There's nowhere better to be in the UK over Christmas than London, where the huge light displays and festive events throughout the city centre will make you feel the excitement of the holidays before they've even begun. With great opportunities for London hotels throughout the winter months, December is the best time to visit to see the city come alive. There are so many attractions to choose from that we've put together some of our favourites - take a look at what you could see.
London's West End really lights up over Christmas, and the famous Oxford Street lights simply cannot be missed. Illuminated umbrellas appear suspended in mid-air over the street, alongside giant gift boxes and banners, while the flagship high street stores on either side boast their own decorations. Window displays and huge walls of light and colour make it the ideal destination for sightseers, especially at night.
Hyde Park's spectacular Winter Wonderland fair promises a wealth of attractions until January 6th, including Santa's Grotto and the fantastic ice rink around the beautiful Victorian bandstand that is surrounded by sparkling lights. This year the Magical Ice Kingdom is a definite highlight - a labyrinth of rooms containing crystal-like sculptures and characters, all painstakingly carved from snow and ice.
There's a seemingly infinite number of Christmas markets on in London during December, so whenever you visit you're sure to find a good bargain. Head to the Traditional Christmas Market on the South Bank for seasonal treats and a bustling atmosphere as people gear up for the holidays, or visit the German Christmas Market in Hyde Park for hand-crafted toys, sweet treats and warm mulled wine.
If you're planning on spending Christmas Day in London and aren't sure what to do with yourself, take a look at the Dickens Museum, which hosts some fantastic events based around Charles Dickens' Christmas books, most notably A Christmas Carol. The Museum, situated in a Georgian townhouse which was once the author's home, is decked out in traditional festive greenery and Victorian ornaments, transporting you back in time for a magical Christmas experience, complete with mince pies and lots of other treats.
Nowhere is a Christmas panto more appreciated than in the UK, and London's theatre scene is bursting with costume, song and dance during the festive period. Expect to find plenty of family friendly shows - and a few for adults only - taking on classic stories such as Cinderella, Aladdin and of course, Dick Whittington. The Hackney Empire is one of the most famous venues, but take a look at this guide for some of the best shows in the city this year.