Christmas in London: weekend itinerary

Plan a Christmas weekend trip to London and enjoy all the British capital has to offer during the festive season.

Browse traditional Christmas markets, enjoy outdoor ice-skating, witness glittering festive lights and catch seasonal events and shows. Start your countdown to Christmas with our suggestions for a magical weekend in London.

Some activities are not yet confirmed – check back later in the year for Christmas 2019 events and activities

Friday in London

Evening: enjoy a Christmas show

Kick-start your Christmas weekend in London with a magical seasonal show to spark that festive feeling. There’s always plenty to choose from, including Christmas pantomimes and seasonal ballet performances.

If you fancy a bite to eat first, try one of the many affordable pre-theatre menus on offer at London restaurants in and around the West End.

To round off the night, get cosy in a private igloo as you wrap up in a sheepskin blanket and order a festive cocktail at Coppa Club, near Tower Bridge. Or head to the South Bank for stunning views of the river Thames from the annual winter market.

Saturday in London 

Morning: Christmas shopping hotspots

Get up early to beat the crowds at famous London Christmas shopping destinations such as Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street. Here, you can visit some of the capital’s most popular department stores, including John Lewis, Selfridges, Fenwick and Liberty, or high-street stores such as Topshop and Primark.

Afterwards, pay a festive visit to Harrods in Knightsbridge, an Instagrammer's haven with food halls, luxury goods and impressive window displays.

Take the short trip to Greenwich's exciting shopping destination Icon at The O2. Featuring more than 80 stores from top brands, it's the perfect spot to tick most Christmas shopping items off your list.

Alternatively, grab fashionable seasonal bargains at Hackney Walk in east London, where discount outlet stores include Joseph and Aquascutum.

Afternoon: wizarding wonders at Hogwarts in the Snow

You’ll have worked up an appetite. So, savour international delights from the countless food stalls at Borough Market; indulge in a quintessentially British afternoon tea with a festive twist; or head east to Skylight or Dinerama for tasty street food treats.

Harry Potter fans won’t want to miss Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Get a behind-the-scenes look at how the movies were made and see Hogwarts covered in snow for Christmas.

Alternatively, get your skates on at Somerset House as you whizz around a seasonal ice-skating rink housed in the venue's iconic courtyard. Make sure to stay for Skate Lates: late-night sessions with rink-side DJs. For a unique winter sport, give curling a go at Roof East, opposite Westfield Stratford City.

Evening: festive food and Christmas lights

Treat yourself to a Saturday-night dinner in central London, where Chinatown restaurants dish up food spanning Asia and beyond; while quirky courtyard Kingly Court offers eclectic eateries in trendy Soho.

As darkness falls, it's time to seek out London's best festive lights. Start with Carnaby Street, which always has some of the coolest Christmas lights in town, before venturing to the famous Christmas lights on Oxford Street and Regent Street, or the charming streets of Seven Dials and St Christopher’s Place.

For festive entertainment, hear traditional carols sung under the giant tree on Trafalgar Square or head to Covent Garden for street performances in the piazza.

Sunday in London 

Morning: Sunday brunch 

Get your Sunday in London off to a good start with a hearty brunch – that’s what Sunday mornings are made for, after all! The Delaunay’s pancake stacks are legendary, as is brunch at Duck & Waffle, 40 floors above the City of London.

Once refuelled, enjoy some seasonal sightseeing with a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to catch the capital’s famous landmarks in all their festive glory.

Afternoon: time to hit the Christmas markets

A visit to one of London’s Christmas markets is the best way to spend a festive Sunday afternoon. Christmas by the River at London Bridge features a variety of stalls, set against iconic landmarks such as Tower Bridge and The Shard; while the Southbank Centre’s Christmas market is perfect for unique Christmas gifts and festive food and drink.

For the ultimate Christmas experience in London, head to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. Browse the alpine chalets for handcrafted gifts, hit the fairground rides, glide around the ice rink, enjoy the circus and comedy shows, or feast on German sausage in the Bavarian Village. 

For an alternative take on Christmas, visit Winterville on Clapham Common, featuring ice-skating, a roller disco and cosy cinema for festive movies.

Evening: exciting illuminations

Round off a Christmas weekend in London at Christmas at Kew: London’s beautiful botanical gardens are illuminated by thousands of festive lights, set to a soundtrack of seasonal classics.

ZSL London Zoo is another of London’s attractions to receive a magical makeover. Once the animals have gone to bed, a mile-long trail illuminates the grounds with twinkling lights, vintage fairground rides come to life, and mulled wine and roasted chestnuts offer a warming treat.

There's just enough time to end your Christmas weekend in London with a classic British experience: a visit to a cosy London pub. Snuggle up in front of a crackling fire and enjoy pub grub and a drink or two.

For more magical things to do in London, check out our fun-packed guide to Christmas and start planning where to stay in London for your festive break.