London attractions that get in the Christmas spirit include Trafalgar Square and the Natural History Museum. // © 2013 Thinkstock
A dynamic city at any time of the year, London lights up with fun and festive activities for the holiday season. Ranging from enchanting and sophisticated to family-oriented and quirky, London’s annual holiday menu is full of exciting options.
Natural History Museum Ice Rink
Romantics join the history buffs at the Natural History Museum throughout December. Containing England’s most expansive collection of natural artifacts, the museum opens a 3,000-foot ice rink for the holiday season, featuring festive lights and the nearby Cafe Bar to relax with a hot drink and holiday treats. Times and ticket prices vary and are available online.
Kensington Palace Wonderland
Through January, Kensington Palace is decked out with Christmas cheer in the style of King William III’s winter palace from 1699. A family-friendly attraction, Kensington Palace will enchant visitors of all ages with games and celebrations in the spirit of England’s royalty. The festivities typically conclude with a performance of a classic play, such as William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”
Christmas Carols in Trafalgar Square
Throughout December, travelers can enjoy all of their favorite Christmas carols with warm refreshments and festive decorations in Trafalgar Square, gathered around London’s signature Christmas tree. Various singing groups will perform songs, from “Deck the Halls” to “Good King Wenceslas,” to raise money for charity.
The Christmas Pudding Race
It is hard to beat London’s annual Christmas Pudding Race for its combination of good, healthy fun and philanthropy. Festively dressed competitors battle it out for the Christmas Pudding Trophy, racing over a challenging obstacle course without dropping their Christmas puddings. The December race raises money for cancer research.
Santa at the London Zoo
Every kid wants to meet Santa and his reindeer, and the London Zoo provides the perfect setting. Children can meet real reindeer and tell Santa what is on their Christmas list before joining the “Little Helpers” activities, where they will make treats and presents for the zoo animals. Story time with Mother Christmas concludes the day’s activities. Santa is typically at the zoo during December weekends. Check the zoo’s website for details before visiting.
Southbank Center Winter Festival
The Southbank Center Winter Festival stretches along the Thames into Southbank Centre Square, delighting visitors with art exhibits, performances and its primary attraction, the Southbank Center Christmas Market. The Christmas market features 80 vendors selling specialty crafts as well as food and drink — visitors can enjoy local refreshments while browsing and enjoying the festival spectacles. The festival runs through early January.