The Churchill Arms: an idyllic Christmas tradition

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Fuller’s pride: the Churchill Arms is breathtaking at Christmas
Fuller’s pride: the Churchill Arms is breathtaking at Christmas

Related tags Fuller's Pubco + head office The Churchill Arms Property

Fuller’s pub, the Churchill Arms, is instantly one of the most recognisable beacons when it comes to knowing we are approaching Christmas.

The pub is beautiful at any time of year but is particularly appealing in November and December when exterior and interior decorations are put up and the big lights switch-on event takes place.

The Morning Advertiser​ caught up with manager James Keogh, who has been at the helm since 2013 but has worked in the pub, which is located on Kensington Church Street, for more than 35 years.

churchill arms interior

Keogh says: “Christmas is always an amazing time at the Churchill and this year will be no exception. It’s our first proper Christmas since 2019 – no strikes, no lockdowns – and we are making the most of it.

“It’s very busy currently. I just love it – there are so many friends and strangers coming to see us.

“Obviously, our locals head over to get in the Christmas spirit but what’s amazing is the wide array of countries that other guests come from. Literally every corner of every continent coming in to see our amazing decorations and get fun and festive in Notting Hill.”

A ‘Thairish’ pub

He explains both food and drink are faring equally well when it comes to sales in the run-up to Christmas with the food side being taken care of by its “amazing” franchised Thai kitchen.

“We aren’t just famous for being THE Christmas pub,” Keogh continues, “we are also famous for being ground-breaking when it comes to food.

“When we opened our Thai kitchen 34 years ago, we were the first pub with Thai food. As the legendary Gerry O’Brien from County Clare, who was the landlord here when the Thai restaurant opened, once said – the Churchill Arms is the original Thairish pub!”

churchill arms exterior close up

When it comes to special events during the festive season, Keogh enthuses: “We ARE a special event for Christmas! It is absolutely the highlight of our year. We just love it.”

As ever the Christmas lights switch-on was a success and the pub drew a big crowd for the event and Keogh claims it heralds the start of the Christmas season in his particular part of west London with a mixture of tourists and London residents in attendance.

So while London Pride, other cask ales and Guinness are the stars when it comes it comes to drinks sales right now, Keogh explains when preparations begin for the festivities.

Stand-out impression

“They start on Boxing Day the year before,” he jokes. “Seriously though, we start planning in the spring. It is such a major part of life at the Churchill that we start very, very early. It takes time to look this good.”

churchill arms collage

He continues: “My whole team help decorate the inside. The outside decorating starts from the first week of October and is all completed and ready for the official switching on which is mid-November.

“The works starts around 5am and they must finish by 10am before the street gets too busy. Above the main entrance to the pub is a 18ft Nordmanniana Christmas tree with snowfall tube lights, which really does create a stand-out impression.

“We did have 100 trees one year but, on the grounds of sustainability, we have cut back to about 30 but by using low-energy light bulbs, we have been able to increase the number of lights while keeping our carbon footprint down a bit.

“Every year we add more new decorations to the outside display, which provides more enjoyment for our customers. This year, we added a musical Santa lantern and a candy cane archway with a tinsel rope light.”

churchill arms above door

If you get a chance to visit the Churchill Arms, it is a must for this time of year.

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