The Love Actually London filming locations – and how to visit this Christmas

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The 2003 Christmas movie is high up on many people’s favourite festive films list, and for anyone visiting London for the holidays, this self-guided tour is a must

The iconic Love Actually cards scene was filmed in Notting Hill
The iconic Love Actually cards scene was filmed in Notting Hill

Festive rom-com Love Actually is top of many people’s Christmas film favourites.

The 2003 movie features an all-star ensemble cast from Emma Thompson and Keira Knightley, to Colin Firth and Hugh Grant – not forgetting the late, great Alan Rickman.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, it follows 10 different stories, delving into varying aspects of love as each of the relationships are somewhat interlinked.

But it’s not just the actors that dazzle on set – in fact, London looks simply stunning lit up for the holidays as the film takes place in various locations around the city.

Right now, you’d feature around half-way through the film, as it’s set five weeks before Christmas, played out in a countdown to December 25.

That means it’s the perfect time to hit the Big Smoke and visit some of the stunning set locations where the festive favourite was filmed.

So if you want to pretend you’re a fly on the wall at Juliet’s house while Mark declares his love with cards, or recreate the scene where Sam runs after Joanna in the airport, here are some of the locations you could visit.

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow airport’s Terminal 3
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Image:

BEN STANSALL/Getty Images)

Hugh Grant’s iconic voiceover opens the movie at Heathrow Airport – which is where the film ends, too.

Playing the Prime Minister, he says: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere…

“When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

It sets the fuzzy, warm tone of the holiday movie, as hidden cameras in Heathrow’s Terminal 3 captured real-life emotional reunions in the arrivals hall, with the people featured then asked for permission to use the clips.

Selfridges

A festive Christmas window display at Selfridges & Co. Ltd. on Oxford Street in London
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Image:

Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

On busy Oxford Street, it was at the department store Selfridges where Alan Rickman, as Harry, purchased a necklace for a woman who wasn’t his wife, Karen (played by Emma Thompson).

He buys the gift for a colleague named Mia, with a shopping assistant (Rowan Atkinson) who makes the gift wrapping process a painstaking one for Harry.

Somerset House

The ice rink at Somerset House
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Image:

Mirrorpix)

The central court of Somerset House, in The Strand, is where the skating rink in the opening montage was filmed.

Formerly a parking lot, the court is now home to 55 fountains in summer, and the ice rink in winter, which is open to the public.

If you fancy pretending you’re an extra in the scene, you can book tickets to the rink from £11 per person.

Notting Hill

The iconic Love Actually cards scene was filmed in Notting Hill
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Image:

UNIVERSAL)

Notting Hill features in Love Actually not once, but twice. First it’s home to the recording studio where Billy (Bill Nighy) records his cheesy Christmas song at Westway Studios.

But we see the popular neighbourhood again, at St Luke’s Mews where Mark professes his love to Juliet in that iconic cards scene.

The unmistakable cobbled streets and coloured properties make for a beautiful filming location, made all the more stunning by the festive lights.

Queen’s Walk

Saint Paul’s Cathedral as seen from the Queen’s Walk along the Thames River in London
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Image:

Getty)

If you’re a London regular, you’ve probably taken it walk along the south bank of the River Thames numerous times.

It’s on these benches where Liam Neeson’s character, Daniel, has an emotional heart-to-heart with his son, where he discovers he’s not just distracted, he’s in love, actually.

To be even more precise, the bench is on Gabriel’s Wharf, in front of the Riviera Restaurant.

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St Paul’s Church

St Paul’s Church, in Clapham, is one of the venues you might need a packet of tissues for.

Filmed at this 19th century church, in South London, Love Actually saw Daniel bury his wife in a tear-jerking scene.

It’s also the church – which is Grade II* listed – where Peter marries Juliet to ‘All You Need is Love’.

Where else can you visit Love Actually filming locations?

Whether you’re a fan of the film or not, Trafalgar Square is well worth a visit to see the huge Christmas tree – a traditional gift from Norway.

And while the scenes set at 10 Downing Street were filmed at Shepperton Studios, you could always take a trip to see the landmark which was ‘home’ to Hugh Grant.

Other notable filming locations in the festive film include Grosvenor Chapel, Millennium Bridge, Marble Arch and the OXO Tower, as well as Elliott School in Pullman Gardens where the Christmas concert was filmed.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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