London before Christmas

Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:10 AM
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London before Christmas

Hi:

We are planning a short trip to London on Dec 14 through Dec 18. It is our second trip there. We are wondering if there are any special Christmas related events or seasonal must-see's (decorations, gardens, displays, shows etc).

Also looking for the best places to buy Christmas ornaments and yarn.

2 adults, no kids, no car but will have a transportation pass.

Thanks!
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:25 AM
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Where to start!

There will be more Christmas events than you could shake a stick at. The central shopping areas – especially regent St and Oxford St will have lights and displays. The shops will have special window displays (particularly good are Selfridges, Hamleys and Fortnum and Mason.

There are also Ice rinks at Broadgate, Somerset House and Hampton Court. There are special concerts in churches and at the Royal Albert Hall.

However if I could get you to do one thing and one thing only I would get you to go to see Sir Ian McKellern in Aladdin at the Old Vic. Believe me the sight of “Gandalf” in a frock is something that will stay with you for a long time. It’s a pantomime – a peculiarly British institution that defies description. I saw this same production last year and it really is fabulous. Don’t expect to understand it – just revel in its silliness. You’ll soon see where things like Monty Python come from.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:25 AM
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Ice skating at Somerset house is magical!

http://www.somersethouseicerink.org.uk/
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:32 AM
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Call me a grumpy old git, but this sounds like a "must avoid at all costs": www.santaland05.com

Virtually every public building in London except 10 Downing Street is being turned into an ice rink (and he's skating on pretty thin ice right now anyway): viewlondon.co.uk/
ice_skating_london_index.html

I'd ignore shows. This will be the week there are LOADS of carol and similar concerts. Just get Time Out and check the "Classical" listings

What's Christmas yarn? Indeed what are Christmas ornaments? For getting on for classy Christmas tree decorations, museum shops (and half the GNP of a medium-sized Asian nation has been poured into upgrading the retail facilities at our major galleries and museums) are normally reduced to marking stock down by about Dec 17. That's the weekend I go round them, snapping up odd additions for our underdecorated trees.

Not normally something you might think of as Christmassy, and maybe a bit of a trek. But the Chihuli outdoor exhibition at Kew Gardens might look particularly good when the sun's at it lowest, and we're planning to go and see it that weekend.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:40 AM
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Hi:

Thanks for all the quick replies!

Flanneruk: Looking for tree decorations and also yarn (for knitting). Sorry I wasn't very clear.

Glad to here there will already be discounts on the ornaments. Here in the US, we usually do not get discounts until right before or after Christmas.

Katie
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:45 AM
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oh, and there is a Christmas shop down at Hays Galleria (London Bridge tube station) which sells all sorts of ornaments and christmassy stuff.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:54 AM
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You can find christmas ornaments everywhere - but as flanner says some of the very best are in the gift shops at the British Museum, V&A, National Gallery and especially at the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and the Queens Gallery at Buckinham Palace.

If you have already been to those places - you can go into the gift shops w/o paying the entrance charge to the site.

You are going at the perfect time to enjoy Christmas. For visitors, Christmas week itself is a pain - EVERYTHING is closed including public transport on Christmas. and Boxing day is difficult too.

But the week before Xmas is wonderful. You will love it. One thing - the shops will be crowded, naturally -- but Oxford Street will be an absolute zoo. You may want to see it - but just be prepared. It will be extremely crowded and even just walking down the pavement (sidewalk) will be an ordeal.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:57 AM
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This is what the Albert hall have on:

http://tickets.royalalberthall.com/s...thyear=12-2005

As falnneur says - avoid shows, but don't avoid pantomime. It's one of the few genuinely British cultural artifacts* that we didn't export - that and morris dancing. Believe me people at home won't believe you when you tell them about it.

*alright, "cultural artifact" is a bit pretentious for blokes in frocks, bints dressed as blokes, men dressed up as cows and horses and lots of knob jokes and single entendre. But it's true nonetheless
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 07:05 AM
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On knitting wool (as we call it here):

If you search under "yarn" on this board, you'll find a general agreement that this isn't a good place to buy wool. We stopped making it seriously centuries ago when those bloody Americans started shipping cheap cotton Lancashire industrialists could turn into cloth that cost a lot less (all those cuddly sheep keeping Cotswold lawns so well cut are there as edible lawnmowers. Their fleece generally goes for carpets and the like, but makes virtually no money). And home knitting is just a tad passe.

You might find some ideas by re-posting the knitting wool question, or by googling, using out term. Specialist retailers (not that are many) are called "wool shops"
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 07:21 AM
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Here’s a true thing. My mum is very much your typical little old lady (like one of those little Scottish dogs; small and cute but terribly fierce when provoked).

She is a keen knitter and she heard through a friend about a website dedicated to knitting. It’s called “slipknot”. So she googles “slipknot” and shortly afterwards I have to explain to my dear old mum why people would wear horrible clown masks and keep a dead crow in a jar, whilst making a hideous racket.

I just thought I’d share this.


BTW home knitting is the new rock n roll - really it is. There's a cinema that has special knitting showings when all the ladies bring their knitting along.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 08:41 AM
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Hi:

Thanks for your suggestions!

I have another silly question. I collect sterling silver charms from my travels for a bracelet. I'm looking for a reputable store that sells good quality charms.

Thanks Again,
Katie
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 08:54 AM
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All jewellers will sell charms - and they're all over. London does have a "jewellery district" - Hatton Garden but that's mainly diamonds and other gemstones and rings etc.

If you find yorself near waterloo station - go down to Lower Marsh which is full of little shops selling all sorts of trinkets. Alternatively if you want an antique one try Camden Passage in islington or Portobello Rd any weekend.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 09:24 AM
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>>And home knitting is just a tad passe.<<

Nope. Knitting is very current especially with women in their 20s and 30s. It's not your grandnanny's argyle anymore.

Katie7, There are a number of wonderful places to peruse yarns in London. (checking notes) A number of the big department stores have large selections Liberty's (Regent St), John Lewis (Oxford St.) and Peter Jones (Sloane Square).

There's a great little shop in Islington called Loop. 41 Cross Street 020 7288 1160. Lots of contemporary designs. They were even open on Sunday when I was there earlier this year.

Also, Creations at Turnham Green Terrace in Chiswick, W4. Very old fashioned kind of place, cash only, no cc's. I wouldn't make a trip just to see this place but it's worth a stop in you're out in that direction. Loop, OTOH, I woud go out of my way for.

The big museums mentioned above are good places to find sterling silver charms.

Sounds like a great trip. London before Christmas is fantastic!
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Old Nov 23rd, 2005, 05:50 AM
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Hi:

Thanks for the great suggestions!

Katie
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