Father Christmas lands in London’s West End

At Selfridges on Oxford Street, join Father Christmas and Mrs Claus as they host a decadent festive breakfast. Enjoy delicious food and drink, while listening to fascinating stories about his reindeers and elves.  Selfridges Party Parade also returns for 2017 featuring a show-stopping marching band parade, which will transform the central atrium into a spectacular celebration, led by a Female Changing of the Guards.

At Liberty London young guests can step inside the store’s magical grotto to meet Santa and receive some festive treats, while at Fortnum & Mason, Father Christmas will host a very special yuletide storytime. Young visitors to Fortnum’s can also build and decorate their very own Gingerbread House, ready to take home and devour.

Father Christmas can also be found at Hamleys on Regent Street. Join him and his loveable elves at the Finest Toy Shop in the World for fun, magic and theatre at this very special time of year.

Be dazzled by London’s winter wonderlands

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credit: New West End Company

Top of everyone’s to do list this December is a traditional festive market. Next to the star-themed Christmas lights of Leicester Square Gardens, Christmas in Leicester Square is back, transforming this famous centre into a wonderland featuring a traditional Christmas market. Visitors will find hand-crafted goods and delicious food and drinks, a Santa’s Grotto and a whole host of fantastic shows in the beautiful surrounds of a traditional 1920s Spiegeltent.

At Mayfair Christmas Market shoppers can browse stalls full of festive gifts and stocking fillers while enjoying a host of entertainment featuring DJs and carol singers as the high-end restaurant Novikov takes over Mayfair Place. Visitors will find everything from scarves, shawls and jewellery, to fragrances and men’s grooming products at this two-day market on 1 and 2 December 2017.

Set alongside the stunning St James’s Church built by Sir Christopher Wren, Piccadilly Market is the jewel in the crown of London’s street markets. With a diverse range of food, arts, crafts, antiques, collectables and clothing from around the world, it is the perfect place to browse for Christmas gifts in the heart of London’s West End, before visiting their series of festive lunchtime and evening concerts throughout the season.

Close by at Trafalgar Square, Londoners and visitors alike can admire its magnificent Christmas tree, which stands tall over the festive season. The giant Norwegian spruce has been an annual gift to London from the people of Norway since 1947, in recognition of Britain’s support during the Second World War. See this world-famous tree beautifully decorated in a traditional Norwegian style and sing along to carols during the countdown to Christmas.

Christmas sparkle illuminates the skies

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credit: New West End Company

This year, for the first time ever, Piccadilly has been brought to life with its own dedicated Christmas lights display. Inspired by the statue of Anteros, which has stood in Piccadilly Circus since 1893, this hand-crafted dazzling display of dramatic winged figures is lit from within as well as from below and forms a warm canopy of light above Piccadilly.

Regent Street brings you the ‘Spirit of Christmas’, a sweeping canopy of light that stretches from Langham Place all the way to Waterloo Place at the southern end of Regent Street St James’s. This year’s scheme is a dramatic and modern reimagining of the original Regent Street Christmas lights, featuring a fleet of impressively large-scale ‘spirits’ that soar along the length of the street

On Oxford Street shoppers can marvel at its glittering Christmas lights and festive window displays. This world-famous shopping street at the heart of London’s West End once again glimmers with magical gold and silver baubles, and a flurry of twinkling snowflakes, for its 58th annual Christmas lights installation.

Bond Street also takes centre stage once again to host a spectacular illumination scheme that celebrates the colourful history of the world’s most illustrious luxury destination.  Dedicated to the gentlemen of this era, it is formed from over a quarter of a million elegant lamps displayed as glorious white peacocks. 

This year the incredible Carnaby Christmas Carnival installations are a sight not to be missed. Revel in the party spirit with 30 neon coconut trees, 27 giant party poppers, 8 incredible tropical flowers, 8 feathery parrots, 2 colourful toucans, 2 neon flamingos and 1 pair of lovebirds

Meanwhile, at Covent Garden, the famous Piazza will be transformed with 40 spectacular mistletoe chandeliers, each between 2.5 and 3.5 metres in size and around 100,000 pea lights. This year also sees the return of the magnificent reindeer statue on the East Piazza, an enormous Christmas tree and over 320 metres of garlands running between the chandeliers.

Yuletide gift-making

After soaking up the Christmas spirit at Covent Garden Piazza, a short walk to Seven Dials will take you to the Seven Dials Loves Christmas pop-up, a series of free festive workshops where you’ll be able to try your hand at bauble calligraphy, bespoke cracker rolling, fashion illustration, Christmas cocktails and wreath making. 

As the nights draw in, restaurants and retailers at St James’ Market are also offering cosy evening masterclasses in wine tasting and cheeseboard-making, along with a host of others. Book here to brush up on your culinary skills before the family descend. 

Christmas shows not to be missed

No Christmas is complete without a classic British Pantomime. This year Dick Whittington returns to the iconic London Palladium starring the world-famous Elaine Paige. With a stellar cast, fantastic set and costume design, and plenty of laughs in store, you’ll need to book now to secure the best seats for the greatest pantomime adventure of them all.

At the Peacock Theatre by Aldwych, The Snowman returns to enchant the whole family. Raymond Briggs’ Christmas story is filled with dance, storytelling, magic and songs from the film, as the two friends embark on a magical adventure to the North Pole.

Close by the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, will host A Classic FM Christmas featuring a wonderful mix of classical Christmas favourites and the full orchestra and chorus of the world renowned English National Opera.

For a unique twist on the festive season book now for ‘The Night Before Christmas’ at Soho Theatre. A darkly funny, weird and wonderful new musical, this festive treat promises to bring you the most magical, musical, weird and wonderful Christmas of your life.

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credit: New West End Company

Celebrate and Stay

At Hotel Café Royal near Piccadilly Circus, spend Christmas Day in the heart of festive London. Wake on Christmas morning to the hotels convivial splendour and a stocking filled with gifts. Enjoy festive fayre throughout your stay and a grand Christmas Day luncheon in the historic Domino dining room alongside live entertainment, Christmas decoration and gifts for the little ones.

The Langham, London is also a perfect base to explore the capital over the festive season. Offering festive overnight packages and for the first time, ‘A Sparkling Christmas’, in partnership with Champagne Perrier-Jouët, the lobby will be transformed with a stylish floral finish synonymous with the heritage Champagne house.  At The Palm Court, visitors can also rest their feet and enjoy the delicacies of The Langham’s festive afternoon tea and a glass of Perrier-Jouët, Grand Brut, Champagne, NV.

Immersive dining and classic Christmas feasts

At the John Lewis Oxford Street Roof Garden, guests will enjoy an immersive journey through a dark, gothic tale of love, intrigue and a poison garden, at The Ethicurean restaurant. Guests will be invited to release the curse that has bedevilled this Victorian house and its inhabitants for years. Discover their secrets and follow their stories by exploring the roof garden and interrogating the characters until you solve the mystery.

At Piccadilly, a magical festive season awaits you at The Ritz. The hotel will be transformed into an Edwardian festive wonderland with a myriad of spectacular Christmas decorations including a stunning 25ft Christmas tree. Whether dining on a glorious menu of festive dishes on Christmas Day in the The Ritz Restaurant; enjoying an elegantly themed Champagne afternoon tea in the lavishly decorated Palm Court; or ringing in the New Year in sheer decadence at a black tie gala dinner, The Ritz remains the byword for festive celebrations.

At the heart of Theatreland visit the grand surroundings of the Limelight Club on Shaftesbury Avenue. Bourne & Hollingsworth invites guests to discover The Winter House and lose themselves in an exclusive world of fine food, delectable drinks, incredible interiors and elegant festivity. Set in a previously unseen, hauntingly beautiful Grade II listed chapel, this limited edition drinking and dining experience, brings together art, creative installations, light and music all under one roof.

Pamper and purchase

Whether you’re looking for this season’s most stylish sartorial wears or need some gift hunting help– Oxford Street’s personal stylists are here to help you get Christmas in the bag with street-wide gift advisory and styling sessions.  To book yours visit https://www.oxfordstreet.co.uk/christmas/personal-stylist/

Give them the ultimate gift of choice this year with the Oxford Street Gift Card. Available online, delivered straight to your door and ready to use in every store. With a top up limit of £5,000 it’s the perfect go-to-gift this Christmas or if you’re feeling a little self-indulgent then why not treat yourself to a little (or large) ‘shopping spree on me!’ https://www.oxfordstreet.co.uk/gift-card/

West End Firsts

To celebrate the launch of the first ever Piccadilly Christmas Lights, London’s West End will be giving a daily dose of exciting #XmasFirsts stories from renowned local brands such as Fortnum & Mason, The Ritz and Smeg. From 1st December until the 24th, each morning at 10:00am, look out for the #XmasFirsts story from one of the West End’s special brands. At midday, a question will be posted across the channels relating to the story and simply follow the steps to answer the question. You will have until 4:45pm each day to enter the competition! Prizes range from delectable treats and tantalising dining experiences to sought after memberships and must-have gifts. https://heartoflondonbid.london/events/xmasfirsts-advent-calendar/