78 things to do in London in winter

People wandering around the stalls of the Winter Wonderland with a Ferris Wheel in the background.
Winter Wonderland is one of the most magical things to enjoy during winter. Credits: Carolina Faruolo / FANATIC. Image courtesy of Winter Wonderland.
Put on your trendiest bobble hat and take your pick from these top London winter activities.

The mercury might be lower but London gets the temperature rising with all sorts of wintry treats to keep you coming back throughout the season. 

Experience the magic of Christmas in London, snap away at London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks or join the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia, just some of the many must-see winter events in London.

Don't forget to put on some extra layers to keep you warm, as London winter temperatures average between 2C and 10C (35F and 50F).

Top winter events in London

There are so many unmissable London events this winter, from the iconic to the downright quirky.

Magical London December events

  1. Smartphones at the ready... Snap away at Christmas at Kew’s mile-long trail, including incredible light displays and immersive installations. Nov-Jan TBC
  2. Let the kids become zoo keepers’ little helpers as part of ZSL London Zoo’s Christmas activities. Nov-Dec TBC
  3. Wrap up warm for one of London’s best light festivalsDates TBC
  4. See a giant menorah light up Trafalgar Square for Chanukah. Date TBC
  5. Get in the festive spirit as challengers battle to keep a Christmas pud on a plate as they navigate obstacles, in Covent Garden’s Great Christmas Pudding Race. 5 Dec
  6. Watch brave swimmers in the Peter Pan Cup, as they take a dip in the chilly Serpentine Lake on Christmas Day. 25 Dec

Check out more December ideas.

Top London January events

  1. Be left speechless by mime performances at the annual London International Mime Festival which usually takes place this month. Dates TBC
  2. Catch short films from emerging filmmakers at the London Short Film Festival. 15-23 Jan
  3. Gaze in wonder at the Winter Lights Festival, which creates a trail of Insta-worthy installations at Canary Wharf. Dates TBC
  4. Start or add to your art collection at the London Art Fair, which brings contemporary artists and buyers together with displays, talks and screenings. 20-24 Jan
  5. Enjoy all things Scottish during Burns Night in January, celebrating the birth of Scotland's national icon, Robert Burns – whisky bars are good starting points... 25 Jan

Find more things to do in January.

London February events for your diary

  1. Keep an eye out for talks, walks and more as part of LGBT History Month, which celebrates equality and diversity every February. 1-28 Feb
  2. Mark the arrival of the Year of the Ox at London’s Chinese New Year celebrations which fall around 12 February this year. Keep an eye out for events across the city, including special menus in Chinatown restaurants.
  3. Book a London winter break during February for the ultimate Valentine’s Day treat – check out our top tips for ramping up the romance in London. 14 Feb
  4. Embrace your inner fashionista with catwalk shows and expert talks during London Fashion Week and London Fashion Weekend. Dates TBC

Discover more February activities.

Quirky London winter events

  1. Wonder at the array of unusual performances during VAULT Festival at South Bank’s The Vaults, taking in cabaret, comedy, immersive acts and more. Dates TBC
  2. Be prepared for polar bear hugs as you take on the London Winter Run; or watch on from the sidelines. 7 Feb
  3. Join one of London’s many Pancake Day races or simply eat your way through a mound of the scrumptious treats. On and around 16 Feb

Discover more events in London this winter.

Experience Christmas in London

London takes on a magical feel over Christmas, with lights, markets, trees and lots of fun events across the capital. Shop till you drop or enjoy festive food and drink.

Insta-worthy Christmas festivals

  1. Grab a drink from the pop-up bar, indulge in seasonal food and enjoy winter-themed activities along the river at Winter at Southbank Centre. Nov-Jan TBC
  2. Snuggle under the spiegeltent as you watch mind-blowing shows as part of Christmas in Leicester Square. Nov-Jan TBC
  3. Ride high up on the observation wheel and enter the Magical Ice Kingdom at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Nov-Jan TBC
  4. Pick up stocking fillers and seasonal treats at Christmas by the River overlooking Tower Bridge. Nov-Jan TBC

Fill your stocking with more Christmas in London ideas.

Enchanting Christmas activities

  1. Enjoy London Christmas lights switch-on events featuring music, festive activities and in-store offers. Various dates
  2. Watch London’s best Christmas trees sparkle, as they pop up in every corner of the city.
  3. Marvel at the capital’s famous twinkling Christmas lights and decorations in shopping areas such as Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly and South Molton Street.
  4. Join a special Christmas carol service or concert, including recitals under the tree in Trafalgar Square.

Find more festive ideas with these 101 Christmas activities.

Feast on festive food and drink

  1. Munch on seasonal sarnies and sweet treats with a festive take on afternoon tea.
  2. Christmas and cocktails go hand-in-hand, so keep an eye out for festive creations at London’s top bars.
  3. Book ahead for Christmas Day lunch or dinner to make use of special Christmas dining offers.

Spend New Year in London

  1. Secure a ticket for the London New Year’s Eve Fireworks. Or if you can’t get your hands on one, watch it on TV. 31 Dec
  2. Book onto one of the many memorable New Year’s Eve cruises. 31 Dec
  3. Start 2021 with the iconic New Year’s Day Parade in central London, full of floats, bands and performers. 1 Jan

Plan your New Year’s Eve in London.

What's new this winter?

Have your finger on the pulse with new shows and exhibitions this winter.

Must-see new exhibitions in London

  1. Don’t miss treasures relocated from Woburn Abbey at The Queen’s House, Greenwich, including paintings by Van Dyck, Canaletto and Gainsborough. Until 17 Jan
  2. See works by the Slovak artist Maria Bartuszová, whose plastered works inspired by nature reside in Tate Modern. 11 Nov-18 Apr
  3. Don't miss the last chance to see the evolution of fashion trends and the popular accessory in Bags: Inside Out. Until 31 Jan
  4. Study clay and plaster sculptures from Auguste Rodin, as the game-changer's art and insights into his works are displayed as part of The EY Exhibition at Tate Modern. 21 Oct-21 Feb

See more museum and gallery exhibitions in London.

Top London winter activities

From mid-November through December, January and into February, it’s a true winter wonderland in London. So get out and explore with a walk over frosty leaves or snuggle up in a cosy pub in front of a crackling fire.

Family fun this winter

  1. Treat the kids to London’s top family attractions and follow our 101 FOMO-inducing tips for teenagers.
  2. Go ice skating in the shadow of some of London’s most famous landmarks at an open-air ice rink. 
  3. If you’re mad about Harry Potter, head to Hogwarts in the Snow to see the famous movie sets festively dressed for winter in London. 14 Nov-17 Jan
  4. Enjoy more than 10 days of culture for kids aged 11 and under during the annual Imagine children’s festival at the Southbank Centre. Dates TBC 
  5. Make memories with fun activities during the February half-term holiday. 13-21 Feb

Find more family activities.

Pick up gifts and bargains

  1. Keep an eye out for special in-store activations and offers during Black Friday. 27 Nov
  2. Bag yourself a bargain during the London winter sales
  3. Find gifts for all the special people in your life at London’s top shopping hotspots, from high street brands on Oxford Street, to upscale boutiques in Bond Street and St James’s, or beauty and fashion at Covent Garden, Carnaby and Belgravia.  
  4. Browse the stalls overflowing with handmade goods and quirky knick-knacks at London’s Christmas markets.
  5. Mingle with locals at pop-up winter fairs, including the Spirit of Christmas Fair and Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre.
  6. Check out London’s coolest department stores, full of trendy threads and quirky homewares.
  7. Work your way through our pick of 101 best shops in London – the perfect excuse to keep coming back on regular shopping sprees.

Delve into more London shopping inspiration.

See the sights

  1. Make sure to visit London’s top attractions, many of which host special wintry events and activities throughout the season.
  2. Pick up a London Pass for access to more than 80 attractions and fast-track entry, opt for a London Explorer Pass to use in a 30-day period, or visit some of London’s most popular family attractions with a Merlin attractions pass.
  3. Discover London in its wintry coat from the comfort of a bus tour or river tour.
  4. On a clear winter's day, marvel at views of the city from one of its many viewpoints. The View from The Shard, Sky Garden, Emirates Air Line or the London Eye are perfect for 360-degree shots.
  5. Go on new adventures in neighbourhoods outside central London, including Brent, which is the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture in 2020.

Find more tips for sightseeing in London.

Unmissable experiences

  1. Hit up your feed at one of London’s quirky bars this winter, many of which serve seasonal tipples – wrap up warm at Icebar London or experience 1940s London at Cahoots.
  2. Grab some friends and hatch a plan at one of London’s top escape rooms, or go on a quest for crystals at the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience.
  3. Take a boat trip and see the Illuminated River light installation at some of London’s Thames bridges.

Winter walks in London

  1. Work off those extra Christmas calories with a walk on a crisp winter's day in London’s parks and gardens.
  2. Go all botanical this winter with a stroll through Kew Gardens. A Woodland Walk, Log Trail and vertigo-inducing Treetop Walkway await.
  3. Delve into secret spots, historic tales, street art and more on one of London’s best walking tours.

Fuel up on comfort food

  1. Get a winter pick-me-up with an afternoon tea. Indulge in a traditional afternoon tea, go quirky with an unusual tea, celebrate with bubbles, or enjoy the treat for less with cheaper options.
  2. The winter chill is the perfect excuse to tuck into warming Sunday roasts
  3. Raclette, toasties, fondue… Whatever your cheesy craving, London’s best cheese hotspots are oozing with delicious bites.
  4. It’s National Pie Day on 23 Jan (who knew that was a thing?). Bite into tasty pastry from London’s top pie shops.

Munch on more foodie treats.

Find a new you

  1. Stick to those New Year’s resolutions by visiting healthy eateries across the city. 
  2. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or just dabbling, Veganuary is the perfect excuse to enjoy vegan and vegetarian delights this January.
  3. Get on yer bike, as you hire a Santander Cycle for endless exploring, all for just £2 a day. Visit parks, ride along the Thames or explore Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Budget London ideas

  1. Strapped for cash after Christmas and New Year? We have 101 free ideas to explore.
  2. Explore London's many free museums and galleries, which are full of world-class objects and artworks.
  3. Seek out the capital's top free attractions, perfect for an action-packed day out on the cheap.
  4. Make use of top offers on shows, restaurants and more.
  5. See shows for less by picking up cheap theatre tickets.
  6. Refuel with our pick of London's best cheap eats, or dine at the city’s best budget lunch spots or cheap restaurants.
  7. You don't need to splash out to have fun until the early hours, check out our tips for a cheap night out.

Save more with our tips on budget London activities.

Enjoy cosy London winter evenings

  1. Defrost in front of a roaring fire at a snug London pub with a mug of mulled wine.
  2. Scale the heights to a heated rooftop bar, where you can soak up sunset views across London and enjoy winter pop-up activities and music.
  3. Experience culture after dark with immersive experiences, DJ sets and more at a late-night London museum opening.
  4. Head to London’s West End to catch a spectacular theatre show, such as smash-hits The Lion King or The Book of Mormon.
  5. Pick a film and cosy up in one of London's unsusual and unique cinemas.

Check out our events calendar for more special events in winter in London. Plan your winter break in London with our pick of things to do in London each month, guide to what's on in London and pick of what's on every weekend.