20 | Catch a glimpse of the Christmas Coca Cola Truck | Various locations | Free
The Coca Cola truck is returning for the sixth tour of the UK, bringing with it all the excitement that comes with the arrival of the Coca Cola Christmas advert to our television screens. You’ll be able to get your picture taken with the iconic truck, see a short Christmas animation which will be projected onto the side of the truck after dark and you’ll also receive a free, mini can of Coke! After all… the holidays are coming…
When: The truck will be in London on the 3rd, 4th, 18th and 20th December 2016. You can find out where here.