London has always had the reputation for being cold and dreary, what with the intermittent rainfall. But London does have good weather and can be warm to hot in the summer. However, the temperature can be chilly to cold during winter. On the average frost occurs twice a week from November until March.
But if you are brave enough to withstand the cold and are intrigued enough to see and experience what London has to offer in winter, you are in for a treat. London still has its own brand of winter charm, with plenty of attractions and activities that could warm your body and your heart despite the cold. And the good news is hotel rates and airfares are generally cheaper this time of year. With fewer tourists, the city is not too crowded. Isn’t it a treat to be looking closely at the crown jewels without any urgency?
Skating is a great way to get some exercise and view the beautiful façades of buildings as you glide on ice. Favorite spots are the open spaces in front of Hampton Court Palace, Natural History Museum, Tower of London and Somerset House, with the last two places considered as London’s version of the ice rinks at Rockefeller Center. One of the grandest is the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. It has the largest winter skating rink in London and you not only get to skate, there are other fun activities going on. You’ll find vendors selling different types of silly hats and check out what things are available at the Bavarian village and the German market. For sure there will be a circus show as well as carousel and Ferris wheel rides.
If it gets too cold to traipse outside, indulge on a museum tour. In wintry London, with fewer tourists around, you will have more time to linger and take more than a cursory look at interesting displays. A majority of London’s museums are free, while some request for a small donation. Find out what they have at the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, British Library, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery.
Catch up on some of the plays you may have missed or are longing to see. The line-up is pretty extensive and the prices are definitely lower. The choice is broad, from Shakespeare to comedies, musicals, thrillers and revivals. The Royal Albert Hall lays out a winter concert series as well. Check out their candlelight events for a truly wonderful and warming experience.
While the theme may not have anything to do with Christmas, London has the tradition of having “pantos” (pantomimes) during the holidays. The fairy tale plays may be campy but you’ll have great fun with the sets, dance numbers and their outrageous costumes. Audience participation is likewise expected.
The people from Oslo send over the huge Christmas tree erected at the Trafalgar Square each year. If you are staying through the New Year, you’ll enjoy the free carol concerts beneath the Christmas tree. Check out the Christmas decorations at the Geffrye Museum. On New Year’s Eve, watch the fireworks from the London Eye and the parade from Big Ben up to Piccadilly Circus the following day. Stroll along London’s shopping districts to enjoy the elaborate Christmas light displays. After Christmas many London stores start their winter sales, including Harrod’s. Sample the gourmet and seasonal treats at Borough Market. Traditional treats include mince pies, puddings and the famous British seasonal drink, mulled wine.
The scenery changes each season and London offers you a different view each winter, which is enough reason to come and visit.
Book your cheap flights to London now before it’s too late!