Things to Do in London in December 2016

Visit London in December to see the capital transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland.

December is the most magical month to visit London, with lots of festive things to do and enjoy as Londoners celebrate Christmas and New Year.

London's shopping streets are decorated with sparkling Christmas lights, and the stores are full of gift hunters finishing off their Christmas shopping. Christmas markets make an appearance all over the capital, offering charming crafts, seasonal food and warming mulled wine in a festive atmosphere.

A focal point of Christmas in London is Trafalgar Square, where the capital’s biggest Christmas tree – donated each year as a gift from the city of Oslo – glistens. Carol services are held around the tree throughout the month.

Another winter highlight is the outdoor ice skating rinks that pop up across the capital, many of which are situated in striking locations such as Somerset House and the Natural History Museum.

December Events

Temporary winter villages and hubs appear throughout London offering seasonal activities and festive fun for all the family over the winter months. The biggest and most popular is Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, with ice skating, a Ferris wheel and fairground rides, stalls brimming with toys and sweets, festive shows and more.

Alternatively, drop by Winter Festival at Southbank Centre and Christmas in Leicester Square, both of which also offer a very festive atmosphere, Christmas markets and wintry activities in the centre of the capital.

Explore the famous botanic gardens at Kew after dark by following a glittering trail of lights, music and colours as the very popular Christmas at Kew returns this winter.

Go behind the scenes of the Harry Potter movies and see the iconic sets dressed for Christmas with Hogwarts in the Snow.

For some light-hearted festive fun, check out the annual Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden and cheer on the teams as they attempt to get round an obstacle course without dropping their puddings.

The festivities continue right up to 25 December, with plenty of things to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

One for the early risers is the Christmas Day Peter Pan Cup, when hardy members of the Serpentine Swimming Club compete in the icy waters of the Hyde Park lake.

Find some great deals on fashion, electronics and more during the Boxing Day and January sales, which kick off as soon as Christmas is over.

London’s famous New Year's Eve fireworks at the London Eye take place every year. The 2016 event is once again ticketed, so you will need to buy a ticket in advance to secure a viewing spot.

There are plenty of other things to do in London on New Year’s Eve during the day and right through the night, from family shows and ice skating, to parties and dining on the river.

For more things to do in December in London, take a look at our events calendar and guide to what's on in London, or download a free copy of the December London Planner visitor guide. Catch the best of the London stage this month with our guide to top shows in December or get in the festive spirit with one of London's top Christmas shows.

WEATHER: For average seasonal temperatures and rainfall, see our London Weather page.

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