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101 Christmas things to do in London

Aerial shot of Tower of London at night, with an ice rink lit up on the left and Tower Bridge lit up on the right
Discover all the magical things happening in London this Christmas. Credits: Arena Group, Historic Royal Palaces.
Christmas lights, ice skating, traditional markets, Christmas shows... make it a magical festive season with this guide to the best things to do in London at Christmas.

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 at Christmas

You'll find unique, iconic and unusual Christmas activities at venues across the capital, each with safety measures in place to ensure your safety: from pre-booked slots and socially distanced seats, to one-way systems and hand-sanitising stations.

Be sure to follow the latest coronavirus regulations and guidance while exploring London this Christmas, and remember to stay safe and act responsibly.

Some annual events and activities below are yet to be confirmed for Christmas 2020, so check back nearer the time for full details.

Experience magical Christmas attractions

  1. See the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London decked out for Christmas with Hogwarts in the Snow.
  2. Discover how Queen Victoria spent Christmas as a child at Kensington Palace.
  3. Marvel at the magnificent Christmas decorations as Windsor Castle is given a festive makeover fit for a queen.
  4. Take an enchanting journey into a glittering wonderland with Christmas at Kew at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
  5. A trip to the capital at Christmas wouldn't be complete without seeing the top 10 attractions in London.

Best Christmas tours

  1. Discover the best festive decorations on a magical open-top bus tour on Christmas Eve.
  2. Or enjoy a similar Christmas Day tour or Boxing Day tour with your camera in hand.
  3. Head out after dark and climb aboard a London by Night bus tour to see the lights.
  4. Hop on board a bus tour specially aimed at kids to help them discover stories of London at Christmas.
  5. Sip delicious winter warmers while enjoying stunning views of London on the Winter Bar Bus.
  6. Go at your own pace and see the sights with your own expert guide on a London Sightseeing Tour.
  7. Enjoy a self-guided tour of the City of London's key sights and festively decorated streets on the City Visitor Trail.

Find more London tours over the festive period.

See a London Christmas show

  1. Celebrate musical theatre and the festive season with the limited run of West End Musical Christmas – Live At The Palace. 17-20 Dec
  2. Watch Love Actually in Concert with a live orchestra at Eventim Apollo. 10-13 Dec
  3. Enjoy plenty of drag, cabaret and innuendo with The Pleasance Theatre's Queer Christmas Cabaret Season1-17 Dec
  4. Watch Tchaikovsky's enchanting Nutcracker Delights, an altered version of top scenes from the Nutcracker, performed by the English National Ballet at The London Coliseum. 3 Dec-3 Jan
  5. ...Or see a reworked version of the same Christmas classic streamed to cinemas, with the Royal Opera House's 2016 version of The Nutcracker. 10-24 Dec
  6. Enjoy Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved Stick Man live at Rose Theatre Kingston. 10 Dec-3 Jan
  7. Prepare yourself for a risqué, adult-only take on a classic tale with Snow White and the Seven Poofs at Sanctum Hotel. 11 Dec-3 Jan
  8. The London Palladium is going panto crazy again this year, as Julian Clary leads a star cast in laugh-a-minute Pantoland at The Palladium. 12 Dec-3 Jan
  9. Enjoy a side-splitting tour through seven pantomime classics in just 70 minutes with Potted Panto. 5 Dec-10 Jan
  10. Experience the magic of the festive season with shows spanning Handel's Messiah, big bands, ballets and carols during Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall. 9 Dec-10 Jan
  11. Join a pantomime based on the former Lord Mayor of London, as Dick Whittington comes to the Olivier Theatre at National Theatre. Dates TBC

Find more theatre and dedicated Christmas shows.

Christmas shopping in London

  1. Visit the West End's famous shopping streets, including flagship-lined Oxford Street, upscale Bond Street and elegant Regent Street.
  2. Look out for gourmet Christmas treats and hampers at Fortnum & Mason in St James's.
  3. Check out the spectacular window displays at Selfridges and go inside to explore its dedicated Christmas shop.
  4. Head to Covent Garden for a diverse mix of designer labels, vintage stores and high-street brands.
  5. Check out Carnaby’s independent shops and cool fashion boutiques.
  6. Be dazzled by baubles in one of London’s famous department stores’ dedicated Christmas shops, including Harrods and Liberty.
  7. Treat kids to a visit to one of London's top 10 toyshops.
  8. Explore the eclectic range of boutiques and designer labels on King's Road in Chelsea.
  9. Get all your Christmas shopping done after dark at these late-night shopping spots
  10. Find last-minute Christmas presents at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City.
  11. Bag bargains galore in the January sales that begin on Boxing Day.
  12. If you're not able to make it to London to pick up gifts this year, buy your loved ones London gift vouchers or luxury London gifts and experiences to use in the future.

Discover more Christmas shopping hotspots in London.

Go ice skating in London

  1. Enjoy magnificent views of Henry VIII's residence at the Hampton Court Palace ice rink. 20 Nov-3 Jan
  2. Show off your skills within the special surrounds of Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the Queen's House Ice Rink. 20 Nov-10 Jan
  3. Admire the London skyline as you skate around the rooftop ice rink at Skylight. TBC
  4. Learn to skate and take to the ice at the indoor Alexandra Palace ice rink.

Find more top winter ice rinks in London.

Watch Christmas films at a winter cinema

  1. Cosy up on a beanbag and enjoy a classic film in Winter at Southbank Centre's hidden cinema. TBC
  2. Venture though a beautiful ball pit river on your way to a festive screening in Backyard Cinema two festive spaces. Until 10 Jan
  3. Watch Christmas films in sumptuous surroundings at the Rivoli Ballroom's pop-up cinema. Until 11 Dec
  4. Enjoy a stunning cinematic Christmas experience set in a magical snow-filled wonderland at Pop-Up Peckham. 17 Nov-20 Dec

Discover more unique and unusual cinemas in London.

Get cosy in a Christmas winter pop-up

  1. Enter an adults’ playground at Winterland, with cocktails, fondue, DJ vibes and private forest cabins. Dates TBC
  2. Seek out seasonal treats at Skylight in Tobacco Dock, where the sunny terraces have been transformed into a wintry haven of warm igloos. Until 31 Jan
  3. Get cosy in Coppa Club's heated igloos decorated with twinkling lights.
  4. Soak up views of Tower Bridge from the cute winter terrace at The Tower Hotel. TBC
  5. Pick up some tasty treats at Jimmy Garcia's Winter Lodge on South Bank. Until 30 Dec
  6. Unwind with a drink in hand among a cosy winter forest of 200 trees, alpine lodges and log fires at Pergola Paddington. 12 Nov-Feb

Discover more winter pop-ups and rooftop bars in London.

Explore London Christmas markets

  1. Sip on mulled wine and look for gifts at Southbank Centre's Winter Market. 5 Nov-27 Dec
  2. Find unusual crafts and tuck into seasonal treats with Christmas by the River at London Bridge City. TBC
  3. Explore antiques and jewellery under pretty lights at Greenwich MarketTBC
  4. Browse the wares of independent British retailers at Westfield London's Christmas market. TBC
  5. Wrap up warm to browse the glitzy market stalls at Christmas in Leicester SquareTBC
  6. Amble around Kingston's Christmas market, overflowing with foodie treats, lovely decorations and handmade crafts. TBC

Look for stocking fillers at more Christmas markets in London.

Find Christmas activities for the family in London

  1. Take the little ones to the magical Snowflake Grotto at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City. Keep an eye out for grottos popping up across the city! TBC
  2. Help the elves at the Royal Albert Hall save Christmas at the My Christmas Orchestral Adventure. 13 Dec
  3. Pop in to the Museum of London Docklands or Museum of London and travel back in time to Victorian London for festive Family Missions. 7 Dec-3 Jan
  4. Enjoy The Magic of Christmas at ZSL London Zoo for craft activities, film screenings and festive animal-themed fun. 28 Nov-24 Dec
  5. Round up the troops and embark on a day trip to Windsor Castle.
  6. Attend an advent, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day church service at venues across London, including St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Various dates

Treat the kids to more family fun in London.

Be dazzled by Christmas lights in London

  1. Marvel at more than 300,000 Christmas lights above Regent Street, alongside glowing spirits.
  2. See the beautiful Oxford Street Christmas lights shimmer above the world-famous shopping district.
  3. Check out the lights twinkling across the 14 streets of cool Carnaby, including Carnaby Street's Insta-worthy illuminations.
  4. Admire the gorgeous mistletoe chandeliers at Covent Garden, and explore the magical Christmas lights in nearby Seven Dials.
  5. See the luxurious area of Bond Street sparkle with magnificent Christmas lights.
  6. Grab a selfie under the arches along South Molton Street, some of London's most unique Christmas lights.
  7. Head over to Chelsea to see Duke of York Square gloriously dressed in festive lights.
  8. Stroll along the South Bank with a bag of roasted chestnuts and be dazzled by the Christmas lights twinkling next to the Thames.
  9. Look out for London’s magnificent Christmas trees decked in lights, including the world-famous tree in Trafalgar Square.

Discover more Christmas lights in London from mid-November until January.

Feast on festive food and drink

  1. Watch Christmas cooking demonstrations, pick up festive treats and more at Hampton Court Palace's Festive Fayre. 4-6 Dec and 11-13 Dec
  2. Dine on a spectacular four-course dinner and then take to the dance floor at the Festive Live event at The Ritz London. 26 Nov-30 Dec
  3. Enjoy a festive cocktail at one of London's best drinking spots.
  4. Treat yourself to a jolly Christmas-themed afternoon tea.  
  5. Check out the food stalls full of bratwurst, hot toddies and more seasonal fare at London's top Christmas markets.
  6. Share a fondue with friends at a one of London's top cheese spots.
  7. Snuggle up in front of a crackling fire in a cosy pub.
  8. Soak up the seasonal cheer at one of London's pop-up winter rooftop bars.
  9. Find seasonal produce such as gingerbread and hot mulled cider at Borough Market.
  10. Make a Christmas toast at one of London's champagne bars.

Best Christmas trees in London

  1. Head to Windsor Castle, the location of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding, to see its traditional Nordmann Fir tree as the royal residence is transformed for Christmas.

  2. See one of the largest Christmas trees in London shine beautifully above the cobbled streets of the 19th-century Covent Garden piazza.

  3. Visit luxurious Mayfair hotel Claridge’s London Christmas tree, which is created by a different designer each year.

  4. Fill your Instagram with snaps of one of the quirkiest Christmas trees London has to offer at St Pancras International station.

  5. Discover Liberty London's annual tree installation floating above the central atrium.

Virtual Christmas things to do

  1. If you're not yet able to visit, you can still experience London from your sofa this Christmas with our pick of things to do from home.
  2. Join the London Philharmonic Orchestra's free-to-view In the Stream of Life concerts, filmed live from its Southbank Centre home. Until 30 Dec
  3. Enjoy more than 40 online events as part of Southbank Centre's Inside Out series, mixing top names in comedy, literature and music. Many events are free, with others available for as little as £5. Until 30 Dec
  4. Be transported, virtually, to the Barbican's stage with 12 Live from the Barbican performances from the likes of Sir Bryn Terfel, The Divine Comedy and Shabaka Hutchings. Until 13 Dec
  5. Relive classic London films from your collection, whether it's the Christmas stalwart Love Actually or family favourites Paddington and Mary Poppins.

Outdoor Christmas things to do in London

  1. Watch swimmers brave the icy waters of Hyde Park’s Serpentine to compete in the Peter Pan Cup. 25 Dec TBC
  2. See London from the water on the Jingle Bell Blast boat tour with Thames Rockets.
  3. Stroll along the South Bank to enjoy the gorgeous riverside views.
  4. Walk off those festive treats with an amble around one of London’s beautiful parks.
  5. Pick up foodie gifts and snap away at the iconic lanterns and gates in vibrant Chinatown, which has many restaurants open on Christmas Day.
  6. Work off those mince pies with adrenaline-fuelled activities, such as the Up at The O2 climb or Tottenham Hotspur Stadium's Dare Skywalk. 

Culture at Christmas

  1. Study works by amateur artists and big names as the Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibition runs over the festive period for the first time. Until 3 Jan
  2. Explore what living in an artificial intelligence-driven world could look like with Driverless: Who is in control? at the Science Museum. Until 5 Jan
  3. Visit the National Gallery for a groundbreaking exhibition of Titian’s works at the Titian: Love, Desire, Death exhibition. Until 17 Jan
  4. See the works of one of Britain’s greatest artists with Turner's Modern World at Tate Britain. From 28 Oct

Discover more cultural highlights with the capital's top art exhibitions and see our pick of the best museum exhibitions.

What next?

  1. Start planning your New Year's Eve in London celebrations!

For more festive ideas, check out our guide to Christmas in London, including the best London Christmas lights and top Christmas shows. Find even more seasonal suggestions with our pick of 101 winter activities.

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