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20 reasons why Londoners love Christmas

We asked the people who love our city most for their favourite festive activity

Spreading Christmas cheer in the local community
© Geoff Wilkinson

Spreading Christmas cheer in the local community

'My local neighbourhood in Wanstead is pretty special at Christmas. Last year the community came together to raise funds for the Christmas tree and the leftover money kicked off a fundraising effort for a new playground. This year the same team have organised a super Santa’s grotto at the newly renovated Nightingale pub, on Saturday December 12. Tickets are £10 each and all funds go to the Wanstead Playground Association'.

Gemma Capocci, www.coffeekidsicecream.com

Follow Gemma on Twitter: @gemmacapocci 

Getting merry in a festive-themed bar

Getting merry in a festive-themed bar

'I love the way bars and restaurants across the city transform into winter wonderlands. The terrace at The Churchill Bar at Hyatt Regency London becomes particularly magical, with faux fur rugs, twinkly Christmas lights and antlers on the walls. There’s an après-ski feel going on and it’s a really good excuse to eat fondue – the ultimate comfort food over Christmas. The Winter Terrace at Coq D’argent - aka ‘Lodge d’Argent’ - is also particularly lovely over the festive period. They fill it with vintage ski props and furry blankets and polar bears.'

Lucy McGuire, ohsolondon.com

Follow Lucy on Twitter: @OhSo_London

Shopping for the perfect Christmas tree

Shopping for the perfect Christmas tree

'I buy my Christmas tree from Angel because it's at the very top of its Christmas tree game. There are some tinsel-tastic bargains to be had on Chapel Market and then there's the mulled-wine-fuelled joy of taking your new tree home on the 56 bus. Top tip: avoid angry mothers with children and too much Christmas shopping by staying away from the bus buggy section. Also, when tree shopping always wear a red nose and reindeer antlers: no-one can be angry at someone with that much Christmas cheer.'

Samantha Baines, www.samanthabaines.wordpress.com

Follow Samantha on Twitter: @samanthabaines

Having loads more space to explore
© Laura McGregor

Having loads more space to explore

‘As a Londoner, what I really love in winter is when all the non-Londoners that litter up the place all year round finally bugger off home during the Christmas holidays. Suddenly this big, dirty ol' town is empty, peaceful and with virtually no traffic.’

Kerstin Rodgers, www.msmarmitelover.com

Follow Kerstin on Twitter: @MsMarmiteLover

Trying to ice skate at London's icy rinks

Trying to ice skate at London's icy rinks

'The thing I love about Christmas in London is the appearance of multiple outdoor ice rinks across the city. It's time to release your inner Torvill and Dean. I've been to many over the years with Somerset House, Tower of London and the Natural History Museum topping my list for most magical'. 

Natalie De Luca, www.southlondonblog.co.uk

Follow Natatlie on Twitter: @S_London_Blog

Tucking into a warming winter roast

Tucking into a warming winter roast

‘There's nothing better than a huge roast dinner at this time of year. I take mine at The Truscott Arms. The pork is my favourite – it comes three ways on a board with mountains of crackling, rich gravy and homemade Yorkshire puds. Afterwards, I'll walk along Regent’s Canal right down to Camden where I'll pop into the York & Albany, which has a yearly winter cabin pop-up, to drink hot chocolate cocktails among the fake snow whilst toasting homemade marshmallows on the table.’

Jules Pearson, www.londontheinside.com

Follow London on the Inside on Twitter: @LondONtheinside

The hustle and bustle under the Christmas lights

The hustle and bustle under the Christmas lights

‘When I was a kid, it was a winter tradition for my family to pile into a car and ‘go see the lights’. We’d drive along Regent Street, look at the Christmas lights and the shop windows, and then drive home along the Thames and see the bridges all lit up. I love doing anything that involves being outdoors so I still go and see the lights on my bike when all the shops have closed and the streets are a bit less hectic. Stanfords has a Victorian horse-drawn omnibus doing tours of London’s Christmas lights. I’m going to wrap up warm, get a seat on the top deck and enjoy not being squished between my siblings.’

Jude Brosnan, www.ispeakbike.blogspot.co.uk

Follow Jude on Twitter: @JudeBrosnan

Snacking on seasonal specials

Snacking on seasonal specials

‘We can't wait for the festive specials hitting London's menus – everything from the Pret Christmas sarnie to the Hawksmoor Christmas burger gets us all excited. A new one to the mix this year will be the braised short rib and truffle roasted buns coming to the Chiltern Firehouse after Thanksgiving. They're chef Nuno Mendes' seasonal version of his famous crab doughnuts and at £3 each, even non A-listers like ourselves can enjoy them.’

Catherine and Gavin Hanly, www.hot-dinners.com

Follow Hot Dinners on Twitter: @HotDinners

Snooping around other people's houses

Snooping around other people's houses

'London is spoiled for choice with unusual museums and these are at their atmospheric best on dark, wintry nights. Among my favourites are the Sir John Soane’s Museum, a townhouse stuffed to the rafters with his eclectic art collection, which is hosting candle-lit evening views during December, and Dr Johnson's House; one of the only houses off Fleet Street to survive the Great Fire of London and the residence where the first English dictionary was written.'

Katie Wignall, www.lookup.london

Follow Katie on Twitter: @look_uplondon

Strolling and sledging on Hampstead Heath
© Kendra Bean

Strolling and sledging on Hampstead Heath

‘On a cold, crisp, clear morning there's little better than putting on my boots and heading up to Hampstead Heath. Get out at either Hampstead or Kentish Town tube and walk across the heath, aiming for Parliament Hill. You get spectacular views across London, lots of kite flyers, and when it's snowy lots of sledging. If you finish in Hampstead, reward yourself with lunch in The Flask, and if you finish in Kentish Town head to The Rose and Crown.’

Dan Calladine, www.londonpopups.com

Follow London Popups on Twitter: @LondonPopups

Venturing on a mulled wine pub crawl

Venturing on a mulled wine pub crawl

‘Nothing epitomises winter merriness quite like the aromatic scents of a mulled wine pub crawl through Wimbledon. After a fruity glass at The Alexandra, Wimbledon Village’s Dog & Fox serves up a hearty cinnamon offering alongside roaring open fires, live music and a mouthwatering roast. Pop across the road to the Rose & Crown for a cheeky tipple, and then lull yourself out of the booze coma by taking a ramble across the common (assuming you’re still standing) to enjoy the quaint delights of the Crooked Billet. Cheers to that!’

Danielle de Wolfe, www.onestoprecordshop.co.uk

Follow Danielle on Twitter: @1stoprecordshop

Embracing the joy of of a julmarknad

Embracing the joy of of a julmarknad

‘Being half Swedish I love going to the wonderful julmarknad, or Swedish Christmas Market, which takes place every year. It’s run by the Swedish Church in London. You can spend an age looking at the handmade Swedish Christmas decorations (candles, textiles, sweets), delicious festive breads, glögg (mulled wine with raisins and almonds) and trial the Swedish traditional foods. To burn all that off, I regularly go for long walks around the beautiful parklands surrounding Primrose Hill. The view from the top is exquisite on a clear day.’

Faya Nilsson, www.fitnessontoast.com

Follow Faya on Twitter: @FitnessOnToast

Shopping and sipping on Christmas treats
© Briony Campbell

Shopping and sipping on Christmas treats

‘I love to go for walks in Highbury Fields, and then keep warm by drinking plenty of hot chocolate. My favourite is from Vivo in Islington, and they have a beautiful selection of pastries too – I highly recommend the Kinder cake with Nutella. Afterwards, the market on Camden Passage is great for picking up a few festive presents (or a treat for myself).’

Paula Holmes, www.theldndiaries.com

Follow Paula on Twitter: @TheLDNDiaries

Being able to pretend you're in a period drama
© Roelof Bakker

Being able to pretend you're in a period drama

'As an American expat living in London, Christmas time makes me think of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. I reckon Spitalfields has the most Dickensian feel for London these days, and I love roaming round there this time of year. A visit to Dennis Severs' House near Old Spitalfields Market to view its "still life drama" is a great way to journey back in time with evocative style, especially during the festive season to see the Christmas Installation.'

Chris Osburn, 'Tiki Chris'

Follow Chris on Twitter: @tikichris

Enjoying the festive sights and smells at Borough Market
© Mickey Lee

Enjoying the festive sights and smells at Borough Market

'I always find that going to Borough Market around Christmas captures the essence of Christmas in London perfectly. It's a wonderful festive assault on all the senses. Wrap up warm and wander around whilst you sip mulled wine, eat homemade mince pies, listen to the Salvation Army performing Christmas tunes and breathe in the heavenly pine aromas of fresh Christmas trees. All that whilst taking in the visual wonders all around you. Then nip to Southwark Cathedral for a carol service and by then you'll be feeling so festive, you'll probably start sprouting mistletoe out of your ears!'

Imogen Parsons, 'Miss Immy's London'

Follow Imogen on Twitter: @MissImmo

Enjoying a festive treat from Nordic Bakery
© Rob Greig

Enjoying a festive treat from Nordic Bakery

'My Christmas tradition combines my love of festive hot drinks with my habit of writing in cafés, resulting in a quest to find the best festive drink. Each day I try a different coffee, chocolate, spiced apple or mulled wine, jumping from independent coffee houses to high street coffee chains, creating a sort of festive liquid advent calendar! You should definitely try a glass of Gloggi at the Nordic Bakery in Golden Square, or head over to the food market behind the Southbank Centre for some proper mulled wine (and a festive nibble) on a Sunday afternoon.'

G, 'The Magnificent Something'

Follow G on Twitter: @magnisome

The joy of an atmospheric concert

The joy of an atmospheric concert

'At Christmas I love seeing concerts at spectacular venues like the Roundhouse or the Union Chapel. I'm also very excited that JW3 in Hampstead has a December ice rink (for the third year running). The London Jewish Community Centre is such a great addition to Camden.'

Jonathan Simpson, Mayor of Camden

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @CamdenMayor

Showing a sensitive side at Slava's Snowshow
© Royal Festival Hall

Showing a sensitive side at Slava's Snowshow

'We love the South Bank during Christmas because it's full of lights and Christmas goodies. Walking along the river, we always begin our night by visiting the market, have a mulled wine, and then go to the Southbank Centre to watch a show. This year we have chosen Slava's Snowshow. Suggesting a show you have to pay for is not really in the style of Broke in London, but we decided to make an exception for this one. Slava's characters will really move you, creating a surreal atmosphere full of magic, hopes and dreams. It is a thrilling theatre piece, enchanting for all ages and especially suitable for the festive season.'

Manolis Zografakis, 'Broke in London'

Follow Manolis on Twitter: @brokeinlondon1

Going on a Christmas Day walk when London is deserted
© Jane Parker

Going on a Christmas Day walk when London is deserted

'I don't really do Christmas. It's not a denial thing, just I hate the consumerism and excessive spending. I tend to go abroad, but if I am here I will always try to go on a Christmas Day walk in central London because I love seeing the West End so devoid of people and traffic. It's great to stand in the middle of Oxford Street at 10am and experience it so still and quiet.'

Jane Parker, 'Jane's London'

Follow Jane on Twitter: @JanesLondon

Wandering around the shimmer of Winter Wonderland

Wandering around the shimmer of Winter Wonderland

'Our fave Xmas outing has to be Hyde Park when it's covered in snow and Winter Wonderland is in town. You can't beat spending the day wandering round the festive market with mulled wine and hot dogs before donning some skates and taking to the rink, even if it's pretty cheesy!'

Jules and Ben, 'London On The Inside'

Follow Jules and Ben on Twitter: @LondonONtheinside

Find more Christmas fun in the capital

Christmas in London

Have the jolliest holiday with our complete guide to festive events, activities, parties and shows in the capital this Christmas

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