Another London & Christmas Question

May 28th, 2003, 06:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Another London & Christmas Question

My husband and I are contemplating a trip to London this Christmas, for my 30th birthday. I've done a search of the archives here, and realize we would be dealing with everything being closed on the 25th and 26th. I've gotten the websites, etc. with ideas on what do.

What I am wondering is this - has anyone gone and loved it at Christmas? Hated it? Been bored out of their minds? What did you experience?

I have travelled quite a bit before, - my husband has not. If I want him to fall in love with travelling - is London for Christmas the right beginning? I have to make him fall in love with, wherever we go. I don't know how many more solo trips I can talk him into letting me go on.

Is it anything like NYC at Christmas? A feeding frenzy of last minute shoppers and people with no patience? Or is that just us NYers?

karenc8898 is offline  
May 28th, 2003, 10:49 PM
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London over the holidays is wonderful it is true everything is closed on Christmas Day and most things are closed Boxing Day. But if you are staying in a nice hotel most do a big, festive Christmas meal - usually at lunchtime.

On all the other days of that week though everything is open and there are all kinds of special programs. Christmas concerts, Caroling all over town, Pantos (Pantomines which must be seen to understand - they aren't explained easily. Basically they are farces based on fairy tales with famous British male celebrities in the leadin female role. A real hoot), Christmas services in all the churches and cathedrals, Ice skating rinks, and masses of outdoor decorations.

So plan on staying close to the hotel on Christmas Day and maybe do some major walks on Boxing Day. the rest of the time you will have a blast.
janis is offline  
May 29th, 2003, 01:47 AM
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If you go to a city in any other country in Europe at Christmas, you will find public transport runs on the 25th, and restaurants, cafés and bars are open. I live in London, but always go abroad at Christmas.
GeoffHamer is offline  
May 29th, 2003, 06:47 AM
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Karen, I think WHY your husband doesn't like (or hasn't done much) travelling and what you generally do at home at Xmas time are key considerations for whether this trip is a good idea. If you're usually with family & friends for the holidays & he likes that, travelling anywhere may not be a good idea. He may feel lonely & bored. If he doesn't like spending the $ to travel, Xmas is a bad time as airfares are high unless you can leave 12/15-17. After that, prices skyrocket.

Also, if you want to have him "fall in love" with travelling, think about what HE loves & pick a place & time that has that. For example, if he loves sports & looks forward to watching football games at Xmas time (& hates museums)don't go to London for Xmas. Maybe go for Wimbledon (July 4th time)or at a time when there are big soccer (their football) matches.

An alternative to consider is go for New Years. Travel on the 26th (I think prices drop)so you can spend Xmas at home. Arrive there on the morning of the 27th when things open. What about inviting some close friends (maybe another couple that he likes) to join you there for a celebration?
mclaurie is offline  
May 29th, 2003, 08:50 PM
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Thanks so much for the input.

Mclaurie - Thank you for the food for thought. My husband hasn't ever travelled with me because of time constraints on his part, or because of different circumstances. (My mother won a trip and took me to England; visiting my former roommate in Prague, etc.). It isn't that he doesn't want to, it's just that it has never worked out. So - we've wound up with me - who feels the need to go somewhere every few months, and him - who has never been anywhere and doesn't mind just staying at home. Our big trip will be to Italy for several weeks next year, with his parents, who grew up there, and still have family.

The other part of the equation is that we are a young couple who cannot have children who want desperately to go away for Christmas. We are surrounded by a big family, with 12 nieces and nephews, and Christmas tends to be a hard time of year for us. We always end up getting pulled in a million different directions (because we don't have children, and everyone assumes that means don't have any preference as to what/where we go.) This year, we are going to give this a try.

I've found some fairly cheap rates that don't expire for a while, so price isn't an issue, either.

Thanks again!
karenc8898 is offline  
May 29th, 2003, 10:21 PM
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We travel several times a year, and despite all the warnings to the contrary, decided to go to London for Christmas last year.

I did EXTENSIVE research into what would be open, had contingency plans for days things would be closed, etc., was thrilled to find lists of some things that would be open on the 24th-25th-26th, and we mentally prepared ourselves for the chance that we might be doing just walks around the town if things really were closed.

Things really were closed.

Even the few things I'd determined would be open on those days were like ghost towns - open, but empty.

I thought it was a very frustrating time to be there because (even though we knew in advance what to expect), it was bothersome to have to plan so meticulously around the days things would be closed, a problem you wouldn't face any other time of year.

So, in summary, I would really try to pick someplace else over Christmas.

* It's not a great time to see London. If that's your goal, another time would be less frustrating because you won't have to choose an unnatural schedule/itinerary with so many extraordinary constraints.

* There are better Christmas destinations (I've HEARD Prague is great, with a lot of Christmas activities and things open even on the 24th and 25th).

* Since it would be a more challenging trip logistically, with contingency plans for when things aren't open, it's not an ideal introduction to travel for a newbie.

I think you'd have a much better time, and it would be a much better introduction-to-travel trip if you choose another city.

I hate to be such a downer, but we went through the exact same planning decision you did last year, and despite our extensive research and positive attitudes, the trip was not among our favorites (due to the time we were there, no fault of poor London itself!).

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Andrea_expat is offline  
May 30th, 2003, 02:58 AM
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It's easy to go from London to Paris, Lille, or somewhere in Normandy. In France, 25 December is a public holiday but trains run and restaurants, cafés and bars are open, while the 26th is a normal working day with everything open.
GeoffHamer is offline  
May 30th, 2003, 03:35 AM
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I agree with the negatives of London over Christmas having lived there 15 years and continental Europe for past 3. Decorations are much nicer here in Vienna and stalls selling food, wine and decorations add a really pleasant atmosphere and are also far better than what London has to offer. Christmas Market here is similar to the Bavarian towns- everybody has opinion on whether Nuremburg, Munich etc is the best, some say smaller towns are better and so on, but generally you will find they are a positive experience and London offers a poor alternative on that front. Vienna for me is nicer than say Munich as it has more stalls scattered over the centre + the big market. Both these cities are much easier to walk around during the day being so much smaller and with transport there is more life, e.g with more people going to the centre churches Christmas Eve and so on (although restaurants are pretty limited - hotel restaurants being the main ones open). It is certainly not a frenzy here on Christmas Eve - more than half the shops shut down early.
Travelnick is offline  
May 30th, 2003, 10:56 AM
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I would definitely recommend Vienna. My husband and I went there a year ago and had a fabulous time. We lived in London at the time and London at xmas does not compare at all to the atmosphere in Vienna. The xmas markets in Vienna are wonderful and there all these food stalls outside where you can get your hot cider, etc and walk around. The Vienna Cafes and the restaurants were great. Very romantic expecially if there is snow. I love London but at xmas - skip London, and do Viennna or Munich (it is also very nice but we found Vienna more quaint). Smaller city and easier to roam around. I have never been but also heard that Budapest and Prague can also be very festive this time of year. ENJOY
kara02 is offline  

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