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16 Quirky Things to Do in London This Christmas

Looking for something different to do this Christmas? Find some of the most unusual and alternative events happening in London during the festive period, and uncover some seasonal hidden gems.

Into the Woods

1. See Kew Gardens lit up with more than 60,000 lights, including colour-changing reeds and a glittering crystal tree, when you walk the mile-long (1.6km) festive trail during Christmas at Kew. 23 Nov-2 Jan

2. Feel like you’re on a mountain holiday at Vauxhall Winter Village, a pop-up ski village in South London. Feast on fondue and street food, enjoy some festive cocktails, and relax in an alpine cabin booth. Mon to Fri, 11.30am to 10pm until mid-Jan

3. Head out to Syon Park’s Enchanted Woodland where a sparkling illuminated trail winds through the arboretum and around Capability Brown’s Serpentine river. 18 Nov-4 Dec

Step Back in Time

4. Experience a Dickensian Christmas and see the rooms where Charles Dickens lived and worked decorated for Christmas at the Charles Dickens Museum. 30 Nov-8 Jan

5. Spend Christmas with the monarchs, knights, ladies and jesters of Medieval England at the Tower of London. 27-31 Dec

6. Hear tales of the ghosts of historic Ham House, said to be one of the most haunted houses in Britain. The spooky ghost tour takes you through the house and garden, and includes refreshments in the Orangery. 7, 14, 21 Dec, 7.30-9pm

7. Celebrate with Queen Elizabeth I as Hampton Court Palace takes you back to an Elizabethan Christmas, including cooking, music and live drama performances. 21-23 Dec and 27 Dec-2 Jan

8. Explore Christmas Past at the Geffrye Museum, which shows you how Christmas has been celebrated in English homes over the last 400 years. 22 Nov-8 Jan

Festive Films, Shows and Singalongs

9. Watch classic Christmas films in a winter wonderland at the Cinema in the Snow in Hackney. Movies include Elf, Love Actually and The Muppets Christmas Carol. Enjoy mulled wine, hot chocolate and other treats alongside the film. 8-18 Dec

10. Take part in a festive singalong at Yule Rock, hosted by the London Sunday Assembly. You’ll belt out popular Christmas songs, from Slade to Mariah Carey! 17 Dec

11. Love panto? Watch seven performed in less than two hours by former CBBC presenters Jeff and Dan at Potted Panto, perfect for families. 10 Dec-15 Jan

Fun for Families

12. See your favourite toys come to life and parade along Regent Street at the Hamleys Toy Parade. Barbie, Sonic, Fireman Sam and the Gruffalo will all be back following their star turns last year, and look out for the giant Marshmallow Man! 20 Nov, 10.30-4pm

13. Take a cruise on the Thames with Santa on board. All children receive a gift, soft drink and cookie, while adults can enjoy a glass of mulled wine during Sail with Santa. 3-4, 10-11, 17-24 Dec

14. Spend a night at the museum, with Natural History Museum’s Christmas sleepover for kids, Dino Snores. Dinner, breakfast and the chance to see Dippy the Diplodocus before he goes on tour included! 23 Dec

Anti-Christmas Events

15. Join the baying crowd at the infamous “half-hanging” of burglar John Smith, at the London Dungeon this Christmas. Should you be successful in getting Smith a reprieve, you’ll get a free festive drink at the Dungeon’s Victorian Tavern. 3-31 Dec

16. Experience a sad and ghostly sensory drama, delivered via MP3 player as you explore the rooms of William Morris’s Red House. “If I Can” promises plenty of melancholy and no Christmas cheer! Various dates in December

See more Christmas in London ideas