101 things to do in London in winter

 Two acrobats hold another acrobat in a trapeze on stage in the low-lit surrounds of The Vaults, during VAULT Festival.
Acrobats performing at VAULT Festival. Image courtesy of South Bank Employers' Group.
Put on your trendiest bobble hat and take your pick from these top London winter 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. 

Experience the magic of Christmas in London, snap away at London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks or join the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia, just some of the many must-see winter events in London.

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 events in London

There are so many unmissable London events this winter, from the iconic to the downright quirky.

Top London January events

  1. Be left speechless by mime performances at the annual London International Mime Festival. 8 Jan-2 Feb
  2. Catch short films from emerging filmmakers at the London Short Film Festival. 10-19 Jan
  3. Beat the winter blues with top acts at the January Blues Festival. 15-31 Jan
  4. Gaze in wonder at the Winter Lights Festival, which creates a trail of Insta-worthy installations at Canary Wharf. 16-25 Jan
  5. See magic, comedy, music and more as deaf performers take to the stage during RAD Live, at the Rose Theatre in Kingston. 19 Jan
  6. Start or add to your art collection at the London Art Fair, which brings contemporary artists and buyers together with displays, talks and screenings. 22-26 Jan
  7. 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
  8. Mark the arrival of the Year of the Rat at London’s Chinese New Year celebrations (26 Jan). Keep an eye out for events across the city, from special menus in Chinatown restaurants, to craft workshops and performances at the National Maritime Museum (25 Jan).
  9. Celebrate 250 years since Beethoven’s birth during Classical Season at Southbank Centre or in a range of concerts, an exhibition and a Beethoven Weekender at Barbican.

Find more things to do in January.

London February events for your diary

  1. Keep an eye out for talks, walks and more as part of LGBT History Month, which celebrates equality and diversity every February. 1-29 Feb
  2. Go crazy for choreography at Fest en Fest, a festival of dance performances, talks, discussions and parties. 7-9 Feb
  3. Enjoy a loved-up look at the universe with a Valentine’s planetarium show at Peter Harrison Planetarium. 8 and 14 Feb
  4. Book a London winter break during February for the ultimate Valentine’s Day treat – check out our top tips for ramping up the romance in London. 14 Feb
  5. Embrace your inner fashionista with catwalk shows and expert talks during London Fashion Week (14-18 Feb) and London Fashion Weekend (27 Feb-1 Mar).
  6. Get your fix of much-loved and emerging cask ales at Cask 2020, which hosts 30 breweries and talks in Peckham. 21-22 Feb
  7. Or quench your thirst at craft beer festival BrewLDN, featuring 150 of the world’s best brewers. 27-29 Feb

Discover more February activities.

Quirky London winter events

  1. Follow a trail of magical lanterns, light installations and live performances at Lightopia in Chiswick House and Grounds. 22 Jan-1 Mar
  2. Wonder at the array of unusual performances during VAULT Festival at South Bank’s The Vaults, taking in cabaret, comedy, immersive acts and more. 28 Jan-22 Mar
  3. Spend a free night in Café Rouge’s cheese-themed hotel suite with your own on-demand cheese hotline and even cheese soap. 29 Jan-6 Feb
  4. Be prepared for polar bear hugs as you take on the London Winter Run; or watch on from the sidelines. 9 Feb
  5. Join one of London’s many Pancake Day races or simply eat your way through a mound of the scrumptious treats. On and around 25 Feb
  6. Join the teams as you embark on a game show that’s full of foodie fun at Gingerline's TV Dinners. Various dates

Discover more events in London this winter.

Be the first to see new shows in London

  1. Be mesmerised by daredevil stunts with Cirque du Soleil's Luzia.
  2. Discover a reimagined take on Shakespeare’s classic love story at & Juliet, which is set to pop anthems from the last 30 years. Ongoing
  3. Laugh at the hilarious attempts of magicians to wow an audience with Magic Goes Wrong. Until 15 Mar
  4. Venture back to ancient Egypt, as two brothers’ lives take different paths in The Prince of Egypt. From 5 Feb
  5. Go barmy for ballroom as Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour comes to The O2. 7-9 Feb
  6. Follow Jeremy’s quest to become cool as the hit Broadway high school musical sensation, Be More Chill, lands in London. From 12 Feb
  7. Treat your loved one to tickets for Pretty Woman around Valentine’s Day. From 13 Feb
  8. See the return of one of the West End’s most iconic shows, Les Misérables, as it opens at the Sondheim Theatre. From 23 Dec
  9. Be introduced to opera with free Live at Lunch performances at the Royal Opera House. Or see Verdi’s La Traviata at the Royal Opera House, Bizet’s Carmen at the London Coliseum or new one-act opera Prisoner of the State at Barbican this winter.

Find more theatre shows in London.

Must-see new exhibitions in London

  1. Grab the last chance to see 150 treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb before they return to Egypt. 2 Nov-3 May
  2. Separate myth from reality at The British Museum, which takes you back 3,000 years with Troy: Myth and Reality. 21 Nov-8 Mar
  3. Chart the careers of Sweden’s most famous band as you delve into the lives of its members with ABBA: Super Troupers: The Exhibition at The O2. 6 Dec-31 Aug
  4. See works by two of the UK’s top emerging photographers, Silvia Rosi and Theo Simpson – who were selected for the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2020 – at Jerwood Arts. 15 Jan-8 Mar
  5. Get under the skin of mushrooms with Somerset House’s fun(gi) filled exhibition, Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi. 31 Jan-26 Apr
  6. Cafe tablecloths, newspapers, collages… You name it, Picasso has worked with it! Explore the artist’s relationship with paper in Royal Academy’s Picasso and Paper exhibition. 25 Jan-13 Apr
  7. Learn more about one of the world's greatest artists with Meet Vincent van Gogh, a unique immersive experience, taking in projections and interactive installations at South Bank. 7 Feb-21 May
  8. Become immersed in video works and installations by 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen, at Tate Modern. 13 Feb-11 May
  9. See all three surviving versions of Queen Elizabeth I's Armada Portrait together for the first time, at The Queen’s House, Greenwich… 13 Feb-31 Aug
  10. …And don’t miss treasures relocated from Woburn Abbey while you’re there, including paintings by Van Dyck, Canaletto and Gainsborough. 13 Feb-17 Jan 2021
  11. Study portraits in pencil from David Hockney, as the first major exhibition devoted to his drawings in more than 20 years opens at the National Portrait Gallery. 27 Feb-28 Jun
  12. Check out the latest additions to the collection at Bond in Motion at the London Film Museum, including an Aston Martin DB5 stunt replica with bullet holes.

See more museum and gallery exhibitions in London.

New openings in London this winter

  1. Test your nerve as you play crazy golf with a difference as Puttshack brings its tech-filled fun to the City of London. Open now
  2. Treat the kids to all the latest must-haves at new arrival FAO Schwarz in Selfridges... Open now
  3. ...And while there, why not settle down to a film at newly-opened The Cinema at Selfridges. Open now
  4. Explore the world’s largest medical galleries at the newly opened Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries, at the Science Museum. Open now
  5. Take a walk through big screen history, with the new Scenes in the Square sculpture trail in Leicester Square. From 27 Feb

New restaurant openings in London this winter

  1. Pick from the 11 street food traders and four bars at the UK’s largest food hall Market Hall West End. Open now
  2. Explore two floors of vendors, a rooftop bar and basement wine cellar as Mercato Mayfair moves into St Mark's a former church. Open now
  3. Head to Davies and Brook for fine dining from Daniel Humm of leading NYC eatery Eleven Madison Park, which once topped the World’s Top 50 Restaurants list. Open now
  4. Savour dishes inspired by Tom Aikens’ career in the celeb chef’s new restaurant, Muse, in Belgravia. Open now
  5. Snap away at the Insta-worthy cork bottle wall and sample top-notch tipples at 28°-50° Wine Bar & Kitchen at Seven Dials. Open now
  6. Pick up sticky sweet treats from Oklava Bakery + Wine in Fitzrovia. From 21 Jan
  7. Munch on Tawianese-style “night market” fried chicken at Soho’s Mr Ji. Open now

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.

Family fun this winter

  1. Treat the kids to London’s top family attractions and follow our 101 FOMO-inducing tips for teenagers.
  2. Go ice skating in the shadow of some of London’s most famous landmarks at an open-air ice rink. 
  3. 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. 16 Nov-26 Jan
  4. Enjoy 12 days of culture for kids aged 11 and under during the annual Imagine children’s festival at the Southbank Centre. 12-23 Feb 
  5. Make memories with fun activities during the February half-term holiday. 15-23 Feb

Find more family activities.

Pick up gifts and bargains

  1. Bag yourself a bargain during the London winter sales
  2. 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.  
  3. Check out London’s coolest department stores, full of trendy threads and quirky homewares.
  4. Work your way through our pick of 101 best shops in London – the perfect excuse to keep coming back on regular shopping sprees.

Delve into more London shopping inspiration.

See the sights

  1. Make sure to visit London’s top attractions, many of which host special wintry events and activities throughout the season.
  2. 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 30-day period, or visit some of London’s most popular family attractions with a Merlin attractions pass.
  3. Discover London in its wintry coat from the comfort of a bus tour or river tour.
  4. 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 Coca-Cola London Eye are perfect for 360-degree shots.
  5. Go on new adventures in neighbourhoods outside central London, including Brent, which is the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture in 2020.
  6. Gaze at the inner workings of humans with real preserved bodies at Body Worlds – visit on 31 January for meditation and mindfulness after-hours sessions.

Find more tips for sightseeing in London.

Unmissable experiences

  1. Be transported into the lives of the Shelby family in thrilling dining experience Peaky Blinded, inspired by hit show Peaky Blinders; or act as super sleuth during a Murder Mystery dinner at R.S. Hispaniola. Various dates
  2. Hit up your feed at one of London’s quirky bars this winter, many of which serve seasonal tipples – wrap up warm at Icebar London or experience 1940s London at Cahoots.
  3. Grab some friends and hatch a plan at one of London’s top escape rooms, or go on a quest for crystals at the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience.
  4. Seek out haunted spots and hear chilling tales on an after-hours Docks After Dark tour of Museum of London Docklands. Various dates
  5. Tour some of London’s disused Underground stations with Hidden London tours, including a new tour taking in the tunnels of Moorgate.
  6. Take a trip with Thames Clippers to see the Illuminated River light installation at some of London’s Thames bridges. Various dates

Winter walks in London

  1. Work off those extra Christmas calories with a walk on a crisp winter's day in London’s parks and gardens.
  2. Join one of the Museum of London’s winter walks, spanning gruesome history, Roman remains and London’s relationship with gin. Various dates
  3. Go all botanical this winter with a stroll through Kew Gardens. A Woodland Walk, Log Trail and vertigo-inducing Treetop Walkway await.
  4. Delve into secret spots, historic tales, street art and more on one of London’s best walking tours.

Fuel up on comfort food

  1. 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.
  2. The winter chill is the perfect excuse to tuck into warming Sunday roasts
  3. Raclette, toasties, fondue… Whatever your cheesy craving, London’s best cheese hotspots are oozing with delicious bites.
  4. It’s National Pie Day on 23 Jan (who knew that was a thing?). Bite into tasty pastry from London’s top pie shops.

Munch on more foodie treats.

Find a new you

  1. Stick to those New Year’s resolutions by visiting healthy eateries across the city. 
  2. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or just dabbling, Veganuary is the perfect excuse to enjoy vegan and vegetarian delights this January.
  3. Get on yer bike, as you hire a Santander Cycle for endless exploring, all for just £2 a day. Visit parks, ride along the Thames or explore Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
  4. Take part in wellbeing workshops, including alcohol-free cocktail masterclasses and Mindfullness Meditation, and health-conscious menus at Petersham Nurseries in its pretty Covent Garden and Richmond spots.
  5. Look after your body with events, talks and nourishing food during Wellness Wednesdays at Ecclestone Yards. Various dates

Budget London ideas

  1. Strapped for cash after Christmas and New Year? We have 101 free ideas to explore.
  2. Explore London's many free museums and galleries, which are full of world-class objects and artworks.
  3. Seek out the capital's top free attractions, perfect for an action-packed day out on the cheap.
  4. Make use of top offers on shows, restaurants and more.
  5. See shows for less by picking up cheap theatre tickets.
  6. Refuel with our pick of London's best cheap eats, or dine at the city’s best budget lunch spots or cheap restaurants.
  7. You don't need to splash out to have fun until the early hours, check out our tips for a cheap night out.

Save more with our tips on budget London activities.

Enjoy cosy London winter evenings

  1. Defrost in front of a roaring fire at a snug London pub with a mug of mulled wine.
  2. 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.
  3. Experience culture after dark with immersive experiences, DJ sets and more at a late-night London museum opening.
  4. Head to London’s West End to catch a spectacular theatre show, such as smash-hits The Lion King, Thriller or The Book of Mormon.
  5. Pick a film and cosy up in one of London's unsusual 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.