From Oxford Street to Covent Garden, London is renowned for its great shopping. And this holiday season there will be an array of stores, markets and fairs where you’ll discover one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts for the entire family. Here are our three favorite ways to finish your Christmas shopping early this year.
Harrods and Hamleys are two of the British capital’s most iconic stores, and a pair of the best places to pick up Christmas treats. Harrods, located in the tony Knightsbridge neighborhood, is famous for its fashion, beauty and housewares, not to mention its extensive food court, so it’s a go-to place to pick up grown-up gifts. In addition, this Christmas there are several store events for kids, including a special package from Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, which includes VIP entry to the Harrods Christmas Grotto. But if you really want to impress the little ones this season, take them to Hamleys on Regent Street — the world’s largest toy store. Along with a plethora of gift ideas, you’ll discover a range of seasonal activities in-store, including stories, songs, interactive games and even daily meet and greets with Hamley and Hattie Bear, the store’s resident mascots.
You will find a slew of traditional Christmas markets set up in areas across London, and two of the finest are at the Southbank Centre and at Kew Gardens. The Southbank Centre Christmas Market, situated a stone’s throw from the London Eye along the River Thames, is open until Christmas Eve, and comes equipped with wooden chalets selling traditional Christmas gifts — plus mulled wine, sausages and gingerbread. Look for the stalls selling beautiful glassware, from punch bowls to ornate jewelry to ornamental Christmas tree decorations. Meanwhile, Christmas at Kew has a boutique festive market selling an assortment of knick-knacks. Don’t miss the stunning selection of handicrafts by local designers, or tasty traditional candies and cakes — perfect presents for the food-lovers in your life. The market takes place each weekend through January 4.
London is hosting an array of fairs and festivals this year, but for those on the lookout for inspiring Christmas gifts, there is one that particularly stands out, especially if your friends and family are foodies. Brace your budget for a trip to The Chocolate Festival this weekend (December 13 through 15) at Southbank Centre. Splash out on Jaz & Juls’ award-winning organic hot chocolate or a box of Hotel Chocolat pralines, or make it more personal by crafting your own unique chocolate bar or salted caramel pecan brownies.
Photos Courtesy of iStock and Southbank Centre