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United Kingdom > Culture and festivals > Christmas shopping in London

A guide to Christmas shopping in London

London is a great shopping destination at any time of year, but the city really sparkles at Christmas. Its streets twinkle with lights; its major department stores unveil impressive window displays and its Christmas markets sell all manner of festive treats. This guide to Christmas shopping in London gives you the lowdown on where to shop for wonderful gifts at this most wonderful time of the year.

Where to go Christmas shopping in London.

Oxford Street (oxfordstreet.co.uk) in London's West End is Europe's busiest shopping street, and is lined with more than 300 retailers including major department stores and flagship shops. You'll find dedicated areas selling gifts and decorations at John Lewis, Selfridges, Debenhams and House of Fraser. Many of the shops open late in the evening in the run up to Christmas.

Covent Garden (coventgarden.london) is an atmospheric place to shop at Christmas. The piazza's covered market is decorated with giant baubles, and street performers brave the cold to entertain the crowds. Pick up unique gifts from the independent market stalls or shop for designer gear at stores including Chanel and Mulberry. Fashionable stores line the charming cobbled streets of the Seven Dials area, and you can shop for stocking fillers at the Disney Store and Benjamin Pollocks, a toy shop that sells traditional toys with a theatrical theme.

Regent Street (regentstreetonline.com) is a great place to stock up on gifts from top British brands including Molton Brown, Aquascutum, Barbour and Ted Baker. Between Regent Street and Carnaby
Street you'll find Liberty, a beautiful wood-panelled department store that stocks luxury labels, homeware, jewellery, beauty products and an impressive selection of decorations. Whether your children have been naughty or nice, you'll find all sorts of fun presents at Hamleys, the oldest and largest toy shop in the world. Dating back to 1881, the shop's seven floors are stocked with games, gadgets, soft toys and specialist collector items.

At Spitalfields Market (oldspitalfieldsmarket.com) in Shoreditch, east London, you can shop for unique presents and handmade gifts. The stalls sell all sorts of items including artwork, jewellery, clothing, ceramics and more. At Christmas, the Victorian market hall is bedecked with seasonal decorations and you'll find mulled wine and mince pies on offer. The market has extended opening hours in the run up to Christmas.

London's best Christmas lights.
The capital is at its sparkling best when the annual Christmas lights decorate the streets. Giant strings of lights line Oxford Street and Regent Street and there are big switch-on events at the end of November that bring together celebrities, live music and family-friendly activities. Cool Carnaby Street offers an alternative take on traditional festive lights as the decorations are designed around a different theme each year (previous themes have included the 'Swinging Sixties' and the Rolling Stones).

Hidden away just off Oxford Street, St Christopher's Place is a cute piazza surrounded by cafes and boutiques that twinkles under stylish Christmas lights between November and January. Or head to The Strand to take in the lights and stop to see the festive frontage of the Savoy Hotel and wander down to Trafalgar Square to see the iconic Christmas tree, donated to the city of London every year by the people of Norway in recognition of Britain's support during the Second World War.


 

London's best Christmas window displays.
London's major department stores really get creative at Christmas and the window displays always draw huge crowds of festive shoppers.
Selfridges on Oxford Street is well known for its iconic window displays that take an entire year to create. Previous themes have included fairy tales and zodiac signs. The displays at Harrods in Knightsbridge span 40 windows and often feature bespoke animatronics. The store has previously teamed up with brands such as Burberry to create fashionable displays.

Over in the West End, Liberty's elegant windows are always a hit with Londoners and visitors alike and are usually stuffed full of classic Liberty fabrics, glitter and gifts. Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly is one of London's oldest department stores and its dazzling displays tend to focus on classic Christmas scenes. The yearly theme extends to the atrium, where you can fill a festive hamper full of the store's signature products, including tea and biscuits.

London's best Christmas markets
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park covers a sprawling site that features fairground rides, a giant Ferris wheel, an ice rink and German-style beer halls. Pick up presents and decorations from one of the 200 market stalls in Bavarian wooden chalets. Over on the South Bank you'll find traditional riverside stalls selling Scandinavian tree decorations and quirky stocking fillers every year. Combine a culture fix with a shopping trip by heading to the Tate Modern where wooden stalls fill the grassy area between the gallery and the river. You can also tuck into festive foodie treats including bratwurst, mulled wine and roasted nuts.

Author: VisitBritain "Shopping is Great", 2017.


See also

United Kingdom > Culture and festivals > Britain's sale seasons and best shopping cities

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London is a great shopping destination at any time of year, but the city really sparkles at Christmas. This guide to Christmas shopping in London gives you the lowdown on where to shop for wonderful gifts at this most wonderful time of the year.