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Things to do in London on Christmas Day

It's the one day of the year when London feels quiet, but there's still plenty to do and enjoy on Christmas Day.

Experience a different side of London as locals and visitors gather to celebrate Christmas on 25 December. Wander the peaceful streets adorned with shimmering Christmas lights, enjoy a traditional Christmas Day lunch or a pint at one of London’s restaurants and pubs, or go on a festive tour of London on this very magical day.

Take a look below for ideas on what to do in London on Christmas Day. 

London transport on Christmas Day

There's no public transport on Christmas Day, but there are several alternative ways to explore the city:

  • Hire a Santander Cycle and take a ride beneath the festive decorations of central London with much less traffic around.
  • Walk off those Christmas calories by exploring London on foot; you’ll have the city’s beautiful architecturestreet art and parks largely to yourself.
  • Travel between London's most popular sights on a Christmas Day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
  • There are also a few taxis and minicabs available for hire, but fares are generally higher than usual.

Christmas Day tours of London

These tours were available on Christmas Day in 2018. Details are yet to be confirmed for 2019, so check back nearer the time for more information.

  • Experience the sights and sounds of London on Christmas Day during a luxurious coach tour: choose a morning or afternoon tour to pass by world-famous sights, including the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square. 
  • Enjoy a Christmas Day lunch cruise and guided city tour: discover London via land and water on 25 December. 
  • Celebrate the big day by tucking into a three-course meal during a Christmas Day traditional lunch cruise on the river Thames. 

London attractions open on Christmas Day

Most London attractions are closed on Christmas Day. However, London's Royal Parks are all open on 25 December. The new Body Worlds exhibition in Piccadilly is also open 365 days a year.

Other attractions which are open on Christmas Day in London include JW3 ice rink in north London, one of London's only ice-skating rinks open on Christmas Day; and the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park, where the tough members of the Serpentine Swimming Club take part in the Peter Pan Cup race every 25 December.

Christmas Day church services in London

Attend one of the many Christmas Day services in London’s wonderful cathedrals and churches, including the magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral, beautiful St Martin-in-the-Fields church, and historic All Hallows by the Tower and Southwark Cathedral. Remember to check timings with the individual church in advance and arrive early, as Christmas services can be very busy and there is limited space.

 

Christmas Eucharist at St. Paul's 🙏🏼

A photo posted by Tiana Marie (@tianamarie) on

Eating and drinking on Christmas Day

  • Check if your favourite London restaurant is open on Christmas Day. Book in advance for Christmas Day lunch or dinner in London.
  • Some restaurants in Chinatown are open as usual on 25 December, offering a delicious alternative to the traditional Christmas lunch.
  • Some pubs open for a few hours around lunchtime, but most will be closed or ticketed in the evening, so make sure you check for opening hours.
  • Hotel bars are a good bet for a drink on Christmas Day, though it's still best to check with the venue in advance.

Things to do on Boxing Day in London

The day after Christmas Day (26 December) is known as Boxing Day in the UK and is also a public holiday. Many attractions are still closed and there is a reduced public transport service available on this day, but there are still plenty of things to do on Boxing Day:

Find out more about transport and opening times over the festive season with our essential guide to Christmas and New Year in London, and discover what else is on during Christmas in London.

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