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Top five things to do in London: to avoid the Christmas crowds

4 December 2012 | Emma Wright

If those flocks of Christmas tourists and shoppers bring out your inner Scrooge- you may want to read our top crowd avoidance tips so you can start enjoying the festive period, pronto!

You are not a grump. You are simply far too free a spirit to endure the soul-crushing cage that is slow-moving and uncertain crowds of people cutting you up, treading on your shoes and breathing your air. You have places to be or an occasion to enjoy and your way is blocked by an un-caring wall of human. That your blood is boiling is an ordinary response to the aggressive blocking of your easy-come, easy-go nature… If anyone understands, it is this London Calling reporter. London Calling is here to help you, free-spirited Londoners and London visitors. First- avoid Oxford Circus at any cost. Then:

1.     Embrace large open spaces. It is cold, yes. You have after all chosen to live in/ come to England. So wrap up warm, add another jumper, and head to one of London’s incredible parks. London has more parks than any other city in the world, with 30% of it being comprised of the green outdoors. That’s 471 km squared in which you can skip, run, cartwheel, make grass angels, sing, laugh hysterically… we advise you hop on a Boris bike, and take to the paths of Hampstead Heath or Hyde Park.

2.     Think travel. In this modern age, you don’t need to plan routes (if you’ve Google maps or similar on your phone), but you might like to note that there will be far fewer people travelling by bus, bike or boat, than by tube. Bus routes are easy to find on your phone, and the TFL website has all the information you need to hire a Boris bike or take a boat. The latter is a far less complicated undertaking than presumed, with Oyster accepted, the ability to plan journeys online, and Wifi on board to plan the rest of your trip. Tours are also offered, in case the below point strikes a chord…

3.     Create new traditions. Who said Christmas must entail roast dinner and West End show anyhow? The fact is if you’re anti-crowds, you may prefer boating on Victoria Park Lake. Hire is possible through the winter by calling 07852127895 in advance. Or if you can get enough people together, you might hire the small Broadgate Ice rink. Take your Christmas crackers to a Thai restaurant rather than chomping on turkey gone cold via overwhelming demands on pub kitchens city-wide. Leaving cliché behind will let you avoid tourist traps, and introduce you to new parts of this wonderful city.

4.     Evening has fallen and the world is flocking to London’s West End. Don’t get caught in the current of angst! If you are keen to see a West End show, see a matinee and use the evening to give smaller shows a chance. Particularly festive fringe offerings are farce, Sauce for the Goose at the Orange Tree Theatre; and satire, The Animals and Children Took to the Streets at the National. Festive comedy like The Nightmare Before Christmas at The Garage (‘dark & dirty’), and classical concerts like Christmas at Greenwich at the Old Royal Naval College will also be as enjoyable, though less-attended than West End shows.

5.     If you are a London local who knows people, chances are you will have to buy a gift or two. There are options. It goes without saying you should stay away from Oxford Circus and either Westfield, as well as smaller shopping hubs such as Sloane Street, Columbia Road, or any reputed market. If you need to venture to these parts, early-morning is your time, you should investigate preview shopping hours, and you might even take half a day off work. Otherwise, treat this as a golden opportunity to support your local shops. You could travel to London’s gorgeous suburbs, like Richmond, or you could shop online.

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