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Christmas in London - Weekend Break - Suggestions that won't break the bank

(33 Posts)
Elsashmelsa Thu 06-Aug-15 09:17:40

Hi there,

Earlier this year we went to London for a long weekend. We took DD (5 then now 6) and she loved it. Bizarrely her favourite bit was jumping on and off the tubes and going up and down the escalators - but then we are country bumpkins... LOL

So we've decided to go to London again for two nights in December (travelling after school on the Friday and coming back on the Sunday evening).

The trouble is, we don't generally go on holidays because they're too expensive so I do need to be conscious of cost.

So far for the trains it's costing £176 return (which is actually pretty good) and we can get a Travelodge in Kings Cross for £200 for all of us for two nights, again not too bad for Central London. But I'm looking for Xmassy things to do.

I wanted to do a show but we just can't afford it. It would need to be something that DD would like, Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but for decent seats they're upwards from £70 each, just too much. Plus we're taking her to see Annie in September near us so at least she would have seen one smile.

Is there a good Santas Grotto that we can book for? (I'm thinking Selfridge's or Hamleys). Where else can we go or look at that will feel Xmassy (not just the shops - that's just where I'd like to spend my time - DD and DH probably won't be as keen... smile).

Any suggestions would be fab, thank you!!

Heels99 Thu 06-Aug-15 09:21:14

Winter wonderland but it will be packed.
Sit at front of top deck of bus and go down oxford st to see lights
Selfridges windows
Took my dds aged 5 and it was just too busy in the west end we were all frazzled by it! Good luck!

Elsashmelsa Thu 06-Aug-15 09:30:05

Thank you Heels.

Is Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park? I was just googling and that came up, I think she would like that.

Are there any decent grottos? I can see the Harrods one advertised and tickets go on sale on the 14th of September, although I also read somewhere that you have to be a 'Reward Member' to get one, is that right?

FrancesHaHa Thu 06-Aug-15 09:33:06

You could try one of the smaller theatres for cheaper tickets - Little Angel puppet theatre is good for this age, and not far from Kings Cross.

Also last year Winterville in Victoria Park looked good, as an alternative to Winter Wonderland. It might be a bit less packed, and again not too far from Kings Cross.

Elsashmelsa Thu 06-Aug-15 09:38:54

Thank you FrancesHaHa, I will look at the smaller theatres.

Do they do Musicals though? DD is massively into singing and music at the moment and I think would prefer a musical (having said that I could be totally wrong!!).

butmumineedit Thu 06-Aug-15 09:40:37

Just to say trains will probably be a bit cheaper in a couple of weeks as they tend to release them 12 weeks before you travel and so might be worth waiting a bit . Took our Dc to see Matlida 2 years ago and brought the cheapest seats up in the Gods for £15 each and the view was still good as it is a small theatre might be worth a look at.

NicoleWatterson Thu 06-Aug-15 09:41:18

Kew Gardens do a really magical night with incredible lights and toasting marshmallows on fires. Much much nicer then winter wonderland.

SanityClause Thu 06-Aug-15 09:41:27

See if there's anything on at the National. They often do good children's things, and there are often cheaper tickets.

We used to go to Hamleys in early November, each year, when the DC were small, and it was always massively packed, even then.

Obviously, there is the big tree in Trafalgar Square, to see. There are also quite a few ice skating venues. I think the Natural History Museum does it, and Somerset House.

I have to say, as someone who lives in greater London, I would avoid central London like the plague, at Christmas. (I would go to Bath, instead, or Bruges.)

QueenMas Thu 06-Aug-15 09:47:24

Definitely go to the Christmas market on the Southbank, its lovely in the evening with all the lights and views of Parliament etc.

They usually have some rides for the kids, plus mulled wine, hot chocolate, lots of food... We go every year. And it's free!

quesadillas Thu 06-Aug-15 09:47:31

There's usually a Christmas market along the South Bank which is nice to wander through. Obviously there's stuff for sale, but you don't have to spend money. There's food stalls too, which could be cheaper and more Christmassy than lunch in a restaurant. Check out what's on at the South Bank Centre too, they often put on cheap events and things for children.

SweetCharityBeginsAtHome Thu 06-Aug-15 09:58:04

Have you got a Friends and Family travelcard? That should cut the cost of the train enough to repay itself. And yes, wait until the super saver tickets are released.

I suspect there'll be good smaller scale children's shows on offer at the Unicorn etc. Or The Nutcracker will be being performed somewhere. But don't rule out cheap seats for the big musicals.

Harrods toy department is excellent even if you don't get tickets for Santa. Hamleys is hell on earth but with one five year old possibly worth a visit. And a walking tour of the best Christmas lights and shop windows will keep everyone happy (DH can take DD into Starbucks for emergency hot chocolate breaks while you do a swift bit of shopping). Selfridges-St Christopher Place-South Molton Street-New Bond Street-Fortnum and Mason is normally a good route.

JassyRadlett Thu 06-Aug-15 10:00:55

Covent Garden is always gorgeous at Christmas (and free).

stuckinahole Thu 06-Aug-15 10:07:28

Winter Wonderland

Oliversmumsarmy Thu 06-Aug-15 10:18:28, we went to see Gypsy last week, granted it was on a Monday evening, we got starter and main in a nice pizza restaurant and "best available" seats for £24 each. The tickets up in the Gods were £24 so we thought if we get the meal for free and we end up in the upper circle then fine. When we arrived at the Theatre we were given fantastic stalls seats middlish of the middle row with uninterrupted view of the stage. Can thorough recommend Gypsy fantastic show.

Blinkinwinkin Thu 06-Aug-15 10:29:48

Spend an evening visiting all the Christmas lights, Regent St, Covent Garden etc. What about a panto instead of a musical? The big ones are Wimbledon & Richmond but there are lots of great local ones, like the Lyric, Hammersmith, Mermaid theatre which will be more vfm.
South Bank Christmas market is cheaper than Winter Wonderland and just as good. Don't forget all the museums are free - Museum of London is great to learn all about the Fire of London and NHM and Science Museum are a stones throw from 'Horrids'.

Heels99 Thu 06-Aug-15 10:37:38

Would a six year old sit through gypsy though?

Laura7010 Thu 06-Aug-15 10:44:03

Another vote for the Christmas market along the southbank. And the lights in Covent Garden. You'll have to go to Hamleys with a 6yo smile see the lights on regents St too. Have a look at the Unicorn Theatre in London Bridge, it's a children's theatre and bound to have a Christmas show on. Also the menier (sp) Chocolate Factory is where some of the now big musicals started so you could see what's on there too. It will be a magical (if busy) atmosphere all around smile

Elsashmelsa Thu 06-Aug-15 10:56:14

Wow, thank you, the South Bank market definitely sounds worth a visit.

We did Harrods when we went in the Summer, more for the experience for DD than anything else. We told DD that she could choose a Harrods Bear (the only thing unique to Harrods, we realized we could get everything else somewhere else, for a lot less money) and bless her, she chose a really small one!

I think that's why we want to keep it traditionally Xmassy as opposed to doing the shopping thing, because DD wants the experience more than buying stuff.

As for the train tickets, we can't actually book for December yet so I was looking at October prices so I think they will be the same. They're exactly the same as the ones we bought for our June trip and we left that almost to the last minute because of the risk of the train strikes.

And thank you - I completely forgot about Fortnum and Mason. I used to work for a company who had a big office in Berkley Square that I used to go to once a fortnight and used to pop to Fortnums each time to treat myself to biscuits smile. I will definitely do a visit there.

Butmum can I just ask in regards the Matilda tickets, are the seats very tiered, in terms of the view from them? DD is VERY tiny (think 3 year old tiny) and I want her to be able to see properly. Some theatres have extra cushions that you can use as booster seats so that may help...

Sanity I see what you're saying about London at Xmas, but I think we just want to do it once and take DD. DH and I got engaged (on the London Eye) at Xmas and it didn't seem tooooooo bad and we even did Oxford Street. shock But I think DD has the bug for tubes etc so who knows, if we're lucky it might put her off!!! grin

Elsashmelsa Thu 06-Aug-15 11:04:05

Gosh, I missed more posts <while finishing a meeting, hanging out the washing and clearing up the dog mess in the garden - yuck - the joys of pets...>.

So I think the ones to definitely put on the list are:

South Bank Xmas Market
Covent Garden
Harrods Toy Department
Hamleys (if we're brave enough to venture that way)
A Musical or Pantomime on the Saturday night if we can get some reasonably priced tickets

Our train journey is just under 3 hours so if I can get DD to have a snooze on the train (hopefully she'll be tired after a busy day at school...) then we can do something on the Friday evening once we've dropped cases off at the hotel. If we do book the Travelodge at Kings Cross then I think a PP suggested Victoria Park near Kings Cross which is nice at Xmas so we'll try that.

Thank you all so much. It's being realistic and narrowing it down that will be tricky because there will be so much we want to see.

The Museum of London aswell - they did about the Fire of London last year at school...

Oliversmumsarmy Thu 06-Aug-15 11:09:16

Sorry I was recommending Gypsy as great musical, and lastminute as a potential place to look for cheaper tickets. Also I think there is a box in Leicester square that sells off tickets each day but I have never used it personally, always bought on line.

NicoleWatterson Thu 06-Aug-15 13:17:48

Matilda, my average sized 6 year old struggled to see in the upper circle. Peoples heads we're in the way and we used the boosters they had, we put him in the aisle seat which helped, we also paid £1 for the binoculars.

SilasGreenback Thu 06-Aug-15 14:07:10

The Snowman at the Peacock theatre is brilliant for that age and much cheaper than the west end musicals.

Also how about ice skating somewhere? Lots of rinks Somerset house, Tower of London and natural history museum all very pretty.

MintJulip Thu 06-Aug-15 14:13:45

Harrods will be great, what about something at the royal opera house? you can get seats in the gods for as little as 6 each and they can be - depending where you are - very good actually, they usually do nutcracker or something like that?

I loved the musuem of london and its a lovely part of london by st pauls.

nancy75 Thu 06-Aug-15 14:22:14

The snowman is lovely and just right for your daughters age, closer to the lime have a look at a website called little bird, they do a weekly blog that lists free & cheap things to do and most of the stuff is in London, they also do discount tickets to plays and other attractions.

MintJulip Thu 06-Aug-15 14:33:11

I would go to Bath, instead, or Bruges


Oh no, I went to bath last year, I have never ever known a crush like it shock it was awful.

London in parts v busy yes, but so much more room to spread out.

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