The Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving in London
Whether you are travelling alone, with your partner or family, or are simply looking for some kindred spirits to celebrate with, here are some of the best things to do this Thanksgiving in London.
Spending one of the most important American holidays away from home is hard enough, let alone if you’re spending it in another country with a different culture. However, if you’re (lucky enough!) to be spending Thanksgiving in London this year, you won’t be short of venues, events and activities to celebrate this annual holiday. What’s more, there will be plenty of fellow Americans!
Tuck into a traditional Thanksgiving meal
It’s no surprise that food is going to dominate where we celebrate Thanksgiving in London. When it comes to turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, we’ve scoured the scene to pick our favourite spots to chow-down on Turkey Day. Big Easy, Covent Garden Offering a delightful culinary feast of American proportions, Big Easy is giving you the choice of a traditional pit-smoked turkey meal with stuffing, cornbread, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole or the more luxurious “lobster fest” with lobster rolls, lobster mac ‘n cheese as well as a whole lobster. Phew! There’s every likelihood we’ll need a nap after this feed. Blue’s Kitchen, Camden Get a taste of the Deep South this Thanksgiving. Not only will you be treated to a delicious meal featuring turkey ham and all those delicious sides, there’ll also be live blues from The Untouchables & Tom Mansi and the Ice-Breakers through the night. Crown & Shuttle, Shoreditch Get a dose of Americana at this Shoreditch spot. With American hits blasting out all night, choose from a range of craft beers including seasonal pumpkin-spiced brews as well as Thanksgiving favourites such as turkey schnitzel and pulled turkey leg with all the fixins and much more. JW Steakhouse, Mayfair Not only can you get your red-meat fix, but JW Steakhouse will be serving a bountiful 3-course Thanksgiving menu from noon till 11pm. Indulge in turkey, pumpkin pie, stuffing and candied sweet potatoes as well as steakhouse favourites such as shrimp cocktail, prime rib, bread budding and more. Shotgun, Soho Another Southern eatery, the ambiance coupled with the formidable Thanksgiving menu makes this BBQ restaurant a must-visit. Serving devilled eggs, smoked turkey, brisket, ham, stuffing, creamed spinach and cornbread as well as pecan pie or banana pudding, Shotgun will leave you well and truly satisfied this Thanksgiving. Le Bun, Dalston Looking for a quick Thanksgiving fix? Head over to Le Bun’s current residency at Birthdays in Dalston for an all-encompassing Thanksgiving burger. Piled high with festive favourites such as sweet potato puree, bacon, turkey, parsnip crisps, cranberry sauce, truffle mayo and gravy.
Cheer for your favourite football team
Nothing screams American sports like a bar showing NFL, so if you need your football fix this Thanksgiving, the Hippodrome Casino in bustling Leicester Square is just the place. From 5.30pm until 1.30am it will be broadcasting the Vikings vs Lions at Detroit, followed by the Redskins vs Cowboys at Dallas, taking you through to the early hours with Steelers vs. Colts at Indianeapolis. There’ll also be comedians taking to the stage between the first and second games so you’ll be spoilt for choice in entertainment. It’s guaranteed to be a busy one, so head down early to get a spot. What’s more, it’s free entry, so that means more beer money!
Give a little thanks this Thanksgiving
If you want to give back to the community this Thanksgiving, there are multiple initiatives across the city you can get involved in to help those less fortunate than you. Soup kitchens are a great way to help, supporting those who aren’t tucking into turkey and trimmings like you. The Soup Kitchen at the American International Church is always looking for volunteers, especially during the colder months. Get in touch to see how you can help and give thanks.
Meet some fellow-minded Americans
If you’re in London for good, or even just passing through, and have a twinge of homesickness – don’t despair, the London Expat American Meetup Group is the answer. This group has been running for over 12 years, organising events for expat North Americans and those interested in North American culture. It’s a fun and lively group of like-minded people who are out for a good time, whilst also offering support. If you’re alone and fancy some company this Thanksgiving, join the group and see what you get out of it.
We also spoke to some influential American bloggers for their tips and tricks on celebrating their National holiday in the UK:
Elfa Wilmot from Californian Mum in London
Thanksgiving in London has changed a lot in the past 13 years. I remember my first Thanksgiving. I had to scour central London for canned pumpkin for pumpkin pie, to no avail. After much searching, I managed to find some pureed pumpkin from a health food store. These days I can find American food products in most major supermarkets, in store and on-line. This makes preparing for Thanksgiving so much easier. I order everything online the week before and I can re-create the kind of meal I would have in the USA.
Obviously we don't get Thanksgiving day as a holiday in the UK. But we have our meal on the weekend before or after the actual day. We invite friends or family and share the American traditions with them. I tell them about how Thanksgiving originated, and we go around the table saying what we're thankful for. We miss out on football games, parades and Black Friday, but we keep the main aspect of Thanksgiving - spending time with loved ones and appreciating all that we have.
Blogger Chris Osburn from Tiki Chris
Ideally, I’m taking it easy at home with a few close friends on Thanksgiving Day (or the weekend just after as it’s just another ordinary Thursday here in the UK), eating roast turkey and a variety of traditional American dishes like I used to have growing up in Georgia. Prepping for the feast means a chance to browse around some of my favourite London foodie hot spots like Borough Market, The Ginger Pig, La Fromagerie, and the Food Hall at Oxford Street John Lewis/Waitrose. November and December are two of my favourite months to be in London. Autumn is beautiful here and I love the build-up for the festive season.
Blogger Tina Jui from The Worktop
We celebrate our Thanksgiving in London by turning it into a huge “Friendsgiving” feast at our home. I make all my favorite Thanksgiving dishes – turkey, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie - and invite a good group of friends over. Having friends around really makes Thanksgivings in London special, especially since my family is in California. Our friends in London also love it because they can feast on classic American dishes. So get planning – host a Friendsgiving this year! Just be sure to shop early for all the ingredients that you need. A great place to buy a turkey in London is McKanna Meats, but be sure to place your order in advance. For other ingredients, check out Ocado’s online American Shop or your local Waitrose. Happy cooking!
Blogger Kimberly Mueller from The American Hour
Preparing a Thanksgiving Day meal in London can be a challenge. The ingredients and brands found so easily back home are not readily available here and local substitutions can produce interesting, albeit sometimes unsavory results. Start planning early or you may just find yourself eating bangers and mash on 26 November!
In case you’ve been in London too long to remember, a traditional menu includes a large, whole, roasted turkey basted in butter and herbs stuffed with a heavenly mixture of seasoned croutons, pork sausage, and seasonings; rich gravy made from pan drippings; mashed white potatoes; candied and nut-crusted sweet potatoes; crisp green vegetables; flaky rolls; whole and jellied cranberry sauce; and for dessert, pumpkin, pecan and/or apple pie with whipped cream. The bird poses the greatest challenge, namely how to find one large enough to feed your entire guest list, but small enough to fit in a British oven. Your lo cal online grocer will prove less expensive for said bird than your local butcher. Cooking your carefully measured poultry will require figuring out whether you have a convection, conventional or fan-assisted oven; converting Fahrenheit degrees to Celsius temperature settings; and where to cook everything else if your oven is completely occupied with the main attraction.
Depending on where you live you may find that your local grocery and some well-placed “American” stores stock some items on your Thanksgiving shopping list. Make a trip to a COSTCO Warehouses, cropping up throughout the UK with three not far from London, to look for the favs that you crave. On the day, remember to be thankful, stream the Macy’s day parade with consideration for the time difference, and count your blessings. You are, after all, in one of world’s greatest cities.