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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.

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

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.
  1. Visit Hogwarts in the Snow: See Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter decked out for Christmas. 13 Nov-16 Jan
  2. Wander around Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park: Find all sorts of magical Christmas activities in one place. 19 Nov-3 Jan
  3. Go on the Christmas lights bus tour: Enjoy a sparkly night-time tour of London's spectacular festive lights. 15 Nov-3 Jan
  4. Or join a special Illuminations of London Christmas Eve tour: See the city twinkle as Christmas Day approaches. 24 Dec
  5. Marvel at Borealis in Guildhall Yard: Enjoy the mesmerising free-to-view light installation inspired by the Northern Lights. 11-22 Dec
  6. Explore Windsor CastleMarvel at the magnificent Christmas decorations as the famous castle is given a festive makeover fit for a queen. 25 Nov-3 Jan
  7. Experience Christmas at Kew at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew: Take an enchanting journey into a glittering wonderland. 17 Nov-9 Jan
  8. 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.

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 gifts and 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.

See a London Christmas show

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.
  1. Book ahead for the top musicals in London this Christmas: Enjoy incredible shows over the festive period, from Cinderella to The Lion King.
  2. Don't miss Circus 1903 as it returns to Southbank Centre: Be dazzled by the golden age of circus and a line-up of world-class acts. 16 Dec-2 Jan
  3. Dive into the wonderful world of pantomime with Potted Panto: Take a side-splitting tour through seven pantomime classics in just 70 minutes. 11 Dec-9 Jan
  4. See The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum (16 Dec-8 Jan) or the Royal Opera House (23 Nov-8 Jan): Enjoy an enchanting ballet performance of Tchaikovsky’s classic.
  5. ...Or watch The Nutcracker on Ice at Alexandra Palace: See a reworked version of the same Christmas classic. 10-12 Dec
  6. Alternatively, Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! takes to the stage at Sadler's Wells: A charmingly irreverent interpretation of the traditional Christmas favourite. 7 Dec-30 Jan
  7. Don't miss the limited run of West End Musical Christmas at Lyric Theatre: Celebrate musical theatre and the festive season. 13-20 Dec
  8. Laugh out loud during Pantoland at The Palladium: The London Palladium goes panto crazy as Julian Clary leads a star cast. 4 Dec-9 Jan

Find more theatre and dedicated Christmas shows.

Christmas activities for the family in London

  1. Check out the capital's top attractions for kids: Treat the little ones over the school holidays.
  2. Visit the London Transport Museum: Follow a special trail, help Santa fix his sleigh and discover more seasonal activities. 4 Dec-2 Jan
  3. Venture through the grotto at Shrek’s Adventure! London: Meet Santa and see Shrek in a festive outfit as part of your entry ticket. 4-24 Dec (select days only)
  4. See Peppa Pig's Best Day Ever: Join Peppa and her family on a delightful road trip. 2 Dec-2 Jan
  5. Catch Stick Man live at Leicester Square Theatre: Enjoy an imaginative adaptation of Julia Donaldson's much-loved books. 10 Dec-3 Jan
  6. Explore the Illuminature light trail through WWT London Wetland Centre: Featuring illuminated bird sculptures and interactive lily pads. 22 Oct-9 Jan
  7. Enjoy Christmas at ZSL London Zoo: Discover a festive trail, the chance to meet Santa and animal-themed fun. 27 Nov-3 Jan

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: Snap away at the 600 Insta-worthy butterfly illuminations in 2021. 
  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.

Head to a London Christmas concert or service

  1. See The Definitive Rat Pack Christmas Show at Boisdale Canary Wharf: Savour crooner classics such as "Baby it's Cold Outside" and "White Christmas". 30 Nov-30 Dec
  2. Take your seat for Grand Christmas Classics with Alan Titchmarsh at the Barbican: Featuring carols from the London Philharmonic Choir. 22 Dec
  3. Sing along to your favourite festive hits with Jingle Bell Christmas at the Barbican: Jingle Belles dance troupe joins the London Concert Orchestra. 23 Dec
  4. Watch Love Actually in Concert: Featuring a live orchestra at Eventim Apollo. 11 Dec
  5. Get into the seasonal spirit with Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall: Enjoy shows such as an orchestra-led screening of the Muppets Christmas Carol in Concert, classical showcase Handel's Messiah and more. 2-31 Dec
  6. Attend a church service at venues across London: Attend an advent, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service at the likes of Westminster Abbey, iconic St Paul's Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral.
  7. Celebrate Hanukkah at Chanukah at JW3 (28 Nov-5 Dec): With more services and concerts also available at venues across 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. Get ready for Taste of London at Tobacco Dock: Festive foodies can tuck into a feast of treats. 18-21 Nov
  2. Enjoy an evening tour of LondonStuff your face with indulgent treats, with a selection of desserts and wine.
  3. Experience Hampton Court Palace's annual Festive Fayre: Watch Christmas cooking demonstrations, pick up festive treats and more. 3-5 Dec
  4. Dine on a spectacular four-course dinner at the Festive Live event at The Ritz London: Then take to the dance floor and party the night away. 
  5. Snuggle up in front of a crackling fire in a cosy pubEnjoy seats you can sink into and plenty of comfort food.
  6. Treat yourself to a jolly Christmas-themed afternoon teaDiscover an afternoon tea to remember with carols, decorations and festive treats galore.
  7. Book a table at one of London's pop-up winter rooftop bars: Soak up the seasonal cheer and enjoy magnificent views.
  8. Shop for festive treats at Borough Market: Find seasonal produce such as gingerbread and hot mulled cider. Or take inspiration from demos at the Festive Kitchen (7-9 Dec).
  9. 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!
  10. See the sights while enjoying a cocktail at the London Eye: Enjoy the Christmas Pub Pod experience, which takes place in one of its festively decorated pods. 11 Nov-9 Jan

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. Have a go at curling in Coal Drops Yard: Book a 45-minute slot with friends and family, as Club Curling brings the wintry sport to King's Cross. 12 Nov-30 Dec
  3. Follow the Lightopia light trail in Crystal Palace Park: Marvel at the handmade and hand-painted lanterns.19 Nov-2 Jan
  4. Head to Wembley Park for the annual Winterfest showcase: See light and art installations pop up across the area. 24 Nov-9 Jan
  5. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through Richmond Park: A magical experience led by shire horses. 27 Nov-2 Jan
  6. Hop on the Jingle Bell Blast boat tour with Thames Rockets: See London from the water on this festive ride. 3-19 Dec
  7. Watch swimmers brave the icy waters of Hyde Park’s Serpentine: See them compete in the Peter Pan Cup on Christmas Day.
  8. Pick up foodie gifts and snap away at the iconic lanterns and gates in vibrant Chinatown: Many of its restaurants open on Christmas Day.

Go ice skating in London

Ice skaters enjoying themselves at the Natural History Museum's open-air ice rink after dark.
Ice skating at the Natural History Museum. Credit: Trustees of the Natural History Museum. Image courtesy of the Natural History Museum.
  1. Sing along to festive hits with Club de Fromage on Ice: The festive skating party returns to Alexandra Palace. 11 Dec-2 Jan
  2. Skate on the Hampton Court Palace ice rink: Enjoy magnificent background views of Henry VIII's residence.
  3. Don't miss the beautiful setting of Somerset House: Skate in the 18th-century courtyard.
  4. Make your way to the Natural History Museum Ice RinkCreate unforgettable memories in South Kensington. 
  5. Glide across the ice at Ice Rink Canary Wharf: A different setting amidst the surroundings of Canary Wharf's twinkling towers.
  6. Show off your skills at the Queen's House Ice Rink: Within the special surrounds of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  7. Learn to skate at Alexandra Palace ice rinkTake to the ice indoors.

Find more top winter ice rinks in London.

Sing Christmas carols

Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square at night time with fountains and surrounding buildings lit up
The world-famous Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square © James O Jenkins. Image courtesy of James O Jenkins.
  1. Join the Barbican's Christmas Carol Singalong: Belt out your favourite carols. 11 and 18 Dec
  2. Sing along to carols in Trafalgar Square: Find a spot under its world-famous Christmas tree. Dates TBC
  3. Join in with carols at the Royal Albert Hall: Make the most of the stunning surroundings. 18-24 Dec
  4. Enjoy carols and concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields church: Soak up the festive atmosphere.

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. Visit the West End's famous shopping streets: Splash out on flagship-lined Oxford Street, upscale Bond Street and elegant Regent Street.
  3. Find tasty treats at Fortnum & Mason in St James's: Look out for gourmet Christmas treats and hampers.
  4. 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! Or visit Selfridges Christmas Market (5 Nov-24 Dec) just behind the store for festive gifts, food and rides.
  5. Head to Covent Garden: Find a diverse mix of designer labels, vintage stores and high-street brands. 
  6. Check out Carnaby: Seek out its independent shops and cool fashion boutiques.
  7. Be dazzled by baubles in one of London’s famous department stores: You'll find dedicated Christmas shops, including Harrods and Liberty London.
  8. 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.
  9. Spend an afternoon on King's Road in Chelsea: Explore the eclectic range of boutiques and designer labels.
  10. Go shopping after hours at these late-night shopping spots: Get all your Christmas shopping done after dark. 
  11. Explore Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City: Find last-minute Christmas presents and more.
  12. Bag bargains galore in the January sales: They begin on Boxing Day, or even earlier.

Discover more Christmas shopping hotspots 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. Don't miss the Christmas Fair Weekend: Take in the Christmas cheer at Fulham Palace House and Garden. 27-28 Nov
  4. Look for stocking fillers at more Christmas markets in London: Browse on the South Bank, at London Bridge City or in Leicester Square.

Watch Christmas films at a winter cinema

  1. Catch a Christmas screening in Backyard Cinema's two festive spaces: Venture through the Snow Kingdom or the mystical Winter Night Garden. 1-31 Dec
  2. Watch Christmas films at the Rivoli Ballroom's pop-up cinema: Featuring sumptuous surroundings. 16-17 Dec
  3. See cult festive classics with Luna Cinema: Kensington Gardens and Battersea Arts Centre host the likes of Elf and Home Alone. 12-23 Dec

Discover more unique and unusual cinemas in London.

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. 23 Oct-30 Jan
  2. Dine alongside the Thames at Jimmy's Winter Lodge: The special "snow globes" are back on the South Bank. 5 Nov-9 Jan
  3. Celebrate Christmas at rooftop hotspot Queen of HoxtonDrop by for a warming drink and hang out in its heated tent. 

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

Enjoy a quirky London Christmas

  1. See The Great Christmas Pudding Race: Watch teams in fabulous fancy dress run through Covent Garden. 21 Dec
  2. Tuck into festive food during the Aeronaut pub's Christmas cabaret: Be dazzled by acrobatics, fire performers and a virtual reality room

Find more quirky Christmas activities.

What next?

  1. Start planning your New Year's Eve celebrations: Welcome in 2022 in style, with the best things to do on New Year’s Eve in London! Including an adults-only New Year's Eve river cruise (get 38% off when booking).
  2. 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.
  3. 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 tours and top Christmas shows.

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