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20 Londoners reveal their favourite memories of Christmas in the city

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Time Out Tastemakers

From ice skating at Somerset House to wandering around London’s eerily empty streets on Christmas Day, Time Out Tastemakers share their favourite festive memories. Illustrations Øivind Hovland

1. ‘The first time my boyfriend and I got a real Christmas tree. We got the biggest one we could but carrying it back was a saga! I bought a special decoration from Liberty that year too.’ Lizzie Williamson

2. ‘Being driven around London by my dad to see the Christmas lights as a child. He always knew where the best decorated houses would be.’ Dimple Mistry

3. ‘My very first Christmas in London. I’m from Australia so it was my first cold Christmas. We went ice skating at Somerset House wearing Xmas jumpers and Santa hats.’ Kitty Smith

4. ‘Taking my nephew to see Santa Claus in Harrods. The grotto is amazing. Meeting Santa was pretty cool, even at my age: he was very chatty and actually looked like him!’ Sasha Abraham

5. ‘Helping out at Crisis at Christmas. It was beautiful to see so many people give up their time to help those less fortunate.’ Ann-Marie Egan

6. ‘My first work Christmas meal in London. It started off very civilised, but ended with watching my boss rap at karaoke, a rickshaw ride, an afterparty and my first night-bus journey.’ Gemma Harris

7. ‘My boyfriend and I went to Christmas at Kew’s magical festive trail on one of our first dates. Three years on, it’s still our special place.’ Samantha Holly Rebecca Keech

8. ‘My first Christmas in London was very special. I couldn’t go home, so my flatmates and I invited all our friends who were alone for a festive feast. Everyone brought a dish from their own countries so nobody felt homesick.’ Lise Mathon

9. ‘When I was a kid my parents used to take me to visit Santa’s grotto at one of the big department stores. One year they gave all the children in the queue whistle lollies – it must have been a nightmare for the parents but great fun for us kids!’ Chloe-Natasha Walden

10. ‘Trying my first ever mulled wine at The Old Thameside Inn. It was my first Christmas in London and I’d survived my first term as a newly qualified teacher. I’ve been back every year ever since.’ Nem Bowden

11. ‘Walking from my flat in Bethnal Green to Covent Garden on Christmas Day. There were more pigeons than people and for once I was able to take in London’s architectural wonders without a single person around.’ Claire Tonna

12. ‘Going ice skating at Somerset House. Just as we were finishing, snowflakes began to fall. I remember thinking: This is what Christmas should look like.’ Jane Glaubius

13. ‘Last Christmas we went for a walk while the food was cooking and ended up spending the day pub-hopping. After multiple mulled wines we got home at 8pm to a very overcooked joint of beef!’ Chloé Miller

14. ‘A very boozy Christmas Eve afternoon in my student halls, followed by queuing to enter Westminster Abbey for Christmas Eve mass with my fellow international students. It was a magical otherworldly experience (the mass, not the queuing).’ Lana Rukavina

15. ‘Watching “The Nutcracker” at the Royal Opera House. I go every Christmas. I always leave with a warm and wonderful festive feeling.’ Edelyn Brawidjojo

16. ‘Walking down Regent Street for the first time in December last year and seeing the beautiful angels lit up! Truly breathtaking despite the masses of crazy shoppers.’ Lauren Wuleng

17. ‘The Christmas Eve carols-by-candlelight service at St Mary’s Church in Islington. It’s beautiful to be there with hundreds of other people singing carols by the light of flickering candles, with a cheeky mince pie and a mulled wine at the end.’ Alexandra Laverick

18. ‘Trying to not fall over at the Natural History Museum ice rink, while holding on to one of the children’s penguin skating aids! Then warming up in Gordon’s Wine Bar with a bottle of red and a plate of cheese. And I should know, right?’ Tom Christmas

19. ‘Going for a walk on Hampstead Heath before a big cooked lunch. There’s an amazing atmosphere – so many families are doing the same thing. You feel part of a greater group of London Christmas stories.’ Madison Cass

20. ‘The first time I visited Winter Wonderland. I’m from France and I felt so homesick during my first year in London. The Christmas market brought back memories of growing up. It helped me feel more at home.’ LeeLee Seah

Read 30 more Londoners reveal their favourite memories of the city here

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