10 Festive Things To Do In London This Christmas

Oxford Circus at Christmas (Photo by Jamie Davies)

My favourite time in London is Christmas time. The streets are lit up by beautiful lights and the whole city transforms into this magical wonderland. There are tons of new foods to try out and you can get a cup of mulled wine at every corner.

In this post, I’ll share my top 10 things to do to get in the festive spirit in London this year, whether you’re visiting or living here! The countdown to Christmas has begun – let’s make the most of it 🙂

1) See the Christmas lights

From Regent to Carnaby Street all the way to Belgravia, London transforms into a one-of-a-kind light show during November and December. The lights will be turned on from the weekend of the 13th of November and spread around the entirety of central London. There is something about wandering the streets to do some Christmas shopping and seeing the glow of the lights once it gets dark.

2) Visit Christmas at Kew Gardens

If you’re familiar with London, you will certainly know about Kew Gardens in southwest London. Also called the Royal Botanic Gardens, it’s home to the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”. At Christmas, the Gardens completely transform into a festive display of lights complete with street vendors and Father Christmas. Tickets start from £21.50 and can be pre-booked online.

3) The Natural History Museum Ice Rink

Ice rink at the National History Museum at night

London features countless ice rinks during the winter months however the one by the Natural History Museum offers an unbeatable location. With the stunning museum as a backdrop, this ice rink ensures a truly magical experience. 2021 sadly marks its last year in operation, as the garden is being transformed into an Urban Nature Hub, so make sure to add this to your Christmas plans this year.

4) Covent Garden

Christmas at Covent Garden (Photo by Tiziano Brignoli)

Covent Garden has everything you could possibly need for the perfect festive day. A huge Christmas tree, beautiful lights, a giant outdoor dining hub, and tons of cute shops to do your Christmas Shopping. Make sure to take your time and really enjoy all Covent Garden has to offer this Christmas!

5) Book a heated igloo on South Bank

Jimmy’s Lodge on South Bank offers “Snow Globes” situated right by the river, for groups of 6-10 people. You will be served a three-course winter tasting menu while enjoying the view from your heated igloo.

Do keep in mind that this activity is on the pricy side with a 600GBP minimum spend and the globes get sold out pretty quickly. There are other sites across London that offer similar igloos such as Aviary (from 200GBP), Winterland (starting at 99GBP) and Skylight (from 50GBP).

6) Go to one of the Christmas markets

Christmas market in central London (Photo by Philippe Oursel)

London offers a plethora of Christmas markets to explore during the festive season. Just to name a few, there is Southbank, Festive Flea, Greenwich, and Borough Market Christmas market (and many, many more). Grab some street food, a mulled wine, and support local businesses and their, often handmade, products. They do tend to get quite busy so be prepared and keep your valuables safe.

7) Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (Photo by Devon Rogers)

This is a staple Christmas activity in London that you have likely heard about before. However, it is certainly worth heading there and seeing for yourself what the hype is about. Whether you fancy going on fun rides, exploring Santa’s grotto or sampling all the amazing food and drinks on offer, Winter Wonderland has something for everyone. You need to pre-book (free during off-peak, between £5 and £7.50 for peak times) on their website.

8) Go window shopping

At Christmas time, every store in London gears up their window displays, showcasing incredible festive creations. Good ones to check out are Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason, but just walk along the streets of central London and you will come across many, many more. 

9) Christmas Carols at St Paul's

St Paul's at night (Photo by Som Thapa Magar)

Every year, St Paul’s Cathedral hosts a range of Christmas carol services leading up to Christmas. The majority are free and unticketed but you can also buy ticketed ones organized by charities such as Blood Cancer UK. Seating is mostly arranged on a first-come, first-served basis so make sure to arrive with time to spare. This is a one-of-a-kind experience and is certain to leave you feeling festive.

10) Trafalgar Square Christmas tree

Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square (Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0)

Every year, Norway gifts London a Christmas tree that goes up in Trafalgar Square. The tree will be lit in a ceremony featuring carols and Christmas reading on December 02. Trafalgar Square also boasts a range of Christmas market stalls and events throughout the festive season so is certainly worth a visit. It may be worth going throughout the week, if possible, as this area gets quite packed on weekends.

Final Thoughts

Have you done any of these 10 things before? What are some of your favourite Christmas activities in London?

The list of things you can do in London during Christmas is endless, so this list only provides a short insight into some of my favourites. Visiting London this time of year is really worth it and will leave you feeling festive and excited for Christmas. I will be posting some more specific events coming up in London soon so keep an eye out for that (follow me on Instagram or Pinterest for live updates on new blog posts). 

Happy festive season 🙂

P.S. This is my very first post so any feedback, comments, etc. are much appreciated!

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