Book Christmas activities
The mercury might be lower but London gets the temperature rising with all sorts of wintry treats to keep you coming back throughout the season.
Just remember to keep safe, follow the latest government guidelines and act responsibly when out and about.
Don't forget to put on some extra layers to keep you warm, as London winter temperatures average between 2C and 10C (35F and 50F).
Top winter activities in London
There are so many unmissable London events this winter, from the iconic to the downright quirky.
Magical London December events
- Smartphones at the ready... Snap away at Christmas at Kew’s mile-long trail, including incredible light displays and immersive installations. 4 Dec-17 Jan
- Let the kids become zoo keepers’ little helpers as part of ZSL London Zoo’s Christmas activities. 3 Dec-3 Jan
- Watch brave swimmers in the Peter Pan Cup, as they take a dip in the chilly Serpentine Lake on Christmas Day. 25 Dec
Check out more December ideas.
Top London January events
- Be left speechless by mime performances online at the annual London International Mime Festival. 18-31 Jan
- Catch short films from emerging filmmakers at the London Short Film Festival. 15-24 Jan
- Gaze in wonder at the Connected by Light festival, which creates a trail of Insta-worthy installations at Canary Wharf. 2 Dec-27 Feb
- Start or add to your art collection at the online London Art Fair, which brings contemporary artists and buyers together with displays, talks and screenings. From 18 Jan
- Enjoy all things Scottish during Burns Night in January, celebrating the birth of Scotland's national icon, Robert Burns – whisky bars are good starting points... 25 Jan
Find more things to do in January.
London February events for your diary
- Keep an eye out for talks, walks and more as part of LGBT History Month, which celebrates equality and diversity every February. 1-28 Feb
- Mark the arrival of the Year of the Ox with London’s Chinese New Year celebrations which fall around 12 February this year. Look out for special menus in Chinatown restaurants.
- Book a London winter break during February for the ultimate Valentine’s Day treat – check out the top tips for ramping up the romance in London. 14 Feb
- Embrace your inner fashionista with catwalk shows and expert talks during London Fashion Week and London Fashion Weekend. 19-23 Feb
- Join one of London’s many Pancake Day races or simply eat your way through a mound of the scrumptious treats. On and around 16 Feb
Discover more February activities.
Experience Christmas in London
London takes on a magical feel over Christmas, with lights, markets, trees and lots of fun events across the capital. Shop till you drop or enjoy festive food and drink.
Insta-worthy Christmas festivals
- Order a drink and get cosy among the alpine lodges and log fires at Pergola Paddington's Miracle on Kingdom Street. 3 Dec-Feb
- Or head to Peckham to seek out quirky crafts and feast on seasonal treats with Pexmas at the Copeland Gallery. 12-20 Dec
Fill your stocking with more Christmas in London ideas.
Enchanting Christmas activities
- Watch London’s best Christmas trees sparkle, as they pop up in every corner of the city.
- Take to the ice and go skating at Hampton Court Palace. 5 Dec-17 Jan
- Marvel at the capital’s famous twinkling Christmas lights and decorations in shopping areas such as Carnaby, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly and South Molton Street.
- Join a special Christmas carol service or concert.
- Get in a festive mood by watching A Christmas Carol – The Musical Staged Concert. 7 Dec-2 Jan
- Or see Adam Kay's Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas. 21 Dec-3 Jan
Find more festive ideas with these 101 Christmas activities.
Virtual Christmas things to do
Feast on festive food and drink
Spend New Year in London
- Book onto a memorable New Year’s Eve bus tour. 31 Dec
- Celebrate the end of 2020 and welcome in the new year by enjoying performances from popular artists and cultural groups with London’s New Year’s Day Parade live online. 1 Jan
- Find more things to do in London on New Year's Eve.
Plan your New Year’s Eve in London.
What's new this winter?
Have your finger on the pulse with new shows and exhibitions this winter.
Must-see new exhibitions in London
- Don’t miss treasures relocated from Woburn Abbey at Queen’s House in Greenwich, including paintings by Van Dyck, Canaletto and Gainsborough. Until Easter
Stay south of the river for Southbank Centre's Winter Light open-air exhibition. 20 Nov-28 Feb
Don't miss the last chance to see the evolution of fashion trends and the popular accessory in Bags: Inside Out. From 12 Dec
Be amazed by the wonders of the natural world with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum. From 3 Dec
- Visit Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers at the Design Museum. Until 14 Feb
Top London winter activities
From mid-November through December, January and into February, it’s a true winter wonderland in London. So get out and explore with a walk over frosty leaves or snuggle up in a cosy pub in front of a crackling fire.
Winter walks in London
- Work off those extra Christmas calories with a walk on a crisp winter's day in London’s parks and gardens.
- Go all botanical this winter with a stroll through Kew Gardens. A Woodland Walk and Log Trail await.
- Find the deer in Richmond Park – the largest Royal Park in London.
- Spot the pelicans and parakeets at St James's Park near Buckingham Palace.
- Walk the Regent's Canal from Camden Lock to King's Cross.
- Discover the memorials and cycle beside the Serpentine in Hyde Park.
- Delve into secret spots, historic tales, street art and more on one of London’s best walking tours.
Find more outdoor winter activities in London.
Virtual things to do this winter
- Go behind the scenes and see the Houses of Parliament virtually, including the House of Commons Chamber.
- Watch the English National Ballet's Akram Khan's Giselle, La Sylphide, Dust and more with Ballet on Demand (from £3.49).
- Log into Shakespeare’s Globe’s online platform and enjoy free content from the world-famous theatre with the Globe Player.
- Hear Shakespearean works every week with The Show Must Go Online. Wednesdays at 7pm
- Listen to The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington by Sleeping Trees (from £5). 1-31 Dec
- Recreate some of Carnaby’s eateries' top dishes, including The Detox Kitchen, Dishoom and Pizza Pilgrims and more.
- Visit the National Gallery without leaving the house – see hundreds of paintings and enjoy hours of exploration.
- Learn more about the objects that shaped history with the British Museum’s virtual tour.
- Find out what's hidden within the Royal Museums Greenwich through videos, talks and archived material.
- Tune into Glitterbox Virtual Festivals for events and DJ sets from London-based label Defected Records.
- Experience Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers – The Virtual Tour, and other virtual experiences from the Design Museum. From 17 Dec
- Have some Harry Potter-themed fun with activities from Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
Find more things to do at home this winter.
Pick up gifts and bargains
- Keep an eye out for special tickets and offers during Black Friday. 27 Nov
- Explore Camden Market with stalls selling everything from quirky fashion to delicious street food.
- Bag yourself a bargain during the London winter sales.
- Find gifts for all the special people in your life at London’s top shopping hotspots, from high street brands on Oxford Street, to upscale boutiques in Bond Street and St James’s, or beauty and fashion at Covent Garden, Carnaby and Belgravia.
- Walk around historic Greenwich Market and look for gifts from British designer-makers.
- Browse the stalls overflowing with handmade goods and quirky knick-knacks at London’s Christmas markets.
- Visit the pop-up Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre.
- Check out London’s coolest department stores, full of trendy threads and quirky homewares.
- Work your way through the 101 best shops in London – the perfect excuse to keep coming back on regular shopping sprees.
Delve into more London shopping inspiration.
Family fun this winter
- Treat the kids to London’s top family attractions and follow these 101 FOMO-inducing tips for teenagers.
- Go ice skating in the shadow of some of London’s most famous landmarks at an open-air ice rink.
- If you’re mad about Harry Potter, head to Hogwarts in the Snow to see the famous movie sets festively dressed for winter in London. 3 Dec-17 Jan
- Enjoy more than 10 days of culture for kids aged 11 and under during the annual Imagine children’s festival at the Southbank Centre. Dates TBC
- Make memories with fun activities during the February half-term holiday. 13-21 Feb
Find more family activities.
See the sights
- Make sure to visit London’s top attractions, many of which host special wintry events and activities throughout the season.
- Pick up a London Pass for access to more than 80 attractions and fast-track entry, opt for a London Explorer Pass to use in a 60-day period, or visit some of London’s most popular family attractions with a Merlin attractions pass.
- Discover London in its wintry coat from the comfort of a bus tour or river tour.
- On a clear winter's day, marvel at views of the city from one of its many viewpoints. The View from The Shard, Sky Garden, Emirates Air Line or the London Eye are perfect for 360-degree shots.
- Go on new adventures in neighbourhoods outside central London, including Brent, which is the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture in 2020.
Find more tips for sightseeing in London.
- Hit up your feed at one of London’s quirky bars this winter, many of which serve seasonal tipples.
- Hatch a plan at one of London’s top escape rooms, or go on a quest for crystals at the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience.
- Take a boat trip and see the Illuminated River light installation at some of London’s Thames bridges.
Fuel up on comfort food
- Get a winter pick-me-up with an afternoon tea. Indulge in a traditional afternoon tea, go quirky with an unusual tea, celebrate with bubbles, or enjoy the treat for less with cheaper options.
- The winter chill is the perfect excuse to tuck into warming Sunday roasts.
- Raclette, toasties, fondue… Whatever your cheesy craving, London’s best cheese hotspots are oozing with delicious bites.
- It’s National Pie Day on 23 Jan (who knew that was a thing?). Bite into tasty pastry from London’s top pie shops.
- Try street food from Borough Market, or cook new recipes with Borough Market’s online sessions on IGTV.
Munch on more foodie treats.
Find a new you
- Stick to those New Year’s resolutions by visiting healthy eateries across the city.
- Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or just dabbling, Veganuary is the perfect excuse to enjoy vegan and vegetarian delights this January.
- Get on yer bike, as you hire a Santander Cycle for endless exploring, all from £2 a day. Visit parks, ride along the Thames or explore Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
- Take part in daily sessions from Inner Space and enjoy some calmness.
- Try classes with Third Space's personal trainers and yoga teachers on IGTV.
- Seek out these outdoor spots for exercising for a healthy and active winter.
Budget London ideas
- Strapped for cash after Christmas and New Year? Check out these 101 free ideas to explore.
- Explore London's many free museums and galleries, which are full of world-class objects and artworks.
- Seek out the capital's top free attractions, perfect for an action-packed day out on the cheap.
- Make use of top offers on shows, restaurants and more.
- See shows for less by picking up cheap theatre tickets.
- Refuel with London's best cheap eats, or dine at the city’s best budget lunch spots or cheap restaurants.
- You don't need to splash out to have a fun evening in the capital, check out these tips for a cheap night out.
Save more with these tips on budget London activities.
Enjoy cosy London winter evenings
- Defrost in front of a roaring fire at a snug London pub with a mug of mulled wine.
- Scale the heights to a heated rooftop bar, where you can soak up sunset views across London and enjoy winter pop-up activities and music.
- Find one of London's best spots for alfresco dining in winter.
- Experience culture after dark with immersive experiences, DJ sets and more at a late-night London museum opening.
- Head to London’s West End to catch a spectacular theatre show.
- Pick a film and cosy up in one of London's unusual and unique cinemas.
Check out our events calendar for more special events in winter in London. Plan your winter break in London with our pick of things to do in London each month, guide to what's on in London and pick of what's on every weekend.