The twelve days of Christmas. Traditional festive London outings

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Living and working in London makes one rather lazy about getting TRADITIONAL in the city. When was the last time you actively decided to see the changing of the guard or visited the Tate? We find ourselves guilty of taking certain privileges for granted.

If that’s you, why not use December as a means to put your festive tourist hat on? Put dates in your (rapidly filling) diary to visit the landmarks of our capital. Dip your hand into the pocket of traditionalism and see your city in a fun, radiant and festive light. Too jaded to remember what’s worth getting touristy over? Here’s a very lightweight but festive-themed reminder! Enjoy!

 

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …

 

 …A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE

If you’re looking to find the city’s finest partridge to blow your Christmas budget on, look no further than the festive menus of London’s prestigious Michelin star restaurants. We can’t GUARANTEE you a confit partridge with a pear froth and ACTUAL deconstructed tree – but who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised!

Browse the Michelin starred restaurants

 

…TWO TURTLE DOVES

Who needs Turtle Doves when you’ve got actual TURTLES? The Sea Life London Aquarium is home to one of Europe’s largest collections of global marine life and fascinates adults and small people in equal measures. Choose your experience – if snorkelling with the sharks is your thing then your luck is in (we hope). If you’re more of a VIP experiencer (hello) then you’ve got that too. We’re sure you’ll agree that fish gazing is very much time well spent.

OK, show me the fish

 

…THREE FRENCH HENS

Not just hens (let’s face it, that might get dull) but also penguins, ostriches and that famous other bird, the Chimpanzee. Yes, it’s London Zoo. Not just for the sunny months, London Zoo has a whole host of warmer ‘day experiences’ for visitors when the weather gets chillier. It even delivers gift inspiration too – why not give a friend the gift of being a ‘keeper for a day’ for Christmas?

Browse the experiences

 

…FOUR CALLING BIRDS

What better place to find calling birds than the OPERA (see what we tenuously did there?) The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is London’s most famous opera house and major performing arts venue and never fails to provide an evening (or day) to remember. Grab a friend or significant other, dress yourselves up to seriously impress, and nab yourself a thoroughly gorgeous evening.

See what’s on

 

…FIIIVE GOO-OOLD RIIIINGS

If you, or someone you know loves jewellery, why not take a trip to the Victoria & Albert museum to check out the fabulous small designers’ jewellery in the shop? Make it thoroughly worth your while by visiting one of the exhibitions while you’re there (some are free). This isn’t the World’s leading art and design museum for nothing and if you like all thing glittery and shiny, be prepared to find your eyes on stalks.

See the V&A Collections

 

…SIX GEESE A LAYING

This songwriter’s fetish for birds has made life very difficult for the purpose of this blog, but hear this; if you were commissioned to seek out the finest goose eggs in the capital, we’d recommend a trip to Fortnum & Mason. Famous for its Piccadilly building but also for its beautiful branding, exquisite hampers and food hall, this is the place to lapse into sensory overdrive and purchase your festive gastronomic treats. No Christmas shopping experience is complete without a trip here, so make it part of yours. You could even grab a small ‘hamperling’ for lunch.

Ooh, I’ll have a hamperling please

 

…SEVEN SWANS A SWIMMING

London is famous for its parks, but the oldest and most majestic has to be St James Park with its landscaped terrain, gliding swans and abundant wildlife. Here is a place to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle and idly promenade through the trees and watery glades, regardless of season. Wrap up warm and take some time out.

Browse all the royal parks

 

…EIGHT MAIDS A MILKING

If you enjoy a spot of milk in your cream tea, there’s nowhere more ideal than a stop-off at Claridges. Christmas at Claridges is already a festive wonderland, but add a heap of cream-tipped delights, a melt in the mouth cucumber sandwich and a sploosh of Champagne and it’s a festive heaven. Enough said. Just make sure you book.

Book your afternoon tea

 

…NINE LADIES DANCING

If strictly come dancing has awoken the latent ballerina in you, this is your season. The Royal Ballet is one of the great ballet companies of the world and this year celebrates 70 years of its landmark production of Petipa’s classic ballet Sleeping Beauty. Enter an enchanted world of princesses, fairy godmothers and magical spells, to glorious music by Tchaikovsky.

Go to see Sleeping Beauty

 

…TEN LORDS A LEAPING

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without donning some super uncomfortable ice-skates and staggering over an alarmingly slippery surface for an hour. Alternatively, you may have a natural propensity to glide and leap over ice which much becomes you. Whichever you are, cool down on a stunningly lit and festive ice-rink (then warm up again with mulled wine).

Find the best ice rinks

 

…ELEVEN PIPERS PIPING

It was tempting to go with the bagpipes, but as a fan of John Piper’s paintings, this seemed a good opportunity to tempt you with a trip to the Tate Modern (where you can currently catch some of his work). Whether you’re into surrealism or abstract expressionism or whether you just like to loiter round a looming Rothko, there’s a room for everyone. You can even explore Elton John’s photography collection. A couple of hours out is always food for thought and offers new perspectives on day to day life.

Sir Elton John’s Modernist Photography Collection, did you say?

 

…TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING

What better, more traditional place to end than at the gates of Buckingham Palace? Wear something toasty and arrive on time to see the changing of the guard and the regiments and bands taking part. To see the entire Guard Mount and end up in the right place at the right time we recommend the award winning ‘Changing the guard walking tour’ which avoids the crowds, gives you the best view and avoids seizing up by standing still for too long.

The changing the guard walking tour

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the traditional tour – now all you have to do is take part. Enjoy!