30 things to do in London in December 2023

See the capital transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland in December, and join in the New Year's Eve festivities.
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Tower Bridge illuminated in purple nights at light, with the snow falling and the bridge reflecting in the Thames below.
Tower Bridge in the snow. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

What's on in December in London?

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

Book ahead to enjoy Christmas pantomimes and shows, or join a Christmas tour of London and beyond.

London's shopping streets sparkle with Christmas lights in December, and shops are full of gift hunters finishing off their Christmas shopping.

A focal point of the holiday season in London is Trafalgar Square, which resounds with carol singing around the capital’s biggest Christmas tree, and lights up with a giant menorah for Chanukah.

Shop for handmade gifts and festive food at a charming Christmas market; go ice skating on one of the stunning outdoor ice rinks that pop up across the capital; enjoy carols and concerts accompanied by mulled wine and mince pies.

Unmissable events in December

Two children look up in a tunnel of fairy lights during Christmas at Kew at Kew Gardens in London.
Tunnel of light at Christmas at Kew. Image courtesy of Royal Botanical Gardens Kew.
  1. Go behind the scenes of the Harry Potter movies with Hogwarts in the Snow: See the iconic sets dressed for Christmas. Nov-Jan TBC
  2. Don't miss the spectacular Christmas at Kew: Follow a glittering trail of lights, music and colours around the famous botanic gardens after dark. Nov-Jan TBC
  3. Celebrate the festive season at Winter Wonderland: Experience Hyde Park transformed into an extravagant winter spectacle filled with fairground rides, ice skating, charming Christmas markets and fun family shows. Nov-Jan TBC
  4. Head to Hyde Park's Serpentine for the Peter Pan Cup: A Christmas Day tradition since 1864, watch as swimmers race in the freezing lake. 25 Dec
  5. Make the most of London's outdoor ice rinksGo ice skating on one of the stunning ice rinks that pop up across the capital.

Check back closer to the time for more amazing events in December. 

Magical ways to spend Christmas in London

A red telephone box in front of an illuminated Christmas tree at Christmas time in London
Christmas in London © Shutterstock. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day (25 and 26 December) are both bank holidays (public holidays) in London, with reduced opening times and transport service. But there are still plenty of things to do during this festive period:

  1. Book a Christmas tour: Explore the city during the festive season or enjoy a day trip to historic sites such as Stonehenge, Canterbury or Bath.
  2. Be dazzled by the Christmas Lights London by Night bus tour: See iconic London landmarks sparkle on a special guided tour. Nov-Jan TBC
  3. Attend a magical Christmas carol concert: Hear classic songs by the world-renowned choirs or have fun at a Christmas Carol Singalong at the Royal Festival Hall.
  4. Treat yourself to a luxury experience: Raise a glass of champagne as you enjoy a luxury spa day or a unique experience in London.
  5. Celebrate at a top London restaurantBook in advance to get a seat at your favourite restaurant for a festive feast.
  6. Shop for great deals during the winter sales: Find top discounts on fashion, electronics and more.
  7. Find exciting things to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in London: Book tours, go ice skating and find fun events.

December shows in London

A group of three adults and three children are looking at each other as they sing around a green and sparkling christmas tree at the dolly parton christmas carol musical.
Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol. Image courtesy of Raw Pr.
  1. See London's top Christmas shows and pantomimes: From classic Dickensian tales to a hilarious festive comedies and slapstick pantos.
  2. Take the whole family to a memorable London musical: Sing along to award-winning shows in London's West End.
  3. Discover the best London shows for kids: Exciting plays and child-friendly musicals await.

Check back nearer the time for theatre shows happening in the capital in December 2023.

Best activities and immersive experiences

Tables of diners being served by a waiter in the high-tech Inamo restaurant
Inamo restaurant © Inamo. Image courtesy of Inamo.
  1. Head down the rabbit hole and into the the Alice in Wonderland VR Experience*Take on the Queen of Hearts in this exciting VR adventure in Wonderland.
  2. Combine a Comedy Show and Dinner at Inamo in Covent Garden*: Prepare for a hilarious evening of comedic entertainment paired with delicious pan-Asian food at Inamo.
  3. Sample fantastic tipples at a Beer Masterclass and Meal at a Brewhouse and Kitchen*Perfect your brewing and tasting skills as you learn about all types of beer.
  4. Live like an outlaw in the Wild West at the Moonshine Saloon Immersive Theatre and Cocktail Experience*: Play some dice, see the Moonshine Distillery and avoid the fearsome Sheriff. 
  5. Take on a London treasure hunt at The Secret City: This urban adventure will have you discovering endless hidden gems and the city's best secrets. 

Top guided tours in winter

Statue of Paddington Bear on the train platform at Paddington Station in London.
Discover the London locations featured in the Paddington Bear stories. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
  1. Have fun with all the family on a Paddington Bear Walking TourLearn all about London's lovable marmalade-eating bear. 
  2. Hope on a bike and discover hidden gems on a Secret London Bike Tour: Make your way along the river and take in top sights.
  3. Head to Greenwich for a Film and TV Location Tour of the Old Royal Naval College: From Pirates of the Caribbean to Thor: The Dark World. 

Check back nearer the time for more walking tours in London, and explore more unusual tours of the city.

Fun London winter festivals

Two girls enjoying evening drinks at a London Christmas market with a Christmas tree, Ferris wheel, market stalls and lights behind
Explore London Christmas markets © visitlondon.com / Ben Pipe. Image courtesy of visitlondon.com / Ben Pipe.
  1. Step into the Southbank Centre Winter Festival: Enjoy some festive family fun on the banks of the Thames, with jolly musical and twinkling markets. TBC
  2. Visit Bankside's Frost Fair: Expect augmented reality installations and animations along with events, workshops and fantastic food and drink. TBC
  3. Check out Greenwich MarketBrowse wooden stalls for stocking fillers and tick off your Christmas list. TBC
  4. Venture to Kingston Christmas Market: Find unique Christmas gifts in the picturesque town's Ancient Market Place. TBC
  5. Head to King's Cross Canopy Market: Artisan festive treats and handmade crafts await at this charming market. TBC

Discover more of London's charming Christmas markets.

Celebrate New Year's Eve in London

Four women, dressed in colourful dresses, celebrate as ticker tape falls around them.
Celebrate on a New Year's Eve boat party. Image courtesy of Golden Tours.
  1. Enjoy a New Year's Eve Dinner and Thames Cruise with Fireworks: Celebrate in style with a three-course meal, live entertainment and an unrivalled view of the dazzling fireworks display. TBC
  2. Raise a glass to the New Year with a Champagne afternoon tea at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane: Sample sweet and savoury treats with a glass of bubbles.

Find all the best ways to welcome 2024 in London: see top shows, enjoy wintry activities and seek out celebratory dining spots.

For more things to do in December in London, take a look at this events calendar and guide to what's on in London, find the best London theatre shows or look at these best things to do this winter in the capital.

WEATHER: For average seasonal temperatures and rainfall, see this London weather page.