London in December?

Jul 28th, 2007, 11:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 343
London in December?

We'd love to do a family trip to London- but our two daughters in college are on totally different schedules- the only time in common they have off are the two weeks at the end of December/beginning of Jan.

I would normally not pick the middle of winter for a vacation to a cold-weather destination. We're from California, and pretty wimpy about the cold, to say nothing of available clothing- so, what's it like at that time? Would that be totally nuts to go then? Thanks for your input!
nvl325 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 11:33 AM
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A few times have DONE London just prior to the Christmas holidays, very much enjoyed the LIGHTS, fabulous decorations and just London in general, however I am from Upper Michigan so cold and or snow is nothing new to me. You DO have to be prepared for cold. But London is wonderful any season. Have a good one, whatever you decide. Halfpint
halfpint is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 11:41 AM
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Expect very short days.

For Dec 31, sunrise is at 8:06a, sunset 4:01p. Under 8 hours.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 12:14 PM
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The weather is very unpredictable (just take this summer!!), but it is not the norm for London to get very cold with sub zero temperatures. Last winter, for example, was very mild with days around 12-14 deg C. However, that isn't to say that you can't get prolonged periods of temperatures around zero, snow, hail, winds and cold rain.

What I can guarantee is that it won't be warm!

I assume that you'll come after Christmas? Everything stops on Dec 25th as far as public transport is concerned and it can be like a ghost town. Dec 26th (Boxing Day) is still a public holiday but the sales start and there are a lot of sporting events on, so things get going once more.

New Year's eve is a great in London with fireworks along the Thames by the London Eye.

As for clothing, pack for cold and then you can layer off for mild.

Go for it.
AR is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 01:01 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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I have been to London a few times in late Dec. through Jan and loved it. True, some things are closed on the 25th and 26th, but there was enough to do. When things are closed you can stroll through Hyde Park and visit Peter Pan.

I would rather be in London when it is on the cold side, than when it is sweltering. If cold, you can pull on a sweater and open an umbrella. Baking in the Tube or walking the streets when its hot is no relief.

I think it is a great time to go.
dncdave is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 01:22 PM
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Would be a nice idea to travel from Calif on Xmas Day: empty planes and low fares.

So you will arrive into the busy city, ready to sightsee and look around the sales.
BlueSea is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 03:45 PM
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I live in Caliifornia and spend at least some time in London every Winter - usually in Dec but this year it was Feb.

You get around the clothing problem by dressing in layers and taking gloves, scarves (or buy some beautiful ones at Liberty) and an umbrella.

Not hard to put together enough warm outfits from versatile, mix/match garments. Heck I manage w/ just a carry on.

Sure the days are short - but the theare is grand, the museums/galleries are all open and thriving, if the weather cooperates at all the walking is wonderful. And roasted chestnuts on the street corners.

janisj is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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London is distinctly chilly in December- but not cold in the sense that New York or Boston is. Snow is quite rare and I don;t think I've ever seen temps below zero.

So - you definitely need a winter coat, hat, scarf, gloves etc - but don;t expect a really bad winter - just dreary, chilly and some rain.

The other thing that affects travel is the very short days (London is much farther north than you think it is - on a line with Calgary).
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 06:34 PM
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The very first time I ever went to London was in December. Everyone thought I was nuts, but I had a great time. It was not sub zero, definately cold, but not unbearable.

I have been in Dec since then and again really enjoyed the trip.

Layer your clothing, bring scarves and gloves.
If you can get one of those jackets that has a fleece liner that can be removed, then the shell can me used on it's own as a rain jacket.
kodi is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 07:26 PM
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Spent Christmas and New Year's in London the first year of our marriage and had a great time. It was chilly out but loved coming back to our toasty room. I am a cold person (live in Las Vegas) and wore gloves the whole time. Don't forget to check out Harrod's department store after holiday sales if you are there at the same time.
travelinwifey is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 10:57 PM
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I have lived in London for two years and I will dissent and suggest you go to Rome since you are not used to the cold. While it rarely gets below freezing, it FEELS colder. It is often damp and windy, and walking around outside all day can be miserable. I come from the midwest where it gets very cold - I looked up the average temps before I moved here and got rid of many of my winter coats. What a huge mistake - it may be 40F (a nice winter day in the States) but people walk around in down parkas and for good reason. One of the wonderful things about London is the vast park space - you probably won't feel like trolling around a park when it is cold and windy and perhaps raining.

If you really have your heart set on London, by all means go, but expect to be cold - it MAY feel okay to you, but probably not. Especially if you are "wimpy about the cold".
where2 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 11:36 PM
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About 20 years ago I made the Christmas Shopping Tour of Europe ending in London just days before Christmas. It was lovely and not as cold as Edinburrrrgh. Splurged on a charming townhouse hotel near Harrods, went to the theatre, shopping, tea at the Hyde Park Hotel, museums, shopping, cinema, tea at Fortnum and Mason, shopping. Would do it again in a minute. While strolling down Regents Street on our last day it began to snow softly, how perfect. Went to church at St. Martins in the Field which had wonderful music.

I'm born & raised in Calif so warm clothing was important. The best investment I made were silk boot liners which kept my feet warm. Layers as someone else suggested worked well, especially turtlenecks under sweaters. In Germany they seemed to heat the buildings uncomfortably considering the warm clothes people wore, not so in London and York. Our 250 year-old hotel in York never got warm but London was just right.

My in-laws flew to London on Christmas day a few years ago which worked well for them. Unfortunately they encountered much colder weather than I had.

I've been looking into Christmas breaks at country house hotels lasting Dec. 24-26. Someday I hope to go back for Christmas.

I think you will enjoy it and it will be a very special memory for your family. Let us know if you go.

Scootoir is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 12:15 AM
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We (along with my sister & brother in law who currently live in NYC) were in London between Xmas & NYE two years ago. It was freezing, there was a major cold snap and it was unusual. However, we just rugged up and did lots of walking. We went to things like the Tower of London and the Eye during the day and the museums later on in the afternoon as it didn't matter if it got dark.
Take in a play at night etc.
We live in Australia and we heading on to Tanzania so took some old ski jackets and thermal underwear. We were going to give them to charity, but my SIL took them back to NYC as they get lots of visitors from Australia without winter clothes.
My DD was 14 at the time, and loved her visit to London. So do it.
If you get cold you can always stop in pub or cafe to warm up.
Sarvowinner is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 01:20 AM
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Get some silk underwear. Adds a thin layer that holds your body heat and then what ever layers you need over that. I was in Copenhagen and Stockholm two years ago, right after Christmas. They days highs were in the 20's (F). I was never that cold except my face at night sometimes. Would pull my scarf up around my nose. You won't begin to be that cold unless there is VERY unusual weather. Scarf and gloves are very important for warmth. We had plenty of daylight to do anything we wanted to do.
crefloors is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 09:42 AM
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<<< True, some things are closed on the 25th and 26th >>>

Last year the only tourist sight open was the Dickens Museum (bah humbug?), the only public transport was the replacement bus services to Gatwick & Heathrow, a few decent restaurants & a lot of Indian subcontinent restaurants.
alanRow is offline  
Jul 30th, 2007, 12:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 343
thanks to all of you for your views on this- you've given me lots to consider!
nvl325 is offline  
Jul 30th, 2007, 01:37 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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We have a daughter in London and can only travel at Christmas. Have been to Italy, France, London etc. and have had a fabulous time each time. It will be cold but there will be alot to do inside. May I suggest a trip to somewhere further south like the french/ italian riveria or Rome? The weather is usually much better. Cheers.
jay is offline  

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