London is the most magical city in the world at Christmas, especially for children.
From twinkling lights and glittering theatre shows, to picture-perfect ice skating, and tales from Father Christmas, there are so many joyous activities to ignite little imaginations this season. These are our top suggestions for festive family fun in the capital.
Enjoy Ballet at the Royal Opera House
Nothing could be more festive than a trip to the Royal Opera House to see the Nutcracker. This family-friendly production is perfect for children. Make it extra special with a 45-minute backstage tour to see the dazzling costumes and snowy-set up close. The most magical introduction to the joy of ballet. Peter Wright’s much-loved production for The Royal Ballet keeps true to the spirit of this festive classic with stunning costumes set to Tchaikovsky’s famous score. Children will love watching the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Kingdom of Sweets. It’s a Christmas must-see.
Visit Father Christmas
Father Christmas seems to get around during December, and there are all manner of places to pay him a visit. At the Anya Hindmarch Grotto in Chelsea, each 30-minute slot is a super-cute immersive experience complete with storytelling and a little gift. Grown ups may be tempted to pick up a present for themselves in Anya’s neighbouring store too. Or, for the lego loving child, pay a visit to his grotto in John Lewis, Oxford Street or Peter Jones, Sloane Square. They’ve partnered with LEGO and each child will get to meet the ‘man in red’ as well as receiving a LEGO or DUPLO gift. Lastly, for a full, festive day out with the entire family, visit the big man at one of the National Trust properties in and around London, where they’re also hosting activities such as Christmas crafting and storytelling. Try beautiful Ham House in Richmond, or venture slightly further afield to stunning Polesden Lacey in the Surrey countryside. Both are wonderfully traditional and incredibly memorable.
Surely one of the best decorated restaurants in London, Daphne’s on Draycott Avenue, takes festive flair to another level with thousands of baubles adorning the ceiling in a truly magnificent display. Famous for its delicious, classic Italian food, this Chelsea favourite has been a neighbourhood go-to for families since 1964. Children are welcomed, and certain dishes on the menu can be adapted to suit them, making it the ideal spot for a special get-together, or somewhere to pop into for lunch when out Christmas shopping.
Try Ice Skating
The latest addition to London’s outdoor skating scene, Glide at Battersea Power Station is the perfect place to take older children for a fun day out. On-ice lessons can be booked and there are penguin skating aids for little ones. Choose from three interconnecting rinks with a spectacular 30 foot Christmas tree as the centrepiece. The newly opened London landmark is worth a visit for the off-ice activities, too. There’s plenty to enjoy including a selection of vintage-style fairground rides, live entertainment, photo booths, plus fantastic shopping and restaurants. Or, head to Somerset House for the classic London skating experience. With child-friendly sessions and lessons for beginners, this much-loved Christmas landmark is now in its 23rd year, and as popular as ever. Book soon.
For the ultimate Christmas shopping experience head to Selfridges. The Oxford Street store’s FAO Schwarz: Out Of Hours gift experience allows up to six people to enjoy magical, after-hours access to their toy shop. With the whole place to yourselves for two hours, children (and adults!) can learn a song on the giant piano with one of their Music Maestros, experiment with their Mad Scientist, and learn magic tricks with FAO magicians. You’ll also receive a special gift and have the opportunity to place orders for any special toys that catch your eye. This is a magical shopping trip, one that no child will ever forget.
The West End has many amazing shows for children this December. Little ones will adore The Snowman, Raymond Brigg’s classic tale of one little boy’s Christmas Eve adventure to meet Father Christmas. Older kids will love Elf the Musical, adapted from the classic movie starring Will Ferrell. Or take the family to the Globe Theatre to enjoy their re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s festive fairy tale The Fir Tree as it returns for a second year. What better way to kick off the school holidays than with some Christmassy theatre.
Stay The Goring Hotel
If you’re coming to the capital with little ones this December, book a stay at The Goring Hotel. In the heart of Belgravia, it’s perfectly located to take in all the Christmas sights. Let the hotel’s fabulous concierge help you plan the perfect festive itinerary, and be sure to check out the famous Dressing Up Box – from fairytale princesses to Harry Potter, Beefeaters to royalty, a British Bobby to a Guardsman, little guests will love the characters and adventures it holds within. Sit by a roaring fire, next to the picture-perfect Christmas tree, and enjoy the very best of the season at this truly wonderful five-star hotel.