I heard my first Christmas song of the year on the radio last night – Fairytale of New York by The Pogues. The time has come, there’s no getting away from it; I need to do some serious shopping.
London is a great place to shop and people come from all over the world to experience it. The green and gold of Harrods is unmistakable and the food court alone gives you enough choice to fill a whole Christmas stocking. Oxford Street is home to three department stores, including Selfridges’ flagship store, and, in close proximity to neighbouring Regent Street and Bond Street, is a really magical place at Christmas. Those who prefer to stay under cover can head to either of the new Westfield centres - at Stratford in East London, right next to the London 2012 Olympic Park, or in Shepherds Bush, West London, within spitting distance of Holland Park and trendy Notting Hill.
With fairy tale Christmas markets on the Southbank and in Hyde Park, and skating rinks at Somerset House, Canary Wharf and the Tower of London, London has become a winter wonderland and there’s no better time to visit. Fly into London City Airport and you can be in the shops or sipping gluhwein within an hour of landing.
Londoners looking for a shopping trip with a difference can head out to Frankfurt to experience a real German Christmas market, or the ultra-chic Milan or Madrid where you will find gifts that you can be sure none of your relatives will already have wrapped underneath the tree.
When all the shopping is done, thoughts turn to seeing in the New Year. A 90 minute flight will take you from London City Airport to Edinburgh where you can experience the ultimate Hogmanay celebrations. A family-friendly torchlight procession kicks things off on 30th December, followed by the main event where 80,000 people gather in the shadows of Edinburgh Castle for the ultimate street party with live music this year from The Macabees and Reverend and the Makers, and a spectacular fireworks display at midnight to welcome 2013.
There’s a great time to be had too in the party cities of Dublin, Barcelona and Amsterdam. Or see out the old and bring in the new with a skiing mini-break in Switzerland, with flights from London City Airport to Geneva, Bern and Basel. Members of the Royal Family were snapped enjoying the Swiss slopes and après-ski last New Year so you’re likely to be in good company.
And for those who really want to push the boat out? Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square, flying with British Airways (twice daily from London City Airport to New York JFK) and give the other ticket to your favourite person as an extra special gift this Christmas!