From traditional Christmas markets and ice skating, to glittering lights, seasonal events and Christmas shows, enjoy the countdown to Christmas with our festive itinerary and spend a magical weekend in London.
Friday in London
Evening: See a Christmas Show
Start your weekend with a magical Christmas show to spark that festive feeling. Take your pick from spectacular seasonal performances including the pantomime Cinderella, the English National Ballet’s stunning Nutcracker, cabaret acts from La Soiree and the Royal Albert Hall’s musical Christmas Festival.
Before settling in for the show, try one of the capital’s best restaurants. Sample traditional British cuisine, splash out on a Michelin-starred eatery, or dine on cheap eats and money and time-saving menus at many London restaurants.
Saturday in London
Morning: Go Christmas Shopping
Avoid the last-minute rush and long queues with some early morning Christmas shopping.
Shop for gifts on Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street, while taking in the legendary seasonal window displays at Selfridges. From affordable fashion to designer items, you’ll find plenty of options including department stores Debenhams and John Lewis and high-street brands Primark and Topshop. Stop by the Apple Store for the latest gadgets, look for luxurious stocking fillers at Liberty London or head to Hamleys to pick up toys for little ones.
Alternatively, visit the iconic Harrods in Knightsbridge, where you’ll find beautiful baubles and delicate decorations in the Christmas shop, alongside delicious festive treats in the famous food halls. And if you still have more things to tick off your Christmas shopping list, head over to nearby Harvey Nichols for luxurious fashion and homewares or walk a little further to Fortnum & Mason, best-known for gorgeous Christmas hampers and wooden advent calendars.
Afternoon: Immerse yourself in Christmas Traditions
Now you’ve worked up an appetite, treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea, before heading back out for more Christmas activities. For a little bit of luxury, indulge in a festive-themed afternoon tea in the beautiful Palm Court at The Ritz, while enjoying Christmas carols sung by a live choir.
Next jump on the Tube and spend the afternoon museum-hopping across London. Stop off at Old Street to learn about English Christmas traditions at the Geffrye Museum or enjoy a series of seasonal activities at The Charles Dickens Museum, found within easy reach of Russell Square.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, book ahead before taking a trip to Hogwarts in the Snow for a behind-the-scenes look at how the movies were made and see the famous film sets transformed for the Christmas season.
Evening: Be Wowed by Christmas Lights
Add some sparkle to your evening: marvel at the twinkling Christmas lights in London’s West End. You’ll find some of the most dazzling decorations and seasonal art installations around Oxford Street, Carnaby Street and Regent Street. Feeling peckish? Head to nearby Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street, or the charming streets of Seven Dials for a diverse range of restaurants.
Trafalgar Square is also well worth a visit to take snaps of the world-famous Christmas tree and sing along to traditional carols under the stars. Then wander over to the gorgeous Covent Garden to admire the festive scenery, before finishing your evening with a well-earned drink in the Opera Quarter, overlooking the shimmering piazza.
Sunday in London
Morning: Enjoy some Festive Sightseeing
Start your morning with a hearty breakfast. Order up a stack of fluffy pancakes at The Breakfast Club, enjoy The Modern Pantry’s more virtuous options or feast on a Full English at the National Cafe. If you’re a late riser, you can tuck into brunch at Percy & Founders.
After breakfast, enjoy a spot of seasonal sightseeing with a hop on hop off bus tour to see more of the capital’s jolly decorations and famous landmarks. Alternatively, embark on a more unusual tour to see a different side to London or take in the city’s sights during a river cruise with Father Christmas.
Afternoon: Visit the Christmas Markets
No visit to London at Christmas is complete without a trip to the capital’s most spectacular festive attraction, Winter Wonderland. You can browse the wooden chalets for hand-crafted gifts, feast on German sausage at the lively Bavarian Village, see stunning ice sculptures at the Magical Ice Kingdom and enjoy a skate on the ice rink. Perfect for families, there are also several rides for younger and older kids, the highlight of which is the observation wheel which offers sweeping views of the fair and beyond.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed afternoon, you’ll also find merry festivities taking place at the Winter Festival at Southbank Centre including foodie treats, a seasonal programme of family entertainment and a traditional Christmas market dotted along the glittering South Bank.
Evening: Wrap Up Warm for Outdoor Activities
Grab your mittens and take to the ice for an evening of frosty-fun at one of London’s beautiful ice skating rinks. Picture-perfect rinks include Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Somerset House, which also hosts special club nights so you can boogie the night away on the ice.
Or venture further afield: catch the Tube over to Kew Gardens and experience the enchanting atmosphere of Christmas at Kew. Wander down an illuminated mile-long trail through the gorgeous botanic gardens, admiring the twinkling lights and decorative displays along the path before defrosting with a hot chocolate.
As the cold begins to bite, head to a cosy pub and snuggle up in front of a crackling fire with a comforting meal to round off your weekend trip to London.
If you’re looking for more Christmas inspiration and festive things to do in London, take a look at our guide to Christmas in London.