London: Christmas Season

Old Oct 9th, 2005, 09:25 AM
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London: Christmas Season

We are planning to go to London about 10 days before Christmas. We will not be there for the holiday.

It seems like a really nice time of the year to be there. Any suggestions on "holiday-themed" things to do?? Anything we could do this time of year that we couldn't do other times of year?
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Old Oct 9th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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Go to a Pantomime. I was there at the same time about 3 years ago and loved the window displays in Bond Street.
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Old Oct 9th, 2005, 10:27 AM
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You'll be able to see all the decorations and the lights strung across Regent Street. There will no doubt be special holiday concerts, not to mention all the Christmas things in the department stores. Think chocolate! It's also a good time to load up on a few years' worth of Christmas crackers.
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Old Oct 9th, 2005, 10:28 AM
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The Christmas lights in Regent Str are amazing and the streets are jam packed with shoppers until very late. The Christmas displays at some of the big stores like Harrods are really impressive. The atmosphere is electric in central London this time of year and there is an energy that's difficult to describe. When we visited London last December there was also a "fair" in Leicester Sq that our daughter enjoyed. The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Sq is smaller than I thought it would be but still impressive. Also look on the website for Hampton Court Palace as they have an ice skating rink during the holiday season. We were so glad we chose to go to the UK in December. But maybe I'm just biased, I LOVE London!!
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Old Oct 9th, 2005, 05:37 PM
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- Ice rink at Somerset house along the river, or another rink set up at the Tower.

- Pantomimes -- not what an American would think the word "pantomime" means. Just tremendous fun - and if you are at all familiar w/ British celebrities you'll see many of them in the featured "dame" roles.

- Roasted chestnuts from streetside vendors

- Candlelight concerts at St Martins in the Field and other venues.

- what the others have mentioned -- Holiday lights and window displays, shopping, etc.

- services at St Pauls, Westminster Abbey and other churches

- the Geffrye Museum rooms decorated w/ Christmas themes from 17th, 18th, 19th early and mid 20th centuries.

- special exhibits in all the galleries and museums

and a TON of other things - just walking around soaking up the atmosphere (and hopefully not getting soaked to the skin)
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Old Oct 9th, 2005, 08:24 PM
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Just interested to know, does anyone know a website to get Pantomime info? We will be in London from the 10 Jan & just wondering if they will still be on at that time.
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 01:35 AM
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If you fancy a pantomime (and I really would take one in). Try the one at the Old Vic. It's controlled by Kevin Spacey and stars Sir Ian McKellern. The score is by Elton John (this is not typical of most pantos!) I went last year and had a great time.
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 02:13 AM
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This website has the forthcoming pantomimes for London & the UK listed.


http://www.thisistheatre.com/home.html
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 03:58 AM
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Late in November the site http://www.cityevents.fsnet.co.uk/ci...erts_dec05.htm will carry under the rubric Events notes on the Christmas concerts at lunchtime in churches that arte mostly seventeenth century. Some have minced pies and mulled wine. The same list will tell you whether one of the City churches is to mount the mystery plays for the Christmas story. One usually does, about 6pm.

The site http://www.thisistheatre.com/panto.html is good for pantomime in large west end theatres, and one in Wimbledon, but has nothing on pantomime at Hackney, Stratford East, Greenwich, Deptford, Catford, or other small suburban theatres. I prefer pantomime there, for its local and neighbourly feeling. In particular, if you find a pantomime by Bubble theatre company it will be good. A good place to look is the theatre part of Time Out weekly magazine. You can book a day or two ahead. To get the full flavour, you might look for an afternoon show, when the many children will shout and laugh their way into this great old form of anarchic theatre.

Welcome to London at a great time

Ben Haines
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 04:37 AM
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There is an ice rink being set up at the Natural History Museum as well this year, with an 'ice fair' on one weekend, so that would be a fun combination with the museum (next door to Science museum and V&A museums too).
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 05:20 AM
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Thanks for all this great info!! We will be in London 25 Dec. - 1 Jan so this is great for many of us reading along.

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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 06:03 AM
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When do the Christmas decorations begin being put up in London? We will be there the 4th week of November (during US Thanksgiving week)....
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 06:48 AM
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I was there the second week of November a couple of years ago and Harrod's was already decked out. (Not quite as early as LATE SEPTEMBER, when Marshall Fields' here in Michigan start putting up their trees.)
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 10:44 AM
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For fun4all4: I am sorry to say that from 25 December to 1 January London is very quiet indeed. You will catch a pantomime, but no Christmas or classical music, and galleries and such sites as the Tower of London are closed on 25, 26 and 31 December.

Ben Haines
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 12:29 PM
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Christmas Decorations:

Big shops usually have their Christmas merchandising done, their decorations up and their grotto open by about the first week of November. Public decorations are usually staggered: Regent Street gets its lights switched on in the first week of Nov, the official Trafalgar Square tree gets switched on a month later, and other bits of central London - like Bond St and Oxford St - usually come on in between. It's becoming increasingly common in some of the Indian suburbs for all this to coincide with Diwali. And since this typically coincides with Bonfire Night, there's a fair amount of cultural confusion.

Concerts and the like.

Mr Haines is being uncharacteristically gloomy. There are SOME concerts and choral music between Christmas and New Year. Time Out will help you on concerts, but you need to surf the major choral churches' sites for choral events in churches.

With luck, some public-spirited soul will post a list on this site.
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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I second Old Vic for Aladdin. We saw it last year. It was such a success with Ian McKellen (sp?) as the "Dame" that they are doing it again. www.oldvictheatre.com to buy tickets on line.
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 09:03 AM
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For delightful lunchtime and evening concerts between Christmas and New Year check www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org.
I am sure St James' in Piccadilly will also have some concerts but their website only goes up to the end of November.
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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Darn, I just deleted the email I received about the play "Scrooge." We're on a number of theatre email lists, and this one was offering tickets as low as 10 GBP for certain days. I think it was a deal through London Theatre Direct. Don't know a thing about the show, but it sounds like an ideal activity for Christmastime in London.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 03:29 AM
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The Royal Albert Hall usually have some really nice carol and assorted music concerts.

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

Also I think the Nutcracker Suite is on at the London Coliseum. Always gets me in a Chrismassy mood
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 04:46 AM
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There may be a couple of different ballet companies performing The Nutcracker (there were last year). However, anyone expecting the kind of lavish production seen in NYC may be disappointed. I've seen two different productions in London and while they were good and I enjoyed the performances, they seemed "stripped down" compared to the full scale productions I've seen in NY (and elsewhere).
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