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101 things to do in London in winter

People walking across the London Millennium Bridge in the snow against the backdrop of St Paul's Cathedral.
The London Millennium Bridge in winter. Photo: Shutterstock.
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. 

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. 

Experience the magic of ChristmasNew Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year, which are 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).

What are the top winter attractions?

Winter Wonderland's rides and attractions are lit up at night.
An aerial view of Winter Wonderland. Image courtesy of Winter Wonderland.
  1. Make memories at London’s top attractions: Many 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: Alternatively, opt for a London Explorer Pass to use in a 60-day period or visit some of London’s most popular family attractions with a Merlin attractions pass.
  3. Go on a bus tour or river tour: Discover London in its wintry coat.
  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. Head to Winter Wonderland: Discover fairground rides, traditional markets, festive food and spectacular shows as the popular wintry extravaganza returns for 2021. 19 Nov-3 Jan
  6. Enjoy a New Year's Eve cruise on the river Thames: Get 38% off this special cruise, as you welcome in 2022 in style! 31 Dec

Find more tips for sightseeing in London.

What's on in London theatre during winter 2021?

A compere in a red tailcoat, gold waistcoat, bow tie and top hat at Moulin Rouge
The compere extraordinaire at Moulin Rouge © Story House PR. Image courtesy of Story House PR
  1. See a spectacular theatre show in London's West End: Add some sparkle to the winter days.
  2. Catch a performance of Dear Evan Hansen: Follow the heart-warming tale of a struggling teenager in the generation-defining musical.
  3. Groove along to reggae favourites at Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical: Transport yourself to sunnier climes.
  4. Or be a dancing queen at Mamma Mia!: Enjoy the high energy musical packed with Abba songs, romance and feel-good fun.
  5. Don't miss Moulin Rouge! The Musical as it plays for the first time in the West End: Be captivated by sparkling costumes and electrifying performances. From 12 Nov
  6. Watch The Book of Mormon at The Prince of Wales Theatre: Laugh out loud at the award-winning comedy musical. From 15 Nov
  7. Embark on an epic journey as the enchanting Life of Pi comes to the West End: Enjoy stunning visuals and state-of-the-art puppetry. From 15 Nov
  8. Get into the festive spirit at Potted PantoCombining seven pantomime classics into 70 minutes of fun11 Dec-9 Jan
  9. Be thrilled by the golden age of circus at Circus 1903: See mesmerising acts, daredevil antics and unique life-sized elephants. 16 Dec-2 Jan
  10. Don't miss the limited run of West End Musical Christmas at Lyric Theatre: Celebrate musical theatre and the festive season. 20 Dec
  11. Be dazzled by Cirque de Soleil's Luzia at the Royal Albert Hall: Be transported to an imaginary Mexico, with breathtaking acrobatics and stunning visual effects. 12 Jan-12 Feb
See more London theatre shows or laugh your head off at a comedy show.

Make memories with the kids this winter

A family of four looking up at the festive features of Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
Discover all the magical things happening in London this Christmas, including Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. © David Parry. Image courtesy of Fever PR.
  1. Treat the kids to London’s top family attractions: And follow these 101 FOMO-inducing tips for teenagers.
  2. For wizardry winter magic, head to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter: Experience Hogwarts in the Snow where you'll see the famous movie sets festively dressed. 13 Nov-16 Jan
  3. Grab a Butterbeer at The Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition: See fascinating behind-the-scenes images taken during the making of the iconic film series.
  4. Or see magical Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace Theatre: Watch the world's most famous wizard on stage.
  5. Sing along to top musicals: Chase away those winter blues with family favourites The Lion King and Cinderella.
  6. Explore ZSL London Zoo this winter: Meet Santa and enjoy some festive animal-themed fun. 27 Nov-3 Jan
  7. Don't miss Peppa Pig's Best Day Ever at Theatre Royal Haymarket: Spend a delightful winter's day on a fun-filled adventure. 2 Dec-2 Jan
  8. Watch Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s loveable Stick Man: See him burst into life on stage at Leicester Square Theatre. 23 Oct-3 Jan
  9. Go ice skating: Skate in the shadow of some of London’s most famous landmarks at an open-air ice rink. 
  10. Take the kids to the annual Imagine children’s festival at the Southbank Centre: Enjoy more than 10 days of culture for kids aged 11 and under. Feb TBC
  11. Experience one of London’s best outdoor and drive-in cinemas: Plan a family film-fest!
  12. Make the most of the February half-term holiday: Make memories with fun activities. 12-27 Feb

Find more family activities.

What are the best things to do in London at Christmas?

Angel-shaped white and yellow lights hang above Regent Street at night.
Regent Street Christmas lights © Shutterstock
  1. Hop on a Christmas Lights London by Night bus tour: Admire London's landmarks illuminated on a special tour of the city. From 15 Nov
  2. Buy tickets for Christmas at Kew: Be mesmerised by a spectacular lights show as Kew Gardens is transformed over the festive period. 19 Nov-9 Jan
  3. Enjoy a festive Illuminations of London Christmas Eve tour: See the city sparkle as Christmas Day approaches. 24 Dec
  4. Treat yourself to a Christmas Day river cruise and guided city tour: Sip on bubbly and feast on a traditional Christmas lunch in London. 25 Dec
  5. Or go on a Christmas day hop-on hop-off bus tour: See sparkling Christmas lights and plenty of iconic sights. 25 Dec
  6. Join the festive fun at London's Christmas lights switch-on eventsEnjoy live music, activities and in-store offers.
  7. Watch London’s best Christmas trees sparkle: Spot as many as you can, as they pop up in every corner of the city.
  8. Marvel at the capital’s famous twinkling Christmas lights and decorations: Head to shopping areas such as Carnaby, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly and South Molton Street.
  9. Attend a special Christmas carol service or concert: Celebrate the festive season and sing along to your favourite carols.
  10. Be captivated by the award-winning Lightopia festival of light: Featuring multi-sensory lights and lanterns. 19 Nov-2 Jan
  11. Don't miss Winterfest in Wembley Park: See London's tallest LED Christmas tree25 Nov-9 Jan
  12. Enter an enchanting winter wonderland at Kenwood House: Follow a sparkling trail of lights in the tranquil surrounds of this London gem. 26 Nov-9 Jan

Find more festive ideas with these 101 Christmas activities.

What are the best free things to do in winter?

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. See mesmerising light installation Borealis in Guildhall Yard: Enjoy Dan Acher's light show inspired by the Northern Lights for free. 11-22 Dec
  2. Explore London's many free museums and galleries: They are full of world-class objects and artworks.
  3. Seek out the capital's top free attractionsPerfect for an action-packed day out on the cheap.
  4. Make use of top offersFind great deals for shows, restaurants and more.
  5. Pick up cheap theatre tickets: See top shows for less.
  6. Refuel at the city’s best budget lunch spots: Also check London's best cheap restaurants.
  7. Check out these tips for a cheap night out: You don't need to splash out to have a fun evening in the capital.

Save more with these tips on budget London activities and find more free events in London.

What are the top London winter events?

A photo of a person putting olive oil on a dish during cooking demonstrations at Taste of London.
Cooking demonstrations at Taste of London. Credits: Andy Hughes. Image courtesy of W Communications.
  1. Feast on foodie treats this winter at the four-day Taste of London festival at Tobacco Dock: Featuring top restaurants, pop-ups, producers and cocktails. 18-21 Nov
  2. Get your winter fashion fix at Limited Edition LondonCelebrate the capital's fashion, creativity and diversity with top fashion brands, events and activities. Until 30 Nov
  3. Catch a show at the London International Mime Festival: Be left speechless by mime performances. 12 Jan-6 Feb
  4. Watch something new at the London Short Film Festival: Catch short films from emerging filmmakers. 14-23 Jan
  5. Start or add to your art collection at the London Art Fair: Bringing contemporary artists and buyers together with displays, talks and screenings. 19-23 Jan
  6. Enjoy all things Scottish during Burns Night in January: Celebrate the birth of Scotland's national icon, Robert Burns – whisky bars are good starting points. 25 Jan
  7. Keep an eye out for talks, walks and more during LGBT History Month: The annual event celebrates equality and diversity every February.
  8. Mark the arrival of the Year of the Tiger with London’s Chinese New Year celebrations (date TBC): Look out for special menus in Chinatown restaurants or join a special Lunar New Year tour with lunch (30 Jan) to learn more about Chinatown's history.
  9. Book a London winter break during February for the ultimate Valentine’s Day treat: Check out top tips for ramping up the romance in London. 14 Feb
  10. Get inspired during London Fashion Week: Embrace your inner fashionista with catwalk shows and expert talks. Feb TBC

Find more world-class London events in winter months

What are the best museums and art exhibitions in London this winter?

A pencil sketch of Alice, the March Hare and the Mad Hatter sitting at a table with a teapot, cups and saucers.
Alice at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Illustration for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by John Tenniel, 1865 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
  1. See the Royal Style in the Making exhibition at Kensington Palace: Admire Princess Diana's iconic wedding dress, on display for the first time. Until 2 Jan
  2. Explore the London Transport Museum after dark: Enjoy themed activities and talks from expert speakers. From 12 Nov
  3. Don't miss the Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum: Marvel at the opulent creations of Carl Fabergé, including his famous jewel-encrusted eggs. 20 Nov-8 May
  4. See Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi: In Love with the World at Tate Modern: Be mesmerised by jellyfish-like "aerobes" as they float over your head. 12 Oct-16 Jan
  5. Get to the Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum: Venture into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland through this mind-bending exhibition. Until 31 Dec
  6. Experience culture after dark at a late-night London museum opening and lates events: Enjoy immersive experiences, DJ sets and more. Until Jan
  7. See Fantastic Beasts The Wonder of Nature at the Natural History Museum: Discover the incredible animals that inspired J. K. Rowling’s fantastic beasts. Until 3 Jan

  8. Get tickets to see Francis Bacon: Man and Beast at the Royal Academy of Arts: Be intrigued by unique paintings blurring the human body with animal movement. 29 Jan-17 Apr

  9. Discover the latest winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum: Be amazed by the wonders of the natural world. Until 5 Jun
  10. Explore Bags: Inside Out at the Victoria and Albert Museum: Don't miss the last chance to see the evolution of fashion trends and the popular accessory. Until 16 Jan

  11. Discover treasures relocated from Woburn Abbey at Queen’s House in Greenwich: Including paintings by Van Dyck, Canaletto and Gainsborough. Until Easter

See more museum and gallery exhibitions in London.

What are the top places to explore this winter?

A deer with a fine set of antlers calls on a misty morning, with the mist and mature trees in the background.
Spot deer in Richmond Park © Reid.
  1. Wander around London’s parks and gardens: Work off those extra Christmas calories with a walk on a crisp winter's day.
  2. Go all botanical this winter with a stroll through Kew Gardens: Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site's glassohouses and stunning open spaces.
  3. Find the deer in Richmond Park: It's the largest Royal Park in London.
  4. Spot the pelicans and parakeets at St James's Park near Buckingham Palace: With royal, political and literary associations, St James's Park is a gem at the heart of London.
  5. Walk the Regent's Canal: Explore on foot from Camden Lock to King's Cross.
  6. Make your way to beautiful Hyde Park: Discover the memorials and cycle beside the Serpentine.
  7. Book one of London’s best walking tours: Delve into secret spots, historic tales, street art and more.
  8. Spot some outdoor art on your daily stroll: Highlights include the Illuminated River.
  9. Or get on your bike, as you hire a Santander Cycle for endless exploring, all from £2 a day: Visit parks, ride along the Thames or explore Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
  10. Seek out these outdoor spots for exercising: Perfect for a healthy and active winter.
  11. Go on new adventures in neighbourhoods outside central London: Make sure to check out Lewisham, the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture in 2022.

Find more outdoor winter activities in London.

Where to go for winter food and drink

A three-tiered cake stand full of cakes and sandwiches, surrounded by plates, cups and saucers, on a table with a white table cloth, in front of a lit fire in an open fireplace.
Afternoon tea at Brown's Hotel. Photo credit: @Lateef. Image courtesy of Rocco Forte Hotels.
  1. Don't miss Hampton Court Palace's annual Festive Fayre: Savour seasonal treats in historic surroundings. 3-5 Dec
  2. Defrost in front of a roaring fire at a snug London pub: Enjoy a mug of mulled wine.
  3. Scale the heights to a heated rooftop bar: Soak up sunset views across London and enjoy winter pop-up activities and music.
  4. Get a winter pick-me-up with an afternoon teaIndulge in a traditional afternoon tea, or go quirky with a festive version.
  5. The winter chill is the perfect excuse to tuck into warming Sunday roasts: Find the best places in London to treat yourself to this British classic. 
  6. Seek out London’s best cheese hotspots oozing with delicious bites: Raclette, toasties, fondue… Whatever your cheesy craving, you'll find a place for it in London!
  7. Bite into tasty pastry from London’s top pie shops: Celebrate National Pie Day on 23 January.
  8. Keep an eye out for festive creations at London’s top bars: Christmas and cocktails go hand-in-hand.
  9. Make use of special Christmas dining offers: Book ahead for Christmas Day lunch or dinner.
  10. Visit healthy eateries across the city: Stick to those New Year’s resolutions. 
  11. Enjoy vegan and vegetarian delights this January: Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or just dabbling, make the most of Veganuary.

Find more food and drink inspiration.

Where is the best place for Christmas shopping?

Covet Garden Piazza at night, with a crowd of people and an illuminated Christmas tree.
Covent Garden Piazza by Brendan Bell. Image courtesy of MIssion Communications
  1. Keep an eye out for special tickets and offers during Black Friday: The perfect time to go on a shopping spree. 26 Nov 
  2. 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. 
  3. Bag yourself a bargain during the London winter sales: Don't miss out on more special offers during this time of year
  4. Walk around historic Greenwich MarketLook for gifts from British designers and more.
  5. Explore Camden Market: Find stalls selling everything from quirky fashion to delicious street food.
  6. Check out London’s best Christmas markets: Browse the stalls overflowing with handmade goods and quirky knick-knacks.
  7. Explore London’s coolest department stores: Find plenty of trendy threads and quirky homewares.
  8. Work your way through the 101 best shops in London: The perfect excuse to keep coming back on regular shopping sprees.

Delve into more London shopping inspiration.

How can I celebrate New Year in London?

A marching band dressed in yellow and blue walk through confetti at London's New Year's Day Parade.
Watch marching bands at the New Year's Day Parade. Image courtesy of LNYDP.
  1. Celebrate the end of the year with New Year's Eve events: Stay tuned for details of London's New Year's Eve fireworks in 2021.
  2. Celebrate the end of 2021 and welcome in the new year with London’s New Year’s Day Parade: Enjoy performances from popular artists and cultural groups.

Plan your New Year’s Eve in London.

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.