Christmas season is upon us which means it’s finally socially acceptable to curl up on the couch with your favourite festive movies. Once you finally get off the couch, dust off the popcorn kernels, and change out of your hot chocolate-stained sweatpants, you will be itching to experience some of the magic radiating from some of the most festive holiday movies to date. You might be surprised that if you are in London you can experience some of the fantastical cheer by visiting the filming locations of these classic holiday movies.
A cult classic and a beloved holiday movie, Love Actually has warmed all of our hearts every Christmas. Packed with too many British actors to name, it is a representation of almost all the successful acting talent that came out of Britain. But besides loving the movie for all our favorite actors on one screen, the London backdrop and festive locations make it the perfect movie to settle into a cozy night. If you are in London or want to make the much-needed trip, you can live out your Love Actually dreams, walking down the same streets where they filmed and recreating some of your favorite scenes.
The film took place all over London, so make a day of it and do a whole tour of every location used to bring this movie to life. Start at Heathrow airport where they filmed the iconic opening scene set to the beloved Beatles song. You can see where Peter and Juliet got married at Grosvenor’s Chapel and continue the saga by visiting where Mark made his memorable cue card declaration of love. Walk down the street where Hugh Grant knocked on every door looking for his assistant (but maybe don’t knock on every door). These are just a few of the many locations all over London but visit one or a ton and have your well-deserved Love Actually moment.
Bridget Jones Diary
Bridget Jones has been everyone’s favorite hopeless romantic ever since she hit the big screen wearing her classic Christmas sweater that would of course only capture the attention of someone named Mark Darcy. One of the most memorable scenes from the movie is the final moment when she reunited with Mr. Darcy (spoiler – but who wouldn’t see that coming?) as a flurry of snow enveloped them. Set in London, there are some popular filming locations that if they were not already on your list, you will be sure to add them now.
Bridget Jones has been everyone’s favorite hopeless romantic ever since she hit the big screen wearing her classic Christmas sweater
Borough Market, which is a must-see even if you are not a lover of the movie, is one of the places where you can have your own Bridget Jones moment. Bridget walks through the market to buy a Christmas tree, so if you have not gotten your tree yet you might want to snag one while you are there. Visit Bridget’s apartment above The Globe Tavern, maybe stopping for a pint inside to ward off the cold weather. And if you are a major Bridget Jones lover and have time to spend outside London, take a short trip to the village Cotswold, where they filmed her family’s Christmas party.
Last Christmas truly embodies London at its most festive.
This film may not be a cult classic yet but it is filled with all the festive and holiday cheer that you will likely be craving as we get closer to Christmas. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones you will recognize Emilia Clarke, or more commonly known as Daenerys Targaryen, as the star of the movie. Most of the filming takes place in the heart of London’s tourist center so if you are looking to do some touristy things while also visiting popular filming spots, you can kill two birds with one stone. Last Christmas truly embodies London at its most festive.
Covent Garden’s annual snow flurries will instantly put you in a Christmassy mood just as they did when watching Last Christmas. You can visit Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street, stepping into a Christmas Fantasy filled with holiday markets, warm drinks, and steaming food. There is really no better way to experience London during the holidays than by living out this movie.
If you are looking for less extravagant light displays and cozier, walk down cobbled streets vibes, then you probably already love this movie. Filmed in Shere, a small village in Surrey in South-East London, this film is a representation of all the quaint cottages and warm fires you will need to feel the Christmas spirit. The Holiday is one of those feel-good movies that instantly put you in the festive cheer and makes you have a major crush on Jude Law (if you watched the film and a small part of you didn’t fall in love with Jude Law, I commend you). Or if you have somehow never watched The Holiday but want to go live out your small-town Christmassy dreams this will be a must-see on the travel agenda.
A representation of all the quaint cottages and warm fires you will need to feel the Christmas spirit
Shere may not be in the middle of the action, but if you are tired of city life and suffocating on rush-hour tube rides, this would be the perfect day trip to put you in the holiday cheer and de-stress just in time for Christmas. And if you are thinking you might get bored in a small village all day, Shere has many places for you to see that will keep you occupied all the way until the sun goes down mid-afternoon. You can visit one of their two pubs, a tearoom, a small museum, and a lake filled with ducks to keep you entertained while you wait for Jude Law to come drunkenly knocking on your door.
About a Boy
While it may not be your most obvious Christmas film, About a Boy can still get you in the festive mood for some hot chocolate and family time with its heart-felt scenes coupled with wonderful winter London scenery. One can only hope that walking down the streets that Hugh Grant touched will give you some of his undeniable charm and light-heartedness as you wind down for the year. Regardless of if you are a fan of About a Boy or simply want to see new parts of London, you should try to hit some of their most popular sites. As some bonus Christmas points, the most significant aspect of Hugh Grant’s character is that he lives off royalties from his father’s hit Christmas song.
The movie primarily takes place in the borough of Islington which is a rural area away from any large tourist traps that lets you get more of a feel for London’s everyday life away from the flashy glamour. There is a myriad of independent coffee shops hidden on side streets as well as major chains such as Starbucks and Pret. To feel like you are not only in a movie, but living the life of an average Londoner, be sure to visit Islington to either grab a coffee or do some much-needed antique shopping for your holiday gifts.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
It really does not get more magical than this 2018 recreation of the classic Nutcracker ballet. While most of it was filmed in a studio in London, relying on heavy visual effects to bring the story to life, there are still some real locations used around the city that added to the surreal fantasy of this film. From lavish costumes to candle-lit rooms, this film is the epitome of Christmas in the span of two hours.
This film is the epitome of Christmas in the span of two hours
If you want to see some of the locations that were magical enough to inspire the set designer, go to places such as Kensington Gore, Syon House Great Conservatory, and Dulwich College. All of these locations appear in the movie either through the power of visual enhancement or physical filming. Packed with all the fantastical elements that we associate with Christmas time, this film will leave you feeling wonderstruck and ready to go experience some of the magic yourself.
A Christmas Carol
You may be wondering why this film made the list since it is primarily animated, but most of its scenes have locations you can visit in London today. All the films on this list are classics, but this story might just be the most iconic of them all. We can talk all day about the Charles Dickens book and how nice it is to reread every Christmas with a warm cup of tea, but instead we are here to talk about the 2009 film adaptation with Jim Carrey. Any movie that is based on A Christmas Carol has got to have some London roots in it since the book is literally set in the city. It seems fitting that this film will take you to some of the staple tourist spots that make you instantly think of London.
Any movie that is based on A Christmas Carol has got to have some London roots
As someone not from London, I can confirm that usually when you think of the city the first thing that comes to mind is the Big Ben. While the Big Ben is sadly still under construction (as of December 2021, that is), it never hurts to visit just to check it off your bucket list. If you want to see some classic spots that are not under construction though, you can go to Mansion House and Camden Town, both mentioned in A Christmas Carol. Present day Camden may look different from Dickens’ time though since back then it was a poverty-ridden area. Although now you can visit places like Camden Market and walk down the remaining cobbled streets that were an inspiration for the story.