Soak up London's festive atmosphere in one day with our magical itinerary which includes Christmas shopping, traditional markets, ice skating, twinkling lights and Christmas shows.
Morning: Christmas Shopping in London
Beat the crowds with a spot of morning Christmas shopping in London's fabulously festive West End. Marvel at the stunning seasonal shop window displays and Christmas decorations on and around Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, while picking up Christmas gifts and beautiful decorations.
Top department stores Selfridges and Liberty London both house dedicated Christmas shops: Selfridges is the go-to store for Union Jack baubles and quirky ornaments, while Liberty is known for its traditional wreaths and gorgeous crackers. Hamleys on Regent Street sells an amazing variety of toys, while Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street offers affordable and quirky fashion pieces. Note that large shops in London open later on a Sunday.
Lunch: Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Ready for lunch? Refuel at hidden dining gems like St Christopher's Place, off Oxford Street, which boasts more than 20 restaurants and cafes, or Carnaby, off Regent Street, where you'll find the vibrant Kingly Court and independent restaurants offering food from around the world.
For a sumptuous treat, break up the day with a delicious afternoon tea at one of London's luxury restaurants or hotels; some of which offer special Christmas-themed teas with seasonal treats.
Afternoon: Christmas Activities
Take a short wander from Regent Street to celebrate Christmas in Leicester Square, boasting a charming Christmas market with handmade gifts, festive food and plenty of entertainment. If you’re visiting London with little ones, you can also explore Santa’s grotto in the square, or head to nearby Hamleys or the Rainforest Cafe to meet Father Christmas and his elves.
Alternatively, cross over the river for a picturesque walk along the South Bank, where you can warm up with roasted chestnuts and enjoy the twinkling decorations. Drop by the Winter Festival at Southbank Centre on the way to look for gifts among the traditional wooden chalets, while enjoying more seasonal treats and warming mulled wine.
Prefer to rest your legs? Take a break and enjoy seeing more of London’s dazzling decorations and famous sights from the comfort of a hop on hop off bus tour. You can also admire iconic landmarks from the river Thames aboard a festive cruise with City Cruises, where you might even bump into Santa Claus on your voyage.
Evening: Festive Entertainment
As darkness falls, hop on the Tube to picture-pretty Covent Garden, an area transformed into a winter haven during the festive season. See the famous Piazza lit up and watch the lights sparkle on the giant Christmas tree before grabbing a bite to eat. There are plenty of places to try for dinner: the Opera Quarter and St Martin's Courtyard are packed with a diverse mix of restaurants.
After dinner, sit back and enjoy a Christmas show, such as The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, the pantomime Cinderella, or The Little Matchgirl for something more contemporary. Alternatively, stroll over to buzzing Trafalgar Square, where you can enjoy Christmas carols around the world-famous Christmas tree (an annual gift from Norway since 1947).
If you’re looking for something more active, wrap up warm and get your skates on at one of London's gorgeous open-air ice skating rinks. Stand-out rinks include those at Somerset House, the Natural History Museum and the Tower of London. Afterwards, defrost with a pint in one of London's cosy pubs; or treat yourself at a luxury cocktail bar or champagne bar.
For more seasonal events and festive things to do in London, take a look at our guide to Christmas in London.