Where To Get Into The Christmas Spirit In London

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We wish you A Dulwich Christmas

You won't have failed to notice that Christmas is on its way, but if you're not in the festive mood yet, a trip to these places will soon change that. From twinkling lights to Christmas films to ice skating, we think these might just be the most Christmassy places in London this year.

Vauxhall Winter Village

Visitors to Vauxhall Winter Village are promised an "Alpine adventure" in the form of an après-ski village. Not your traditional Christmas set-up, perhaps, but if you're more inclined to spend your yuletide on the slopes than in the suburbs, it'll suit you nicely.

Entertainment comes in the form of a cable car photo booth, a festive bandstand (presumably to be inhabited by festive musicians at some point) and a winter sports bar.

Food offerings include cheese fondue, roasted chestnuts, burgers, fish and chips and soups, with winter cocktails and mulled wine flowing.

All you need is a ski slope and you'll have to head over to Chelsea for that — we certainly don't advocate skiing off of the nearby Vauxhall Bus Station, no matter how much tempting it looks.

Vauxhall Winter Village, free entry, Monday-Friday 11.30am-10pm 10 November-mid-January

Christmas in Leicester Square

New for this year is Christmas in Leicester Square, a free to enter festival with a traditional Christmas market, Santa's grotto, food and drink stall. Theatrical show La Soirée will also take place in the Square. It's organised by the people behind South Bank's Udderbelly festival, so we're expecting good things.

Christmas in Leicester Square, free entry (charge for some activities), 11 November-8 January

Enchanted Woodland at Syon House

The 2014 Enchanted Woodland. Photo courtesy of Simon Hadleigh-Sparks

The ever-popular Enchanted Woodland returns to Syon House, and it's well worth heading out west for. As darkness falls, take a walk through the trees, illuminated in various colours. It's a family friendly event — kids guaranteed to be entranced. At the start/end of the circular route, refreshments are available from the outdoor barbecue and restaurant.

Enchanted Woodland, £9/£3, book in advance. Fridays-Sundays 18 November-4 December

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

The ice rink at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

This festive behemoth is now in its 10th year in Hyde Park, and contains pretty much all the Christmas you could ever need; a Christmas market, Santa Land, festive food & drink and more. The atmospheric ice skating rink is one of our favourites in London, set around the beautifully lit park bandstand, strung with fairy lights, with live acoustic music serenading skaters.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, entry is free, 18 November-2 January

Christmas at Kew

Photo: Frida Fabbrini

Wrap up warm and stroll around Kew Gardens after dark, hot drink (or mulled wine) in hand, lights twinkling in the background. Kew's illuminations are an annual event, but there's a new trail this year.

Take a break from the mile-long pathway to watch the dancing fountains, visit the fire garden, or stroll through the tunnel of lights. There's also a Victorian funfair with vintage rides, and a North Pole village, complete with Santa and his elves.

The kids will love it, but it's quite a romantic outing too, so pick your companions carefully.

Christmas at Kew 2016, various prices, book in advance, 23 November-2 January

The Charles Dickens Museum

The Christmas Drawing Room at 48 Doughty Street

The Charles Dickens Museum is always one of our favourite places at Christmas — and why shouldn't it be? The man himself practically reinvented Christmas.

This petite Bloomsbury museum, and former residence of the author, is always dressed exquisitely for Christmas, and has a fantastic programme of Christmas events for those who like their festivities with a large dollop of tradition.

You can browse the full programme of Christmas events here, but our picks would be the Christmas Eve performance of A Christmas Carol, the Christmas lates, and... actually, all of it looks pretty good. It's a great place to visit at any time, but if you're only going to go once a year, make it in December.

Charles Dickens Museum, Christmas events vary in price and most require booking, 26 November-24 December

Snow Days in Merchant Square

For three days in early December, Paddington's Merchant Square will be covered in the white stuff, with falling snow, snowman building competitions and more. A pop-up shop will be selling Christmas decorations too.

Merchant Square, free, just turn up, 2-4 December

A Dulwich Christmas at Dulwich Picture Gallery

For the first time this year, indulge in A Dulwich Christmas, complete with a winter lights trail and Christmas market. The Gallery will light up after dark with Dulwich Winterlights, a festival of illuminations bringing the building and gardens to life.

The Christmas cabin will be selling mulled wine, hot chocolate and other festive treats, with roaming choirs providing the soundtrack. At weekends there's a Christmas market too.

Dulwich Picture Gallery, from £12/£7, book in advance, 6-18 December

Cinema in the Snow by PopUp Screens

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Elf, Home Alone and The Grinch — and luckily Cinema in the Snow has them in bucketfuls.

On arrival at the venue, Hackney Showrooms, you'll step through a wardrobe door into a winter wonderland of a cinema, complete with Christmas trees and fake snow. Popcorn, brownies, beer, hot chocolate and mulled wine will be available to enjoy with the film.

Cinema in the Snow, £20 adults/£10 for under 10s, 8-18 December 2016. For other festive film screenings in London, click here.

Department stores

Other department stores are available. Photo: Matt

London's department stores do Christmas very well indeed — it's been Christmas at Harrods since July.  Can't face battling round them all, or want to get your shopping down in one swoop? Luckily for you, we've pitted the big five against each other based on several criteria, so you can pick the one that best suits your requirements, whether that be seasonal tea or gaudy baubles. You're welcome.

If this isn't enough Christmas for you, take a look at our Christmas in London page, which includes Christmas light switch-ons, ice skating rinks, pantomimes, Santa's grottos, Christmas film screenings, a guide to what's open on Christmas Day, and much more.