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42 things to do in London in December 2021

See the capital transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland in December, and join in the New Year's Eve festivities.
Green, red and blue lights illuminate the sky at night, with a crowd of people below.
Borealis presented by GDIF (FESTIVAL.ORG). Image courtesy of FESTIVAL.ORG.

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.

Enjoy London's best December events

Blue laser-style lights spread out from the Palm House at Kew Gardens at night.
Christmas at Kew © RBG Kew. Image courtesy of Kew Gardens.
  1. Don't miss the spectacular Christmas at Kew: Follow a glittering trail of lights, music and colours around the famous botanic gardens after dark. 17 Nov-9 Jan
  2. Go behind the scenes of the Harry Potter movies with Hogwarts in the Snow: See the iconic sets dressed for Christmas. 13 Nov-16 Jan
  3. Become immersed in mesmerising lights at Borealis: Dan Acher's free-to-view light installation inspired by the Northern Lights arrives at Guildhall Yard this month. 11-22 Dec
  4. 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. 19 Nov-3 Jan
  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.
  6. Enjoy carols and concerts across the city: Accompanied by mulled wine and mince pies, naturally.

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. See the sights on a Christmas Day hop on hop off bus tour: Enjoy a scenic ride as you explore London without the crowds.
  3. Be dazzled by the Christmas Lights London by Night tour: See iconic London landmarks sparkle on a special guided tour.
  4. Set sail on a Christmas Day Lunch Cruise and Guided City TourSip on bubbly, sing carols and tuck into on traditional Christmas lunch as you cruise along the Thames.
  5. Treat yourself to a luxury experience: Raise a glass of Champagne as you enjoy a luxury spa day or a unique experience in London.
  6. Celebrate at a top London restaurantBook in advance to get a seat at your favourite restaurant for a festive feast.
  7. Get up early to watch the Peter Pan CupBrave members of the Serpentine Swimming Club compete in the icy waters of the Hyde Park lake on Christmas Day. 
  8. Shop for great deals during the Boxing Day and January sales: Find top discounts on fashion, electronics and more.
  9. Find more things to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in London: Book tours, go ice skating and find fun events.

London shows in December

A ballet dancer in a beautiful white dress stands in the middle of a snowy forest holding a nutcracker doll out in front of her.
English National Ballet's The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum. Image courtesy of English National Ballet.

London is buzzing with epic shows during the festive season, here are some you can enjoy this December.

  1. Watch Love Actually In Concert at Eventim Apollo: See one of the world's most loved Christmas movies in a new light. 11 Dec
  2. Book your seats to see Stick Man at Leicester Square Theatre: Take the kids on a wintry adventure with the famous character. Until 3 Jan
  3. Roll up for Circus 1903 at Royal Festival Hall: Step back in time to the golden age of circus with daredevil performances and electrifying acts. 16 Dec-02 Jan
  4. Don't miss Nutcracker at the London Coliseum: Enter an enchanted world of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. 16 Dec-8 Jan
  5. Sleigh over to Royal Albert Hall for a festive show: See Carols at The Royal Albert Hall, My Christmas Orchestral Adventure, Guy Barker's Big Band Christmas and more festive treats.
  6. Catch a performance of Potted Panto at Garrick Theatre: Be taken on a journey of show-stopping pantos and comedy this December. 4 Dec-9 Jan
  7. Marvel at The Fir Tree at Shakespeare's GlobeStep into Hans Christian Andersen's magical fairy tale, re-imagined for Christmas. From 20 Dec
  8. Be dazzled by Cinderella at Gillian Lynne Theatre: Enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber's re-invention of the classic Christmas panto favourite.
  9. Listen to carols at Christmas with King's College Choir at the Barbican: Hear seasonal classics from the world-famous choir from Cambridge. 21 Dec
  10. Get chills at A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story at Alexandra Palace: Experience the classic Charles Dickens tale filled with spine-tingling special effects. Until 9 Jan
  11. Or see The Old Vic's A Christmas Carol: Warm up the winter nights with a humorous adaptation of the famous tale, full of music and merriment. Until 8 Jan
  12. Beat the cold at Frozen at Theatre Royal Drury Lane: Be amazed by special effects, beautiful costumes and soaring songs at Disney's magical musical.
  13. Walk in the air with The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre: Feel festive as Raymond Briggs' much-loved children's story returns to the stage. Until 2 Jan
  14. Be thrilled by La Clique at the Leicester Square Spiegeltent: Watch world-class circus and cabaret acts and expect the unexpected! Until 8 Jan
  15. Check out more top London theatre showsAlso discover festive plays, concerts and pantomimes in the capital this December.

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. Shop till you drop during Festive Fayre at Hampton Court Palace: Indulge in warming treats and enjoy entertainment with a seasonal twist. 3-5 Dec
  2. Step into Selfridges Christmas Market at Edwards Mews: Flock to the foodie and fashionista favourite, complete with its own Helter-Skelter for some festive fun. Until 24 Dec
  3. Check out Greenwich MarketBrowse wooden stalls for stocking fillers and tick off your Christmas list.
  4. Venture to Kingston Christmas Market: Find unique Christmas gifts in the picturesque town's Ancient Market Place. Until 24 Dec
  5. Discover more of London's charming Christmas marketsShop for handmade gifts and treat yourself to festive food.

What else is on in December?

A large billboard with colourful triangles and the word "Designer" emblazoned across it, on the top floor of the Design Museum, with a group of people in the background.
The Design Museum © Design Museum/Gareth Gardner. Image courtesy of Design Museum.
  1. Discover Amy: Beyond the Stage at The Design Museum: Celebrate the legacy of the iconic singer Amy Winehouse and see a collection of stage outfits, handwritten lyrics and personal items. 26 Nov-10 Apr
  2. Relax and unwind at Backyard Cinema's Christmas Movie Spectacular at the Troxy: Get in Christmas spirit with a mix of music, movies and special performances. 1-31 Dec
  3. Take a Festive Candlelit Tour of The Benjamin Franklin House: Explore the 18th-century house of one of America's Founding Fathers. 2 Dec
  4. Read Beethoven's handwritten letters at the British Library: See into the mind of one of the most influential composers of all time. 3 Dec-24 Apr
  5. Don't miss The Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden: Watch as teams race around a festive obstacle course whilst trying to balance their Christmas Pudding on a tray. 11 Dec

Celebrate New Year's Eve in London

  1. Find ways to welcome 2022 in London: see top shows, enjoy wintry activities and seek out celebratory dining spots. Stay tuned for news on London’s famous New Year's Eve fireworks in 2021.
  2. Save 38% when booking a special adults-only New Year's eve cruise: Board the Silver Sockeye to see London at night on New Year's Eve.

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.