If you’ve not already guessed it yet, I’m a Christmas nut, and I just love that London really embraces the festive season. I just adore going round checking out the decorations, the beautifully lit Christmas trees, and the creative window displays. Each year my husband drives me around our local area to see everyone’s Christmas light displays and this year we decided to do a walking tour during our recent London staycation, which I have happily entitled ‘London at Christmas Time’, and I think it will become a new tradition that has to be added upon each year.
The first stop on the Christmas time tour had to be Claridge’s to see their nutcracker themed display. This hotel is beautiful all year round, I always look forward to events and meetings here, but they always seem to excel during the festive season, and I love that even though the world keeps modernising Claridge’s sticks to a traditional theme that’s seriously beautiful and I love how nostalgic seeing this display makes me feel. You can’t get more Christmassy than this.
The outside is awe inspiring, I actually gasped a little and got quite giddy, and the magic continues inside where the hotel is literally filled with tons of Christmas trees all beautifully decorated, but the best has to be this year’s designer tree specially designed by Burberry’s Christopher Bailey. Even though it’s commercial, it’s basically made up of Burberry umbrella’s, it still feels has a festive feel, and I love all the cool lights underneath that twinkle with motion sensors, it really is a beautiful contrast to the hotel’s stunning art deco reception. There is no doubt that Claridge’s has to be the most festive of London’s hotels.
For an alternative Christmas time display, think Channel 4’s alternative Queen speech on Christmas day, you have to check out Damien Hirst’s pharmaceutical Christmas tree outside the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair. This is pure fun, a little crazy and very cool, with the tree decorated with all the “miraculous power of science and medicine” the festive season requires. Think Dingdong Merrily on-high cough medicine, Noel tablets, Ocomeall Faithful, joyful and triumphant paracetamol, syringes, and even scissors adorn the very alternative Christmas tree. I do love the humour of Damien Hirst mixed in with festive spirit. You have to see this tree.
No Christmas tour of London can be complete without a visit to the tree in Trafalgar Square. I love that it always looks like a vintage postcard, so elegant next to the National Gallery, and it makes me smile that there always seems to be carol singers singing my favourite Christmas tunes. I also love the story behind the tree that Norway sends this beautiful Norway Spruce as a gift for the people of London for their assistance to its country during World War II. I love that it is always just adorned with brilliant white lights, which apparently is the Norwegian Christmas style.
Then you have the big shopping areas, Oxford Street has the wonderful hanging baubles, Regent Street has twinkly confetti, and Covent Garden has gone crazy for mistletoe, and, of course, it has its giant reindeer. While New Bond Street is amazing to walk down to see what the designer’s have created – I love that each year Cartier wraps itself up, and Louis Vuitton is just beautiful, while Moschino shows off the ultimate Christmas outfit. I think my favourite has to be Seven Dials in Covent Garden – how beautiful is this floral light display.
Christmas windows are always a highlight and I love to see what Harrods, Libertys and Selfridges have come up with. The most creative this year has to be Selfridges Christmas windows dedicated to zodiac signs set against a space odyssey backdrop, I know what you are thinking not very festive, and I kind of agree but wow is it stunning with the lights around them.
Still after more Christmas trees and lights to admire? Well, why not check out the Fortnum and Mason tree at Somerset House or the Tiffanys tree outside the Royal Exchange near Bank, or why not be amazed by the 365 wooden sledge tree in Granary Square near King’s Cross, you will be mesmerised by the sequence of coloured lights and sound, and if you are in the city pop into the beautiful Leadenhall Market, not only is the tree traditional and beautiful but the architecture makes me swoon.
But, one Christmas tree that can’t be missed has to be the Disney beauty in the centre of St Pancras International Train Station. This 14-metre high tree is made up of more than 2,000 cuddly toys, with Mickey Mouse taking top spot, and I also loves that every four minutes fake snow magically falls from the top of the tree, so magical. It’s so pretty, so fun, and I love that after the holiday season all the toys provided by The Disney Store will be donated to KIDS, a charity which cares for disabled children, young people and their families. This tree really has to be seen in person, it’s also fun trying to spot your favourite Disney character and seeing how many films make up the Christmas tree.