Christmas in the UK
If you're an overseas student spending Christmas in the UK for the first time it can be hard to know what to do for the few days around the Christmas period itself. Central London can be quite quiet at this time of year, and Christmas Day (25th December) is a national holiday so shops and tourist attractions are closed. However, there are lots of great options you might like to consider when planning your Christmas in the UK. To find out more about Christmas traditions in the UK, visit the Great British Mag.
Go on a HOST Visit!
You can apply to stay with a British family over the Christmas period, to experience an authentic British Christmas. If you have not been on a HOST visit before King's will pay for your first visit, and you will just need to cover your travel costs. You need to apply well in advance as the Christmas holiday is a very popular time for HOST visits. HOST are still accepting Christmas applications, but please hurry!
Experience a traditional British Christmas party!
Each year International Students House holds a traditional British Christmas party with all the trimmings on Christmas Day, including Christmas Dinner, party games and a walk in Regents Park. You will need to book in advance and pay a small fee to attend this event.
Spend Christmas in the Highlands!
Our friends at Haggis Adventures run a choice of trips to the Scottish Highlands ranging from 3-5 days which include tours, parties and a proper Christmas dinner. If you're looking to go away for New Year you can join in traditional Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh on one of their tailor-made tours.
Christmas in London...
There are all sorts of events in London before, during and after Christmas including concerts, carol services, markets, Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland, and funfairs, many of which are free! Or why not go ice skating, or go to the pantomime, a form of entertainment (probably) only found in the UK? Time Out is another great place to find out what's going on when throughout the holiday season. KCLSU's Unlocking London programme includes some fabulous events including skating at Somerset House and a visit to Winter Wonderland.
There are Christmas markets, special activities and festivals all over Europe between November and January, many of which are accessible by the Eurostar (including the Christmas Markets in Lille and Brussels) or less than a 2-hour flight away. If you're travelling in Europe make sure you read our pages on travelling outside the UK before you go. The ISH Travel Club are running a trip to the markets in Prague this year!
Travelling home for Christmas?
If you're an overseas student going home/abroad for Christmas, do be careful to ensure you have all the correct documents in your hand luggage when you return so that you can re-enter the UK without any problems. You should obtain an up-to-date travel letter from the Compass before you leave, as immigration officers may wish to see this when you arrive back in the UK. You should also have evidence of your funds and a copy of your original CAS, just in case immigration officers want to see this
Commonwealth and International Student Christmas Weekend
Taking place at Cumberland Lodge, a Royal 17th Century house in the grounds of Windsor Great Park, this traditional British Christmas celebration is held a week before Christmas (on 19th-21st December) and includes Christmas carols Royal Chapel, Christmas lunch and even a visit from Father Christmas!
There are carol services and carol concerts all over London during the Christmas period, as well as carol services in the beautiful chapels on our Guy's and Strand campuses and carol sing-alongs with mice pies! See our Chaplaincy webpages for details or join their Facebook page. If you're living on our near the Guy's campus, you might want to go to Midnight Mass (11.30pm, Christmas Eve) or to the Christmas Day Mass at 11am at Southwark Cathedral - the Guy's chaplain will be available after the service for anyone wanting to meet up.
There are lots of opportunities to volunteer over Christmas which can be really rewarding. This might involve working with homeless people, older people or at special events. Have a look at TimeBank's website for more details.