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London’s Christmas heaven for kids and there’s enough going on to fill dozens of days out this year. From skating round famous sights to seeing Santa on the river, musicals and pantomime in the West End and brilliant lights everywhere, here are a few ideas to amaze kids of all ages in the fantastically festive city – starting soon.
Christmas isn’t Christmas in London without a whirl round the fairy tale of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. The UK’s largest outdoor ice rink is back and if fingers and toes get chilly, there are dozens of food stalls to warm every little skater up wonderfully. Over 100 fairground rides provide plenty of thrills under the long shadow of the Giant Observation Wheel – best view in the city. Last minute shopping is a treat at charming Christmas markets with more than a touch of the Black Forest originals in the mix. And, for the perfect end to a perfect day, you can book tickets to the Magical Ice Kingdom, Circus Megadome or Nutcracker on Ice.
When: 23 November 2018 – 6 January 2019 open every day 10am to 10pm
Where: Winter Wonderland is on the east side of Hyde Park, closest to Hyde Park Corner tube station
Kid’s Christmas shows are on all over London this year and a quiet evening at the theatre they’re not. The Snowman is back by popular demand at the Peacock Theatre from late November and the lovely Velveteen Rabbit is at the Unicorn theatre for 2018. There’s no shortage of big, glossy musicals from Matilda to the classic The Lion King and a glittery Christmas production of Disney’s Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre. Don’t forget local pantomime, some of London’s best and rowdiest theatre happens outside the city centre at Christmas and doesn’t cost too much at all. If you’re looking for a post-Christmas show, Disney on Ice is in London from Boxing Day until early January.
When: 20 September – 11 February
Hyde Park might have the UK’s biggest outdoor ice rink this winter but for Christmassy atmosphere and sheer prettiness, there’s quite a bit of competition across the rest of the city. The Natural History Museum works the whole frosty magical skating experience beautifully again from 27 October. For the full effect, take kids along in the late afternoon when the museum’s lit up, hot chocolate’s being served and even the world worst skaters look good. Somerset House (shown above) has an 18th century courtyard at their disposal, so almost impossible not to create one of London’s loveliest ice rinks. It opens on 17 November and keeps the ice surface fresh, so good and safe for young kids. The food’s always fantastic here and there’s a cute Christmas market just to add to the charm.
When: 25 October – 13 January
Where: Natural History Museum, closest to South Kensington tube station. Somerset House, closest to Covent Garden tube station.
Price: From £11.
You might have to explain the lack of a sleigh, but sailing with Santa down the Thames is exciting enough to distract even the pickiest kids from too many questions. Especially when they discover the man in red has brought gifts and he’s handing out cookies. Non-believers of the teenage variety have London’s legendary riverbank to look at – there’s nothing Santa doesn’t know about the sights. And grown ups can sit back and take a moment in the company of mulled wine and warm mince pies. Cruises last 40 minutes and when you book, don’t forget to give kids’ ages for the presents. And just in case you were stuck for an answer to the transport question: the sleigh only comes out on Christmas Day, obviously.
When: 23 December – 29 December
Where: Tower Pier – Tower Hill tube station.
Price: Adult (16+) £28.00, Child (2-15) £16.00, Infant (0-1) £0.00
Enjoy a classic British Family Christmas in London with afternoon tea at The Dorchester. Guests can relish in the spirit of the season with a 14-foot British Christmas Tree sparkling with The Dorchester Doorman hand-blown ornaments. Afternoon tea can be accompanied with a sparkling glass of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvee NV Champagne for the parents. Children can eat for a discounted price and the Christmas Carol Afternoon Tea will also feature exclusive choral performances from children’s choirs every weekend from 17 November through 23 December. Don’t miss out on one of Britain’s greatest holiday traditions.
When: 19 November 2018 – 4 January 2019
Where: 53 Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA
Price: £95 for adults and £45 for children
London Hilton on Park Lane
Celebrate the season with a Winter Wonderland Tea that includes freshly made sandwiches, decadent holiday desserts and, of course, festive decorations at Hilton on Park Lane. The kid’s stomachs will grumble when the smell the aroma of warm scones and parents can toast with a glass of Pommery Champagne. This afternoon tea is sure to please guests of all ages and has been designed by Pastry Chefs Emmanuel Bonneau and Sam Leatherby, the 2018 winners of Bake Off. Book your family’s reservation today before the season’s over.
Where: 22 Park Lane, London, W1K 1BE, United Kingdom
Price: £39 per person
If you weren’t planning a kid’s day out in London for Christmas, this is the event to change your mind. The Southbank Centre is great for families year-round, but from 11 November it’s packed with things to do and see like never before. No Fit State are performing in, through, over and under visitors for days on end – if they can’t convince kids to run off and join the circus nothing will. Bands are playing, acts are acting, there’s dancing and singing, acres of street food stalls to keep your strength up and a gorgeous Christmas market for interesting gifts. And you’ll be pleased to know a lot of the festival’s free – which makes it just about unique at this time of year.
When: 9 November 2018 – 6 January 2019
Where: Southbank Centre, closest to Southwark tube station.
Price: Free with some ticketed events.
London’s one of the world’s greatest shopping cities which doesn’t mean much to kids, even at Christmas. Change the perspective and show them the famous street lights and shopping is suddenly the biggest thrill. Regent Street is always spectacular and it’s home to Hamleys, the world’s oldest toy store where Santa’s been in residence this year since late September. For extra glitter and more than a hint of colour, take kids for a stroll down Oxford Street. And Carnaby Street is going all out this year with a party atmosphere to add to the sensational street lights and outrageous shop windows.
This holiday season, if you can’t make it to the North Pole then head to Wembley Park for the merriest Christmas experience in North West London. Whether you’re looking for last minute gifts or a seasonal family weekend activity, Wembley Park is sure to leave you feeling jolly. Take an Instagram worthy picture at the Light Maze, which will dazzle your family with lights and a glass labyrinth. Treat the kids to exclusive Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate and parents can enjoy one of three specialty holiday cocktails at the Specialty Café. Sip the day away while watching Christmas movie showings on the big screen or sing along to live music and carols. With full stomachs, check everyone off your gift list with a wide array of shops including Wembley’s pop-up Christmas Vintage Market for one-of-a-kind presents.
Take a year off from planning and book your Christmas at The Waldorf Hilton. Celebrate the merriest time of the year at one of the city’s most classic hotels where you have the choice to take the whole brood or have an intimate family gathering. Guests can enjoy a festive afternoon tea or a five course Christmas day menu. Children under the age of four can eat for free and will swoon over the Christmas pudding ice cream. The best gift this season is a family getaway to London!
There is no greater holiday treat than a stay at the Dorchester London, the gold standard of care. With beautiful views of Hyde Park and the hustle and bustle of Park Lane, it is no wonder that The Dorchester is one of the world’s most iconic hotels. Stay for afternoon tea or spend the night and enjoy seasonal decorations in a magical atmosphere. Enjoy special dining events for a limited time only and realize why this really is the most wonderful time of the year.