London in December

Oct 2nd, 2010, 06:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 47
London in December

Are we crazy to consider taking our family to London near Christmas time? We are trying to plan a trip for Winter Break and thought that it might be a nice change of pace from our typical plans. This would be our kids (ages 12 and 15) first time in Europe. What would we be unable to do given the weather?

Any input would be appreciated. : o)
jillg is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2010, 06:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Well, you won't be able to picnic in a park or go skiing. If you cope without those seasonally extreme joys, then there's really nothing you'll be missing out on.

London is great in December. We don't get really extreme winters, instead it's likely to be crisp and chilly but unlikely to snow (we get about about 2 days snow a year, normally in Jan or Feb). Wrap up in nice winter coats and boots and you'll be set. The shops are at their best, the streets are lit up with decorations, there's loads going on in the theatres and lots to do indoors.

Far from being crazy, I think it's a great idea.
Kate is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2010, 07:09 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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I went to London in November one year and loved it. True, you don't see the beautiful gardens and night falls about 5pm but on the other hand all the holiday decorations will be up-do try to go to one of the department stores to see the decorations. You might even get a bit of snow.I wouldn't go the week of Christmas because the city pretty much shuts down but a week before or after would be great. Don't forget to try the mince pies.

As for what to do with the kids, you could go see a panto but I'd suspect the teens are a bit grown up for that. There are some Winter festivals by the Southbank and Thames.

I'd go in a heartbeat.
emily71 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2010, 07:41 AM
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Weatherwise, there's also the likelihood of rain in London in December. I'd bring a thin waterproof outer layer to put over your woolies. And waterproof shoes and an umbrella.

There's lots to do in London. What your kids would like depends on their interests. If the 15-year-old is a girl, the shopping's great in London: Top Shops and old clothes markets.

Why don't you let them read up on London and decide for themselves? Let each one pick at least one thing.

Also consider day trips -- to Oxford for example. There's an easy bus, the Oxford Tube. Or, if you have more than a week or so, train to York for a few days there.

Finally, look into renting an apartment in London rather than going to a hotel. Quad rooms are rare, apartments have more space.
Mimar is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2010, 10:18 AM
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"What would we be unable to do given the weather? "

As Kate says, you won't be able to (comfortably) picnic, or ski. But you CAN ice skate.

December is a great time to visit London w/ all the Christmas lights, pantos, concerts, etc

'Near Christmas' is fine, but I'd avoid being in London ON Christmas/Boxing Day due to the place literally shutting down. There is no public transport at ll on Dec 25.

But if you mean the week before Christmas -- it will be wonderful. And maybe not even cold -- depending on what you are used to.
janisj is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2010, 10:52 AM
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Three years ago, 2007, I spent a couple of weeks in London and the UK at Christmas. It rained the whole time - not cats and dogs but slashing rain. In the three years that I lived there, I'd not experienced such weather. The one day I'd set aside to do some tourism - the new British Library, the new Tate, whatever - it didn't rain so instead I walked from Russell Sq. to Holland Park. Very refreshing. That said, I did enjoy the many Christmas/holiday parties that my friends held but found many businesses shut down. And, forget after Christmas "sales" - the prices were ludicrous, hardly marked down at all. Nevertheless, you all should have a good time, esp. since it's a first time trip.
Bedar is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2010, 12:27 AM
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<<< there's also the likelihood of rain in London in December. >>>

That's like saying there's likelihood that the Pope is Catholic. Even if it doesn't rain it's like to be very damp and feel very cold as a result. Unless you get really lucky and it's dry cold days with frost on the ground in the morning
alanRow is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2010, 01:02 AM
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"you won't be able to (comfortably) picnic"

News to many of us. About two-thirds of the time, it's not rare to find people eating sandwiches on park benches, with little more than a decent anorak. Even rain's not much more likely than at any other time of the year: we just don't have a rainy (or drought-y) season. And daytime temps are warm enough I personally often go round in shirt sleeves.

The ONE thing you might realistically want to do that's difficult is walk round in randomly chosen shoes. Lots of people happily wear no footwear other than trainers (the English for what some people call sneakers) all month. But their walking is limited to brief stints between tube stations, bus stops and the pub: public transport's so dense, it's perfectly possible to survive most of December, even though it's damp underfoot a lot of the time, with no special shoes or clothing.

But London's also a terrific city for walking a lot in - and if you're planning to see the city the way it ought to be seen, in December stout, waterproof shoes (or best of all, stoutish shoes with galoshes if you can find them) are absolutely essential.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2010, 01:14 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Jill, what kind of weather are you used to? And what are your "typical plans"?
i LOVE London --used to live there, and now love to visit.
This will sound negative, but the reality is that winter there can be miserably cold--that bone chilling damp cold. And It can be very, very grey and dreary.

If this is your only chance, go for it... but i honestly think London is at its best in warmer weather, especially for a first time visit. Yes, London is a GREAT city...but i think its beauty and marvels are best enjoyed in warmer weather
CaliNurse is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2010, 07:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 47
Thanks so much for all of your input. We live in south Florida, so we are obviously used to warm weather. It wouldn't be our only opportunity to go to London, but as I said, our "typical" plans would involve either skiing or the Caribbean, so we thought it would be fun to change it up. I guess our thought was that if we could do NYC in December, which we thoroughly enjoyed, why not London? Do you agree?
jillg is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2010, 07:57 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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London will most likely be warmer than NYC at that time of year. It might not 'feel' warmer due to the humidity. But if you've been to NY in the winter, London wouldn't be a hardship at all.

The average December high temp (which doesn't a whole lot in the scheme of things) is 41°F in NYC and 44°F in London.

I agree w/ flanner that you'll see lots of folks eating outside (which is why I added the 'comfortably' qualifier to Kates post). For me I'd want at least 60°F to 'picnic' - but grabbing a bite to eat outdoors, I've done that down into the 30's.

I lived in the UK for 5 years and after kvetching about the 'cold' for the first year or so I finally realized my favorite months in London were May/June and December (for entirely different reasons)
janisj is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2010, 08:46 AM
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I live in Los Angeles. A friend who absolutely hates cold weather went to London for the Christmas holidays a couple of years ago with her hubby and teenage sons. Yup, they were cold, but they kept putting on layers until they were comfortable. They had a blast. They went to museums, Stonehenge, parks and everything else that they could squeeze in. They did several of the LondonWalks, and I believe they even did one on Christmas day. They rented an apartment so that eating when places were closed was not a problem. I don't think they had any rain or snow that year. My friend found that the better she protected her head and her feet the happier she was.
cferrb is offline  

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