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  • Mon 22 Dec 2014 09:00

    Staying in London for the holidays? Need an escape from the noise/fumes/Christmas desperation?


    There are loads of beautiful places just an hour away from London to explore - they’re great for a visit all year round, but at this time of year with Christmas lights, markets and the chance of snow, they’re even better! (And they seem SO cheap in comparison!)



    If you choose just one Christmas market in the UK to visit this season, let it be Canterbury’s. With one of the UK’s most stunning cathedrals as a backdrop, this traditional North European market will get you in the Christmas spirit like nothing else. It’s open until Christmas Eve, and as an added bonus you can catch carol singers every weekend at the Whitefriars Shopping Centre. It’s the perfect place to get that quaint British experience!

    More information about what do in Canterbury is at canterbury,



    Step back in time to the days of A Christmas Carol in the town that’s Charles Dickens’ final resting place! Wander around Rochester’s lovely city centre, see the cathedral, get a hot chocolate from a tiny cafe and visit the amazing Rochester Castle (home to one of the best-preserved keeps in England) all in one day. It’s is a real gem - small, pretty, historic and not overrun by tourists - perfect for some fresh air. 

    More information about what to do in Rochester is here.



    Although Brighton is often categorised as a summer destination, it’s a great place to visit all year round. If you’re free on Sunday, you’ll love what they’ve got in store: December 21st is the winter solstice, which means thousands of people will be gathering for the Burning the Clock event. The event involved 2,000 homemade lanterns, a fire and a fireworks show! It’s a unique way to celebrate the shortest day of the year. Brighton’s also famous for its excellent nightlife and music scene - keep the celebrations going with one of many gigs around town every night.

    More information about Brighton and what to do there is at


    Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead

    Missing skiing and snowboarding? Trade in the flight to the Alps for a quick 30 minute journey to the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead! This 160-meter indoor slope is perfect for seasoned skiers and snowboarders as well as beginners. You can even pop into the Schuss Bar on the slope for some free tea and coffee to warm up during your session. All winter gear can be rented on site so visiting this winter wonderland is super easy!

    More information about Hemel Hempstead’s Snow Centre is a



    If you’ve ever wondered what Hogwarts would look like if it was a town,get yourself to Oxford and prepare to fall in love. At this time of year it’ll be quiet enough to wander around without bumping into too many students, so you can explore all the colleges and narrow streets at your leisure. Head to Christ Church College Great Hall to see where the Hogwarts Great Hall scenes were filmed! Make a visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum while you’re there to see a truly incredible collection of anthropology and archeology from around the world.

    More information about what to do in Oxford is here



    If you haven’t made it out to Windsor yet, you absolutely must before you leave London. Along the Thames, to the north of London, it makes a good day-trip for shopping, lovely views and great food - and of course, to see the Queen’s official home! Windsor Castle is the the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. You can see the changing of the guard there every other day at 11am - not to be missed!

    More information about what to do in Windsor is at

    Get off your phone, head to the train station, and go explore! For more ideas about places to visit around London, check out this Buzzfeed post

    - Susannah Faulkner

    See also:

    Places to Study in London: the Best of the Best

    Take a Break! 7 Ways to Escape and Explore

    12 Most Bizarre Christmas Videos of All Time

  • Sun 21 Dec 2014 12:00

    We love these pictures! Congratulations to all our new graduates - you made it! #LSE2014

    via LSE’s Instagram

  • Sat 20 Dec 2014 10:00

    “Are you going back to Canada for Christmas?” I’m getting asked this year.

    “No, but I’m travelling and my boyfriend is visiting!” I respond cheerfully. As much as I’ll have a great time, it’s still not really going to feel like a Leong family Christmas without curry and Jurassic Park viewings. 


    It can be lonely if you’re a new town, country or continent - especially one that others call home, and especially during the holidays. These 4 tips should help you get through it.

    1. Find your home away from home.

    Christmas is about family - and that’s the family you’re born with, or the family you build through laughter, tears, and all-nighters at the bar or in the library.

    Chances are, you won’t be the only one left in your halls or program over the break. Most halls will have events for students who are staying over the holiday, so check with your warden or hall committee. If you don’t live in halls, convince a friend to bring you along! The more the merrier. 

    2. Explore!

    It’s the holidays, you’ve got no excuse for being buried in the books.


    Take this opportunity to check out some of the sights and attractions that you’ve always been too busy to visit. 

    Check out the list of free attractions in London, Christmas markets and fairs, and what’s going on in London on Christmas Day

    3. Remember it’s okay to feel lonely/sad/whatever you’re feeling! 

    I’m not going to lie, it’s going to suck sometimes. There are going to be moments where you’ll have tried everything in the book to occupy yourself but it’s just not working, because Christmas is just so damn insidious.


    Try not to berate yourself for feeling lonely or sad (because I definitely do that, and it just gets worse). It is completely okay to feel however you’re feeling and your emotions are 100% valid. Just remember that 

    4. Most importantly, take care of yourself. 

    I’m not just talking about eating right and exercising, though that is important too. 


    Treat yourself to something delicious. Take a long hot shower (now that there’s no one to yell at you for hogging it). Wear something that makes you feel good. Watch that TV show you’ve been putting off all term. Let yourself sleep in. Whatever form of self-care works for you, be kind to yourself. You’ve made it through Michaelmas term, it’s time to unwind and put your feet up. 

    Best of luck, and happy holidays to all!

    - Mary Leong

    See also:

    Places to Study in London: the Best of the Best