The London Eye is always on my list of places to take people when they visit the city. Every time I go up in one of the capsules, I can’t help but marvel at the view, proudly showing off my adopted city and the sights up and down the Thames. That’s why I was delighted when I got some complimentary tickets to take 2 of my out-of-town friends up for a turn at this iconic London attraction. (See full disclosure below.)
At Christmastime the Coca-Cola London Eye and the South Bank itself are a wonderfully festive experience – London puts on its brightest face, with sparkles, food and fun. It’s the kind of day out that makes you (or at least me) relish the season here.
A tip from me: While you can book a Champagne tour anytime, there’s something particularly festive about looking at the sparkling lights of London with a glass of fizz this time of year. And whether you have a glass in your hand or not, I always recommend booking Fast Track tickets, which means you are whisked aboard quickly and seamlessly (stopping only to pick up a bottle of Coca-Cola on the way…).
The view from the top
Admire the engineering, grab a Coke and learn about the sights via touchscreen
Cool Yule things you can do on the South Bank this season:
At 7pm every night the Eye will be lit up with a special light show, finishing with a ‘countdown to Christmas’ with more and more sections of the wheel being lit up each evening as the big day approaches. By Christmas Eve the whole iconic structure will be a brilliant white to help Santa navigate on his busiest night of the year.
On Sunday 18th December, the Coca-Cola truck will be stopping at the London Eye as part of its UK tour. My daughter will love seeing this iconic truck with Santa Claus emblazoned on the side.
The Coca-Cola London Eye is giving away a “Santa Spotting” capsule on Saturday 24th December*. The lucky winner and 24 friends will enjoy the last go-round on Christmas Eve looking out for the man in the red suit and his sleigh across the London skyline, perfect for getting the little ones even more excited! Look out for the competition on social media.
At the nearby London Dungeon on the South Bank, visitors can experience some festive cheer with a sinister twist, seeing mini Christmas stockings for the longest standing residents of the city — the Dungeon’s rats (!) and ‘dark side’ decoration tips (oooooh).
At the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, visitors can see fishy friends getting into the mood with an underwater “Fish’mas” tree.
You can stay nearby London Marriott County Hall, with views of Big Ben, the Thames and the Eye. The hotel is recently renovated, making it a very chic and luxurious place to stay right in the heart of London. I was there recently on a press visit and it’s ideal for a family getaway, convenient and wonderfully scenic with a fabulous bar featuring cocktails and mocktails with interesting ingredients. One even smokes with dry ice. (Love cocktails? Read my full post about Gillray’s bar and it’s artisanal approach.)
Disclosure: Jenography was provided with Fast Track tickets to visit the London Eye during the Christmas season. All opinions are my own.
Have a favourite bit of the South Bank during the holidays? Share your experiences and tips in comments!
Jennifer Howze, the Times's former Alpha Mummy blogger, is a journalist, blogger and co-founder of BritMums and BritMums Live. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Independent, Frommer's Budget Travel, and Travel+Leisure, among others.