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While London is a city for all seasons, it seriously turns on the charm in winter. Christmas in London is wonderful. As soon as the temperature drops and the clocks go back, the city is transformed. There is a lot of activities to do and many London Christmas markets to visit.

After taking 2020 off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Winter Wonderland will also return to Hyde Park this year: it’s high time to get excited about the biggest outdoor ice-skating rink in the UK, panoramic views and attractions. Winter Wonderland is the perfect place to start your Christmas shopping with a wander around the stalls.

Amongst things to do in London at Christmas: you’ll start seeing mistletoe and mince pies creeping into shops and cafés towards the end of October, but London gets into the full festive swing of Christmas – or Chrimbo, as you might hear locals refer to it – from around mid-November, when Christmas lights are officially ‘switched on’, department stores such as Liberty and Selfridges unveil spectacular seasonal window displays, and Londoners develop a mild obsession with Christmas sandwiches.

Festive foods to try

Every Londoner has some kind of festive food fixation, from mince pies to the ultimate ‘Christmas sarnie’ (that’s a sandwich) – the subject of many a heated lunchtime debate

Close up of some mince pies decorated with pastry stars

Mince pies

Thankfully, these don’t involve beef mince. Instead, these traditional, sweet-pastry pies are stuffed with a sticky, spiced mix called ‘mincement’; dried fruit, nuts, finely-chopped apple, and sometimes a soupçon of brandy.

Close up of a Christmas sandwich with turkey, ham and cranberry sauce

Christmas sandwiches

Nothing gets Londoners salivating at this time of year more than a turkey sandwich. Traditionally made from Christmas Day-dinner leftovers, they’re now on sale from mid-November. Various cafés and chains battle for supremacy, adding more and more festive fillings, from bacon and sage stuffing to cranberry sauce and Brussel sprouts.

Plate full of pigs in blankets

Pigs in blankets

Not to be taken literally, ‘pigs in blankets’ is the affectionate term for an ever-popular seasonal side-dish: small sausages wrapped in bacon, and baked until they’re extra crispy.

Close up of a Christmas pudding decorated with holly

Christmas pudding

Forget your mother’s advice of never playing with your food. The traditional end to any British Christmas dinner, this dessert made from dried food and spices is aged for a month before being served at the table, doused in brandy and set on fire.

Image credits: © Jeff Eden, RBG Kew; © Jeff Eden, RBG Kew; © Getty; © Shutterstock; © Shutterstock; © Shutterstock