Outdoor skating rinks spring up in London’s favourite landmarks each winter. Skate in the grounds of the Tower of London or take to the rink in the Natural History Museum’s gardens. At Kew Gardens the palm-filled Temperate House form an unlikely backdrop to their 1000-square-metre rink as skaters flash or stumble by, or warm up with mulled wine.
Cries of ‘it’s behind you’ and ‘oh no it isn’t!’ can only mean the great British pantomime season has arrived. Theatre stages fill with cross-dressing dames and romantic heroines bullied by their wicked stepmothers, played by soap stars and family entertainers. Audience participation is all part of the fun.
The major department stores around Oxford Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly entice shoppers with lavish window displays from the artistic to the downright dramatic. Look out for Selfridges’ high-tech exhibitions and Hamleys’ glittering world of toys. Over in Knightsbridge, the windows of top department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols draw the crowds, and might even put you in the mood for the popular post-Christmas sales.
A pint in a cosy pub
Cocoon yourself on a cold winter’s day with a pint of ale in front of an crackling fire – even better with a traditional pub lunch for fuel. Relax by the coals at the Star Tavern in west London’s fashionable Belgravia, or the country pub ambience of Hampstead’s 16th-century Spaniards Inn after a brisk walk over Hampstead Heath. Rest your feet after shopping in the winter sales by the the huge chimney-less fire at Cittie of York not far from Oxford Street.