One of my favourite family traditions growing up was our London trips on Christmas Eve! It just wasn't Christmas without a trip to the big smoke to check out the amazing light displays, buy the last minute prezzies...that sometimes had gone on early sale already! go to our favourite haunts like Selfridge's and St. Christopher's Place and of course the obligatory stop at Brent Cross on the way home!
So naturally I wanted to introduce Ella to this tradition, especially because North Wales is not so good at doing Christmas and they are seriously lacking in decent lights...and we have discovered that Ella is a huge fan of lights so I knew that she needed a light display worthy of her first Christmas and nowhere can beat London and their lights! so when it turned out that we might end up heading down South over the Christmas period I had only one request...an action packed day of light and foodie fun in London town!
It did not disappoint!
It's probably been one of my favourite days to date with our little family ever! and Auntie Mara got to join is for all the festive fun too!
Ella was on top form! and it's clear that she loves London as much as her Mommy does!
I had planned an action packed itinerary to try and maximise our time in London, we began in Covent Garden with the biggest tree Ella has ever seen! She was loving it!!
She kept trying to reach up to touch it, and was just looking at it in amazement!
There's something magical about Covent Garden's giant baubles...
and twinkly light filled candy cane alleyways!
and I knew there was no way we could leave London without indulging in some amazing Ben's Cookies! Auntie Mara insisted that we bought a whole box full, we naturally agreed!
and somehow even Ella knew that little red box was a special box!
You just cannot beat a Ben's cookie on this side of the pond!
We had to pose for a pic with this giant reindeer!
and then headed across the Thames to Southbank.
Ella still adores being on Daddy's shoulders and just didn't stop smiling the whole way across the bridge...
she was squealing away like she was king of the world up there! it was super cute!
Southbank is one of my all time fave places in London, some of my happiest memories have been spent there! They have the amazing real food market there every weekend, and they had a special Christmas market on too when we went.
Tons of cute little huts selling all kinds of goodies, like the amazing duck fat triple roasted fries we snacked on and these marshmallow filled chocolate coconut concoctions too!
There was a Christmas tree maze...
and this fun gingerbread men cutout - is that not the cutest little gingerbread girl you've ever seen?!
There was a little train running up and down the river that I had planned to take Ella on but when we got there I saw it was priced at £4 and thought that was a bit extreme for the 2 minute there and back ride we were going to get...
but for some reason I decided we should do it anyway, and oh man it was one of my favourite moments of the day! Ella was hilarious! She was peering out the window and waving at everyone in sight...
like she thought they were all there to watch her! She was just loving it, and it was some of the best money spent to see her little face lighting up and just having so much fun!
She is such a character!
She also got to go on the carousel with Daddy, which she loved too! The fist pump says it all!
We stocked up on goodies from Outsider Tart from the food market there, because they do some of the best American style baked goods in London!
We hopped a tube, which again Ella thought was just great!
Smiles all round at Piccadilly Circus! One of my fave stories from Byron's childhood is that after moving from South Africa to London at the age of 12 on his first trip into London he was pretty excited about getting to Piccadilly Circus, expecting to find a circus of course, and so imagine his disappointment when it was just a load of big buildings with lights on!! I guess the name is misleading ;)
As we headed to Carnaby St, we found this Byron restaurant and Gem bar right beside each other! It was too perfectly placed not to get a pic of!!
We headed to Kingly Court where one of my all time favourite cupcake companies had just opened up their first London storefront. Loved Crumbs & Doilies cute little turquoise shop and the yummy cupcakes we picked up! (but only ate the next day!)
Kingly Court just oozes coolness, especially in all its festive glory!
Our day revolved around the fact we were going to grab a late lunch at Stax Diner. It is owned by Bea, of Bea's of Bloomsbury - my favourite London bakery and since she's American herself I knew her diner was going to be the real deal!
Crates and crates of A&W greeted us as we walked in the door, and I knew we were on to a winner!
Their milkshake menu is extensive! and I'm a little bit in love with anything chalkboard like!
They open up these large windows and you can sit in the window and watch the world go by in the court down below...
and they have vinyl wallpaper and lampshades made out of giant tins of nuts!
I'm not gonna lie - this ferrero rocher milkshake was one of my main reasons for visiting! and it was seriously amazing!
Their triple cooked fries and chicken burgers would make any Southerner (US) proud!
my only complaint is how do you possibly choose between a root beer float and a triple thick milkshake?! Fortunately I got a taste of both, thanks Auntie Mara!
and the other reason we HAD to eat here on our day of festive fun? The Camem-burger, yes that's a beef patty topped with a whole disc of deep fried camembert and spiced cranberry relish! It was Ah-maaaazing!
and Ella got to chill out in her highchair, making herself comfy with legs out and everything! so she was happy! Plus we gave her all our straws - there is nothing that makes her happier in a restaurant than plenty of straws!!
Carnaby's lights never disappoint!
Loved these lightbulbs!
and the giant headphones!
We stumbled across this amazing steel drum band on Regent St! which I was ridiculously excited about because growing up I always used to say it's not Christmas until you've seen a dressed up Santa playing a steel drum on Regent St! Granted...there were no dressed up Santa's in sight...but Ella didn't seem to mind!
She love love loved their festive tunes!
and danced her little legs off! She was quite the entertainment!
Loved this peek at the lights in St. Christopher's Place...
and we topped off our day at Selfridge's - my most favourite place in London! We love that shop! and all the goodies inside! and as we headed to the bus stop to take us back home we turned around and snapped this picture perfect shot of that moment in time that captures so brilliantly why we love London.
There's no where else quite like it!
and I was SO happy I got to share its magic with Ella!
Here's to many more Christmas trips to London in the future!