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101 Christmas things to do in London

From glittering Christmas lights and ice skating to traditional markets and Christmas shows, London is a Christmas wonderland.
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Make the most of the capital's jolly festivities and add some sparkle to your trip with 101 of the best things to do in London during Christmas

You'll usually find unique, iconic and unusual Christmas activities at venues across the capital. From atmospheric outdoor markets filled with chalets, to memorable pantos, carol singing and concerts.

Experience magical Christmas attractions

Hogwarts Castle dusted in filmmakers' snow.
Hogwarts in the Snow. TM & © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.
  1. Go on a Christmas lights bus tour: Enjoy a sparkly night-time tour of London's spectacular festive lights. 26 Nov-2 Jan
  2. Or join a special Illuminations of London Christmas Eve tour: See the city twinkle as Christmas Day approaches. 24 Dec
  3. Visit Hogwarts in the Snow: See Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter decked out for Christmas. Nov-Jan TBC
  4. Wander around Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park: Find all sorts of magical Christmas activities in one place. Nov-Jan TBC
  5. Explore Windsor CastleMarvel at the magnificent Christmas decorations as the famous castle is given a festive makeover fit for a queen. Nov-Jan TBC
  6. Experience Christmas at Kew at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew: Take an enchanting journey into a glittering wonderland. 16 Nov-8 Jan
  7. Discover the top 10 attractions in LondonA trip to the capital at Christmas wouldn't be complete without ticking some of those off your list.
  8. Book a sightseeing pass to see many of London's top sights during the holidays: The London Pass, the Go City London Explorer Pass and Big City Saver attractions passes offer numerous options.

Go ice skating in London

A young girl skating with a penguin on the ice rink at night time in front of Hampton Court Palace lit up in red, yellow and blue lights
Hampton Court Palace ice rink © Leftfield / Arena PR Group. Image courtesy of Leftfield / Arena PR Group.
  1. Sing along to festive hits with Club de Fromage on Ice: The festive skating party returns to Alexandra Palace each December. Dates TBC
  2. Skate on the Hampton Court Palace ice rink: Enjoy magnificent background views of Henry VIII's residence. Nov-Jan TBC
  3. Don't miss the beautiful setting of Somerset House: Skate in the 18th-century courtyard. Nov-Jan TBC
  4. Glide across the ice at Ice Rink Canary Wharf: A different setting amidst the surroundings of Canary Wharf's twinkling towers. Oct-Feb TBC
  5. Show off your skills at the Queen's House Ice Rink: Within the special surrounds of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nov-Jan TBC
  6. Learn to skate at Alexandra Palace ice rinkTake to the ice indoors at this year-round ice rink.

Find more top winter ice rinks in London.

Sing Christmas carols

  1. Get into the seasonal spirit with Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall: Enjoy shows from carols and family concerts to classical recitals. Dec TBC
  2. Head to the Barbican for the Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival: Check back nearer the time for confirmed Christmas concerts in 2022. Dec TBC
  3. Enjoy festive songs, carols and classical works at the Southbank Centre: The  entertainment hub puts on a series of seasonal shows each Christmas. Dec TBC
  4. Enjoy the Mayor of London's Carol Service from Southwark Cathedral: Join in traditional carols at this special service. Dec TBC
  5. Enjoy carols and concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields church: Soak up the festive atmosphere. Dec TBC

Watch Christmas films at a winter cinema

  1. Catch a Christmas screening in Backyard Cinema's festive spaces: In 2021, you could venture through the Snow Kingdom or the mystical Winter Night Garden. Dec TBC
  2. Enjoy cult classics at the annual Cinema in the Snow pop-up: Find out what's on in 2022 nearer the time. Dec TBC
  3. Find family favourites and festive must-sees at the Luna Winter Cinema: Check back later for confirmed screenings for 2022. Dec TBC
  4. Watch Christmas films at the Rivoli Ballroom's pop-up cinema: Watch films in sumptuous surrounds. Dec TBC

Discover more unique and unusual cinemas in London.

Enjoy a quirky London Christmas

  1. See The Great Christmas Pudding Race: Watch teams in fabulous fancy dress run through Covent Garden. Dec TBC
  2. Don your Santa outfits for Santa Run London: Join the runners or watch on as thousands of "Santas" race through Victoria Park. 4 Dec
  3. Or test yourself in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 5k or 10k Santa Run: See iconic sporting stadiums in east London as you jog along. 11 Dec
  4. Watch swimmers brave the icy waters of Hyde Park’s Serpentine: See them compete in the Peter Pan Cup on Christmas Day. 25 Dec
  5. Catch up with friends and family at London's top activity bars: Get competitive as you try everything from axe throwing to ping pong.
  6. For a day out with a difference, check out immersive experiences across the city: Enjoy immersive games, attractions, theatre and more.

Find more quirky Christmas activities.

Get cosy in a Christmas winter pop-up

A night-time panoramic view of clear plastic domes "snow globes", with tables and chairs inside, along the South Bank.
Snow globes at Jimmy's Lodge, Winter at Southbank © India Roper Evans. Image courtesy of Southbank Centre.
  1. Enter an adults’ playground at Neverland's Winterland: Enjoy cocktails, fondue, DJ vibes and private forest cabins at this annual pop-up in Fulham. Dates TBC
  2. Dine alongside the Thames at Jimmy's Winter Lodge: Book ahead for a spot in the special "snow globes" on the South Bank. Dates TBC
  3. Celebrate Christmas at rooftop hotspot Queen of HoxtonDrop by for a warming drink and hang out at its annual winter pop-up. Dates TBC 

Discover more winter pop-ups and rooftop bars in London.

Explore London Christmas markets

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 © / Ben Pipe. Image courtesy of / Ben Pipe.
  1. Go Christmas shopping at Greenwich Market: Explore antiques and jewellery under pretty lights.
  2. Amble around Kingston's Christmas market: Shop for foodie treats, lovely decorations and handmade crafts.
  3. Pick up festive gifts from Christmas in Leicester Square: Hunt for prezzies and enjoy fun shows and activities, from baby disco to comedy and cabaret.
  4. Enjoy browsing at riverside Christmas markets: Stop off at the Winter Market at Southbank Centre, find views of Tower Bridge with Christmas by the River at London Bridge City.
  5. Seek out unique finds in Brixton's Pop Brixton and Brixton Village: Browse stalls and gifts from local producers every Sunday in December.
  6. Look for stocking fillers at more Christmas markets in London: While there, tuck into tasty treats and warming drinks between shopping sprees.

Christmas activities for the family in London

  1. Check out the capital's top attractions for kids: Many attractions have festive-themed fun to enjoy over the school holidays.
  2. Go through transport history at the London Transport Museum: See famous London buses and enjoy hands-on activities.
  3. Marvel at underwater creatures at SEA LIFE London Aquarium: It's an ideal activity on rainy days or combined with a visit to the Christmas market on the South Bank.
  4. See the crown jewels at the Tower of London: Step back into the gruesome history of this attraction during the holidays and join a Beefeater tour.
  5. Meet the loveable ogre and his friends at Shrek’s Adventure! London: This themed attraction also usually has some festive surprises to enjoy.
  6. Let the kids test out future careers at KidZania: This city built for kids has all sorts of role playing and interactive activities for under-14s.
  7. Enjoy Christmas at ZSL London Zoo: This annual event usually includes a festive trail, the chance to meet Santa and animal-themed fun. Dates TBC

Treat the kids to more family fun in London.

Be dazzled by Christmas lights in London

Angel-shaped white and yellow lights hang above Regent Street at night.
Regent Street Christmas lights © Shutterstock
  1. Look up to see the lights above Regent Street: Marvel at more than 300,000 Christmas lights, alongside glowing spirits.
  2. Don't miss the beautiful Oxford Street Christmas lights: See them shimmer above the world-famous shopping district.
  3. Check out the lights twinkling across Carnaby Street: SEach year sees a new theme. In 2021, there were 600 Insta-worthy butterfly illuminations. 
  4. Admire the gorgeous mistletoe chandeliers at Covent Garden: Also explore the magical Christmas lights in nearby Seven Dials.
  5. See the luxurious area of Bond Street sparkle: Admire the magnificent Christmas lights.
  6. Grab a selfie under the arches along South Molton Street: Spot some of London's most unique Christmas lights.
  7. Head over to Chelsea to see Duke of York Square: A sight you won't want to miss as it's gloriously dressed in festive lights.
  8. Stroll along the South Bank for more magic: Be dazzled by the seasonal twinkle.
  9. Look out for London’s magnificent Christmas trees decked in lights: Don't miss the world-famous tree in Trafalgar Square.

Discover more Christmas lights in London from mid-November until January.

See a London Christmas show

A girl in a white dress holds up a Nutcracker doll as she dances. In the background is a  graphic of the Royal Albert Hall and a Christmas tree, while ballerinas are superimposed in the foreground.
The Nutcracker at the Royal Albert Hall. Image courtesy of SEE Tickets.
  1. Book ahead for the top musicals in London this Christmas: Enjoy incredible shows over the festive period, from Wicked to The Lion King.
  2. Enjoy an enchanting ballet performance of The Nutcracker: The Royal Albert Hall hosts Tchaikovsky's festive classic, performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet. 28-31 Dec
  3. Step into the weird and wonderful tale of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Secure VIP tickets for a special film screening with live music. 9-10 Dec
  4. Treat the little ones to London's best kids shows: From Roald Dahl's Matilda to fun seasonal shows, there are plenty of family-friendly shows in London's Theatreland.
  5. Enjoy a matinee performance: See a daytime show between Christmas shopping or enjoying festive activities.

Find more theatre and dedicated Christmas shows.

Book a Christmas day out

Tower Bridge and the surrounding walkway in the snow on a sunny Christmas day
Tower Bridge in the snow on Christmas day © Robert Bye / Unsplash. Image courtesy of Robert Bye / Unsplash.
  1. Book onto a Christmas tour or day trip from London: Visit historic sites such as Stonehenge, Bath and Canterbury over the festive period.
  2. Plan some Christmas Day sightseeing in London during a morning tour or an afternoon tour aboard a luxurious coach: Look out for iconic spots such as Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.
  3. Enjoy a scenic ride around London on a Christmas Day hop-on hop-off bus tour: Admire the sparkling Christmas lights as you spot iconic landmarks across the capital.
  4. Book a tour including a festive meal: options include a Christmas Day river cruise and guided city tour and Christmas Eve with dinner and Midnight Mass.
  5. Treat a loved one to luxury experiences in LondonGive the perfect present, from incredible helicopter tours to relaxing spa days.
  6. Discover the best things to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: From special tours and attractions to last-minute shopping.
  7. Combine a day out in historic Greenwich with a trip on the Emirates Air Line cable car: See London's skyline from up high and spot icons such as The O2 and the river Thames.

Head to a London Christmas concert or service

  1. Join Midnight Mass as part of a special Christmas Eve tour in London: See the sights from a luxury coach, enjoy dinner and attend the midnight service at St Martin-in-the-Fields church.
  2. Visit Canterbury Cathedral for a Sung Eucharist service as part of a Christmas Day tour: This day trip from London also includes a buffet lunch and views of the White Cliffs of Dover and Greenwich.
  3. Attend a church service at venues across London: Go to an advent, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service at the likes of Westminster Abbey, iconic St Paul's Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral.

Find more carols and concerts this Christmas.

Christmas shopping in London

A giant toy soldier stands in Hamleys toy shop.
Hamleys. © Shutterstock. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
  1. Treat friends and family to luxury London gifts: From cocktail masterclasses and fine-dining experiences to special days out.
  2. Or order them a Fortnum & Mason hamper*: The iconic store has many options overflowing with seasonal treats and speciality food and drink.
  3. Visit the West End's famous shopping streets: Splash out on flagship-lined Oxford Street, upscale Bond Street and elegant Regent Street.
  4. Find tasty treats at Fortnum & Mason in St James's: Look out for gourmet Christmas treats and hampers.
  5. Check out the spectacular window displays at Selfridges: Go inside to explore its dedicated Christmas shop and tick off the majority of your shopping list!
  6. Head to Covent Garden: Find a diverse mix of designer labels, vintage stores and high-street brands. 
  7. Check out Carnaby: Seek out its independent shops and cool fashion boutiques.
  8. Be dazzled by baubles in one of London’s famous department stores: You'll find dedicated Christmas shops, including Harrods and Liberty London.
  9. Treat kids to a visit to one of London's best toyshops: Shop for a wide range of toys, from retro board games to cool gadgets.
  10. Spend an afternoon on King's Road in Chelsea: Explore the eclectic range of boutiques and designer labels.
  11. Go shopping after hours at these late-night shopping spots: Get all your Christmas shopping done after dark. 
  12. Explore Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City: Find last-minute Christmas presents and more.
  13. Bag bargains galore in the January sales: They begin on Boxing Day, or even earlier.

Discover more Christmas shopping hotspots in London.

Feast on festive food and drink

A reindeer cake on a white plate and table
Festive food © Alex Hu / Unsplash. Image courtesy of Alex Hu / Unsplash.
  1. Relax on a dinner cruise on the Thames: Look out for special menus and experiences during December.
  2. Snuggle up in front of a crackling fire in a cosy pubEnjoy seats you can sink into and plenty of comfort food.
  3. Treat yourself to a jolly Christmas-themed afternoon teaDiscover an afternoon tea to remember with carols, decorations and festive treats galore.
  4. Book a table at one of London's pop-up winter rooftop bars: Soak up the seasonal cheer and enjoy magnificent views.
  5. Shop for festive treats at Borough Market: Find seasonal produce such as gingerbread and hot mulled cider.
  6. Make a Christmas toast at one of London's champagne bars: There's always time for a glass of fizz, especially during the festive period!
  7. Pick up foodie gifts and snap away at the iconic lanterns and gates in vibrant Chinatown: Many of its restaurants open on Christmas Day.

Outdoor Christmas things to do in London

A man and child wearing Santa's hats smile while enjoying a speedboat ride on the river Thames.
Whizz down the Thames this Christmas with Thames Rockets. Credit: Thames Rockets. Image courtesy of Thames Rockets.
  1. Work off those mince pies with adrenaline-fuelled activities: Try the Up at The O2 climb or Tottenham Hotspur Stadium's Dare Skywalk
  2. Head to Wembley Park for the annual Winterfest showcase: See light and art installations pop up across the area. Nov-Jan TBC
  3. Hop on the Jingle Bell Blast boat tour with Thames Rockets: See London from the water on this festive ride. Dec TBC
  4. Work off those festive calories with a stroll through one of London's parks: London's Royal Parks remain open on Christmas Day.
  5. Venture out to one of London's top outdoor exercise spots: Follow cycling and walking trails or join fun runs.
  6. Hire a Santander Cycle to explore London on two wheels: The first 30 minutes are free!

What next?

  1. Start planning your New Year's Eve celebrations: Welcome in 2023 in style, with the best things to do on New Year’s Eve in London!
  2. Check back nearer the time for confirmation of the famous London New Year's Eve fireworks in 2022: The iconic fireworks display has not taken place the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. Book onto a New Year's Eve tour: See the sights in London and beyond with these seasonal days out.
  4. Discover what else is on in DecemberPlan your visit, with special events and activities throughout the month.
  5. Find even more seasonal suggestions with our pick of 101 winter activities: Get out and explore with a walk over frosty leaves or snuggle up in a cosy pub in front of a crackling fire.
  6. Book a stay at a London hotel to be near the action: It's time to plan your trip!

For more festive ideas, check out our guide to Christmas in London, including the best London Christmas lights and top Christmas shows. Find even more seasonal suggestions with our pick of 101 winter activities. Or, download the Visit London app to find more fabulously festive events.

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