11 Fun Things to Do for Christmas in London

Updated On: November 08, 2023

Christmas in London

The run-up to Christmas is a beautiful time to visit London, as there various things to do for Christmas in London. Vibrant streets are draped in thousands of twinkling lights, and door trees are adorned with spectacular decorations. This, combined with numerous special events and seasonal markets, makes London a great place for celebrating Christmas. 

London offers excellent Christmas-themed activities, including ice-skating. Only some places around London have ice rinks where you can rent skates and skate around. Shopping is also one of the must-do things for Christmas in London, whether for Christmas-y items or the gifts you should get for your loved ones. 

So, if you are planning and looking vigorously for ideas for your Christmas trip to London, you can read through the following list of fun activities to do to celebrate Christmas in London.

London Christmas Lights Walk

Christmas in London
Regent Street at Christmas time

London is ideal for holiday lighting because of its iconic streets and historic buildings. Early in November, London begins to decorate for Christmas. Every corner of London looks much nicer when Christmas trees are adorned with glitter and strings of sparkling lights. Each year, the decorations on Oxford Street set the tone for the city’s Christmas light displays, which then go on to Carnaby, Covent Garden, Regent Street, and St. James’s.

Visit Winter Wonderland For a Merry Christmas in London

Christmas in London
Night view of Winter Wonderland, an amusement park located in Hyde Park

Winter Wonderland lies in the heart of London in Hyde Park. It is a six-week festive celebration from the second half of November to early January. For Christmas 2022, the event starts from Friday, 18 November, to Monday, 2 January. It is recommended to book ice skating, circus-style shows, Bar Ice, Ice Sculpting, Ice Kingdom and the world’s tallest transportable wheel, the Giant Wheel.

Winter Wonderland has something for everyone: activities, attractions, entertainment, food, drinks, and shows. The entire family will be filled with enthusiastic cheer at Winter Wonderland. Try one of the many heart-pounding roller coasters if you feel adventurous.

Wander Around the Best Christmas Markets

Christmas in London
Night view of Trafalgar Square and the Norwegian tree at Christmas, London

Every year, in November and December, the capital is overwhelmed with the kind of markets with stalls adorned with fairy lights, Christmas-street food vendors, and community tombolas, all set to the sound of Christmas music. Without going to one of the charming Christmas markets in London, it would not be Christmas. Whether you are seeking delectable sweets, vintage decorations, or simply a last-minute gift, there are several markets to fit your preferences.

Speaking of prominent places, one of London’s most well-known squares also hosts a holiday market. The Trafalgar Square Christmas Market is a small market with a few stalls and a place to sit and have Christmas-themed foods and drinks. The centrepiece is a tree that Norway donates yearly, under which carolers perform every night. Evenings in Trafalgar Square during the holiday season have a lovely atmosphere.

Due to its enclosed design and string lights suspended from the trees above, the nearby Leicester Square Christmas Market, hosted by the same organisers, has an immersive atmosphere. There are more options for food and beverages, as well as a few gift shops. Another market along the Thames, the Southbank Center Winter Festival, is dotted with vendors and events between the London Eye and Waterloo Bridge.

Another Christmas market is set to occur at the recently restored Battersea Power Station. The Glide ice skating rink is the focal point of this London Christmas Market. There are still a few carnival games and attractions on the Coaling Jetty and a festive food market.

The Kingstone Christmas Market, held in the storied Kingston Market Square, is a little further away. It is a fantastic place to get a bite despite being small. You can also browse the Alpine Village group at the neighbouring All Saints Church. In addition to these significant celebrations, several smaller Christmas markets run for a few days here and there. One such market is the wealthy Mayfair Christmas Market, which competes with its snow machine and gourmet food selections. 

Visiting London’s Famous Department Stores

christmas in london
Harrods department store in London at night during Christmas

London is home to many of the world’s most significant and well-known department stores, many of which get adorned for the holidays. The historic London department store, Harrods, whose facade is decorated with more than 12000 bulbs, typically steals the show yearly. They further raised the bar in 2022 with a fantastic gingerbread theme made possible by Dior.

If you can stand the crowds, the inside is equally distinctive. It offers a more affordable alternative to the never-ending stream of brand names with its festive Food Hall and Christmas Shop. Of course, Liberty is another option, known for its Tudor Revival architecture. Its Christmas shop is stocked with every imaginable ornament during the holiday season.

Selfridges is another department store. Like neighbouring department store John Lewis, Selfridge boasts a stunning Christmas display on the top floor and a new theme for its windows and interiors every year.

Ice Skating 

Christmas in London
Ice Rink at Winter Wonderland

Ice skating is another festive tradition in London. People can go on skates and try their best not to trip at pop-up rinks that have sprung up throughout the city. There are numerous choices, but they tend to fill up quickly, so make a reservation in advance. The Green’s House in Greenwich, the Winter Wonderland ice rink in Hyde Park, and Glide at Battersea Power Station are a few of the primarily seasonal rinks. Additional ice rinks can be found at Somerset House, Canary Wharf Skylight Tobacco Dock, Westfield, and Hampton Court Palace.

If not for these pop-ups, the Queens and Alexandra Palace ice rinks are open all year round. Of course, the next stage is to taste-test a variety of holiday treats after elegantly gliding those calories away. London is adept at having fun. There are celebratory food and drink specials everywhere you turn in the city. Many hotels and eateries in London also host a special holiday afternoon tea if you seek a genuinely opulent treat.

Christmas Shows in London

London is renowned for its cultural offerings, ranging from West End plays to concerts by well-known musicians worldwide. However, the city’s cultural calendar is jam-packed with special Christmas concerts, holiday movie experiences, and pantomimes during Christmas. A pantomime is an entertaining, pleasant musical comedy play that is particularly well-liked over the holidays.

Because it is Christmas, London’s dance companies present stunning holiday performances, like Swan Lake or the legendary Nutcracker. These traditional ballet shows are an excellent way to introduce the incredible world of ballet with professional choruses and stunningly glittery graphics. There are also shows aimed at grownups, like comedy, drama, circuses, and experimental. Additionally, there are shows for children, including the most popular ones, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio. You can watch these shows and more at the Royal Opera House, London Coliseum, and many other theatres.

London Restaurants and Pubs

Christmas in London
Christmas decorations on Mr Fogg’s Tavern, an old-style tavern in London

Enjoy your meals; food is another thing London does incredibly well. So be sure to stop by a festival or pub adorned for the occasion. As you stroll around the town, you will notice bars and restaurants serving different cuisines decked out in garlands, ornaments, and an excessive number of lights. Some places go far further than others in this regard. Nevertheless, the Miracle at Henrietta, Bluebird, and Cadogan Arms are among the more well-known locations.

Additionally, there are other locations throughout the city where you can rent your cosy igloo. Simply select a traditional old-style pub with a blazing fire for the most romantic holiday feelings if you want something more low-key. With more than 80 trees strung from its outside walls, The Churchill Arm is renowned for its holiday display.

The perfect way to warm up is to wander the winter markets with mulled wine under sparkling winter lights. Grab a spot and wrap your hands around one of these hot, steamy beverages. The Queen of Hoxton Pub and Tamesis Dock Pub are two of the most famous pubs that serve this magical beverage.

Go on a Christmas Cruise

Do you want to make the most memorable cruise? Why not have Christmas dinner on a sail down the Thames if you are particularly adventurous? On a sightseeing cruise, you can get into the festive spirit by sleighing along the river while viewing all of London’s breathtaking sights. You can reserve a cruise and take advantage of a special lunch menu, live entertainment, carols, and more.

London Transport Museum

It is Christmas, and London Transport Museum is worth a visit during the festive times. The museum helps guests in kicking off the holiday season every year. This year, prepare to tour London’s best Christmas light displays on a vintage red Routemaster bus as part of the museum’s Lights and Sights Christmas theme. Christmas music will play, and a jolly conductor will be present to verify your souvenir tickets and spread holiday pleasure.

Visit Hogwarts

It is a true Christmas pleasure to rewatch the Harry Potter movies. Although Warner Bros. Studio Tour is accessible all year round, it takes on an especially festive vibe at Christmas. You can live the Yule Ball vibes on this Hogwarts in the Snow tour. Many of the settings get transformed for the holiday season. If you are lucky, you can reserve dinner in the Great Hall.

Watch the Peter Pan Cup

Christmas in London
Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London

Since 1864, the Peter Pan Cup has served as an annual Christmas tradition for open-water swimmers. Only the hardy Serpentine Swimming Club members are allowed to compete on Christmas Day in the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. The races begin at 9 am. Those interested in watching are welcome to gather along the lake’s edge for free. Remember that London’s public transportation is unavailable on Christmas Day to get you there.

So, we have covered the best Christmas activities in London. Make sure to do at least one of these activities for a merry, merry Christmas in London. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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