Alongside these age-old traditions, there are some new quirky and fun activities emerging and may well develop into a holiday tradition, where a visit to one or more of its destinations will be on a Christmas visit list. If you are contemplating something different, unique to do during the holidays, here is a shortlist of quirky ideas to experience at Christmas in London which you may wish to explore.
With so many quirky and fun activities to do in London, the 8 listed here are by no means an exhaustive list but it is worth exploring.
1 | Backyard Cinema| Quirky Ideas to experience at Christmas in London
Watch a movie in a cinema like never before. Journey through a magical world of enchanted forest in a Winter Night Garden or find the secret entrance, explore the enchanted Snow Kingdom and go in search of the hidden cinema to watch your favourite movie. Select from a wide range of holiday favourites such as Home Alone, Love Actually, The Holiday, Trading Places, Pretty Woman and so many more.
2 | The Great Christmas Feast | Quirky Ideas to experience at Christmas in London
Be transported to Victorian London through a secret door in a secret location for an immersive experience of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. The story unfolds all around as you Indulge in a mouthwatering yuletide gastronomy of Victorian street food and feast.
4 | The Piano Works| Quirky Ideas to experience at Christmas in London
For an unforgettable fun evening, head over to the Piano Works. A bar with non-stop music of audience requested songs. Sing-a-long into the night with steak or ribs, buddha bowls and vegan shepherd’s pie. A favourite for music lovers.
Right in the heart of London Fitzrovia is an exotic restaurant in an exotic setting serving exotic dishes such as kangaroo, python, crocodile and crispy zebra “jerky” alongside traditional dishes of chicken and fish. A visit to Archipelago is, without a doubt, an evening to remember.
6 | Invisible City| Quirky Ideas to experience at Christmas in London
A short journey from the city of London, in Willesden is The Invisible City. This is an unusual experience to have at Christmas but I wanted to add it here for any one who wishes to experience the new sound art installation at Willesden Jewish Cemetery. A 21-acre landscape features the stories of people laid to rest in this, one of the most prestigious cemeteries in UK. Most of the ‘1970’s High Street’ can be found here including Jack Cohen (1898 – 1979) who founded Tesco.
Entry is Free. You can download the QR code onto any smartphone when you are onsite. There is a short trailer on the website.
7 | Harry Potter Studios at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Have a magical day and experience winter in Warner Bros Studio Tour. Join this behind-the-scenes tour of the making of Harry Potter series. Get close to the whimsical costumes and props, especially Dumbledore’s office and Hagrid’s Hut. This magical experience sells out fast so book your tickets several months ahead.
Learn how the iconic train scenes were filmed, and browse through your favorite character’s luggage! For the first time ever, enter the set of Gringotts Wizarding Bank! Walk through the wizarding bank of Gringott’s, the Lestrange vault, a gallery of goblins, and much more. Admire the imposing marble columns and discover the costumes and prosthetics belonging to Bogrod, Griphook, and many other Golbin bankers. You’ll have approximately 4 hours to enjoy the magic of the Harry Potter studio.
See London at its best at Christmas and be dazzled by the glittering festive lights display from onboard an open top bus tour. The tour is led by an expert guide and the journey takes the route along all the Christmassy shop display. As well the Regent Street, Oxford Street, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, theLondon Eyeand Tower Bridge.
Coal Drops Yard at Christmas in Kings Cross London
In the heart of Kings Cross, there is a beautiful area that brings a totally different atmosphere to the hustle and bustle of London City life. This hidden gem of traffic-free Victorian cobbled streets and red-brick arches adds a unique flavour to the shopping and dining culture in London. It is even more spectacular during the festive season. Located within a 5-minute walk of Kings Cross Station, the Coal Drops Yard at Christmas is a destination not to be missed. The magical, merry and bright lights at the upscale Coal Drops Yard shopping and dining area is atmospheric, presented in an unusually Christmassy tree entwined with a ‘green spirit’.
Coal Drops Yard at Christmas and its very special untraditional Christmas tree
The unusual Christmas installations at Coal Drops Yard is a huge 8.5 metre (28 ft) high Terrarium Tree. It is a creation by the Botanical Boys. This magnificent creation feature 70 terrariums with each containing a unique, individual mini garden. The terrariums are surrounded by 168 mirrored baubles in differing sizes, bringing the unconventional Christmas tree to life with its glowing reflections. Added to this is the illumination from below, casting a beautiful warm glow across the courtyard.
In keeping with their green spirit, the terrariums will grow in their baubles throughout this festive season. When the festivities are over, the terrariums will be re-homed in 2021. As well, the main structure of the tree is reusable and will be transformed into new tree designs.
Coal Drops Yard at Christmas – A place to Shop, Eat, Drink & Explore
Along with the magical and festive spirit, the shops at Coal Drops Yard are adding to the merry cheer of Christmas shopping. With Christmas being a little different this year with much of Christmas shopping done online, the many brands home to Coal Drops Yard are offering exclusive in-store discounts.
From new names to well-known brands such as &- Other Stories, one-stop styling destinations, to Wolf & Badger, an independent homeware and beauty brand, Coal Drops Yard is the place for unique and extraordinary gifts.
Wider Kings Cross area is a foodie hotspot that has something for everyone and for every budget. The restaurants, bars and cafes at Coal Drops Yard offer cosy terraces and covered spaces to welcome diners for authentic dining experiences.
Many of the eateries at Coal Drops Yard have beautiful terraces with al fresco dining along with outdoor heating and blankets to ward-off the winter chill.
For fun and authentic Mexican corn tortillas, tacos and tostadas with refreshing tequila, head over to Plaza Pastor. It is a permanent outdoor venue, totally covered and heated.
The Drop is an elegant wine bar nestled under the old Victorian arches and has seating outdoors with good heating. The wine list is said to be one of the best around and they serve responsibly sourced oysters, meat and cheeses.
Explore the surrounds of Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross London
Explore the surrounding areas such as the Granary Square which is home to some fantastic places to eat and drink. There are a good selection of terraces where you could enjoy a coffee or a cocktail and watch the goings-on. The most popular place, without a doubt is the Granary Building, home to Caravan and Granary Square Brasserie. Also, either watch or experience the Fountains at Granary Square – the aqua-choreography of 1080 jets!
As well, you could grab yourself a drink or immerse yourself in a book on the steps by Regent’s Canal. Regent’s Canal runs through the heart of Kings Cross and has been transformed to be an important part of this neighbourhood at Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square. As you walk along the canal from Granary Square towards Gasholder Park, you will see Camley Street Nature Park.
A nature reserve, Camley Street Nature Park was created from a two-acre coal yard in 1984. The beautiful woodland, the grassland and wetland habitats provide a haven for birds, butterflies and plant life. A little further along the towpath, you will reach Gasholder Park and St Pancras Cruising Club. St Pancras Cruising Club is a lovely spot to enjoy a slower pace of life.
A little background to Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross London
Opened in October 2018, Coal Drops Yard is part of the wider redevelopment of Kings Cross area in Central London offering high-end shopping and dining experiences. Home to a wonderful mix of independent shops and signature brands from both home and abroad, visiting Coal Drops Yard is an experience in itself. Seeing how beautiful it is today, you would never know that this area was once used as warehouses for storing coal, colonised by a nightclub and formed part of derelict London branded by prostitution and drug-dealing.
Built in 1850, the two long Victorian warehouses has attached train viaducts. The two-storey brick and cast-iron sheds were used to receive and store coal for London from South Yorkshire, North of England. About 8 million tonnes were transported each year, trans-shipped via the Regent’s Canal and horse-drawn carts to heat homes and businesses in the City of London. As coal usage declined, the warehouses were adapted for light industry and storage. There was a nightclub here as well, Bagley’s which was closed in 2007. Eventually, the area fell into disuse by the late 1990s.
The redevelopment was designed by Thomas Heatherwick to a clean, prosperous, managed area and opening the area up to the public, linking the long viaducts and the space between them for people to enjoy. While adapting the space to modern use, the historic significance of the Victorian viaducts and cobbled streets are respected.
Practical Information for Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, London
Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4DQ
Coal Drops Yard is open to visitors between 10am-11pm. Please check individual retailer pages for opening hours and information.
How to get to Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross London
As it is in the heart of the City of London, the most convenient way to reach Coal Drops Yard is by public transport to Kings Cross Station or St Pancras Station. At Kings Cross Station, access via King’s Boulevard or King’s Cross Square – follow signs for Regent’s Canal, cross the bridge over the canal, and Coal Drops Yard is on the left, just off Granary Square.
Plan ahead > Places to Stay near Kings Cross
As Kings Cross is in the heart of London, there are many possibilities for accommodation. From budget, mid-range apartments to luxurious 5-star accommodation near Kings Cross London. If you are considering a stay at a beautiful affordable reputable hotel, I would recommend staying at the Copthorne Tara Hotel, Kensington. or the Millennium Gloucester Hotel Kensington
Firstly, Copthorne Tara Hotel Kensington is a 4-star rated accommodation and offers easy access to transportation at High Street Kensington. You could dine on site for a modern British and European cuisine – but why would you when you can get to Coal Drops Yard in an easy taxi ride or by the London Underground to Kings Cross.
Secondly, the Millennium Gloucester Hotel Kensington is also a 4-star rated accommodation set against fashionable South Kensington, with easy access to Victoria Albert Museum, Hyde Park and Gloucester Road tube station. Staying here will also give you easy access to Coal Drops Yard and surrounds of Kings Cross.
The Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Group run seasonal campaigns and offer discounts for their members as well which may be something of value to you if you are considering travels and enjoying their hospitality at your selected destinations. Use the link below and search for your stay.
For a greater selection of accommodation to suit every budget, including self-catered apartments, long-stay, family vacation, look-up booking dot com who are my go-to search engine for good quality places to stay.
A visit to Coal Drops Yard at Christmas or at any time of the year and you will find that it is a place of culture, food and great vibes. There are so many choices to satisfy one’s gastronomic cravings with a great combination of boutiques, restaurants, coffee bars and plenty of outdoor spaces. Both Granary Square and Regent’s Canal are great for people watch or to read a book. Coal Drops Yard is a destinations that should top your list when in London.
Have you visited Coal Drops Yard? If you have, please do share your experiences — you never know who you might inspire. If you are yet to, was this article valuable to you in planning your visit to Coal Drops Yard? If so, let me know in comments below. Would love to hear from you.
Have a wonderful time exploring Coal Drops Yard.
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Coal Drops Yard at Christmas in Kings Cross London first published at timelesstravelsteps.com Updated October 19, 2021
It does not take too long after Halloween for London to dazzle, dazzle, dazzle the skies and bring on the festive spirit in style. Experience the magic of Christmas in the heart of London. Christmas lights display in London is incredible and special. The dazzling array of winter lights all over London has brought a irrepressible sparkle and much festive cheer to brighten up winter nights. London’s sparkly winter destinations will be buzzing again. For some festive fun and cheer at Christmas, come over to London and experience the best 10 Christmas lights in London.
This article lists the best 10 Christmas lights in London you could visit during the festive season to experience the magical dazzling lights in London.
Georgina says: Get on your walking shoes and explore London City by night 🙂 The best time to view these lights and to capture good photos from various angles is in the evenings after the shops close for business. Less crowd. You could easily walk from one block to another (except the Winterfest in Wembley which is about 25 minutes train journey from central London and Kew Gardens which is about 30 minutes) to view. Most of my night-time photos in this article were taken between 10:00 pm and 01:00 am. I am sure you would love an adventure such as this too, if you so desire. I think this is an experience to top any list.
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Best 10 Christmas Lights in London – An Unbelievable Dazzling Array of Sparkles
Every year, the dazzling Christmas lights display in London are a must-see event. The following best 10 Christmas Lights is by no means an exhaustive list. However, it should top any list.
1 | Carnaby Street London Christmas Lights Display
Carnaby’s Christmas lights are always a special treat. The theme that Carnaby chooses to highlight each year relates to current issues that are close to people’s hearts.
In 2019 Carnaby chose a quirky underwater theme. It teamed-up with ocean conservation charity Project 0 for this sustainable display. The display featured bubble-blowing whale, glittering underwater creatures such as giant clusters of jellyfish and 200 illuminated vampire squid. All made using recycled and reusable materials.
The 2020 Christmas Lights display was another event that reflected the spirit of Londoner’s and what we have all been experiencing this challenging year. Carnaby teamed up with charity, Choose Loveto display a message of Hope and Kindness with bright pink neon lights. Each light displays a positively strong message such as ‘Give’, ‘Heart’, ‘Hope’, ‘Love’, just to name a few, making Carnaby Street as one of the best 10 Christmas lights in London.
In 2021, along with a partnership with Choose Love, a display of over 600 fluttering neon butterfiles illuminates Carnaby this Christmas.
FREE Event | November 4 2021 – Early January 2022 | Location: Carnaby Street, Soho | Nearest Station: Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus | Website: https://www.carnaby.co.uk/
2 | Regent Street Angels | Best 10 Christmas Lights in London
The glorious and amazing golden angels over Regent Street are back this year. Adding that glittering sparkle to our festive cheer in London. “The Spirit of Christmas” by Regent Street this year is better, bigger and dramatic representing “spirits” sweeping through the length of the street.
Looking up at the sweeping canopy of twinkling lights in varying shades of white creating a coordinated ripple effect is simply quite magical – making Regent Street sparkle and dazzle bright in the moonlight. This is one Christmas lights display that brings light, warmth and joy to everyone who come to experience Regent Street lights in London at Christmas. Switched on in the evenings only, from 4 pm to midnight to ensure a sustainable display.
FREE Event | November 14, 2021 to early January 2022 | Location: Regent Street, London | Nearest Stations: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road | Website: https://www.regentstreetonline.com/
Christmas at Kew is a perfect festive winter event of magical light trail across its gardens. Their sparkling after dark trail holds new surprises each year for visitors young and old. A sell-out event, visitors can expect to enter a botanical world of magical colours and enchanting optics of a mile long of illuminations. The trail features trees with swirls of neon lights, glowing cherry blossom walkway, singing Rose Garden and so much more. The magical evening draws to a close with the Temperate House springing to life with illuminations. A dancing spectrum of colours to seasonal music envelopes the iconic glasshouse.
New in 2020 was a tunnel adorned with canopy of starry lanterns.
The 2019 highlight of “Waterfall of Lights” cascading from their 18 metre high Treetop Walkway with “spiralling columns of light cascading from the canopy above” made a return for 2020. Another firm favourite year on year, Cathedral of Lights made a return as well.
This truly mesmerising experience is one not to miss as well, if you are in London.
Christmas at Kew is a ticketed event. Tickets must be purchased in advance. You can select a time slot that is convenient for you at the time of purchase.
Ticketed Event | Location: Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE | November 17, 2021 – January 9, 2022 | 4 pm – 10 pm | Nearest station: Kew Gardens, Disctrict Line on the Richmond branch | Website: Christmas at Kew 2022 for tickets availability and related information.
4 | Oxford Street London Christmas Lights Display
You know Christmas is here when you are in Oxford Street. The amazing seasonal window displays line up the infamous shopping street in the world and the sparkly lights above you.
In 2019, Oxford Street installed new and spectacular lights. The display featured 27 LED light curtains, made up of 222,000 sparkling lights draped over the length of the shopping street. In 2021 the lights were a tribute to NHS staff and key workers, with the name of a nominated ‘Hero’ appearing on lights display.
FREE Event | 2021 lights are here! November to early January 2022 | Nearest Stations: Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street, Marble Arch and Piccadilly Circus | Website: https://www.oxfordstreet.co.uk/
As you walk along Oxford Street, look at the side roads too. The incredible Christmas lights display in Bond Street and South Molton Street are not to miss.
5 | New Bond Street | Best 10 Christmas Lights in London
New Bond Street, a glamorous part of London looks even more flamboyant with its giant illuminated peacock feathers.
The lights are technically white but radiate a dash of blue hues, illuminating the whole street.
As one of the best 10 Christmas lights in London, the magical lights at Bond Street does not just stop at brightening up the streets for the festive season, The window-displays of London’s grandeur shopping district adds sparkle and good cheer as the countdown begins for the reopening in December of their famed luxury boutiques, galleries and bars.
FREE Event | November 2021 – early January 2022 | Location: W1 | Nearest Underground Station: Bond Street – Central and Jubilee Lines | Website: https://bondstreet.co.uk/
6 | Mayfair/South Molton Street, London
There is no Christmas lights display in central London that is quite so sparkly blue as that in South Molton Street. A traffic-free shopping area, the street dazzles with starry-arches for pedestrians to walk through. These photogenic lights are not hung high up. You could walk up close and take a few selfies as festive memories.
Located just next to Bond Street Underground Station, you can’t miss it.
FREE Event | November 2021 – January 5, 2022 | Location: W1 | Nearest Underground Station: Bond Street – Central and Jubilee Lines
7 |Marylebone Village | Best 10 Christmas Lights in London
The sparkly lights are on in Marylebone Village. Bringing festive cheer and celebrations to the residents, businesses and visitors to this boutique filled neighbourhood.
FREE Event | Location: Marylebone, London | November 10, 2021 to early January 2022 | Nearest stations: Bond Street, Baker Street | Website: https://www.marylebonevillage.com/
8 | Kings Cross, London at Christmas
Kings Cross pulled out all the stops in 2020 by bringing not one but three unique Christmas trees together with all the festive finery. First though, you will find this illumination just outside Kings Cross Station.
8.1 | The Nemeton Tree, Granary Square
The Granary Square feature the 36ft high Electric Nemeton Tree, designed by local architecture practice, Sam Jacob Studios. It brings together the origins of Christmas tree traditions, a fairy-tale forest and the symbolism of midwinter tree with modern architecture.
Inspired by ancient Celtic religion, Nemeton or Nemeta (plural) were sacred spaces situated in natural environment, often involving trees. They were known as sacred groves, called Nemeton,
8.2 | Terrarium Tree at Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, London
At Coal Drops Yard, there is the sustainable creation Terrarium Tree by Botanical Boys.
The Terrarium Tree is 28 ft tall and feature 70 terrariums, each a living miniature garden surrounded by 168 mirrored baubles. Each comes in varying sizes.
8.3 | People’s Tree, Battle Bridge Place, Kings Cross, London
The final piece at Battle Bridge Place is the People’s Tree.
It is interactive, and multicoloured. It illuminates by the sensory movements of people when they place their palm over the sensory button.
9 | St PancrasInternational, London and it’s Christmas cheer
In 2020, the magical Christmas tree at St Pancras, International was a beautiful 34ft high tree, dressed in pink. The ‘Tree of Hope’ pays tribute to the NHS and key workers who have carried the UK through the challenging times of 2020.
Adorned in 1200 metres of pink ribbons with printed messages of love, hope, and empathy together with a whimsical carousel at the base. Designed in partnership with EL&N, the tree carries a festive message ‘Wishing you a season of sweetness’ adding a festive feel to the somewhat quiet but a delightful concourse.
FREE Event | Location: Concourse, St Pancras International | 2021 TBC | Nearest station: Kings Cross St Pancras | Website: https://stpancras.com/
Christmas is on at Wembley Park, home to the iconic Wembley Stadium. In 2020, the scheduled Winterfest and the ‘Reflections of Future’ illuminations were postponed to November 2021, but the ‘United in Light’ Christmas display was on.
The theme ‘United in Light’ featured the hugely popular London’s tallest LED tree at the Royal Triangle, outside London Designer Outlet. In 2020, the tree was adorned with a very special design and a heartwarming message of unity, hope and joy, ‘Aurora Arbour’ by artist, Siân Bliss. ‘Aurora Arbour’ is based on the concept of movements of a winter night’s sky. We can all see the same sky even when we are separated. Watch the video at the top of this article for a virtual experience.
In keeping with the spirit of unity, hope and joy, the Christmas Lights Display at Wembley Park also featured an inspiring artwork by East London artist, Tash Randolph. The artwork reflect the strength of the community facing the pandemic together at a time when they are asked to stay apart.
Along with the spectacular tree, the neighbourhood was lit up with digital animations of sunrises, moon cycles and aurora borealis across Bobby Moore Bridge. As well, visitors can take that perfect photo for their Instagram feed in the designated selfie spots.
2021 sees the immersive winter light trail with the theme “Reunited in Light”
FREE Event | Location: Wembley Park, | November 24, 2021 – January 9, 2022 | Nearest stations: Wembley Park Station – Jubilee and Metropolitan lines; Wembley Central Station – London Overground Line | Website: https://wembleypark.com/christmas-wembley-park/
Practical points to consider when visiting the best 10 Christmas Lights in London
Here is a quick look at some practical points and travel resources to consider when planning your special timeless trip to London during the festive season.
Travel resources at a Glance
Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.
Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa
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I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com
My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine areMillennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.
Unique experiences & tours
My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.
Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.
Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.
Guided tours to add value to your visit:
I would also suggest that you check out some evening tours around the city of London. Organised activities add value to experiences and you learn so much from knowledgeable local guide. The following selected four are great and fun to go for: