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Christmas shopping from Kent to London's Oxford Street for a festive retail experience and day out

By Angela Cole

There’s Christmas shopping – and then there’s Christmas shopping in London.

Heading up to town on the train on a Saturday morning in November or December, there’s excitement in the air, as groups of all different ages and walks of life enjoy a treat. Listen out for the odd cork pop as some make a real day of it.

Armed with your funds and a wish list, you could wander the mile of retail heaven until the deals entice you in, or swat up on which shops are on your wish list and head for them.

Christmas on Oxford Street

Christmas on Oxford Street

A little bit of organisation and preparation can work wonders: there are bargains to be had, but do your homework and make sure you know what prices would be normally.

To feel you’ve had the full festive shopping experience, you need to head to a department store like House of Fraser or John Lewis. And of course there’s the ultimate: Selfridges, for time-honoured quality and up to date style.

Whether you’re looking for clothes, jewellery, gifts and electrics, or homewares, you’ll find it on the street. Everything you need – shopping, dining and entertainment is available on Oxford Street.

There are more than 750,000 bright white LED bulbs and 1,778 baubles in the Oxford Street Christmas lights

There are more than 750,000 bright white LED bulbs and 1,778 baubles in the Oxford Street Christmas lights

There’s something to suit every pocket too, with designer names from Fossil to Schuh and Pandora, to H&M and Primark.

Whatever happens, there’s not much to beat the feel of heading home after a packed day, carrying a few crisp, new shopping bags filled with gifts you know your loved ones will be overjoyed to open on the big day.

Kent's Christmas lights


THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

The bright lights of the city of London are a spectacle in themselves at Christmas.
Forget selfies of the London sights – this time of year everyone’s queuing up to have the Oxford Street lights as their backdrop and to snap the shimmering wall of light on the exterior of House of Fraser.

Singer Rita Ora did the honours for the lights switch-on this year, officially marking the start of the festive shopping season in London.

The much-anticipated switch-on, now in its 58th year, was in partnership with children’s charity NSPCC and Sky Cinema.

Rita Ora switched on the Oxford Street Christmas lights this year with stars including Kent's Matt Terry Picture David ParryPA

Rita Ora switched on the Oxford Street Christmas lights this year with stars including Kent's Matt Terry Picture: David Parry/PA

Singer Rita Ora who has also appeared on America’s Next Top Model and as a judge on The X-Factor, said: “London is my home so switching on the Oxford Street lights means a lot to me. I used to love coming to Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights when I was younger so this means even more to me.”

The switch-on event also featured The X-Factor pop stars Matt Terry, from Kent, and 5 After Midnight.

Rita Ora switched on the Oxford Street Christmas lights this year Picture David ParryPA

Rita Ora switched on the Oxford Street Christmas lights this year Picture: David Parry/PA

The lights along the mile-long stretch of Oxford Street are made up of more than 750,000 bright white LED bulbs and 1,778 baubles.

WHERE TO EAT

Do you ever wish you could say to your friends “I know this perfect little place...” and lead them to a secret treasure of a restaurant? Well, now you can.

Forget the major chains – step off Oxford Street and head to Marylebone to discover Ristorante Olivelli.

It’s quite clear when you step into the Italian and Sicilian restaurant, that people who find it, go back – it’s packed with regulars.

Sicilian-born restaurateur Giovanni Salamone bought Olivelli in 1993. It is defined by its buzzy, contemporary feel with an old fashioned warm-hearted welcome and fair-priced, quality food, specialising in authentic Italian and Sicilian dishes.

Olivelli's restaurant is tucked away just off Oxford Street

Olivelli's restaurant is tucked away just off Oxford Street

Attentive but relaxed staff will make recommendations and suggestions for you but whatever dish you go for is going to be cooked to perfection. Or even if it’s not cooked – the olives were huge and quality.

Main dishes range from an 8oz Angus sirloin steak with truffle chipped potatoes for £18.50 or tagliatelle, prawns and courgette flowers for £13.95 to linguine with Palourde clams for £14.25 and ricotta and spinach filled fresh tortellini. There’s plenty of vegetarian dishes and a wide range of pasta, pizza and other dishes.

Push the boat out and have three courses, and make sure you sample Torta Paradiso, Olivelli’s specialty cake.

Find Olivelli’s at 9, St. Christophers Place, Marylebone, London, W1U 1NE or visit ristoranteolivelli.co.uk


TIPS FOR A STRESS-FREE DAY OUT

* Get an early start – the trains will be quieter, you can get hit the shops before taking a beverage break and you won’t need to rush
* Check out southeasternrailway.co.uk for train times and offers such as group saving and kids for a quid
* Wear comfortable shoes – you know there’ll be lots of walking – and consider what you can actually carry (and get on the train) back home
* Keep a tally of what you’re spending and try to keep to your budget
* Most Oxford Street shops open from 9.30am to 9pm, but it’s 10pm closing time on Thursdays and Fridays, 9am to 9pm on Saturdays and 11.30am to 6pm on Sundays.

Christmas shopping in Oxford Street Picture David ParryPA

Christmas shopping in Oxford Street Picture: David Parry/PA


DETAILS

To find out where your favourite shops are on Oxford Street, latest offers shopping inspiration, visit oxfordstreet.co.uk
You can also follow @oxfordstreetW1 on Twitter #OXST
You can also give the gift of shopping this Christmas with the OXST gift card, which lets you pay at all the shops on Oxford Street. Get it online at oxfordstreet.co.uk/gift-card 

There are also other ideas for your day out here

 

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