If you’re not in town to visit family, chances are you’ll want to keep exploring over the festive period. Fear not! Christmas is a fantastic time to be in the capital. After the festive shopping crowds have receded, you’ll pretty much have the run of the place…
See the sights at night
Take an open-top bus tour after nightfall and admire the capital’s Christmas lights in all their glory. There’s a London by Night on Christmas Day tour which takes you round the unusually silent streets of Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square to see the most prominent displays. You’ll also swan past The Queen’s residence at Buckingham Palace, and take in the illuminated twinkle of the London Eye.
Have your mind boggled
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is one of a few attractions open on Christmas Day. If you’ve got kids in tow, this will keep them entertained for hours. The wacky museum is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful exhibits, from a wedding gown made of toilet paper to a sculpture of The Beatles made of chewing gum. The ‘odditorium’ is based on the lifetime collections of Robert L Ripley, an American globetrotter who created cartoons inspired by his travels to more than 200 countries.
Tantalise your tastebuds
As one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, not all Londoners eat the traditional Christmas roast dinner. Pay a visit to China Town in Soho, for instance, where most restaurants are open on Christmas Day. Reflecting the increasing popularity of Christmas in China, many will also be festooned with colourful paper decorations. So instead of turkey and all the trimmings, you can feast on delicious duck with noodles and yams.
Go on a bike ride
Christmas Day is the one time of year you’ll find central London’s roads relatively clear of traffic – the perfect time to try one of the ready-to-ride Santander Cycles you’ll find all around the capital. You might even join the Christmas Day Bike Ride, a great way to explore off-the-beaten track and meet some friendly locals.
Take a seat at an independent cinema
London’s cinematic landscape is greatly enriched by its historic picture houses. Boxing Day, on 26 December, is a great day to experience one of these characterful buildings as there’ll be a raft of new film releases. Try one of the oldest cinemas in the capital, the Edwardian-built Electric Cinema Portobello, for some old-school refinement. You can settle into a leather armchair, complete with footstool and side table, or cuddle up under a cashmere blanket - on a double bed - for a truly one-of-a-kind movie night.
Pamper yourself silly
If Christmas is for goodwill to all, then it’s time to treat yourself to an indulgent day at the spa. Most of the big hotel spas will be open for business throughout the holidays, so get your treatments booked in quick. The ultra-luxurious Espa Life Corinthia has a special Festive Sparkle package, which includes a blissful full body massage and facial.
Jump into the new year
Give 2016 an energetic embrace and head over to Acton, West London, for a Free Bounce at Oxygen trampolining centre. You get an hour to bounce your way round 150 trampolines and an assault course. Great fun for the whole family, plus it’s open on Boxing Day as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.