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A London Christmas trip is a fun and festive way to celebrate the holiday season. The best Christmas markets in London buzz with merriment and jolly shoppers parade down streets illuminated by bright Christmas lights. Even on the dreariest of days, cheerfulness fills the air in London at Christmas.
In our travels, we have been fortunate to spend Christmas time in London more than once. To help fellow travelers experience the joy and wonder of the season, we are sharing our list of the best things to do in London at Christmas!
Planning a London Christmas Vacation
London is one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe! That said, travelers planning a London Christmas time vacation have a monumental task. In addition to the typical travel plans that need to be made – like where to stay and what to see – travelers will want to make sure there is plenty of room in their itinerary to experience the magic of Christmas in London, England.
In this article, we are covering how to plan a trip to London for Christmas – from December holiday events to where to find the best Christmas Trees in London to the top things to do in London on Christmas Day.
Sightseeing during your London Christmas Trip
In addition to the top things to do in London for Christmas, travelers visiting London will likely want to check off some of the top attractions during their visit. We share some insight for what to see and do in our detailed sightseeing guides for London.
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London Travel Planner
Our list of Things To Do London Christmas Edition is massive – and you will need to determine what you can squeeze into your trip plan. Furthermore, many of the ticketed attractions and London restaurant reservations for Christmas need to be booked early.
As you plan what to see and do in London at Xmas, you will need to make sure you stay on top of all the details. We recommend using a travel planner – like our Printable Travel Planner – so that nothing is missed on your London holiday trip!
Visiting London at Christmas Time FAQs
Before we get to our list of things to do over Christmas in London, we want to answer a few on the most commonly asked questions.
Where are the Best London Christmas Things To Do Located?
While some cities have a main focal point for their holiday activities, Christmas in London, England is celebrated everywhere. From the city center to the surrounding neighborhoods, the best things to do at Christmas in London are spread wide and far.
Below is a map of our top London Christmas ideas so that you can see – and easily plan – your UK holiday vacation.
When are the Christmas Lights on in London?
One of the highlights of Xmas in London is the festive holiday lights and decorations. Travelers taking a trip to London in Christmas time will want to make sure their trip dates coincide with the illuminated holiday decorations.
The good news is that most Xmas lights in London are turned on by the first week of November – and stay on through the New Year!
Are there Things To Do in London between Christmas and New Year?
Certainly! London between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is just as jolly as the time leading up to December 25. Most of the markets and ice skating rinks stay open until at least January 1 – and the festive lights and holiday decorations stay up at least until New Year’s Day as well.
Are there Things To Do in London over Christmas with Kids?
Of course! While our list is not specifically geared toward Christmas activities in London for families, we do feature many kid-friendly attractions on our list of Christmas Things To Do London.
Are there Free Things To Do in London at Christmas?
Just like the rest of the year, it can be pricey to visit London at Christmastime. Many Christmas attractions in London require tickets – and some are quite expensive. Additionally, finding an affordable place to stay in London around Christmas can be difficult, as hotel prices skyrocket around the holidays (especially on the weekends). We share tips on finding the best places to stay in London later in the article, so stay tuned!
All that said, budget travelers can have a wonderful Christmas experience in London without breaking the bank. Some of the very best things to do in London at Christmas – like reveling in the glow of the lights and perusing the goods at the holiday markets – are absolutely free of charge!
Is it Worth Visiting London this Christmas?
Absolutely! London during Christmas time is simply magical. With our list of the best places to visit in London during Christmas, even the biggest humbug will be celebrating the festive season!
67 Best Experiences in London During Christmas Time
Our list highlights the most Christmassy things to do in December in London. Our list is separated by categories to help you find the activities that are of most interest to you. Use these fun Christmas ideas in London to plan your perfect trip!
Best Christmas Markets London
Shopping, feasting and imbibing at one of the festive London Christmas Markets is a fabulous way to usher in the spirit of the holidays. In fact, the markets are one of the best London, England Christmas events – and there are several markets in the city center and beyond.
#1 Have Fun at Hyde Park London Winter Wonderland
Touted by many as the best Christmas Market in London, the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a must for your holiday trip! The German-themed market is jam packed with holiday activities, attractions and entertainment. The spectacular holiday mash up features fair rides, tasty treats, ice sculptures, market stalls and a grand beer hall.
Ideal for families during the day, The Christmas Wonderland London Market is full of revelry at night.
The Hyde Park London Christmas Winter Wonderland event runs for 6 weeks – from mid-November until a few days into the new year. The Winter Wonderland London location is at Hyde Park. There is a fee to enter; Winter Wonderland London tickets are available online.
#2 Get Boozy at the Southbank Centre Winter Festival
With sparkling lights and the heavy scent of spiced hot wine and cider in the air, the Southbank Centre Winter Festival is one of our favorites for the exceptional festive ambiance! Classic winter treats – like hot toddies, toasted marshmallows and gooey raclette – are served from the dazzling mountain chalets.
#3 See Leicester Square Christmas Market
A bustling European-style market, Christmas in Leicester Square runs for nearly two months – from the second week of November through the first week of January. The highlight of the Leicester Square Christmas Market is the seasonal performance that takes place under the Spiegeltent (tickets are required).
#4 Shop for Specialty Products at Christmas Under the Canopy
A cheerful covered market at Kings Cross, Christmas Under the Canopy features local goods and specialty products. The holly jolly event is brightened by live music and street food eats.
#5 Find Festive Foods at Borough Market at Christmas
Established in 1756, the Borough Market has long been one of the best food markets in London – and it’s even better at Christmas time! Vendors help shoppers find the perfect ingredients for holiday feasts and the shopkeepers share tips at cooking demonstrations and masterclasses throughout the season.
#6 Go to Santa’s Grotto at Greenwich Christmas Market
The Greenwich Market, which opened in 1737, is one of the best London markets to explore where vendors sell antiques, fashion wear, jewelry, crafts and prepared foods.
One of the fun places to visit in Greenwich anytime of year, during the Christmas season, the market halls are decked for the holidays and shoppers have a chance to meet Father Christmas in Santa’s Grotto. The fun kicks off on select dates starting in mid-November with a celebratory event that includes a parade, lanterns and singing before the big countdown to switching on the lights.
#7 Be Entertained at the Christmas at Camden Market
An eclectic market with an alternative spin on the holidays, the buzzing Camden Market is home to rowdy bars, quirky stalls, vintage goods and heaps of merriment!
#8 Experience Christmas by the River at London Bridge City
A fantastic, free riverside event, the London Bridge Christmas Market welcomes guests to shop for local wares, imbibe at the Riverside Lodge and Hay’s Galleria Bar or simply soak in the wintery atmosphere. The pop up market is enhanced by animal light displays, the fine views of Tower Bridge and the City of London skyline across the River Thames.
#9 Discover Boutique Shops at Coal Drops Yard at Kings Cross
The Coal Drops Yard Kings Cross Christmas is a one-weekend-only event in early December that is dedicated to fashion and independent vendors selling one-of-a-kind holiday gifts. That said, there are more than 50 boutique retailers and delicious food stalls at Coal Drops Yard year-round – so if you miss the holiday market, it’s still well-worth the trip for travelers looking for special Christmas presents.
#10 Make Your Way to the Clapham Winter Wonderland
Another Winter Wonderland in London, the Clapham Common Winter Funfair is a Christmas time carnival experience. With games and rides, it’s a jolly good time for kids and adults alike!
#11 Set Out for the Kingston Christmas Market
A traditional Xmas market in an epic setting, the Kingston-Upon-Thames market is known for its twinkling lights, winter warmers and classic carousel. Plus, it’s a great place to pick up a special gift for that special someone! Find details here.
#12 Have a Jolly Time at the Hampton Court Palace Fayre
A weekend-only event, the Hampton Court Palace Fayre is an extravaganza of street food, pop up bars, artisan wares, live music and good ol’ fashioned holiday fun! Find out more.
Best Christmas Lights London
One of the best things about the holidays is the Christmas decorations – and London does a proper job of decorating the city! We are sharing our top picks for the best Christmas lights in London this year.
#13 See the Regent Street Angels
The best-known London light display is the Regent Street Angels – called The Spirit of Christmas – and it is a mesmerizing canopy of illumination. The glittering London Christmas angels rise dramatically in breathtaking beauty as classic, red double-decker buses ramble along the street below.
#14 Stroll down Oxford Street
With thousands of twinkling bulbs lighting Oxford Street, the busy shopping thoroughfare simply glows. In addition to the gorgeous lights, be sure to take in some of the best London holiday window displays!
#15 Stand under the Shimmering Bond Street Christmas Lights
An upscale shopping destination in London, New Bond Street upgraded their light display in 2022 to honor the late Queen Elizabeth II. Nearly 100,000 LED lights shimmer from the large crown and jewel necklace displays. While on Bond St., don’t miss the Cartier Christmas London light show, as well.
#16 Snap at Selfie in Front of Annabel’s on Berkeley Square
An exclusive club that spares no expense, Annabel’s façade (and interior from what we hear) is elegantly decorated every year with a new theme. The stunning lights are like a London Christmas fairytale.
#17 Soak in the Atmosphere at Burlington Arcade
A classy, covered shopping lane dating to the 19th century, the Burlington Arcade exudes a sophisticated vibe with its stylish décor. Whether shopping or simply soaking up the magic of the holidays, strolling through Burlington Arcade is one the best things to do at Christmas in London.
#18 Get a Glimpse of the Covent Garden London Christmas Lights
Boasting a legendary Christmas tree and sparkling lights, the Covent Garden Piazza brims with festiveness during the month of December. Additionally, visitors can expect ‘snow flurries’ and musical performances that are certain to enhance your holiday spirit.
#19 Don’t Miss the Carnaby Street Modern Light Display
Modern and merry, Carnaby Street is one of the best places to visit in London during Christmas. The extraordinary holiday light installation is an immersive experience (and it extends to nearby Foubert’s Place, Ganton Street and Newburgh Street, too!).
#20 Strike a Pose among the South Molton Street Arches
The striking arches that straddle South Molton Street feature more than 60,000 gleaming lights. The display is one of the fantastic spots for outdoor Christmas London photo ops!
#21 Delight in the Cheerfulness at Marylebone Village
Centered around the main intersection of Marylebone and Baker Streets, the Merry Christmas Marylebone lights are charming and delightful. When they switch on the displays in November, the village hosts an exceptional event to mark the occasion.
#22 Ponder the Exhibits at Winter Light at Southbank
An open-air exhibit of lightworks, the 10 art installations at the Southbank Winter Light event add a warm glow to the crisp evenings. While not specific to a holiday theme, the colorful works by international artists is still one of the best places to visit in London at Christmas.
#23 Swirl around the Seven Dials Lights
Bursts of light decorate the star shaped Seven Dials district, bringing warmth to the picturesque streetscape. With twinkling lights overhead and glowing decorations in the trees, the whole area hums with London holiday spirit.
#24 Head out to the Holiday Lights in Belgravia
Belgravia gets all dressed up for Christmas with a dazzling display. Visitors should walk under the canopy of lights on the pedestrianized Motcomb Street, see the giant wreaths on Elizabeth Street and take in the colorful, twinklers at Eccleston Yards.
#25 Make Way to the Christmas Lights in Chelsea
Swaths of illumination decorate the streets of the London borough of Chelsea – but not to be missed are Sloane Street, Duke of York Square and Sloan Square. As if the lights aren’t merry enough on their own, visitors can also visit Father Christmas in the Chelsea Christmas Grotto or try Bavarian curling on the Winter Terrace in Sloan Square.
#26 Join a London Christmas Tour to See Lights
One of the top ways to see the best displays of holiday lights in the city is on a Christmas London Bus Tour, Bike Tour or Walking Tour.
Christmas Bus Tour London
The vintage London Bus Christmas Lights Tour is a 2-hour event that features some of the most beautiful light displays around the city. The tour includes live commentary that covers some of the history of London and fun, entertaining holiday facts, too. Book your seat!
Bike Tour of London Christmas Lights
Embark on an enchanting bike ride through London to see the bright lights and Christmassy sights! The 3-hour bike tour, which is led by a professional guide, features London’s best holiday décor. Save your spot!
Walking Tour of London Christmas Lights
Let a guide lead the way to holiday lights and hidden spots on this Christmas-themed London walking tour. Participants will hear tales about Ebenezer Scrooge and sip mulled wine while learning about the history of London Christmases. Find out more!
London Xmas Shopping
Shopping is one of the fun things to do in London at Christmastime, as all the best stores put on a show for the holiday season. The city is home to a diverse range of retailers – from luxury brands to mainstay stores to boutique shops. London Christmas shoppers have plenty of opportunities to find the perfect present – so we are wrapping up our list of the Best Christmas Shops London.
#27 Go Shopping at Selfridges on Oxford Street
A high-end department store that opened in 1908, Selfridges is a top destination for shopping in London. In addition to all the luxury goods, the Selfridges London Christmas Shop – where you can pick up baubles and other décor – is a must see!
Whether you are looking for a little retail therapy for yourself or are checking off your Christmas list, Selfridges is a fabulous place to do it. Not up for shopping? No problem. Still go to Selfridges…the window displays alone are worth the trip!
#28 Buy a Keepsake at Harrods on Brompton Road
The largest London department store – and perhaps the most famous store in the world – Harrods is one of the best places to go in London at Christmas.
The elaborately decorated exterior only primes visitors for what awaits inside. The Harrods London Christmas Shop is an extraordinarily jolly place overflowing with everything you need for the holidays – including the store’s keepsake Christmas Bear, Louie.
#29 Find a Present at the Historic Hamleys Toy Store
Well known as the oldest toy store in the world (founded in 1760), Hamleys is a 7-story extravaganza of toys – and one of the best places to go in London for Christmas presents for the wee ones. With Santa on hand and Christmassy displays, it’s fun for the young…and the not-so-young!
#30 Find Food for your Feast at Fortnum and Mason
Established in 1707 as a grocery store (and still selling perishable goods), the Fortnum and Mason Victorian era department store is a festive delight during the holiday season in London. While many shoppers flock to the first floor Fortnum and Mason Christmas Store London flagship location for delectable Christmas time treats, the exquisitely decorated building and beautiful window displays are equally intriguing.
#31 Browse the Christmas Shop at Liberty on Regent Street
The Liberty London Christmas Shop is iconic and one of the best places in London at Christmas for shopping. Housed in a stunningly decorated Tudor-style home, the warm and inviting Xmas shop hosts a huge holiday collection of ornaments and decorations.
#32 The Christmas Shop London Bridge – CLOSED!
The beloved all-year Christmas Shop London Bridge is no longer open as a physical store. However, their Christmas goods can still be purchased from their online shop.
#33 Peruse the Goods at London Markets and Market Halls
In addition to the festive Christmas markets and holiday fairs in London, there are an impressive number of weekly and daily markets that take place around the city. We have already mentioned a few for their remarkable decorations and shimmering light displays, but these markets are also fabulous places to do your holiday shopping!
Best Christmas Activities London: Ice Skating
One of the best outdoor Christmas events in London during December is ice skating! There is nothing quite like gliding around an ice skating rink at one of London’s epic locations – and we are sharing a few of the best!
#34 Whirl around the Queen’s House Ice Rink
The historical Royal Museums in Greenwich – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – hosts a spectacular Ice Rink at the Queen’s House. Visitors can whirl around the ice in a setting that is simply captivating.
#35 Go Skating at Skate at Somerset House
Situated in the courtyard of the Neoclassical Somerset House in the heart of the city, Skate is one of the most picturesque places to go ice skating in London. The rink is open during the day until late at night, when there are DJs and an onsite lounge serving winter warmers.
#36 Glide around the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink
A wonderful place to put on your skates with family or friends, the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink at Hyde Park encircles the lovely Victorian bandstand and features twinkling lights and live bands.
#37 Twirl and Tip at the Canary Wharf Ice Rink
With a glass roof (to ensure rainy weather doesn’t spoil the fun) and marvelous skyline views, the Ice Rink at Canary Wharf is a top pick for London ice skating. After a twirl on the ice, get cozy and tip a few back in the ski lodge inspired Off Piste Bar, which overlooks the Canary Wharf Skate Rink.
#38 Enjoy a Night at Glide at Battersea Power Station
A new riverside ice staking rink at the iconic Battersea Power Station, Glide features three interconnecting rinks with a brilliant Christmas tree at the center. More than just a skating rink, at Glide there are also carnival rides, live bands and other holiday fun.
#39 See the View from Skylight Tobacco Dock Ice Skating Rink Rooftop
One of the coolest places to ice skate in London and still a bit of a hidden gem, the Skylight Ice Rink is a rooftop venue that offers outstanding views of the River Thames and city skyline. Plus, they have igloos and a heated lodge for warming up!
#40 Have Family Fun at the Ice Rink at Winter Village in Westfield
The open-air ice skating rink at the Westfield London Christmas Village is a family-friendly rink that welcomes both experienced and novice skaters.
#41 Slip into a Fairytale at Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink
Set at the former home of King Henry VIII – the Ice Rink at Hampton Court is an ice skating fairytale. While spinning around the ice, skaters have a full view of the Tudor palace illuminated in colorful lights.
#42 Stay Warm at Indoor Skating Rinks in London
Visitors looking for indoor skating rinks that are open year-round have a few options, as well. QUEENS near Kensington Palace not only boasts an indoor ice skating rink, but also bowling lanes and eateries. Alexandra Palace is another event venue with an indoor rink, theater and holiday events.
Best Christmas Events London
Visitors can kick off the holiday season at one of the marvelous London Christmas events.
We are highlighting a few of the best Xmas events in London that you might want to include in your holiday trip itinerary. Just be sure to get your tickets early, as these fun things to do in London in December do sell out!
#43 Kick Off the Holidays at Kew Gardens London Christmas
Christmas at the Kew is one of the most popular holiday traditions in London! After dark, the botanical gardens transform into a magical wintery landscape. Visitors follow trails through illuminated tunnels, flickering lights and scenic installations. Christmas at Kew Gardens London is certain to bring about holiday cheer!
#44 Discover the Gingerbread City at the Museum of Architecture
One of the interesting and unusual things to do in London around Christmas is to see the Gingerbread City at the Museum of Architecture. The gingerbread city is designed by architects, engineers and designers to create an impressive (and mouthwatering) candy display!
#45 Spend a Family Day of Christmas at London Zoo
The London Zoo Xmas experience is fun for the whole family! Top things to do at the London Zoo Christmas event are to toast marshmallows around the fire pits, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, listen to the Christmas-themed talks about the animals and visit Father Christmas (aka Santa) in the holiday grotto.
#46 Set Your Eyes on Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Brothers Studios
Potterheads are invited to the Warner Brothers Studios to experience the wizarding world at Christmas time. A blanket of snow and holiday cheer decorates the familiar Harry Potter sets – including the Great Hall, which is adorned with snowflakes and icicles for the Yule Ball.
#47 Feel Extra Christmassy at the Tower of London
A must-see attraction in the city, the Tower of London is extra special at Christmas time. In addition to the Crown Jewels and famous Beefeaters, in December, the Tower of London enhances the magic of the holiday season with decorations and activities for kids.
#48 Partake in Museum of London Christmas Events
During the holiday period, museums in London offer an array of fun holiday events. At the London Transport Museum, you can track down Santa (which is definitely one of the fun things to do at Christmas in London with kids!), the National Gallery hosts carol singers and the Museum of London Docklands features special stories about how Londoners celebrated Christmas in the past.
Perhaps the best Christmas Museum London, however, is the Charles Dickens Museum. Visiting the museum, which is dedicated to the author of the classic, A Christmas Carol, during the holidays can’t be beat!
#49 Marvel in the Magic of the Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park
A fun holiday event for people of all ages, the Syon Park Christmas Forest London features delightful decorations and amazing light displays. Bear in mind, however, that it takes place in November and ends in early December.
The Best Central London Christmas Trees
Christmas in London, UK is marked with celebrations, decorations and giant holiday trees. From traditional live evergreens to modern renditions, embellished Christmas trees adorn the city. One of the best Christmas things to do in London is to seek out the best decorated trees, which stand in city squares, market halls and luxury hotels.
#50 Stare Up at the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree
Perhaps the biggest Christmas tree in London, the tree in Trafalgar Square typically extends to a height of 65 feet. The Norway spruce tree is a gift from the city of Oslo (as it has been annually since 1947) and is lit with more than 500 white lights.
#51 Sneak a Peek of the Claridge’s Hotel Holiday Tree
A modern take on a Christmas classic, the Claridge’s Hotel Christmas Tree is a sight to behold. Each year, a different designer creates a special tree for the hotel lobby. Additionally, the hotel’s festive façade is a sumptuous display of lights and trees.
#52 Glimpse the Giant Trees at Renaissance Hotel at St Pancras
Two giant trees flank the grand staircase at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in a subtle but stunning holiday display. To make the scene all the merrier, carol singers entertain visitors on weekend evenings.
#53 Swoon over the Christmas Tree at The Ned
Featuring a British-grown Christmas tree, The Ned uses burgundy- and champagne-colored ornaments – plus thousands of fairy lights – to decorate their 20-plus-foot-tall tree. Look up to see the halo wreath hanging from the ceiling.
#54 Visit the Highest Christmas Tree at The Shard
Claiming to host the ‘Highest Christmas Tree in London’, The Shard is a must for holiday visitors! In addition to the Nordic Tree, Shard visitors can enjoy holiday cocktails, festive music and wintery snow (it falls every 15 minutes!). Get your tickets in advance!
#55 Contemplate the Unique Tree at St. Pancras Railway Station
A unique endeavor, the Christmas tree at St. Pancras Railway Station has taken on many forms through the years. From a blue-and-white Tiffany & Co tree in 2018 to the 2015 tree of Disney characters, each year is special – and always highlights a worthwhile charity.
#56 Savor the Beauty of The Connaught Hotel Christmas Tree
Always a creative spectacle, The Connaught Hotel displays their annual designer Christmas tree on Mount Street where it can be admired by all who pass by. Inside The Connaught Hotel, the lush garland and richly decorated tree makes it one of the best Christmas hotels London.
#57 Look In on the Tree at The Landmark London
Marked with elegance and class, the luxury Landmark London displays a gorgeous Christmas tree in their atrium Winter Garden. Guests can partake in their festive season offerings – from spa stays to decadent holiday meals.
#58 Appraise the Massive Tree at the Leadenhall Market
A splendid Victorian market hall that is popular with Harry Potter fans, the Leadenhall Market hosts a giant holiday tree to usher in the holidays. Christmas cheer is felt throughout the market that features cobblestoned streets and old-fashioned ambiance. In addition to the massive Christmas tree, the market hosts fun holiday events – like wreathmaking and whiskey tastings – throughout December.
Holiday Theater Productions and Christmas Concerts
Visitors seeking the best places in London for Christmas spirit should look no further than the city’s top theaters and stages. From classics to comedy and from choirs to orchestras, there are a range of top London performances throughout the holiday season.
#59 Enjoy an Evening of London Christmas Theater
Our top picks for a classic theatrical performance during the holiday season are A Christmas Carol London Theatre or one of the West End London Christmas musicals, like the humorous Elf. That said, there are a number of holiday-themed London plays starting in November – so check what will be playing during your visit.
#60 Attend One of the London Christmas Concerts
As far as Christmas concerts go, there are numerous London events where the sounds of holiday music fill the air. While some of the musical events require a ticket, many are free to attend (although booking a ticket may still be required).
One of the best Christmas Choir London events takes place at St. Paul’s Cathedral on a special evening during Advent. There are also free choir events and Christmas services at the famed Westminster Abbey.
Visitors can also join carol singers at London St. Martin-in-the-Fields for a ticketed performance of carols by candlelight.
The Royal Albert Hall has been the site of Christmas celebrations for more than a century – and the tradition continues today. Some of the best performances are the London Christmas orchestra, gospel choirs, jazz singers, seasonal ballet and entertaining drag.
Best Christmas Afternoon Tea London
A stylish affair, Christmas Afternoon Tea in London is an excellent way to celebrate the holiday season. The age-old tradition of feasting on delicious finger sandwiches, scones slathered in clotted cream and sweet cakes is all the more festive during the Christmas season!
#61 Dine at The Ritz London Christmas High Tea
An extravagant occasion, High Tea at the Ritz during Christmas is a like none other. The certified Tea Master selects only the best teas from around the world and the resident pianist provides an exceptional soundtrack. While the classic Ritz High Tea menu doesn’t change for the holidays, the experience is highlighted by the elaborate and lavish decorations.
#62 Treat Yourself to The Lanesborough Holiday Afternoon Tea
Full of magic and merriment, the Festive Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough is sure to be a memorable experience. The Christmastime menu features a taste of holiday classics, specialty Christmas pastries and seasonal cocktails.
#63 See and Eat on Brigit’s Bakery Afternoon Tea Christmas London Bus
Unique and unforgettable, the Brigit’s Bakery vintage bus tour combines classic London sightseeing with the British Afternoon Tea experience. Participants can take in the sights while tasting savory sandwiches, cakes and tea on the double-decker bus. It’s best to book in advance – as it will sell out!
Best Christmas Restaurants London
Finding Christmassy places to eat in London is one of the fun ways to celebrate the season. We are highlighting just a few of the top places to have a festive meal in London with a superb holiday atmosphere.
#64 Devour a Divine Meal at The Ivy Chelsea Garden
Luxuriously decorated (both inside and out), The Ivy at Chelsea Garden elevates its fine dining menu during the holidays to include a special Golden Feast…and festive cocktails, too! The refined restaurant, always at the top of London Foodie Lists, is also one of the best places to eat in London at Christmas.
#65 Eat a Christmas Cupcake at Peggy Porschen
Looking for a sweet treat? Look no further than Peggy Porschen! The chic cupcakery offers a selection of tailored holiday treats, in addition to their often raved about regular line up of cupcakes. As visiting is one of the top Xmas things to do in London, expect to wait at either location in Chelsea or Belgravia.
#66 Stand in Awe of the Décor at The Churchill Arms Pub
Without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in London at Christmas, The Churchill Arms goes all out with holiday decorations. During December, the exterior of the cozy pub is decorated with 80 Christmas trees and more than 20,000 lights. Inside, the décor is charming, the menu is (oddly) Thai food and the atmosphere is bustling!
#67 Sip a Cocktail at the Miracle at Henrietta Hotel
Again this year, Henrietta in Covent Garden is hosting the Miracle pop-up bar that sweeps through cities worldwide every December. Highlighted by tacky-yet-delightful décor and creative Christmassy cocktails, spending an evening at Henrietta is one of the best things to do in London this Christmas!
Map of Things To Do in London during Christmas
Use this link to Google Maps for an online, interactive version of our Map of Christmas Things To Do in London.
How To Spend Christmas in London
We have highlighted the best holiday activities and attractions in London during the festive season. However, for visitors planning to celebrate Christmas in London – actually December 25 – we have a few more holiday tips so that you can best plan your trip.
Christmas Eve London
In London, December 24 is not a Bank Holiday – meaning, most things are open (but may close early)…and actually quite busy. While some Londoners are preparing for the festivities of the following day, many more are out celebrating with family and friends.
Some of the top things to do in London on Christmas Eve are ice skating, attending a show, last-minute Christmas shopping and drinking mulled wine at one of the Christmas markets. Christmas concerts and midnight mass are two other top Christmas Eve events in London.
Christmas Day London
Christmas Day in London is the quietest day of the year. Most stores and restaurants are closed – and the busy Transport for London network (Tube, Buses, Trains and Trams) all comes to a halt.
With nearly empty streets, it can be a great opportunity to embark on a self-guided walking tour of London or to rent a bike to pedal around. Additionally, some tourist services – like river cruises and Hop On Hop Off buses are running.
If the weather is agreeable, parks are some of the best places to go on Christmas Day in London. Swing by The Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park on Christmas morning to watch the annual Serpentine Swimming Club race for the Peter Pan Cup or take a walk through Kensington Gardens. At dusk, wander down some of the classic London lanes lit with Christmas lights.
Attending a Christmas service at one of the city’s finest churches – like Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral or St. Martin-in-the-Fields – is another way to spend Christmas Day in London.
Christmas Dinners London
While most restaurants are closed on Christmas Day in London, there are a few exceptions. Some eateries and pubs are open for either lunch or dinner – and several hotels offer special London Christmas meals. In addition to the set menus for dinner, some hotels and restaurants host holiday brunch and Afternoon Tea on Christmas Day.
Travelers looking for the best Christmas Dinner in London – or any meal out on December 25 – will need to make reservations far in advance!
For an alternative Christmas meal in London, visitors can go to Chinatown, where many restaurants are open on December 25. Hotel bars might be a good last-minute option for a drink or light bite to eat for travelers who aren’t able to get a reservation in advance.
Boxing Day Events London
Boxing Day – the day after Christmas, December 26 – is a national holiday in London, England. However, unlike London Christmas Day, on Boxing Day almost all the stores, restaurants, holiday markets, ice skating rinks, museums, theaters and tourist attractions are open.
Typically, public transit is back up and running, albeit on a reduced schedule (but it’s always good to check before making any plans!).
One of the best things to do in London on Boxing Day is to go shopping. Many retailers discount items the day after Christmas, so it a great time to score deals.
Watching football (or rather, soccer) is a Boxing Day tradition – as is cozying up in a British pub. Indulging in a boozy Boxing Day Brunch – where many restaurants offer bottomless drinks – is a fun way to spend the leisurely day, as well.
New Year’s Eve in London
London loves to celebrate New Year’s Eve – and the biggest event is the London New Year’s Eve Fireworks over the River Thames. Tickets are required for the best viewing spots (we particularly like the view from Westminster Bridge), but NYE Thames River cruises offer a unique vantage point (plus heaps of onboard fun!).
Throughout London, restaurants and clubs host parties – from elegant affairs to all night raves. Another excellent way to spend New Year’s in London is at the theater.
London New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day in London is a national holiday, and the biggest celebration of the day is the mid-day London New Year Day Parade. A tradition that has been going strong since 1987, the January 1 London parade is free to attend (although you do have to get there early to get a good spot or buy reserved grandstand tickets far in advance!).
New Year’s Day is also one of the last days to enjoy many of the festive holiday London markets, Christmas time performances and Christmas trees.
Top Travel Tips for Your Christmas London Trip
Now that you know what to do in London over Christmas, we have a few final travel tips.
Christmas in London Weather
Winters in London tend to be mild. Skies are overcast, days are short and precipitation (typically in the form of rain, but sometimes snow) is often predicted, although rainfall is generally light.
Christmas Transport London
London has a robust public transportation network that makes it easy for travelers to get around. That said, December is often a time for transport strikes, so it’s best to stay up to date with any disruptions during your trip.
As we already mentioned, all London public transport is closed on Christmas Day (and it’s the only day of the year that that happens!). Want to ride the London Tube Christmas Day? It’s closed. Buses, Overground trains and Trams are also parked for the day.
Travelers who want to do a little sightseeing on December 25 can find some London Tourist Christmas Day Buses running. To get around on Christmas Day, we recommend walking, cycling or booking an Uber or FreeNow Taxi.
Where To Stay in London for Christmas
London is sprawling metropolis with thousands of hotels in a range of prices. Deciding where to stay for your London holiday trip can be a big conundrum – but it will likely come down to your budget, your desired amenities and preferred location.
A room at London’s poshest hotels that are decadently dressed up for the holidays – like The Ritz and The Connaught – will cost upwards of $1,500 per night. Other luxury hotels with fabulous holiday décor – such as The Ned and The Landmark – fetch more than $500 per night.
Budget-conscious travelers, however, can find more affordable hotels in the $150 per night range.
The best places to stay in London at Christmas get booked in advance, so it’s best to plan ahead and book early.
Be sure to use our tips for finding the Best Hotels for Cheap Prices.
What To Pack for London at Christmas
The Right Shoes
The most festive things to do in London are spread far and wide – which means you will likely be spending a lot of time on your feet. Make sure you pack a good pair of travel shoes for your trip. The best shoes are comfortable, lightweight and versatile. Shoes that are also waterproof might be the best choice for London at Christmastime!
The weather in London is unpredictable and it can fluctuate throughout the day. Therefore, for your Christmas trip to London, you will want to pack clothing that can be layered. A winter coat, gloves and hat may also be necessary. Additionally, you will want to pack a lightweight raincoat and a travel umbrella…just in case!
The top things to see in London at Christmas – from the decorated streets to the twinkling trees – are stunningly beautiful! You will want to capture all that beauty and upgrade to a real camera. We use a DSLR Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens. Not only does it take quality photos, but it is easy to use, comes with heaps of accessories and is a well-priced camera for budget travelers.
You will likely spend long days sightseeing and enjoying the best London things to do at Christmas – so you will want to make sure you have a good travel day bag. We typically like to carry small backpacks where we can stow our extra layers, gloves, hats, phones, wallets, cameras and keys. Use our tips for the best travel day bags.
UK Travel Insurance
As well as you plan your trip, there is always a chance something could go wrong. If you haven’t already purchased Travel Insurance, consider traveling protected with affordable rates and coverage with World Nomads.
More Christmas Places to Visit: UK and Beyond
If you are looking for more things to do in England at Christmas, consider exploring beyond London – and perhaps beyond England. Use our guides to top destinations near London for the holidays!
- The Best Things To See in Bath, UK
- Discover the City of Bristol
- Plan an Edinburgh Itinerary
- Spend a Day in Glasgow
- What To Do in Paris
We Want To Know: What are your favorite London Christmas Things To Do? Tell us in the comments!
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