Christmas in England is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Say what you will, but Brits know how to do Christmas. By mid-November the lights go up, the markets roll into town, and the carolers take to the streets. Before you know it it’s December and the holidays are right around the corner. I decided early in the year that I wasn’t going to go home for Christmas, but many international students do go home, but whether you are staying or going there are plenty of must dos during the Christmas season.
Though they do exist in Canada, the Christmas markets over here are just on another level. Of course, the first one that comes to mind is Winter Wonderland in London, and if you can definitely try to make it there. It completely takes over Hyde Park, showcasing the best mulled wine, artisan gifts, and tons of food, you could easily spend the entire day wondering around. Even if you can’t make it to London, every city essentially has a similar, although smaller, version, which is insured to get you in the festive spirit.
Christmas shopping gives people one of two reactions, either pure excitement or hatred. I am of the camp of excitement, but then again, I just love shopping in general! For anyone taking on the crowds here are a few tips to avoid too much stress;
- Set out early. To avoid the crowds and lines try to make it to the shops right when they open. Also, since we’re students, we often have breaks throughout the week where we don’t have class, which means we can usually avoid weekend business!
- Check the Christmas markets and high streets first. You can often find unique and handmade goods here if you are struggling with gift ideas!
- Take a coffee break! Don’t try to overdo it all at once, make sure to take a seat, tuk into a mince pie, which by the way is not made of meat but fruit, and remember why you are shopping in the first place!
Whether you are staying in the UK or heading home, to get into the festive spirt make sure to dress up your room or flat! Small trees are everywhere, I bought a mini potted one that was spayed with fake snow for only £7 at the local market. You can also get inexpensive decorations from Primark and Paperchase, so put on some Christmas music, make some hot chocolate, and get decorating!
For those of us who decide to stick around in the UK over the holidays do not fret, you don’t have to be alone of Christmas! Many schools hold a bunch of events in the run to Christmas for anyone who is around over the festive season. For example, Leeds hosts craft nights, Christmas dinners, and day trips during the month of December, so if you are feeling a bit lonely make sure to check out what your Uni is doing.
Just something else to note, England is not used to snow, so when it does happen the country shuts down. I mean buses get stuck, flights are cancelled, and train signaling fails for days after, and I am not talking about a huge amount or anything, I’m talking about a few centimeters. But overall this truly is the most wonderful time of year so make sure you make the most of it! If you have any questions about how you too spend a magical holiday in the UK please contact one of our advisors.