London is like pineapple pizza. I have heard a ton of reviews both for and against the “vibe” of London, but a majority still seems inclined to one side. I personally lean to this majority – London is exuberant <insert all synonyms here>! Not only is London a hub for all things that scream “fun”, “new”, and historical it is also a hub to travel to a lot of wonderful sites, cities and countries.
As a student in London, you are bombarded with multiple opportunities during the holidays, specifically the winter ones. December is such a fun time in London, and although every person I knew in London broke into song and performed soliloquies about the exciting things one might access, I did still walked around in wide-eyed wonder as December came around.
Anyone who’s read anything about London knows that the Christmas festivities start right from November, and when in London, be a Londoner, eh? So here are a few (I cannot emphasize this word enough) options of what you might want to explore to take your pick:
You’ve had a long term. You worked hard. You need a break. Acknowledge it, take it, and don’t feel guilty. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it needs to be said. Not all of us have the bandwidth, time or money to spend on vacation, so just relax.
Do what it takes to give yourself some much-needed TLC. Some low-cost options include:
- Inviting your friends for a sleepover or potluck meal. Explore the cultures of the people in your course, get to know each other and be in the others’ company.
- Put on your PJs, stay at home, and cue those Christmas movies you know you want to watch.
- Give yourself a spa day at home – alone or with friends!
- Read a book of your choice especially if it is not academic in nature. You do you.
- Walk around the streets (especially the areas surrounding Trafalgar Square).
2) Winter festivities
London is such a great place to witness the wonders of Christmas. It needs to be said that the city goes all out! Go right ahead and immerse yourself in the extravagance it presents. I walked around like a wide-eyed child just gawking at the lights, the food, the roads, just anything that I could fix my eyes on. London has a bunch of cool festivities including and not limited to Winter Wonderland, Christmas Carolling at the Royal Albert Hall, the list goes on and on.
At the risk of sounding cliched, the best thing about this is that the each of these events is filled with smiling faces (under the mask, or so I assumed), lots of giggles and enough Christmas cheer to go around. As a person who is from a place that doesn’t traditionally celebrate Christmas with such pomp and glory, I found it fascinating to be a part of it all.
3) London is a hub with easy access to multiple places
Go traveling! A quick glance at a world map shows how many countries surround little old England. If you book your flight or train tickets in advance, you might get decent rates as well. Fancy a trip around the UK? The railcards are good investments. Three trips in, the cards usually pay for themselves.
Although this does require a bit of a monetary investment, planning in advance, booking traveller’s hostels (read: traveller’s hostels pre-COVID) and using student discounts will reduce your expenses. Saving up and planning advance are both keys to feeling good about traveling.
4) See the lights
Honestly, one of the best sights to see. My environmental reservations do flare up as I type this, but I do need to explain that they are a major attraction. Check out bus tours that take you on these routes across well-decorated streets, or just get your Google Maps out and just walk around like I did. You will also find some pretty light work on the roads as well! A quick google search will show you the best ones around. Here are some pictures from my personal camera roll!
5) Christmas Markets Galore
Ah, what is Christmas without some wining and dining in Christmas Markets? You will find no dearth in the number of markets around, each selling a different concoction of trinkets and meals. Find ones near you and hop in on the Christmas merriness. Beware the high prices though, as, after all, they are Christmas Markets!
6) Google “things to do in London on Christmas”
This one made you go “duh”, didn’t it? On a serious note though, when in doubt, Google it! The number of premade lists that present themselves to even specific interests you might have, will certainly blow your mind. Check them out, make a wish list, and slowly work your way through it over the months! You can also use this as an opportunity to spend some quality time with people with whom you would like to connect. Chat up your coursemates and make those lifelong connections through your winter break!