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23 things to do in London on Christmas Day

It's the one day of the year when London feels quiet, so immerse yourself in a different side of this enchanting city on Christmas Day in London.

Soak up plenty of seasonal cheer with our guide to what to do in London on Christmas Day. You could be celebrating with Londoners in cosy restaurants over Christmas dinner, wandering streets adorned with shimmering Christmas lights or taking in the festive atmosphere by a crackling fire in London’s pubs.

Enjoy a Christmas Day out in London

Tower Bridge and the surrounding walkway in the snow on a sunny Christmas day

Make this Christmas Day even more memorable with special tours and day trips.

  1. Experience London’s spectacular Christmas lights and see iconic landmarks sparkle during a Christmas Lights open top bus tour.
  2. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of London during a morning tour or an afternoon tour aboard a luxurious coach. You'll spot iconic spots such as Tower BridgeHouses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square.
  3. Discover the beauty of the city at night with a guided Christmas Lights London by Night tour.
  4. Sing along to carols as you sip on bubbly and munch on traditional Christmas lunch in London, on a Christmas Day river cruise and guided city tour.
  5. Cause FOMO back home with colourful snaps of sparkling London Christmas lights on a Christmas day hop-on hop-off bus tour.

What is open on Christmas day in London?

A woman wearing a green ornament on her head while swimming. Credits: Serpentine Swimming Club.

Most London attractions are closed on Christmas Day, but some continue to open their doors at this special time of year:

  1. JW3 ice rink in north London is usually one of the city's only ice-skating rinks open on Christmas Day.
  2. If you fancy a family walk, London's Royal Parks remain open on 25 December.
  3. Or head to The Serpentine lake in Hyde Park, where the tough members of the Serpentine Swimming Club take part in the Peter Pan Cup race every Christmas Day morning.

Christmas Day church services in London

St Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge in the snow on a sunny day.

  1. Attend one of the many Christmas Day services in London’s cathedrals and churches, including the magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral.

Remember to check timings with the individual venues in advance and arrive early, as Christmas services can be very busy due to limited space. Some require you to book in advance.

Christmas Day transport in London

Just as Santa takes a well-earned rest, so does London’s public transport on Christmas Day, with no services running. But there are alternative ways to explore the city:

  1. Hop on a Santander Cycle and take a ride beneath the festive decorations lining central London’s nearly deserted streets.
  2. Walk off those Christmas calories (and make room for more) by exploring London on foot; you’ll have the city’s beautiful architecturestreet art and parks largely to yourself.
  3. Rest your feet and fill your feed as you snuggle up on a Christmas Day bus tour and cruise.
  4. Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour, allowing you to explore the city at your own pace over 24 hours.
  5. Treat yourself to a ride in a traditional black cab or minicab – but be aware, the fares are generally higher than usual.

Which restaurants open on Christmas Day in London?

  1. Check if your favourite London restaurant is open on Christmas Day. Make sure to book well in advance for Christmas Day lunch or dinner in London.
  2. Head to Chinatown – where some restaurants are open as usual on 25 December – to indulge in a delicious alternative to your traditional Christmas fill.
  3. If you prefer to nestle in a cosy pub, some London pubs are open for a few hours around lunchtime, but most will be closed or ticketed in the evening – so make sure to check the opening hours.
  4. Hotel bars are a good bet for a drink on Christmas Day, though it's still best to check with the venue in advance.

Things to do in London on Boxing Day

Ice skaters enjoying themselves at the Natural History Museum's open-air ice rink after dark.

Once the gifts are unpacked and bellies are filled, it’s time for the Boxing Day extravaganza, which is also a public holiday, on 26 December.

Last year, for the first time on Boxing Day, London Overground services were running across the city – TfL services for Boxing Day 2021 are yet to be confirmed.

Although many attractions are usually still closed, there are many fun things to do in London on Boxing Day:

  1. Book tickets in advance for a top West End show or musical, many of which run on Boxing Day.
  2. Continue the festive cheer on Boxing day and see the city sparkle with a Christmas Lights open top bus tour.
  3. Venture outside of London on a day trip, from a morning tour of Stonehenge to a tour in Kent taking in Leeds Castle, Dover and Canterbury; a visit to Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle; or venture west of London on a combined Windsor Castle, Bath, Stonehenge and Salisbury tour.
  4. Hit the shops: there’s nothing like a January and Boxing Day sale in London! Check out the unmissable spots to visit on the day.
  5. Take a spin on one of London's best ice-skating rinks, many of which re-open on 26 December.

Find out more about transport and opening times over the festive season with this essential guide to Christmas and New Year in London, and plan your festive break with top tips for Christmas in London.


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