At this time of year it's traditional to go out for a countryside stroll on either Boxing Day or New Year's Day to blow away the cobwebs and walk off some of the Christmas excesses.
However why not extend that to walks just before Christmas and instead of a walk in the country go on a walk in the centre of town.
Below is a selection of walks from Westminster (and other guides) taking place between 21st December and 2nd January. The walks I'm leading are highlighted in red.
Friday 21st December at 7pm: Steve from Trails of the City will be leading a winter solstice ghost walk around Covent Garden. As the nights close in, Westminster's dead become restless... Pale faces press against darkened windows, footsteps pace through empty rooms and there is a lingering smell of old blood. Join us for stories of long-dead celebrities, headless wraiths and mysterious doppelgangers, as lost souls gather along the banks of the Thames and throng the narrow streets around Covent Garden and the Strand. Includes one spooky pub stop!
Meeting point: exit Charing Cross mainline station from the main entrance, turn right and meet Steve by Boots and the Charing Cross Hotel.
Saturday 22nd December at 11am - The Streets to the Stars - a tour of London's theatreland.
You will almost be able to smell the greasepaint as we explore the star-studded West End, enjoying high drama and low comedy. See where Eliza Doolittle sold her flowers, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry strode the boards and learn why every theatre has its ghost. Richard (the other half of Trails of the City) will be leading this walk.
Meet Richard outside Covent Garden station in James Street. £8 / £6 concessions and a bargain £5 for Westminster residents (proof of residence needed). This theatreland walk repeats every Saturday at 11am. There's no need to book.
Saturday 22nd December at 2pm - Exclusive Clubs and Posh Shops: a tour of St James's St James's is London's Royal Village. It has palaces, grand homes, gentlemen's clubs, and some of the oldest and most exclusive shops in London. It hides some delightful courtyards and passages. It is full of surprises! This walk, crammed with delightful contrasts, will introduce you to the hidden side of a well-known part of town. I will be leading this walk.
Exit Green Park tube by the new step-free ramp and I will be standing by the drinking fountain. £8 / £6 concessions and a bargain £5 for Westminster residents (proof of residence needed). This St James's walk repeats every Saturday at 2pm. There's no need to book.
Sunday 23rd December at 7.30pm - my penultimate Christmas Lights walk of the year. The walk starts in a cosy Sam Smiths pub on the edge of Marylebone. We will then meander through the back streets and hidden passages of the West End where some of the best Christmas lights in the capital can be found. We will hear about Christmas traditions, how to celebrate Christmas if money was no object, see the location for an iconic 1970s album cover, go past some of London's poshest shops (and the best decorations in my opinion) and finish in a newly refurbished pub which is a freehouse, serves hot toddies and is right next to Piccadilly Circus. As with most of my walks there is a food/drink theme throughout.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to book. £8 / £6 for usual concessions and members of London Historians. As at 18.12.12 there are 12 spaces left on this one.
Christmas Day - for the second year running Pete Berthoud will be running his unusual Christmas Day walks in the West End. They are unfortunately all sold out but I'm sure he will soon be taking bookings for next year!
Boxing Day - I wanted to be able to say that the Westminster Guides would be running their regular weekly Wednesday walk ie Tarts and Tiaras but it looks like the planned tube strike has unfortunately put paid to that.
Thursday 27th December and Friday 28th December both in the afternoon Laurence Scales is leading a walk entitled Nine Boffins - a Westminster at War Walk.
Heroic and bizarre experiments, extraordinary characters, secret weapons and intelligence - stories from two world wars. More details about the walk can be found here.
Email Laurence to book your place. Suggested donation for the walk is £10/£5. [I am planning on going on this walk on the 28th.}
Thursday 27th December at 6.15pm - my last Christmas Lights walk of the year. Details as above but a slightly earlier start time and a different pub to start in as the Sam Smiths pub is closed on the 27th!
Email email@example.com if you would like to book. £8 / £6 for usual concessions and members of London Historians. As at 18.12.12 there are 8 spaces left on this one.
Saturday 29th December at 11am - the Westminster Guides' weekly Theatreland walk this time led by David Evans. Meet him outside Covent Garden station in James Street.
£8 / £6 concessions and a bargain £5 for Westminster residents (proof of residence needed). This Theatreland walk repeats every Saturday at 11am. There's no need to book.
Saturday 29th December at 2pm - the Westminster Guides' weekly St James's walk. Exit Green Park station by the ramp into the park and meet the guide by the drinking fountain.
£8 / £6 concessions and a bargain £5 for Westminster residents (proof of residence needed). This walk repeats every Saturday at 2pm. There's no need to book.
Wednesday 2nd January 2013 at 11am - Tarts and Tiaras: a tour of Mayfair the best address in London. Mayfair has been London's aristocratic playground for much of the last 300 years. It is more mixed than you might think - the raffish and the respectable rub shoulders among the grand squares and hidden alleyways - but always so discreetly.
Meet your Westminster Guide outside the Stratton Street exit from Green Park tube (near Marks and Spencer). £8 / £6 concessions and a bargain £5 for Westminster residents (proof of residence needed). This Mayfair walk repeats every Wednesday at 11am (apart from Boxing Day because of the tube strike). There's no need to book.
Hope everyone reading this blogpost has a very Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The author of this blog (Joanna Moncrieff) is a qualified City of Westminster Tour Guide who specialises in food and drink themed walks in the West End.
Details of all her walks are listed here.
To sign up to Joanna's mailing list click here
Labels: Christmas, Christmas lights walks, Guided walks, Westminster