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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

A flaming Christmas pudding on a long table laid with plates of food in front of a Christmas tree covered in gold stars
Christmas puddings adorn the tables of the Great Hall © Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
  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. Join a special Illuminations of London Christmas Eve tour: See the city twinkle as Christmas Day approaches. 24 Dec
  3. Or embark on the Total London Experience on Christmas Eve: Celebrate Christmas Eve by ticking off London’s top sights on the ultimate one-day tour. 24 Dec
  4. Visit Hogwarts in the SnowSee Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter decked out for Christmas. 12 Nov-15 Jan
  5. Wander around Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park: Find all sorts of magical Christmas activities in one place. 18 Nov-2 Jan
  6. Explore Windsor CastleMarvel at the magnificent Christmas decorations as the famous castle is given a festive makeover fit for royalty. 25 Nov-3 Jan
  7. Experience Christmas at Kew at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew: Take an enchanting journey into a glittering wonderland. 16 Nov-8 Jan
  8. Head to Kensington Palace for the festive season: Explore the grand halls decked out for Christmas before spending an evening enjoying a Christmas movie in the Pavilion. 10-23 Dec
  9. Get crafty at the Chelsea Physic Garden's Botanical Christmas card workshop: Learn the art of botanical painting to create a unique Christmas card for a loved one. 9 Dec
  10. 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 Merlin London Attractions Pass offer plenty of options to sightsee and save.

Discover more of London's top attractions to tick off this Christmas.

 

See a London Christmas show

The cast of ELF the musical stand together in the snow.
The cast of Elf The Musical. Image courtesy if See Tickets.
  1. Book ahead for the top musicals in London this Christmas: Enjoy incredible shows over the festive period, from Frozen to The Lion King.
  2. Meet the loveable hero Stick Man at Leicester Square Theatre: Join him on his misadventures as he journeys far from the safety of his home tree. Until 2 Jan 
  3. See 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
  4. Laugh out loud at ELF The Musical at the Dominion Theatre: Meet Buddy, the North Pole’s biggest misfit, and join him as he causes mayhem across Manhattan. Until 7 Jan
  5. Discover the tale of Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol: Head to the Southbank Centre for a twist on the Dickensian classic, where you can enjoy humour and music from the Queen of Country herself. 8 Dec-8 Jan
  6. Enjoy Christmas at the Movies at the Southbank Centre: Hear the seasonal soundtrack of the world’s best festive films played by the Philarmonia Orchestra. 4 Dec
  7. Marvel at the magic of Circus 1903 at the Eventim Apollo: A vibrant adaptation of classic circus acts, from trapeze artists to jaw-dropping stunts. 15 Dec-01 Jan
  8. See The Definitive Rat Pack Christmas Show!: Stephen Triffitt, George Daniel Long and Mark Adams transform into Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr for an unforgettable evening of festive crooner classics. Until 30 Dec
  9. Watch the weird and wonderful tale of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before ChristmasSecure VIP tickets for a special film screening with live music. 9-10 Dec
  10. Be spellbound by the Magic Circle Christmas Show: Watch impressive acts from magicians and performers from around the world at the official London headquarters. 20-29 Dec
  11. Join the ultimate Christmas party at Jingle Bell Christmas at Barbican Hall: Hear festive favourites such as White Christmas and Jingle Bell Rock. 23 Dec
  12. See the heart-warming Fir Tree at Shakespeare's Globe: A reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s festive tale featuring storytelling and song. 15-31 Dec

Find more theatre and dedicated Christmas shows.

Book a Christmas day out

The iconic Tower Bridge in London is surrounded by snow
Tower Bridge on a snowy day, Photo by Robert Bye on 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. Revel in the Golden Age of Travel Aboard Belmond British Pullman*: Tuck into a five-course meal with bubbles as you take a five-hour journey on this luxury locomotive.
  6. Take a Christmas market day trip: Soak up the festivities whilst grabbing some memorable gifts for loved ones at the Canterbury, Winchester or Birmingham markets. 
  7. Treat a loved one to luxury experiences in LondonGive the perfect present, from incredible helicopter tours to relaxing spa days.

Discover the best things to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, from special tours and attractions to last-minute shopping.

Christmas activities for the family in London

Santa claus, dressed in a classic red outfit, stands in an old english underground train at the christmas event at the London Transport Museum.
Santa rides the tube at the London Transport Museum. Image courtesy of London Transport Museum.
  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. 25 Nov-2 Jan
  3. Hop on the Jingle Bell Blast boat tour with Thames RocketsSee London from the water on this festive ride. Until 23 Dec
  4. Help to save Fish-mas at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium: Keep your cool as you try to find the missing gifts scattered around the aquarium. 17-24 Dec 
  5. See the crown jewels at the Tower of London: Step back into the gruesome history of this attraction for a 12 days of Christmas takeover - can you spot the nine rowdy ravens? 23 Nov-3 Jan
  6. Have fun with your favourite characters this Christmas at Shrek’s Adventure! London: Don't miss meeting Shrek santa in the enchanting Christmas grotto. Selected dates in Dec
  7. Enrol the kids at Elf School at KidZania: Once they've gathered the clues for the password to the secret school entrance, they'll learn tricks of the trade to get their place in the elf parade. Selected dates in Dec
  8. Get topsy-turvy at the Twist Museum: Head to London' home of Illusions for a mind-boggling afternoon of family fun.
  9. Take on a new challenge together with adrenaline-fuelled activities: Try the Up at The O2 climb or Tottenham Hotspur Stadium's Dare Skywalk.

Treat the kids to more family fun in London.

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 Images.com / Arena PR Group. Image courtesy of Leftfield Images.com / Arena PR Group.
  1. Skate on the Hampton Court Palace ice rink*: Enjoy magnificent background views of Henry VIII's residence. Until 8 Jan
  2. Show off your skills at the Queen's House Ice Rink: Within the special surrounds of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site. 17 Nov-8 Jan
  3. Don't miss the beautiful setting of Somerset House: Skate in the 18th-century courtyard. 16 Nov-15 Jan
  4. Sing along to festive hits with Club de Fromage on Ice: The festive skating party returns to Alexandra Palace. 17, 23 Dec
  5. Glide across the ice at Ice Rink Canary Wharf: A different setting amidst the surroundings of Canary Wharf's twinkling towers. 22 Oct-25 Feb
  6. Learn to skate at Skylight Tobacco DockTake to the ice whilst enjoying amazing views of the London skyline on this rooftop bar-turned-ice rink. Until Jan

Find more top winter ice rinks 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 © visitlondon.com / Ben Pipe. Image courtesy of visitlondon.com / 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. Until 24 Dec
  3. Be spoilt for choice at the Covent Garden Christmas markets: Get handcrafted items and unique gifts for your loved ones at one of the three daily markets. 
  4. 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. Until 7 Jan
  5. Enjoy browsing at riverside Christmas markets: Stop off at the Winter Market at Southbank Centre (Until 26 Jan), find views of Tower Bridge with Christmas by the River at London Bridge City.
  6. Seek out unique finds in Brixton's Pop Brixton and Brixton Village: Browse stalls and gifts from local producers every Sunday in December.

Look for stocking fillers at more Christmas markets in London: tuck into tasty treats and warming drinks between shopping sprees.

Enjoy a quirky London Christmas

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

Find more quirky Christmas activities.

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.

Head to a London Christmas concert or service

Join a carol service in London. ©Unsplash/David Beale
  1. Don't miss The Piccadilly Christmas Concert: St James Church becomes the setting of a magical evening of festive performances. 17 Dec
  2. Sing along to seasonal classics at Carols by Candlelight at Barbican Hall: Staged in full 18th century costume and set among enchanting candlelight. 22 Dec 
  3. Enjoy an evening of Carols by Candlelight at Hampton Court PalaceThe Choir of the Chapels Royal, HM Tower of London perform classic carols and readings this festive season. 16 Dec
  4. Join Midnight Mass as part of a special Christmas Eve tour in LondonSee the sights from a luxury coach, enjoy dinner and attend the midnight service at St Martin-in-the-Fields church.
  5. Visit Canterbury Cathedral for a Sung Eucharist service as part of a Christmas Day tourThis day trip from London also includes a buffet lunch and views of the White Cliffs of Dover and Greenwich.
  6. 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.

Sing Christmas carols

Choir wearing red coats singing, in the gold-coloured surroundings of St Martin's in the Fields.
A Christmas Celebration at St Martin's in the Fields. Credits: Marc Gascoigne. Image courtesy of St Martin's in the Fields.
  1. Welcome in the festive season with a Christmas Carol Singalong at the Royal Festival Hall: Soak up the festive atmosphere. 10 Dec
  2. Enjoy festive songs, carols and classical works at Christmas with Kings College Choir at the Barbican: Hear the angelic voices of the chapel choristers. 21 Dec
  3. Head to the Barbican for the Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival 2022: See festive performances of seasonal classics. 21 Dec-1 Jan
  4. Attend the Mayor of London's Carol Service from Southwark Cathedral: Join in traditional carols at this special service. 14 Dec
  5. Get into the seasonal spirit with Christmas at the Royal Albert HallEnjoy shows from carols and family concerts to classical recitals. 3-31 Dec
  6. Enjoy carols and concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields church: Soak up the festive atmosphere. 

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. Take a foodie tour this Christmas: Try festive treats at Borough Market or head to Camden Town Brewery for some beer tasting. 
  3. Treat yourself to a jolly Christmas-themed afternoon teaDiscover an afternoon tea to remember with carols, decorations and festive treats galore.
  4. Snuggle up in front of a crackling fire in a cosy pubEnjoy seats you can sink into and plenty of comfort food.
  5. Book a table at one of London's pop-up winter rooftop bars: Soak up the seasonal cheer and enjoy magnificent views.
  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!

Check out the London food and drink guide for more ideas, including quirky dinner spots to restaurants with a killer view.  

Christmas shopping in London

A giant toy soldier stands in Hamleys toy shop.
Hamleys. © Shutterstock. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
  1. Snap up some designer deals at Bicester VillageHop on a train to Bicester to spend the day exploring the outlets and a festive bite or two. 
  2. Treat friends and family to luxury London gifts: From cocktail masterclasses and fine-dining experiences to special days out.
  3. Or order them a Fortnum & Mason hamper*: The iconic store has many options overflowing with seasonal treats and speciality food and drink.
  4. Visit the West End's famous shopping streets: Splash out on flagship-lined Oxford Street, upscale Bond Street and elegant Regent Street.
  5. Find tasty treats at Fortnum & Mason in St James's: Look out for gourmet Christmas treats and hampers.
  6. 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!
  7. Head to Covent Garden: Find a diverse mix of designer labels, vintage stores and high-street brands. 
  8. Check out Carnaby: Seek out its independent shops and cool fashion boutiques.
  9. Be dazzled by baubles in one of London’s famous department stores: You'll find dedicated Christmas shops, including Harrods and Liberty London.
  10. 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.
  11. Spend an afternoon on King's Road in Chelsea: Explore the eclectic range of boutiques and designer labels.
  12. Go shopping after hours at these late-night shopping spots: Get all your Christmas shopping done after dark. 

Discover more Christmas shopping hotspots in London.

What next?

The London Eye at night illuminated in blue, with blue, yellow and red fireworks exploding around it.
London's New Year's Eve Fireworks © Shutterstock.
  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. Have a memorable evening enjoying the London's New Year's Eve fireworks in 2022: Find out how you can see the iconic fireworks display.
  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 tours and top Christmas shows.

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