London for christmas

Jul 27th, 2006, 07:00 PM
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London for christmas

Will be taking the family to London for Christmas 4 kids 19-25 and 2 parents. Any ideas for hotels (maybe apartments?) restaurants, special Christmas events?
kaski4 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 06:16 AM
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First, you may want to make a mental note that you won't have any public transportations on Christmas Day, EXCEPT for Heathrow Express. Taxis charge extra fares on that day.

Department stores like Selfridges have nice christmas display windows. Borough Market has extra hours the week of/before Christmas.

Other special seasonal attractions would include carol concerts, theatre productions (Nutcracker etc, though your kids would be too old for Panto.)

W9London is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 06:31 AM
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Have you made air reservations yet?
Dukey is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 06:38 AM
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After many years of going to London in the summer, we finally went to London for 10 days over last Christmas and New Year's. Despite some record cold during the week (and we're from Florida, so we really felt it) we had a wonderful time.

Be sure to see a pantomime or too -- not what we call pantomime, but rather an "over the top" spoof of familiar fairy tales with some of the female characters (like the ugly stepsisters or the wicked queen) played by men. We saw several including the Old Vic's production of Aladdin starring Ian McKellen as the "dame", the widow Twankey.

There will surely be some great ballet or opera and other events for Christmas. We loved the candlelight concert at Royal Albert Hall on Christmas Eve day, and a wonderful New Year's Eve concert by the London Philharmonic at the Barbicon. Last year there was the interesting ballet of Edward Scissorhands at Sadler Wells. There is a big New Year's Day parade in the area of Trafalgar Square to Picadilly.
You couldn't do a more wonderful Christmas type dinner than Rule's, the oldest restaurant in London (but closed on Christmas Day). In fact other than a few hotels it was very difficult to find much open on Christmas or Boxing Day (the day after) as well. We took a wonderful sunny walk Christmas morning through St. James and Green Parks, had a good lunch in Chinatown (which is mostly open) and a nice dinner at a hotel in Mayfair.
Jul 28th, 2006, 06:43 AM
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The Old Vic isn't doing a panto this year.

Everywhere else is though.
audere_est_facere is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 06:46 AM
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Too bad. I guess Sir Ian is too busy preparing for his performance as King Lear this year.

By the way, the production of Cinderella out at Wimbledon was superb.

Jul 28th, 2006, 06:48 AM
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Keep in mind that not only is the public transportation shut down on Christmas Day but it will also run less trains on Boxing Day (26th). Many places will be closed on the 26th as well.

While we have been to London many times we have only been there once over Christmas. You do have to think about what will be closed/open tho if you live in a place where hardly anything closes ever

One thing to bear in mind is that it gets dark very early at that time of the year. It seemed to us it was dark by 4:30 p.m. and not really light in the morning till 8 a.m. or so. That can affect what you plan on doing during the day.

You might want to book ahead (or else check to be sure your hotel has a restuarant open on the 25th) for a place to eat on Christmas Day if that is important to you. Many ethnic places will be open, i.e. Chinese, Indian tho. We ended up taking a long walk on Christmas Day all over Regents Park and eventually down to Oxford Street where we did find a place to have dinner.

Apartments are constantly mentioned on this Forum - just run a search for names and locations. Your "kids" will not be classified as children, they are adults and many places that may accept 4 will charge extra for them.
Lori is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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Also stock up on groceries/drinks etc on 24th. No supermarkets or grocery shops will be open on 25th, and stores clsoe early (3-5pm) on 24th. As for places to eat, Lebanese restaurants along Edgeware Rd or Indian places tend to be open. All museums/attractions would be closed. You can of course walk around parks, and VERY quiet streets.
You may also want to try the open-air ice skating rink at Sommerset House.
W9London is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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The panto at Wimbledon (my local theatre) is a VERY sore point this year. We were supposed to be getting the immortal David Hasselhoff for the panto, but he got all pissed on booze and pulled out. Now we’re getting Bobby bloody Davro.

Bobby bloody Davro v The Hoff. No contest.
audere_est_facere is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:09 AM
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You should find this trip report by a fellow fodorite helpful and full of tips for travelling to London at Christmas:
jgg is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:29 AM
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Thanks the tips are very valuable!
kaski4 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:31 AM
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Think about it carefully. As mentioned above, the town closes up tight during the holidays. When I lived in London, I took care to be away at Christmas. I went to Paris and Rome, both of which remain open for the holidays (Rome can be tough on Christmas Eve, though).
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:46 AM
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Just read the trip report mentioned from last Christmas, they seemed to do very well and our family are all very experienced travellers. Will be visiting a daughter going to ND law school in London for the year so just being together is important. Any other tips gladly accepted!!
kaski4 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:48 AM
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If I were only going for two or three days, I'd think twice about including Christmas and Boxing Day, since so many things are closed. But we LOVED those two days in our longer-than-a-week stay. It was so wonderful to experience old London with very quiet streets. And there are theatre productions and other things going on Boxing Day. Of course, we stay right in Covent Garden so transportation was not an issue at all.
Jul 28th, 2006, 08:02 AM
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We were in London for Christmas 2000. One of the highlights of our trip was the lessons and carols service at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Eve. If I remember correctly the service started at 4. We got in line at 3, but judging by the length of the line, many people had been there about an hour earlier. The Abbey was very cold -- we wore our heavy coats during the whole service. The music was beautiful! We were sitting in Poet's Corner, and couldn't see much, but the service started with a lone boy's voice singing Silent Night, which remains one of my very favorite travel memories.
annettetx is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 08:12 AM
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Dickens Museum is open on Christmas Day, and London Walks is operating. If you plan to iceskate at Somerset House, get reservations. Sounds like a lot of fun -- have a nice holiday.
Fidel is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 08:28 AM
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When I lived in London, I took care to be away at Christmas

i couldn't agree more. i would rather be just about anywhere else. i find it depressing as so many people vacate. i've been home a few times but i always plan to go away for christmas week.
walkinaround is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 09:21 AM
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Oh, yea. I forgot that on Christmas Day we also did a Dickens London walk with London Walks.

Probably our worst experience was looking for coffee on Christmas morning. Finally I passed a young couple carrying coffee cups and although they didn't speak English (Russian, I think), managed to figure out where they got it. It was from a little Spar (sort of a bad interpretation of a 7-11). The worst coffee I ever drank, but at least it was coffee.
Jul 28th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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For family visits over Christmas holidays, strongly recommend you stay at an apartment. You can then stock up ahead of time on easy-prepare meals at Marks & Spencers, etc., and enjoy a quiet family Christmas dinner and Boxing Day meal at "home." Very little will be open in the way of restaurants. (Stock up on coffee, too, for reasons Neopolitan described above).
Re the Nutracker, attending a Nutcracker performance is one of our Christmas traditions. However, if you've gone to a Nutcracker performance in NYC, Chicago or Philadelphia, be advised that the London productions are not nearly as lavish in terms of sets and design (esp. in comparison to New York's production). The ballet performances themselves are very good, but be prepared for something more pared down.
The pantos would be fun; you may also want to do a day trip to Bath or to a pretty small town like Faversham in Kent or Marlow in Buckinghamshire. Or event to Paris if you're feeling especially ambitious.

*IF* there is a performance of Die Fledermaus scheduled (I haven't checked), that might be fun to attend; it's a light opera (and not too long) and it's tradition to do a sharp, funny and topical monologue in the middle. But Die Fledermaus tickets usually sell out well in advance.

One caution: around Christmas, Oxford Street becomes a madhouse, even worse than usual.
BTilke is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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But the lights on Regent Street are magical.

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