Christmas in London: weekend itinerary

Plan a Christmas weekend trip to London and enjoy all the British capital has to offer during the festive season.

Browse traditional Christmas markets, enjoy outdoor ice-skating, witness glittering festive lights and catch seasonal events and shows. Start your countdown to Christmas with our suggestions for a magical weekend in London.

Friday in London

Evening: catch a Christmas show and enjoy one of London’s coolest Christmas experiences

Kick-start your Christmas weekend in London with a magical seasonal show to spark that festive feeling. There’s plenty to choose from, including Christmas pantomimes such as Snow White at the London Palladium and seasonal ballet performances including The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House.

If you fancy a bite to eat first, there are lots of affordable pre-theatre menus to be enjoyed at many of London’s restaurants.

To round off the night, get cosy in a private igloo, the latest winter craze to hit London. Wrap up in a sheepskin blanket and order a festive cocktail at Coppa Club near Tower Bridge or head to Jimmy’s Lodge along the South Bank to enjoy stunning views of the Thames.

Saturday in London 

Morning: go Christmas shopping

Get in early before the crowds arrive and enjoy a spot of Christmas shopping in London.

Head to iconic London shopping destinations Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street, and visit some of the capital’s most popular department stores, including John Lewis, Selfridges, Fenwick and Liberty, as well as high-street stores such as Topshop and Primark.

Enjoy a festive visit to Harrods in Knightsbridge, an Instagram favourite famous for its food halls, luxury goods and impressive window displays.

Visit London’s exciting new shopping destination Icon at The O2, featuring more than 80 stores from top-brands, and make a start on your Christmas shopping. Alternatively, grab some fashionable seasonal bargains at Hackney Walk in east London, where discount outlet stores include Joseph and Aquascutum.

Afternoon: festive foodie treats, Christmas pastimes and Hogwarts in the Snow

After all this morning shopping you’ll have no doubt worked up an appetite. Visit the countless food stalls at Borough Market for a Christmas bite or go for a quintessentially British afternoon tea with a festive twist.

Alternatively, head east to Skylight, in Wapping, for tasty street-food snacks, or sample international fare at Dinerama in Shoreditch.

Time for some seasonal fun! Whiz over to Somerset House for a spot of ice-skating in the iconic courtyard, and stay for Skate Lates, late-night sessions including rink-side DJs and warming drinks. Those wanting to try something new can give curling a go at Roof East, opposite Westfield Stratford City.

Harry Potter fans won’t want to miss Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Get a behind-the-scenes look at how the movies were made and see Hogwarts covered in snow for the Christmas season.

Evening: fill up on food and Christmas lights

Treat yourself to a Saturday-night dinner in Soho, where Chinatown dishes up a fine choice of eateries, or visit some of the restaurants in Kingly Court, Carnaby’s food quarter.

Now content with a full belly, feed your eyes with some festive lights.

Start with Carnaby Street, whose Christmas lights are always some of the coolest in town, and which dons a Queen (the band) theme for 2018.

Carry on with a visit to the ever-impressive Christmas lights of Oxford Street and Regent Street, where twinkling seasonal displays invoke plenty of festive spirit. Listen to the traditional carols sung under the giant tree on Trafalgar Square or head over to Covent Garden and enjoy the street entertainment in the piazza.

For more Christmas feels, head to Seven Dials, St Christopher’s Place or Marylebone, and don’t forget to check out The Shard.

Sunday in London 

Morning: Sunday brunch day 

Get your Sunday in London off to a good start with a hearty brunch - that’s what Sunday mornings are made for after all. The Delaunay’s buttermilk pancake stacks are legendary, as is brunch at Duck & Waffle, 40 floors above London.

Once refuelled, enjoy a spot of seasonal sightseeing with a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to catch the capital’s famous landmarks in all their festive glory.

Afternoon: time to hit the Christmas markets

A visit to one of London’s Christmas markets is the best way to spend a festive Sunday afternoon. Christmas by the River at London Bridge features a variety of stalls, set against iconic landmarks such as Tower Bridge and The Shard. Lined with wooden cabins, the Southbank Centre’s Christmas market is one of the most popular in the capital, perfect for those unique Christmas gifts and festive foodie treats.

For the ultimate Christmas experience in London, head to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. Browse the alpine chalets for hand-crafted gifts, hit the fairground rides, glide the ice rink and enjoy the circus and comedy shows. Grab a drink at the Ice Bar or feast on German sausage at the Bavarian Village. You can even learn how to create ice sculptures at this Christmas extravaganza.

For a trendy take on Christmas, visit Winterville on Clapham Common, featuring ice-skating, roller disco and a cosy cinema to watch festive flicks.

Evening: wrap up warm for some festive fun

Christmas at Kew is the perfect way to round off a Christmas weekend in London and is well worth the venture out. London’s beautiful botanical gardens are illuminated by thousands of festive lights, set to a soundtrack of seasonal classics.

ZSL London Zoo is another of London’s attractions to receive a magical makeover. Once the animals have gone to bed, a mile-long trail illuminates with twinkling lights, vintage fairground rides come to life, and mulled wine and roasted chestnuts offer a warming treat.

Finish your Christmas weekend in London on a high with a visit to a cosy London pub. Snuggle up in front of a crackling fire and enjoy classic pub grub and a drink or two.

For more magical things to do in London, check out our fun-packed guide to Christmas and start planning where to stay in London for your festive break.