These next few weeks in London town…

I’ve read the lists and kept my ear to the ground: here’s what I’ve found

Somerset House tree and ice rink. London, England. December 2014.
Somerset House tree and ice rink. London, England. December 2014.

This week, I’ve decided to give any of you fellow holiday explorers a list of all kinds of things you can do (and I’ll be around doing as well!) in this London holiday season rather than just my take on things I’ve done or seen in my time here.

Truth be told I’m not sure where I’ll be these next few weeks—I’ve got school work to complete and a small travel fund to spend on nothing but travel, so who knows where I’ll be or when! But in the mean time, I’ve taken the time to look around both London and all over the internet to find you all kinds of holiday cheer for all levels of funding.

Let’s get the more explicitly expensive plans out first: tour companies like Premium Tours (I’ve been on one and they are very good) are offering tours for people who want to travel on Christmas day to see sights outside of the London area – almost all of these include a traditional Christmas lunch. This could be a nice time to look into getting out of the city if you find yourself city-locked and going a bit crazy, but it does cost.

If you aren’t planning on going that far, ice-skating is one event you can do all over London: the rinks have popped up all over the place and, if you have stronger ankles than I do, you can go and have a fun day with friends or a romantic night with someone special skating (or stumbling) around the ice. The great thing about all the choices is no matter where you are or your budget, there is probably a rink somewhere not too far away that will fit your needs. Here’s a great list by the Londonist with prices attached (don’t forget to look at the comments for more options!). As always, look for easy ways to save money (if you are going to skate) by thinking and planning ahead. Some offer online ticketing which will save you, as will going on off times. Some also have deals not listed on the page linked here (Somerset House has a special ticket price for King’s students), so read ahead on the rinks you plan to skate at before you head out.

When it comes to winter festivals, unless you’re looking or willing to be a bit touristy or started your Christmas cheer in November, many of the events are over, at least around the wider London area. If you walk around areas like Southbank, the Tate Modern, The Tower of London, Hyde Park, or the Barbican Center, you’ll find festivals that are still going on. Just looking at the names listed, you can tell they are major traveler destinations, meaning the amount of people and prices can cost you (in both time and money).

While Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is an event a local friend of mine said everyone has to do at least once, another said she took her daughter there when she was little and was out at least 100 pounds in the few hours they were there (between paying for food, trinkets and activities). A lot of the festivals I’ve looked at are basically Christmas-themed pop-up markets, so the whole purpose is to have you buying their wares. Just think and plan ahead with a limit to what you are willing to spend (remembering that you are in tourist territory) and you should be fine.

When planning your festivities, remember that for practically anything you do, you’ll also be paying for it. Where you decide to run around, however, is one major factor in how much things cost you. Trafalgar’s Square is a major tourist hub at the best of times so while running around and listening to caroling (the only event listed with upcoming dates), you’re more likely to spend more and be fighting a much larger crowd to do any of it.

If funds are low, whether you are staking out a new, local find or the larger Christmas time festivals/markets/activities, make a day of walking around. Visit a few ice rinks and the festivities surrounding them with a camera or sketch pad (if you are a bit more artistic), a friend or two, and a thermoses of hot chocolate. In a city like London, people watching can be just as much fun as actually spending loads to do things.

So that’s my plan for the next few weeks, wandering around London’s Christmas festivities and I’ll let you know what I find! Don’t forget to check out my other posts on Silk Sheets and Grilled Cheese for more non-travel related adventures.

As always,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar

PS. Don’t forget, everything here starts early so if you are planning on doing things for New Years, start your planning! Some firework shows are now ticketing for crowd control, so do your research and I’ll focus on that topic soon!

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These next few weeks in London town…

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