My beloved New York City never shines as bright as between Thanksgiving and New Year’s – it’s hardly an original opinion, and yet I can’t help but to reinforce it. I have blogged several other years about holiday decor (here from 2014, here from 2015, here from 2016, holiday markets, Dyker Heights lights in 2019 and earlier in 2014, how NYC decorated during the pandemic in 2020, etc., etc.). But my second-favorite city is London, and they certainly know how to do the holiday season extravagantly as well. I have visited many many times over the years, but only once before during the holiday season (in 2011). I was fortunate enough to spend Thanksgiving week in London just last month (2022). I simply couldn’t stop taking photos, and felt completely immersed in the holiday spirit during the entire delightful week. Here are a few of the highlights of the 2022 holiday decorations and markets as I came across them during my stay.
First, let’s talk about the Holiday Markets. They are all over London, and full of shopping, snacking, and eating opportunities. The market all along the south bank of the Thames was a lot of fun, stretching from the London Eye past the National Theatre and almost to the Tate Modern. There was a terrific market at Trafalgar Square, and a quite large and raucous one at Leicester Square. See here for a video of marshmallow toasting at the Leicester Square market.
Covent Garden, one of my favorite places to wander in London, has not only a Holiday Market added to the normal plethora of shops, but also fantastic decor, entertaining buskers, and restaurants along with snacks. Props to their classy use of a disco ball, which gives a subtle snow effect at night (see it here). I thoroughly enjoyed seasonal gingerbread and along with Ben’s cookies, which are always there – and always worth the wait!
Harrod’s was well-decorated as always, and I never go to London without including a lengthy visit to their food hall. In addition to looking at all the fun holiday foods, I was able to get several items to go for an impromptu lunch al fresco.
And Fortnum & Mason! Ah, to dream of receiving one of those huge Christmas hampers!
Borough Market is another of my favorite places in London, decorated festively, and providing an opportunity to have absolutely the best cheese sandwich in the world.
Somerset House has a wonderful skating rink – see here for a video including the cutest tiny skater.
Christmas trees are of course everywhere. I particularly liked the one at the London Transport Museum adorned with double-decker buses and the one at the Buckingham Palace gift shop entirely decorated by crowns.
In Hyde Park, they had set up a Winter Wonderland, with food, drink, and carnival rides. I discovered that a “helter skelter” is a traditional British ride where you sit on a mat and go down a curvy slide. There was a real ice slide that I went down – twice – on an inflatable tube, a haunted house, a fun house, and the opportunity to try “tornado chips” (a potato sliced in a spiral, skewered, fried, and dusted with garlic salt – absolutely delish).
The wonderful thing about London during the holiday season is that you don’t even need to seek out decorations – you will come across them everywhere you go. They are all festive during the day but particularly magical at night. As the days grow so short and the nights so long, this celebration of light and joy is particularly appreciated.
Of course I enjoyed the London theatre scene while there, and indulged in several pints of draught lager as well as an absolutely yummy gingerbread milkshake spiked with Bailey’s (find it at Byron), but what made this trip special was being immersed in the London holiday spirit. And then I was able to come home to New York City and appreciate this most special time here as well.
Here’s to many merry celebrations as we all end 2022, and look forward with hope and anticipation to 2023!