December 07, 2011 16:22
| Going Out
Once the nights begin drawing in and the countdown to the holiday season gets into full swing it’s impossible to ignore the fact that winter is here for the long-haul. With the onset of freezing temperatures it’s tempting to slip into hibernation mode, but a change of season needn’t be all doom and gloom. Aside from getting to wear your winter wardrobe, eat hearty pub meals and snuggle up in front of the open fire, there is plenty to do in order to stave off boredom and the winter blues.
Steeped with quintessentially London attractions
demonstrating the wealth of history and culture in the English capital, there is much to see and do for tourists and residents alike. After all, how many Londoners do you know that have visited the Globe Theatre or London Zoo recently?
The term ‘staycation’ has become engrained in our collective psyche in recent years with British holidaymakers being advised by the Government to holiday at home in order to boost the economy. Even so, a visit to the capital isn’t at the top of Brit’s holiday wish lists and if you live in London, the thought of snatching a few days in the countryside is all too tempting.
However, exploring London’s varied and world-class entertainment doesn’t need to break the bank as there are several deals to be had, making it a viable option for a weekend break. Offering free or discounted entry to numerous attractions in addition to concessions in various restaurants and shops, a London Pass smart card, for example will enable you to explore all the big sites on a relatively low budget.
With the recent nuptials of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge fresh in the nation’s consciousness, why not complete your own royal journey. Start at the Tower of London
to see the crown jewels and watch the Changing of the Guard just before noon. A trip to the resplendent venue of Westminster Abbey
where the happy couple tied the knot is not to be missed.
This imposing Gothic church is steeped in history and is the final resting place of many public and national figures including Sir Isaac Newton, Geoffrey Chaucer and Oliver Cromwell. For those who are still swept up in ‘royal fever’, there is even an official Royal Weddings Tour to be enjoyed.
If you’d like to journey a little further a-field, Windsor Castle
is as spectacular as official royal residences go. Built by William the Conqueror in the late 11th Century, Windsor is the largest inhabited castle in the world and furthermore is the longest occupied palace in Europe, so not a bad landmark to cross off your list.
If historical attractions aren’t quite your cup of tea, why not get active and take advantage of the open-air ice rinks dotted across the capital. Rinks at Somerset House and the Natural History Museum are particularly spectacular; while Hyde Park’s annual Winter Wonderland will add an element of ‘fun at the fairground’ to your outing.
If you’re green fingered or enjoy the great outdoors a visit to the botanical Gardens at Kew is a must. Perhaps an activity more traditionally suited to summer, later in the year a walk around the grounds is just as impressive with the foliage in the full throes of autumn colour. When the world's largest collection of living plants wears you out, you can always warm up inside a greenhouse or take refuge from the cold at one of the site’s four spectacular restaurants and cafés.
Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or indeed live in the capital, for an alternative to a Friday night out on the razz, opt for an evening of culture by taking advantage of the extended opening hours at one of London’s many artistic hubs. On the last Friday of the month the V&A Museum host Friday Late; a diverse programme encompassing a variety of special events including live performances, fashion shows, workshops, debates, pop-up bars and restaurants, guest DJs, and of course, extended exhibition opening hours.
The British and Design Museums, Tate Galleries, and National and Portrait Galleries also offer late admission so whatever your preferred style of art you can enjoy your very own Night at the Museum.
With a wealth of things to do in London, Christmas only makes a stay in the capital all that more special, and when you research your itinerary it’s easy to avoid the overly commercial areas. Enjoy seasonal treats at pop-up shops and markets such as the Southbank Centre Christmas Market.
However for those who truly want to be entertained, there’s nothing better than heading to Theatre Land for a West End show or if you’re feeling a bit more light-hearted consider a festive pantomime such as The Snowman.
As this great city gears up to host the Olympics in 2012, there has never been a better time to enjoy London’s best assets.
With winter on the way we wanted to give one lucky person an early Christmas present - £100 worth of vouchers from Amazon!
Write a post on your blog or website about what you love most about London in the winter months or during the lead up to Christmas. It can be a short story, poem, travel essay or anything you want.