If you’ve been to London, it’s likely you’ll have visited during the summer. It’s true that London’s eclectic architecture and busy streets are especially beautiful bathed in August sunlight, but it’s not just a summer city. Visiting over the festive period has many of its own benefits.
With the peak tourist season over, you’ll find London much less crowded over the winter (provided you avoid popular Christmas shopping areas). While visiting the city’s parks may seem counterintuitive in the bitterly cold December air, the bare trees and biting frost leaves them with their own, stark beauty, and you’ll be able to avoid the crowds of sunbathers.
Travelling on the tube becomes significantly less unpleasant in cold weather. Not only is it rarely excessively warm during winter, but the higher temperatures are actually welcome when it’s close to freezing outside. In the dead of winter, people also move around the city less and there are fewer tourists, meaning that public transport is less crowded.
In particularly biting weather, you may find the journey to and from tube and bus stops unpleasant, so it’s worth considering using cabs to travel around London. It’s a good idea to book an airport shuttle service in advance of your arrival as well, as there are fewer things more demoralising (especially if you’ve come from somewhere warmer) than stepping out of the airport straight into an icy wind. The comfort, warmth and convenience of a pre-booked airport shuttle service are more welcome than ever, plus they’ll help you avoid finger cramps when dragging your luggage around in the cold air.
Airport shuttle services are available to and from every London airport. Shuttle service providers will also wait for you in case of flight delays, meaning you won’t have to worry about missing the last train.
London is full of seasonal events, many of which take place over the Christmas period. There are mini festivals all over the city as Christmas lights are switched on, ranging from the most famous display at Oxford Street to local evenings of celebration in the various suburbs and boroughs. At the same time, winter-themed attractions such as ice rinks pop up, with some of the most famous being in King’s Road and in Westfield, White City.
If you do feel like attending some seasonal events, consider the Winter Festival at the Southbank Centre. This event includes themed cafés and a Christmas market, and last year it even played host to a Christmas tree maze, comprising 300 real trees.
London’s broad brick facades and ancient streets are in their element in the gusty chill of winter. Wander the cold pavements, enjoy a bracing pint by the river and then warm up with roasted chestnuts from a street cart. Spend the day braving the winds and walking through London’s parks, markets and squares, then enjoy the well-earned cosiness of a café (London is slowly moving away from the chains that have hitherto dominated the city’s café scene), pub or tea-room. This is a city built for the cold, and sometimes it’s best enjoyed that way.