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Christmas in London: one-day itinerary

Plan a magical Christmas day out to London with our handy guide taking in shopping hotspots and a sack-load of festive fun.

Revel in the city’s seasonal atmosphere and discover some of the top things to do in London at Christmas with our magical day out.

See a Christmas show, enjoy a festive tour, go Christmas shopping, explore seasonal markets and show off your skills when ice skating.

Morning: Christmas shopping in London

The Tudor-style black and white exterior of Libery London, with the sign "Liberty" above the door, and its windows illuminated from inside.

Head out early and beat the crowds for a spot of Christmas shopping in London's fabulously festive West End. Marvel at the seasonal shop-window displays and Christmas decorations in and around stylish Bond Street, iconic Oxford Street, elegant Regent Street and historic Piccadilly while picking up Christmas gifts.

Top displays in this part of town include Fortnum & Mason, pretty Liberty London and Selfridges, which all house dedicated Christmas shops: Selfridges is the go-to store for Union Jack baubles and quirky ornaments, Liberty is known for its glass-blown decorations and gorgeous crackers; while Fortnum & Mason has lots of foodie Christmas treats.

Hamleys on Regent Street sells an amazing variety of toys, while Zara's flagship store on Oxford Street offers bold-but-affordable fashion pieces ideal for teens – not to mention plenty of festive glitter and sequins! Also keep an eye out for Cartier's iconic "wrapped present" decorations, on Bond Street.

If you’re looking for something a little different, the independent boutiques in historic Burlington Arcade, stylish Jermyn Street, charming South Molton Street and pretty Connaught Village are the perfect places for eclectic luxury items, and are just a short stroll away.

Lunch: Feast at foodie hubs or afternoon tea

Ready for lunch? Refuel at St Christopher's Place, a hidden dining gem just off Oxford Street, which boasts more than 20 restaurants and cafes.

If you're looking for world cuisine, head to vibrant Kingly Court in Carnaby to eat in its heated courtyard, try the eclectic eateries in St James’s Market and Heddon Street, or visit Seven Dials Market, which is home to numerous food and drink traders.

For a sumptuous treat, break up the day with an elegant afternoon tea in London at a luxury restaurant or hotel, some of which offer Christmas afternoon teas filled with seasonal treats.

Afternoon: Christmas markets, ice skating and Christmas lights

Angel-shaped white and yellow lights hang above Regent Street at night.

After a bite to eat, it’s time for a picturesque walk along the river Thames, where you can tuck into roasted chestnuts, enjoy festive decorations and explore the Christmas market along the South BankFind more buzzing London Christmas markets

If you’re looking for something more active to do in the build-up to Christmas in London with kids, wrap up warm and get your skates on at one of London's gorgeous open-air ice-skating rinks. Take in the magnificent surrounds of Somerset House or skate in the shadow of the Natural History Museum, among other magical rinks.

It's now time to put your feet up and enjoy some of the best Christmas lights and iconic sights in London on a special Christmas lights bus tour. Book onto the 5pm tour to give you plenty of time to head to the theatre afterwards.

Evening: Christmas shows in London 

Four dancers leap across the stage in lion costumes in The Lion King.

You're perfectly placed to enjoy some of the many spellbinding shows in London this Christmas. Top shows this year include The Nutcracker at the Royal Albert Hall, with more seasonal shows to be confirmed. Or take your pick from more theatre shows, including London’s top 10 musicals, for a memorable night in the city

After the show, visit picture-pretty Covent Garden, which is transformed into a winter haven. See the giant Christmas tree in the famous piazza and watch the Covent Garden Christmas lights sparkle.

There are plenty of places to try for post-theatre dinner, including quick bites in the market building and trendy eateries surrounding the piazza. Nearby, The Opera Quarter and St Martin's Courtyard are also packed with a diverse mix of restaurants. 

End the night with a pint in one of London's cosy pubs, sip on classy drinks at a cocktail bar or champagne bar, or admire the city sparkle from above at a winter rooftop bar.

For more seasonal events and festive things to do in London, take a look at our guide to Christmas in London.