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How To Celebrate Christmas In England

Christmas in England - London Christmas Lights

Celebrating the Festive Holiday in England

Christmas in England combines new and old traditions, and the Christmas we know today has very much evolved from the Victorian times when Queen Victoria was in reign.

For most people nowadays, the most exciting part of the big day is eating Christmas lunch and opening presents. 

A traditional English Christmas is a morning at church and lots of carol singing. But this is probably still followed by a big Christmas lunch!

A Typical Christmas in England

The festive season is a big deal in England. In fact, Christmas in England is one of the busiest times of the year for hospitality, shopping, and heading to some of the best Christmas markets in England.

Homes are decorated inside and out, with lights, wreaths, ornaments and Christmas trees (artificial or real). When the tree is put up is often a debate, as around the world, with some people putting their trees up as early as October! But, the beginning of December is more usual.

Festive Activities

Families love to pack their calendars with festive activities such as visiting Santa, attending parties, admiring light displays and attending events. Their are also plenty of activities for kids across the country to keep them entertained.

Winter Wonderland is a huge festive event which takes place in Hyde Park, the centre of London. This spectacular event has an array of entertainment and activities which attracts people from all over the world.

The Christmas period is a massive time for celebration, and the cold English weather escalates that festive feeling. Every year people dream of a white Christmas but it’s quite rare. The last proper white Christmas was in 2010! 

Christmas for Children

The childhood dream of the big day is running downstairs to see that Santa has been, the world outside covered in snow and tucking into a huge Christmas lunch.

On Christmas Eve, a mince pie along with a sherry for Santa and carrot for Rudolph is left by the door or fireplace. And stockings are hung ready for Santa’s arrival, or left at the end of each child’s bed.

Over the years, the Elf on the Shelf has evolved from a simple Christmas story into a global family tradition that’s held during every Christmas period, and made its way into a lot of English homes.

The Elf on the Shelf tells a Christmas-themed story – written entirely in rhyme – about how Santa and his ‘scout’ elves work together to decide who has behaved well, and who hasn’t, and who will or will not get presents that Christmas.

Elf on The Shelf: A Christmas Tradition (Blue-Eyed Girl Scout Elf)

What is in an English Christmas Lunch?

Christmas lunch is up there with the long-awaited Christmas adverts for being the most important part of Christmas in England.  

What’s on the Menu?

There is some debate about what Christmas lunch should include. However, in houses up and down the country you’re sure to find a show-stopping turkey, brussel sprouts, stuffing and (the most important part) a delicious gravy.

In many households, you are also likely to find a prawn cocktail as a starter as part of the extravagant three course menu.

English Christmas lunch served on table

If you’re having Christmas in England this year, Christmas lunch will probably have crispy roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and roast vegetables.

Nut roasts are now becoming more popular amongst the Christmas feast, as well as other vegetarian dishes.

Dessert might be tubs of chocolates such as Celebrations, Quality Street and Heroes, mince pies and a traditional Christmas pudding.

Whatever is on the menu, it will certainly be a spread fit for a king so make sure you wear those stretchy clothes!

Lots of festive foods in England aren’t English at all, because many of the best Christmas markets in England are actually German! So don’t be surprised if you see gluhwein bratwurst and German sweets.

Christmas Crackers

Christmas crackers are an essential part of a Christmas lunch, and are also a British heritage dating back to Victorian times. The crackers are pulled once everyone has sat down before everyone begins to eat. Each cracker usually contains a small gift, paper hat and a joke. 


Everyone will wear their paper hat for the duration of the meal, or even the rest of the day, tell the bad jokes and play with their gift for 10 seconds before it’s never used again.

Crackers are a big English tradition, and a Christmas dinner would not be the same without them.

Find out more about Christmas crackers and the history in our post here.

Where are the Best Christmas Markets in England?

German Markets came to England in the 1990s. They’ve grown from being a handful of stalls to some of the best Christmas markets in England having over 300 stalls!

These markets are hugely popular all over the country and you can find food, drinks, activities, gifts and decorations. Many people will attend a Christmas market during the run-up to the big day. And some will even travel hours to a city just to visit and enjoy the market.

Christmas in England sees seasonal markets popping up in all of the major cities. We think the best Christmas markets in England are in Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. And, the best part is, Christmas markets are all free if you’re there to soak up the festive atmosphere.

These winter markets capture the true German heritage whilst allowing traders from around Europe to sell their delicately crafted Yuletide goods such as gifts, crafts, jewellery, clothes and toys, and mouth-watering international foods. These make perfect gifts and stocking fillers.

For more information on Christmas markets in Europe and how to have an amazing time, have a read of our article here.
Best Christmas Markets in England stall

Final Thoughts on Christmas in England

Christmas in England is a blend of old and new traditions popping up every year, from all around the world. But of course, the most important part is who you spend it with. 

Related Articles on Christmas Traditions:

How To Celebrate Christmas In England

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