Last Christmas is a delightful slice of festive magic, showcasing London when it’s transformed by yuletide cheer. Inspired by Wham! and the 1984 song written, produced and sung by the late George Michael, the festive rom-com written by Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson captures the sights and sounds of London at a magical time of year. Against a backdrop of baubles, tinsel and fairy lights, the heart-warming love story follows Emilia Clarke as Kate, one of Santa’s elves working in a year-round Christmas shop, and what happens when she meets the seemingly too good to be true Tom, Crazy Rich Asians’ star Henry Golding. You can take in a host of the capital’s most iconic sights and follow in Clarke’s footsteps with this Last Christmas itinerary, discovering the enchanting settings that feature in director Paul Feig’s festive flick.
Renowned for its shopping, dining and wellness experiences, Regent Street is home to the largest festive lights installation in the capital. Together with St James’, the awe-inspiring lights hang proudly overhead as you can hunt for festive goodies. Be enthralled by the enchanting window displays at Hamley’s before taking your little ones to visit Santa’s Grotto at the famed toy retailer, and venture onto Oxford Street to discover Selfridges and Liberty London, a festive shopping paradise offering everything from charming decorations to luxury brands and high-end jewellery.
A dazzling kaleidoscope of boutiques and beauty stores, heritage brands and festive lights, the seven interconnecting cobbled streets of Seven Dials are converted into a hub of Christmassy joy from mid-November. Discover a delightful array of designer brands under the twinkling lights of this pretty neighbourhood, with close to 100 fashion and lifestyle stores offering an array of lavish gifts, before tucking into brunch or dinner at one of more than 50 independent eateries.
Continue the festive tour among the heritage brands and beauty boutiques of Covent Garden’s cobbled streets, 19th-century piazza and market buildings. London’s central shopping precinct, which houses the year-round Christmas shop where Kate works, is transformed for the season in a flurry of lights and eye-catching window displays. Shop in the shadow of a huge hand-picked Christmas tree, gloriously lit by 30,000 bright lights, encounter the giant reindeer sculpture and get cosy under giant mistletoe chandeliers. There’s even late night shopping and carol singing (on selected dates in December) adding to the festive feel, or you can really embrace the spirit of the Christmas season at one of Petersham Nurseries’ Festive Wreath Making Workshops (selected days in November and December).
With charming Victorian shop-frontages, intimate book shops and small galleries twinkling with festive lights, Kate bumps into Tom for a second time on Cecil Court. Linking Charing Cross Road and St Martin’s Lane in the heart of Theatreland, browse the quaint shops before taking in a show at one of the capital’s dazzling theatres. Alternatively, you can take to the ice amid picturesque surroundings to skate at Somerset House, where the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court is transformed into a wonder sparkling winter refuge.
The Southbank comes alive at Christmas with the sights and sounds of the festive season. Take a romantic stroll along the River Thames as the smell of mulled wine fills the air, past cutesy cabins selling everything from stocking fillers to delicious festive treats. Discover the capital’s pretty festive lights in all their glory from the comfort of the London Eye, fully illuminated for the season, before sampling what the charming Christmas market has to offer. The 135-metre high giant observation wheel offers spectacular 360-degree views out over the city, allowing you to spot landmarks including Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Shard.
Head east from the grandeur of Paddington Station, designed by the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and fully decked out for the festivities, to pass St Mary’s Hospital. The spectacular red brick building dates back to the mid-19th century and houses Kate’s doctor in the upcoming festive hit. Alternatively, wrap up warm and head north from the station for a picturesque canal-side walk through the artistic neighbourhood of Little Venice, where you’ll find an oasis of tranquillity amid the festivities.
Continue venturing east to discover the indie boutiques, small restaurants and galleries of Marylebone and jump at the chance to find some last-minute festive gifts at Alfie’s Antiques Market, before uncovering the striking frontage of St Mary’s Church. Eagle-eyed movie fans will recognise it as the homeless shelter where Tom does volunteer work. Clarke, appearing in her first role after the epic HBO hit Game of Thrones, plays an aspiring singer and can be seen warming her vocal chords both inside and outside the charismatic Christian church.
Further south is an eclectic hub of vintage shops and restaurants dishing up delicious foods from all over the world, promising a delectable array of flavours and styles. The Brixton market, lovingly decked out for the festivities, features several times in Last Christmas, and offers ample opportunity to stock-up on stocking-fillers, hunt for festive bargains and spread yuletide cheer.
Complete your festive trip with a visit to one of North London’s most iconic buildings, the Victorian masterpiece of engineering that is Alexandra Palace. Follow Kate and Tom in taking to its ice rink, before heading outside for spectacular panoramic views of the capital. And even the wobbliest skaters are in luck, as year-round lessons are available at the Ally Pally if you want to give it a try!