Monday, 7 December 2015

Christmas Skating Rinks in London

Christmas is a time when people tend to eat and drink a bit more than they should. They also splash out on gifts that they'd never normally purchase. They also, for some reason, combine this with taking up an Olympic sport. As you can probably tell already, I'm not a big skater myself but many people in the UK and the capital are. I'm not down on skating personally, I can see the attraction and romance in it, I just can't do it... So with that in mind, please understand this list of skating rinks in London is graded by the whole experience, not the quality of the skate!

Eye Skate - London Eye

This rink is situated directly underneath the London Eye making it a really rather magical experience. In the dark evenings when the Eye is lit up and the Christmas lights around the rink come on, you couldn't wish for a nicer setting to fall and break your ankle... I mean skate! You can combine with a flight on the London Eye for a small break in the price or just solo skate. Prices are £9.45 for adults and children go free (except on the weekend).

Hampton Court Palace

This has been going on for some years but is a reasonably well kept secret... The magnificent palace of Henry VIII sets the backdrop for one of London's more spectacular skates. Luckily, it's separate from the maze - could you imagine getting out of there on skates? What's more, this year the palace celebrates 500 years of existence so combine it with a look round the palace, it's well worth it! Not to mention of course, the Ice Bar and CafĂ© for refreshments. Tickets are £11.50 for adults and £8.00 for children.

Wembley Park

Imagine skating around with a Christmas fair, food market and vintage fairground rides in the background. Now add in the spectacular archway of the home of English football and you've got skating heaven... The designer outlet at Wembley is to thank and for just £12 (adults) or £10.50 (kids) you can be a part of it!

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum, designed by Alfred Waterhouse, is a pretty spectacular sight most of the time. However, now there's a skating rink and Christmas fairy lights adorning the imposing building, it's worth of its own adjective. They've even been considerate enough to add a smaller children's rink so the little ones can practice before they take the plunge on the main rink. Tickets are £15.40 for adults and £10.45 for children.

Skate at Somerset House

There's a Fortnum's Lodge selling champagne and afternoon tea. Do you need another reason? Ok, this is traditionally the most well known of London's winter skate rinks but with the rise of the rink, it's been creative to stay ahead. This year there will also be club nights provided by Ministry of Sound and Island Records. I can't believe you want more reason than that? Prices are £14.60 for adults and £10.10 for children.

Tower of London

The rink, creatively is in the dry moat. In my head this is harping back to a great tradition of when the moats froze over and the poor people were invited to skate on it at Christmas. That probably isn't it at all but it's a nice romantic image to end on... Just don't misbehave here, they've got ready made cells!

Well that's our favourite rinks in London. An honourable mention goes to the one at Canary Wharf that just didn't make the cut. Purely on the fact that you'd have to be hanging around all those finance people... Do you want that at Christmas?

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Christmas Markets and Fairs in London

Next up in our series about Christmas in London, the markets and fairs!!! Now, there's hundreds of them and to be honest, they're all pretty good so we're not going to tell you about them all. However, if you want to know about them all, check out Time Out London.

No, we'll just be telling you about our favourite 5 Christmas markets and fairs in London, the most central ones! The ones that Chirton Grange can whisk you about to and from...

Barbican Market - 4th December to 20th December - Barbican Centre

The Barbican Christmas market has over 35 independent designers, brands and artisans showcasing their goods and crafts for you. Choose from vintage clothes and designer clothes, arts and crafts, jewellery, books and toys. Of course, no Christmas market is complete without plenty of mince pies and mulled wine. Thankfully they won't be in short supply at the Barbican market.

Christmas Market at the Tate Modern - Until 23rd December - Tate Modern

The Tate Modern has this great space between the gallery and the Thames and over the Christmas period it's put to excellent use as a Christmas market. Wooden chalets fill the space selling everything from handmade wooden toys to unique jewellery and fabulous Christmas decorations. Once again (you may see a theme here) the day out can be accompanies by glorious Bratwurst, crepes, roasted nuts and plenty of mulled wine. There's also a traditional Christmas carousel, probably have the wine after that though...

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland - Until 3rd January - Hyde Park (obviously)

This is huge and everyone probably knows all about it! One of the biggest Christmas fairs in the country, the huge Christmas market is accompanied by a fun fair and, of course, Santa lurks in a grotto! Don't come here if you're on the fence about Christmas though, the constant Christmas music (you know the ones) and plethora of Christmas is great for kids and big kids.

London Bridge Christmas Market - Until 3rd January - London Bridge

A personal favourite area of London so a personal favourite Christmas market. Probably better know as More London Market, the London Bridge do has over 100 independent traders selling homemade gifts and food from German style chalets. Yet again, alcohol is the order of the day with Christmas cocktails, mulled wine, hot cider and craft beers in abundance.

Bavarian Christmas - 12th and 13th December - The Crystal, Canning Town

Be quick, this one is only around for the weekend and ticks the boxes where fairytale Christmas is concerned. I'm not sure why, but we Brits have a very Bavarian style view of the perfect Christmas. There is, of course, an indoor market to be enjoyed by all and chalets that serve - you guessed it - Bavarian food (sausage) and drink (beer and wine). Then, the family friendly stand up from the Comedy Club should hit the spot.

So there you have it, our favourite Christmas markets and fairs in London. As mentioned, there's hundreds more where that came from so don't feel limited to this list! Next up in our Christmas series is favourite ice skating venues so look out for that this week!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Christmas Trees in London

So, as it's Christmas now in the UK (I'm sorry people who went before now, but no decorations until 1st!!!) we were going to do a blog on the best Christmas bits in London. However, in researching we found absolutely thousands of things to be done in London... So welcome to part one in our Christmas series of blogs for things to do in London. We begin, traditionally with the tree. Now, London has hundreds of tree displays, from the main Trafalgar Square tree to the individual hotel displays, some of which are spectacular.

Chirton Grange has helpfully picked out the best and our favourites for you, to make the day in London seamless.

St Pancras Station Disney Display

Not strictly speaking a tree, this one, but it is in the shape of a tree. Over 2000 Disney stuffed toys have gone into making this tree, all of which will be donated to kids charities in the new year so nobly it makes an entry this year. Also handy as if you're travelling into London from Kent or Essex or Yorkshire, you'll end up here and your Chirton Grange car will pick you up here.

Norwegian Spruce - Trafalgar Square

This one gets switched on on Thursday December 3rd so still time to get down to see it! The tree is donated by the Norwegian government every year (since 1947) as a thank you to Britain for our help and support in World War 2. Often the tree is over 20m tall and is automatically associated with Christmas in the capital.

Damien Hirst Tree at the Connaught

Now, one might not normally associate Damien Hirst with a traditionalist idea of Christmas. And you'd be right. This large tree displayed by the Connaught is decorated by Damien with surgical instruments. Sound odd? Wait until you see the snowmen made from pills! However, the meaning behind the decorations is very Christmas, the surgical instruments represent hope. Hope brought about by medicine and science. So still quite Christmassy...

Nordic Pine and the Ritz

Now the Ritz is definitely more traditionally Christmassy. This old school display of Nordic pine isn't set around one large tree but many smaller ones. As with the Ritz, this one is one for those with a more old school ideology of Christmas.

Duke of York Square

As always, Chelsea bring their A Game to Christmas (perhaps someone could tell Jose and his boys about this) with what can only be described as more of a forest of trees. Two tall 28ft trees dominate this display but a further 46 seven foot trees and 6 fourteen foot trees give you the impression of being in an Alpine forest, decorated beautifully, of course.

Dickensian Christmas - Borough Market

You can rely on Borough to bring a more traditional and Victorian vibe to the whole idea of Christmas. And of course, if there's one Victorian who encapsulates Christmas, it's Dickens. His Christmas Carol isn't necessarily referenced in the market, but you certainly feel every bit in the tale with Scrooge and Tiny Tim. A 28 foot tree is joined by 22 Victorian wreaths suspended from the iron roof to bring Christmas to the market,

Coming next, we'll be discussing Christmas Markets and Fairs in London. Yet again in this cosmopolitan and multi-cultural city, there's something for everyone to get involved in. Chirton Grange cars are available in London for day and evening hires to see the trees, markets and shops. Just get in touch or visit the website