Holiday shopping in London

December 12, 2011

By Cristina Boydell

Holiday opening and closing hours have now been extended, and prominent shopping districts in the happening and dynamic city of London have come alive with the festive spirit!

Streets are filled with shoppers at the Portobello Market in London.

The English are known for grand celebrations during the holidays, including bright lights, Santa’s grottos, ice-skating and Christmas markets.

Celebrating my second festive year in London (and third in the U.K.), I thought it was about time I shared my top shopping picks in the capital.

City decorations reflect a true holiday spirit.

Oxford Street

Exit Oxford Circus and expect to be rammed with holiday shoppers on the high street, with fast fashion stores such as Topshop, River Island, H&M and Zara on nearly every corner.

UK-value fashion retailers Primark and New Look are on offer for shoppers on a budget, and Forever 21 has also recently joined the popular shopping “circus.”

At night, giant snowflakes hang in the centre of the streets. Department stores, such as Selfridges and House of Fraser, have window displays and exteriors lights that shine bright.

It’s a sight not to be missed! If you can stand the crowds that is…

Covent Garden

A central shopping hub in London, and one of my favourite spots, the holiday displays on the piazzas are magical, and include a 15-foot-high reindeer on one end and a large Christmas tree on the other.

The market buildings are decorated with oversized red ornaments and illuminating lights on the ceilings.

The Apple Market is the spot to look for handmade crafts and collectibles, while the surrounding shops include designer high-street fashion brands, such as Whistles or Hobbs, for trendy and well-designed womenswear.

Notting Hill.

Portobello Market

I could not miss my old stomping grounds in the midst of adorable, coloured Victorian flats – who could resist rows of market stalls, including vintage designs, one-off fashions and jewelry, baskets of fresh fruit and warm crepes?

Ever seen the film Notting Hill? This is the perfect spot for holiday shopping if you want unique finds for your loved ones that no one else will have.

The stalls of accessories, such as delicate bracelets, statement necklaces and stone rings, make perfect stocking stuffers and I just couldn’t resist picking up a faux fur jacket for myself!

Other Christmas Markets

For non-fashion related taste of seasonal treats and atmosphere, the Traditional Christmas Market at Southbank Centre and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park are both a must-see during the holiday season. Winter Wonderland is the place to go to if you want to enjoy real British traditions, such as mulled wine, warm ciders and mince pies. There are also rides and other attractions, including a Christmas circus and Santa Land.

Some streets and malls look like they are from a colourful greeting card.

‘Tis the season to be jolly – and with all the decorations and sparkling lights now switched on, it’s hard not to feel festive and join in on the celebrations in London!


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