Guest blog post by Carmen Allan-Petale of Double-Barrelled Travel
I love Christmas. It’s different all over the world yet there’s one common theme – bringing your family together once a year to show your appreciation for one another. In Australia we’d normally celebrate it with a champagne breakfast down at the beach but in London it’s a different story altogether.
Somehow things seem a little more Christmassy when it’s cold; I suppose it’s all those movies with the giant snow-covered trees decorated in fairy lights and the songs about sleigh bells in the snow (which we listened to in forty degree heat down under!) And one of the best parts about London at this time of year is all the Christmas markets that magically spring up around the city.
The most well-known are in Hyde Park, Camden, Covent Garden and on Southbank.
Here’s five things not to miss at the London Christmas markets:
Most of the Christmas markets have a German theme and therefore you need to embrace the tradition and that includes the food. The traditional way to cook Bratwurst is to pan fry them and at the Christmas markets they sizzle on giant saucepans suspended from the ceiling of the wooden huts. Bratwursts are delicious and served with a number of sauces including chilli and honey mustard.
London Christmas markets are a good opportunity to do some Christmas shopping. There are a number of unique gifts to choose from including leather bound diaries, handmade soaps, paintings and wooden ties. There’s also many traditional toys and baby clothes. You can’t help get into the Christmas spirit with the carols being sung and many happy children around. And for me the Christmas spirit goes hand in hand with spending money, which I have lots of fun doing at the stalls!
The biggest London Christmas market is in Hyde Park and there are a number of rides to choose from, including a sideshow alley, ferris wheel and rollercoaster. There’s also an ice rink and traditional carousels. The Christmas market on Southbank is located adjacent to the London Eye so it’s a good opportunity, after you’ve feasted on Bratwurst, to take in the London skyline on a ride around.
4. Mulled wine
A Christmas market wouldn’t feel Christmassy without mulled wine and spiced hot chocolate to keep you warm. At the market in Hyde Park the organisers built beer halls made from wood where you can have a stein or two to keep your spirits high on a drab day. There’s also a champagne tent ice bar where you can sample some cocktails. But my favourite drink at the London Christmas market on a cold day (which, let’s face it, is every day) is hot chocolate with Bailey’s. Yum!
5. The sweets
For me, the best part about the London Christmas markets is the food. You can watch cinnamon rolls and chimney cakes being made and then eat them while they’re still warm. A chimney cake is made by taking dough, rolling it flat and then shaping it into a hollow tube shape around a metal pipe. The dough is rolled in sugar before being popped into the oven. It comes out deliciously warm and you can sprinkle cinnamon or chocolate over before tucking in. Delightful. This year at the London Christmas markets I also saw a couple of fountains as tall as myself bubbling with chocolate. In the same stall were freshly made gingerbread houses and even one built as the London Eye. I used to make gingerbread houses as a kid and seeing these brought the happy memories flooding back. And that’s what Christmas is all about, creating special memories like those. And the London Christmas markets are a great place to start.
This is a guest blog post from Double-Barrelled Travel. Double-Barrelled Travel is a travel blog written by Dave and Carmen Allan-Petale, a married couple exploring the world one trip at a time. The blog offers experiences of travelling as a couple and enjoying the culture and food a country has to offer. Follow Double-Barrelled Travel on Twitter and like us on Facebook.