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A Very Dickensian Christmas: Spending the Holidays in London

Spending the holidays in London is a thrilling and unique experience for visitors looking for excellent shopping, wonderful food, superb attractions and a little nostalgia in this historic capital city. As London is the setting of Charles Dickens’ famous novel A Christmas Carol, it seems only fitting to suggest some seasonal attractions that reflect the history and culture of London with a Dickensian flavor. The holiday season is certainly one of the best times to visit London – just look at these unique events!

Visit the Charles Dickens Museum

Start your Victorian Christmas at 48 Doughty Street, the actual former home of Charles Dickens himself. Now accommodating the fascinating Charles Dickens Museum, you will find the house in party mood. It will be filled with festive decorations of holly and ivy and the table will be set for a wonderful Christmas family feast, Victorian style.
You may spot the white berried mistletoe tucked into a chandelier or light fitting in the home. This is a very British custom where people try to “kiss under the mistletoe,” even if they are strangers, so watch where you stand!

Each room in the museum has actors portraying different scenes from A Christmas Carol, bringing the story of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future vividly to life. Other special events as part of your Dickensian visit include watching how a traditional Christmas “plum” pudding is made (with lots of dried fruits and rum), listening to carols singers, and enjoying mulled cider and warm mince pies during your visit to yesteryear.

Spending the Holidays in London, London Christmas Traditions, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol London

At many of the holiday events in London, many establishments have actors dress up in Victorian costume with top hats, bonnets and shawls, adding an element of nostalgia to any event!

If you are spending the holidays in London over 20th December, you’re in for a special treat as the Dickens Museum hosts a Costumed Tour that day. The drama reveals the housemaid is up to no good while Dickens and his family are out enjoying a Christmas Ball in this entertaining sketch.

Did we mention you’ll also find original drafts of Dickens’ books, photographs and personal family memorabilia on display, too?

London Christmas Traditions Include Victorian Christmas Markets

Festive Christmas markets are one of the most popular London Christmas traditions you will encounter here and there during your Holidays in London. The outdoor Christmas market stalls are traditional wooden huts decorated with sparkling lights and dressed with a dusting of ice and snow, although it will probably be fake in London! The Christmas markets sell handcrafted toys, gifts and specialty food items. You’ll find spicy biscuits done up with ribbons, homemade candies ready to gift, locally made cheese, pickles and preserves, and plenty of stalls selling mulled wine – a warming spiced red wine to keep out the December chill.

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London’s iconic Leadenhall Market during the holidays. Image courtesy of Anky / Shutterstock.com

Christmas markets are a great place to source hand carved nativity figures, Christmas candles and beautiful table decorations. Handmade wreaths and garlands made of holly and fir are ready to hang on the front door or drape over the mantelpiece, adding the fresh scent of pine to the air.

Some of the Christmas markets in London may have a Victorian or Dickensian theme when stallholders dress up in Victorian costume with top hats, bonnets and shawls. They add an element of nostalgia to the event, particularly when carol singers attend and play seasonal tunes.

Other Alluring London Victorian Events

The Tower of London has seen over 1,000 Christmases in its long history, and this year, it is offering to immerse December visitors in a Victorian world. The red-coated Yeoman Warders will offer a special Victorian Tour with the opportunity to bump into Charles Dickens himself along the way. It is rumored that Queen Victoria will also be in attendance, so keep your eyes peeled for a short, round lady dressed in mourning black and wearing a modest crown. The royal drums will herald the Queen giving her annual Christmas speech to her subjects.

The Victorian tour at the Tower of London will introduce American visitors to more London Christmas traditions such as pulling colorful “crackers” to make a bang, spilling a paper hat, joke and small gift to the lucky winner.

Spending the Holidays in London, London Natural History Museum, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens' London

Ice skating at London’s Natural History Museum is a truly magical experience for the entire family.

Decorating a fir tree was a London Christmas tradition started by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, and is now an international tradition. You’ll also discover that gift giving and carol singing were all popularized in Victorian times when Christmas songs such as Silent Night were translated and sung in church services. The invention of lithographic printing and the services of the Royal Mail suddenly made it possible to send colorful greeting cards.

Giving Back This Holiday Season – A ‘Novel’ Idea

Harking back to the lessons learned from Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ classic novel, Christmas is a season of giving to those less fortunate. With that in mind, please remember that if you book your future car rental on or before December 21st, 2014 with Auto Europe; we will donate 2% of the profit to Toys for Tots. What better way is there to help others while helping yourself to a great car rental deal!

With convenient locations scattered all around this atmospheric Christmas city, including at Heathrow Airport and iconic King’s Cross Station, getting behind the wheel of a rental car in London has never been easier! Call us today, toll-free at 1-888-223-5555, or use our secure booking engine to find the perfect car for you, from efficient economy options to family car rentals and everything in between.

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