The Barbican is an architectural marvel, well known for its brutalist style. Built in the 1960s as a housing estate in an area flattened by the bombing in World War Two, it is now home to one of the city’s most important cultural centres. The Barbican centre really does offer it all – music, theatre, gallery and cinema all under one roof.
The place is definitely worth a visit. For me, what makes this cinema great is its impeccable selection of films – a mixture of the best new releases and timeless classics from every era. Often, these screenings are accompanied by screen talks and Q+A sessions or discussions after the film is shown. Every July, they launch an enormous outdoor screen – an ode to the British summer and a perfect evening activity when the weather gets warmer.
To top it all off they sell homemade popcorn and if you’re 16 to 25 you can join the Barbican as a youth member, which is free, and the tickets are just £5.
The mad shopping season of Christmas is upon us. As we venture out of our homes, we brave crowded streets and shopping centers in search of those items that will tell our friends and family how much we love them. London is a shopper’s paradise throughout the year, but things turn up a notch after Halloween ends. The Christmas decorations go up on the high streets, the displays land in department store windows, and the holiday villages pop up overnight on the streets and squares. To help you with your shopping this year, we’ve identified five of the best places for you to do your Christmas shopping in London. Let us know your own favorite shopping locations in the comments.
If you need toys for the little ones or children of all ages, Hamleys of London should be your destination. Hamleys is the city’s oldest toy store, having first opened in 1760, and today its location on Regent Street features seven floors full of over 50,000 toys. Beyond the popular toys of the season, Hamleys also features a large collection of Paddington Bears of all sizes and styles. Hamleys also regularly hosts in-store events, so be sure to check the store calendar for upcoming fun.
If you’re looking for a shopping experience that’s closer to what you’d find in America, Westfield Shopping Center is London’s take on the malls we’re used to visiting. Westfield has two locations (Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City), so you have the choice of whichever is more convenient. Both have dozens of stores, including International brands to luxury shops and everything in-between. Both stay open until 11 pm in the days up until Christmas, so there will be plenty of time for you to explore the shopping centers to find just the right gift.
Winter Wonderland Angel’s Christmas Market
Christmas markets set up all throughout London from Greenwich Market to Christmas by the River, but perhaps the best one to visit is the Angel’s Christmas Market that’s part of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. 2019 marks Winter Wonderland’s 13th year, and it’s full of lights, rides, food, and plenty of shopping opportunities at the 100+ wooden chalets throughout the park. Winter Wonderland stays open 10 am to 10 pm from November 22 through January 5 (except for the holidays themselves, of course), there are plenty of opportunities to experience this special place, though we recommend doing it at night for the full effect.
Arguably London’s most famous department store, Harrods has seven floors and over 300 departments that cater to practically every need. In fact, the store’s motto, “Omnia Omnibus Ubique” translates to “All things for all people, everywhere”, so there’s a good chance that they’ll have the exact item you want or know how to get it. Beyond what’s inside, the window displays are some of the finest Christmas decorations in London, and the 12,000 lightbulbs help it light up Knightsbridge for the holiday. The store also has its own special Christmas merchandise that make for unique gifts, including the Christmas Bear.
Oxford Street and Regent Street
While the high streets can get a little crazy during the holiday season, Oxford Street and Regent Street are not to be missed. Beyond the shopping experience that these two adjoining streets offer, they also have some of the best and most colorful Christmas decorations of anywhere in London. Oxford Street has brand new light curtains with over 220,000 bulbs, and Regent Street is graced by angels floating over the shoppers. Both also host elaborate lighting ceremonies in the middle of November when the shopping season officially starts, so be sure to check local calendars to find out when to go.
Where to have Sunday Roast in London There’s nothing better than cosying up with a hearty meal on a Sunday afternoon – who’s with us? It’s getting chilly out there, and we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to eat, drink and hibernate in a cosy London pub for the foreseeable future – or at least…
We all love a good day out in London, especially when there’s a cheeky discount on offer, so highlight November 23-December 1 in your diary. That’s when thousands of heritage sites, shows and attractions will be offering free or discounted entry to anyone who arrives with an old or new National Lottery ticket or scratch card in hand.
The nine-day event is part of the National Lottery Thanks to You project, which celebrates the £40 billion raised for good causes by regular ol’ lottery players like yourself.
And if you need to warm up with the days getting nippy, there are a couple of places offering a free brew. The fourteenth-century Jewel Tower in Westminster is offering a free regular tea or coffee, as is medieval palace-turned-art deco home Eltham Palace.
For most participating attractions, all you need to do is flash your lottery ticket or scratch card (old or new) on arrival, but do check the National Lottery Thanks to You website for more info, as each event has slightly differing terms.
A freebie in damp, chilly November? Just the ticket!
The quaint suburban borough of Richmond may be perched on the outskirts of London, but a hop on A South Western train will have you shooting out from London Waterloo in a matter of mere minutes – 20 to be more exact. The first place you should head to is Richmond’s Riverside.
Each time I amble along the tranquil pond-coloured waters, I feel a million miles away from London’s hectic city centre. The riverside is a wonder to walk any time of the year and winter is no exception. Often there will be a whole host of wildlife; a team of ducks quacking and herons standing proudly on their moss – so keep your eyes peeled on that frosty winter walk!
If gazing at the river isn’t enough for you, head to one of the cosy riverside pubs to reward yourself for your walking efforts. The iconic White Cross, perched next to the water, dishes up hearty British grub to warm your stomach; think beer battered fish and chips and tasty homemade pies.
Usually when I visit a city, I plan ahead by identifying what attractions I would like to see and then plan a route / days around it. So when I started planning our trip to London for October half-term I did just that. Then I came across The Original Tour and realised there was a whole other way of doing it! I have taken my eldest (age 9) to London before but for my youngest (age 7) it was his first trip. I asked what he wanted to see and given the following list; London Bridge, Tower of London, Big Ben and a cruise down the river. Crikey, I thought, how am I going to fit that in, with the other things I had planned (meeting friends in the Natural History Museum, Cutty Sark and, of course, Hamleys). This is where The Original Tour came to my rescue. If you haven’t come across it before, The Original Tour is a Hop-on, Hop-off bus which runs over 6 different routes and has over 80 stops (more than any other bus tour company in London). I realised I could tick off everything he wanted to do with ease using the yellow route. […]