The lights are up, the decorations are out, and Christmas is officially just around the corner! You know what that means! It’s time to watch Love Actually on repeat, while you eat about a hundred mince pies and drink multiple cups of hot chocolate and mulled wine. Love Actually is my favorite Christmas movie… in fact, before I even lived in London, I was so excited about the Christmas season and how pretty it would be, purely from repeat viewings of this classic Christmas film! This year, I’m getting out of the house and letting the movie be my Christmas guide! So, without further ado, I give you the Love Actually guide to Christmas in London!
The opening and closing sequences of Love Actually are downright iconic and heart-warming all in one. If you’re flying into London for Christmas, chances are, you may fly into Heathrow. The Terminal 3 arrivals area is the scene for some of the cutest reunions in cinema history. Next time you’re in the area, see if you can spot the commemorative plaque that Heathrow has since put up!
Gabriel’s Wharf, SE1
Perhaps the best scene in Love Actually (so good in fact that they revisited it in the Love Actually Red Nose Day skit), you’ll find the bench where Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) finally tells Daniel (Liam Neeson) he’s in love. Sure the skyline has changed a little bit, but it’s a great view of London. Just around the corner, you’ll also find Barge House Street, where Mark (Andrew Lincoln) admits to Juliet that he likes her a bit more than he should, and then runs away. He walks through Oxo Tower, and low and behold, winds up just down the bank from Gabriel’s Wharf! Don’t worry, there’s loads of Christmassy stuff to do. Just walk down the South Bank and you’ll find the Southbank Centre’s Winter Market!
St Lukes Mews, W11
Not strictly Christmassy per say, but still a pretty iconic location from the films. You know what scene I mean… say it’s carol singers! The house in question is the pink one, though they’ve had a little make over in recent years. Still, St. Lukes Mews is famous in it’s own right, due to how adorable and pretty it is. Even if it’s not overly Christmassy, it’s still fully worth a visit!
Somerset House, WC2R
An iconic bit of architecture on The Strand, Somerset House’s ice rink is perhaps as Christmassy as it gets. I’ve been loads of times and it’s such good fun! To be fair, Somerset House is used pretty regularly as a filming location. The ice rink is sponsored by Fortnum and Mason, so after you’ve finished practicing your triple axel, you can indulge in some fondue (like Carrie and I did last year!) or mulled wine. You can also stock up on Christmas decorations and sweet treats to take a little bit of Somerset House home with you!
Blenheim Road, W4
One of the opening scenes features the house where Colin Firth’s character Jaime lives, plus it’s a totally adorable area. Rumor has it, Colin Firth leaves nearby as well! Once you’ve walked along the cute streets, admiring everyone’s Christmas decorations, head to Chief Coffee for a hot chocolate. Pick up some last minute stocking stuffers and Christmas cards in Cassius and Coco, and check out the winter wonderland at Wheelers Gardens! Every Christmas, they transform their garden for a bit of holiday cheer!
Grosvenor Chapel, W1K
Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Juliet (Kiera Knightley) have their pre-Christmas wedding at this sweet little chapel in Mayfair. Take a little peak at the chapel, then spend some time wandering around Mayfair looking at the Christmas displays. They’re always really good in Mayfair! New Bond Street always looks festive and so do Burlington Arcade and the Royal Arcade. I think Love Actually even features a few of these streets… They’re certainly Christmassy enough!
Despite being one of the most crowded bits of London, Oxford Street is definitely worth a visit, especially at Christmas! The Christmas lights again are pretty festive and delightful to see, and the big department stores always have great Christmas shops. Selfridges features very prominently in Love Actually; how could you forget that classic gift wrap debacle with Harry (Alan Rickman) and Rowan Atkinson! Sadly, my gift wrap didn’t feature sprigs of holly and cinnamon sticks, but heading to the Christmas shop and admiring the decorations was a delightful treat.
You can spy the Christmas decorations adorning Whiteley’s a number of times throughout Love Actually, and honestly, it’s well worth a little visit! When I stopped by, they hadn’t put up a Christmas tree, but the atrium is still a sight to admire! Added bonus – you can do any last minute shopping you need to do!
10 Adam Street, WC2R
This little spot isn’t officially a location in the films, BUT it is the twin of 10 Downing Street! The two buildings were built around the same time, which explains why they look so similar! This is as close as you’ll be able to get to Prime Minister Hugh Grant. Listen closely and you might just hear a bit of the Pointer Sisters (just me?), because who doesn’t love a golden oldie for a golden oldie! It’s right off the Strand as well, so there’s still plenty Christmassy to do around here! Pop up and see the decorations at Covent Garden, which are always fantastic!
Christmas in London is pretty wonderful, and Love Actually gave me my first real taste of it all those years ago! Watching all the decorations go up is nothing short of delightful. Plus, it’s one of my favorite Christmas movies! It’s funny how gallivanting around London, looking for the filming locations from a film you love can give you a new appreciation for a place! It’s definitely started the Christmas cheer a bit early this year as well! Enjoy!