Visiting London During the Holiday Season? Boy, Do We Have the Bucket List For You

London is such a festive city. Its residents love a ceremony, and they seem to love an excuse to stand outside with a glass of something. In Summer, it's beer on the streets of Soho. In Winter, even when it's freezing cold and snowing, it's mulled wine anywhere that will sell it, as long as people don't have to take their gloves off to count our change. It's definitely not too soon to start getting prepped for Christmas, and we've already got our eye on these 2018 beauty Advent calendars to help us count down. On top of that, we'll be indulging in some Christmas experiences around the capital. Deck your halls and jingle your bells: here are the most Christmassy experiences you can have in London!


Visit the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

Every year, Norway sends England a Christmas tree as a thank you for its support during WWII. That tree stands in Trafalgar Square. This year, the lights are being switched on on Dec. 6, and there's also a choir singing carols. Actually, most evenings you'll find someone singing carols around the tree, and if they're not, it doesn't take much to get everyone started.


Shop at Fortnum & Mason

There's no specific event at Fortnum & Mason, it just happens to be the most Christmassy place you'll ever visit. The historic department store has a pretty festive vibe any time of year, thanks to its gorgeous twinkly lights and red carpets (not to mention an all-year-round marzipan fruit section), but at Christmas, it really comes alive. Even if you don't buy anything, your Christmas spirit levels will be so high when you leave. Despite the swanky reputation and royal crest, Fortnum's is pretty good at covering a variety of price ranges!


Drink a Pint at the Churchill Arms

Officially the most decorated pub in London, every other month of the year The Churchill Arms is decked out in flowers and plants. But at Christmas, it becomes the most festive pub in the country. Last year, it had 21,000 lights adorning it — and 90 Christmas trees. It costs tens of thousands each year to decorate the pub, so if you do visit, make sure you buy a drink as well as taking a photo!


Buy Ornaments at Liberty

One of Londoners' favorite Christmas traditions is a trip to the Liberty Christmas shop on Regent Street. If you love a festive bauble, you will be in Christmas heaven here. I buy a new one each year, making at least two trips around the shop (form an orderly queue, please) before making my final selection. Yes it's busy (and hot, take water!), but it's always really fun.


Go Ice Skating at Somerset House

In Summer, the courtyard at Somerset House is all about splashing in fountains (kids, mostly, but sometimes adults will have a go as well). In Winter, it becomes one of the most popular spots to go ice skating. This year, the ice rink is open from Nov. 14 through Jan. 13, 2019, and it's £11 (or about $14) a pop. Hot chocolate and pretty Instagrams are required.


Go Ice Skating at The Natural History Museum

Not to be outdone by Somerset House, The Natural History Museum is getting in on the icy action, too. Its rink has a beautiful tree in the middle, for extra Christmas points, and it's open much earlier than Somerset House: Oct. 25 through Jan. 6, 2019. It's a little more expensive, at just under £13 ($17).


Visit the Southbank Winter Market

Every Christmas, the Southbank turns into a beautiful market, taking its inspiration from European Christmas markets, which means two things: mulled wine in the cold and lots of sausages (hey, when in Rome). Make sure you have a go on the carousel. The fun kicks off on Nov. 9.


Sample the Ritz's Festive Afternoon Tea

Every fancy hotel will offer some sort of variation on afternoon tea, but none will be quite so special as The Ritz. There's something truly wonderful about a posh hotel at Christmas, but The Ritz goes all out for their tea. This means extras of your favorite sandwiches and mince pies in addition to, rather than instead of, the little cakes — very, very important.


Enjoy Winter Wonderland

Yes, it's tacky. And no, roller coasters have nothing to do with Christmas. Yet we defy you to leave Winter Wonderland without feeling just a tinge of Christmas spirit. Let's be honest: you'll be singing "Jingle Bells" all the way home, and you probably won't stop until New Year. If Christmas to you means gaudy lights and silliness, this is the festive fairground for you. It also has an excellent Bavarian Village where you can down tankards of German beer and scoff bratwurst to your heart's content.


Explore Dennis Severs' House

One of the lesser-known museums in London, if you haven't been to Dennis Severs' House, Christmas is the perfect time. The museum/art gallery is an 18th Century house that's a rather like a moment frozen in time, as though someone has just left when you enter a room. It's like walking through a still life painting, and at Christmas, it's even more special. Visit in the evening for mulled wine and mince pies with your tour. This is a unique Christmas experience, and it's utterly magical.