Living in London during Christmas time results in a series of events that include ditching the diet, stressing over shopping, and spending way more money than you have. While there is nothing we can do about the temptation to eat all the chocolate, drinks, and treats offered basically everywhere we go, there are a few ways to save a bit of extra money while also feeling the holiday spirit. There are many places in London where you can experience Christmas without spending a single pence so that come January, your bank account will thank you for skipping another trip to Winter Wonderland.

Visit Covent Garden

You can find all the festive cheer in one place by visiting Covent Garden during the holiday season. Their market has been transformed for Christmas and is lit up with dazzling lights while also pumping festive music through the speakers. The projected snow flurries will pair perfectly with the already cold weather, making you feel like you have stepped straight into a holiday movie. Grab some warm treats at local restaurants or simply snag a hot chocolate and go stand by their massive Christmas tree, soaking up all the holiday feels. You may even be able to get some much-needed Christmas shopping done as you wander in the market. Covent Garden is the perfect place to feel extremely festive without breaking the bank.

Winterfest at Wembley Park

Winterfest is back and it is just as magnificent as ever. The free Christmas trail at Wembley Park is packed with dazzling light displays, a showstopping tree, and new art installations. This light trail is filled with so many mesmerizing displays you will find your jaw dropping lower each time you reach a new installation. Start at the celebration lights display right outside Wembley Park Station and make your way all the way to the City Light’s Christmas Tree outside the London designer outlet. These designs are so grand and eye-catching they may just make you forget the cold.

Winterfest is back and it's just as magnificent as ever

Southbank’s Winter Market

The usual tourist hub will be turned into a lavish winter market filled with enough food, drinks, and shops to keep you occupied for hours. Of course, if you are not looking to spend any more money this Christmas, just walking along the River Thames under the twinkling lights will be more than enough to get you in the holiday spirit. The markets are designed to look like traditional alpine-style chalets which will give the impression of being transported into a small Christmassy village. The only problem is you may be tempted to buy way more than your stomach and wallet allow.

Richmond Park Deer

They may not have reindeers but Richmond Park is packed with so many deer you will probably end up seeing enough of them to feel like you are in the North Pole. There are about 630 Red and Fallow deer roaming freely in the area since 1637. The park is free to the public and if you want to experience less in-your-face Christmas and have the feel of the winter season without all the bright lights and packed people, a trip here is perfect. Feel comforted by the open fields, trees, and deer, letting you have the rustic Christmas of your dreams. Be careful not to step too close to the deer though since they are definitely not as friendly as the ones in the Christmas movies.

Lower Morden Lane

Considered one of London’s most Christmassy streets, Lower Morden Lane is the place to go if you want to see some houses decked out in the most extravagant lights displays. Every year they go all out on the decorations, fully cementing their status as one of London’s most festive streets. If you are struggling with Christmas decoration ideas for your house, this will probably offer more inspiration than you asked for. The residents of these houses ask for a donation to St Raphael’s Hospice, One Step at a Time, and the Mayor of Merton’s Charity Trust upon visiting but it is entirely optional so if you just want to walk around in a Christmas movie come to life, this place is free and open to the public.

Considered one of London's most Christmassy streets

Ever After Garden at Grosvenor Square

Inspired by a tragic backstory but rooted in a good cause, the Ever After Garden is a place where people can lay white roses in remembrance of loved ones lost. Upon arriving at Grosvenor Square you can purchase a white rose that directly supports the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. The white roses will be illuminated creating an almost magical look as they contrast the night sky. While it may not be the most traditional Christmas activity, a lot of the holiday season is rooted in connecting with friends and family. Seeing these roses lit up for anyone you have lost could be a beautiful way to honor their memory this Christmas.

Nine Elms Advent Calendar

The Nine Elms Art Ministry has transformed itself into an advent calendar for the holiday season. If you follow their art trail, you can see 24 window installations all decked out for Christmas. The trail starts at Nine Elms Lane right next to the US Embassy and ends at St. George Church. If you cannot make it on foot, every day they are highlighting one venue, installation, and artist online. If you want to see some magnificent art outside a museum, you will love this real-life advent calendar.

You will not want to miss out on this advent calendar come to life

Visit London’s Most Iconic Stores

We all know Harrod’s reputation for being luxurious and, more significantly, usually way out of our budget. But you cannot deny that they have some of the most festive decorations to put you instantly in the holiday spirit. Just wandering around Harrods will leave you wanting to go straight home and change into your favorite Christmas pajamas before jumping into bed with a cozy movie.

Harvey Nichols is a must-see place to get in the festive mood. Just standing outside the massive store in Knightsbridge, you already feel the holiday spirit radiating from inside. Beyond the extravagant restaurants and shops, the atmosphere is perfect for someone looking to get out of the cold for a while and experience all London’s holiday vibes.

The best part is visiting all these stores is entirely free as long as you can avoid the temptation to shop

If those two aren’t enough, make time to pop over to Selfridges and Liberty as they both have been decked out for the holidays. Liberty just so happens to be on Regent Street so if you get cold from walking around and seeing the lights, you will not be disappointed if you take a warm break inside. Meanwhile, Selfridges has a “Christmas of Dreams” theme this year for their window displays which look so inviting you will have no choice but to step inside the stores.

And the best part about visiting all these stores is it’s free as long as you can avoid the temptation to buy from the various shops inside.

Harrods

Hit the Streets

The beauty of London during Christmas time is that you do not even have to be looking for a light display to see the most magical creations. Almost every restaurant has embraced the holiday season by either having lights up or a Christmas tree inside. Streets such as Oxford Street, Regent Street, Duke of York Square, and Bond Street are all packed with some of the best lights displays you will see in London. Just walk around to your favorite street, square, or restaurant, and you will most likely be greeted with some of the most Christmassy displays.

A few personal favorites of ours are Regent Street and Carnaby Street. Regent Street’s Christmas theme this year is ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ so those massive angels you may have seen hanging over the streets in central London are courtesy of this display. Get in the festive mood by window shopping on this lavishly decorated street. Another popular place to visit is Carnaby Street which is borderline unrecognizable during this Christmas season. They have so much entertainment to keep you busy such as butterfly stilt walkers, impromptu mariachi bands, and exclusive holiday deals from restaurants and shops. If you are bummed you cannot make the trip out to London this December, Carnaby Street has a full 3D, interactive viewing of their Christmas decorations on their website so you can experience some of the magic. The moral of the story: get out this Christmas and hit the streets!

Duke of York Square
Regent Street
Carnaby Street

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