That magical time of year is fast approaching us again. Just like Santa in his workshop, London is gearing up for all kinds of festive fun. There are lots of Christmas events in London to keep people of all ages entertained and get you into the festive mood. From markets to family days out or concerts and theatre productions, we can help you plan lots of seasonal fun in the capital this year. Check out our guide to things to do in London this Christmas.
Things to do in London this Christmas
In this guide
Christmas events in London
- Winter Wonderland – London's ultimate Christmas activity
- Up at The O2 – A unique carol concert
- Leadenhall Market – Striking architecture and dazzling decor
- Trafalgar Square – See a famous Christmas tree
- Help someone else this Christmas – Give back this Christmas
- Vinegar Yard – Cosy winter domes
- Kew Gardens – Family-friendly light trail
- Kenwood House – Impressive festive illuminations
- Miracle – Retro Christmas bar
- Christmas by the River – Thames-side festive market
- Liberty London – Deck the halls with stuff from Liberty
- Leicester Square Christmas Market – Lively festive market and events
- Somerset House – Spectacular skating rink
- Royal Albert Hall – Regular carol concerts
- Hampton Court Palace – Christmas at a palace
- Cadogan Hall – Eclectic Christmas performances
- Hamleys – Time to meet Santa
- Sadler's Wells – See the annual Christmas ballet
- Crystal Palace Park – Immersive and interactive
- London Transport Museum – Family activities for the season
- The London Palladium – See a classic pantomime
- Neverland – Immersive seasonal destination
- Covent Garden Market – See the market's festive makeover
- Harrods – Iconic shopping space
- Southbank Centre Winter Market – Seasonal shopping by the river
- The Gingerbread City – Architecture with a festive theme
- The Churchill Arms – Christmas photo opps
- St Martin-in-the-Fields – Carols by candlelight
- Glide – Riverside ice skating
- London Coliseum – Family-friendly ballet
- Kingswood House – Father Christmas is in trouble and needs your help
- St Paul's Church – An annual tradition
- The Peter Pan Cup – A chilly Christmas dip
- Battersea Dogs and Cats Home – For the cats and dogs of Battersea
- Satanic Flea Market – For the grinches amongst us
- Tíng – Festive afternoon tea with city views
- Go on your own Christmas lights trail – An annual spectacle
- Feast on a traditional Christmas dinner – Indulge in a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings
- Christmas markets – Tick off all the Christmas markets
- Wembley Park – Festive neon maze
Christmas events in London
London's ultimate Christmas activity
It’s the big daddy of them all – Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. This is London’s ultimate destination for Christmas fun, an expansive area with market stalls, street food and drinks, amusements, rides, and live music performances. There’s something to entertain every age group at this unashamedly festive attraction, so it’s great for families.
A unique carol concert
Scaling The O2 with Up at The O2 is an exhilarating experience all year round, but it's extra special this Christmas. The route is being decorated with more than 1,000 Christmas lights, plus on the 9th and 10th of December you can enjoy an evening climb and be rewarded with a choir performing festive favourites when you reach the summit.
Striking architecture and dazzling decor
Shopping centre Leadenhall Market is impressive all year round but come Christmas its distinctive architecture is enhanced with dazzling festive decor. There are also seasonal workshops and pop-ups, plus festive guided walks. Snap some photos of the decorations and get some Christmas shopping done with the independent retailers based here.
See a famous Christmas tree
Visit Trafalgar Square to see the Christmas tree that Norway famously gifts the UK every year. This prominent landmark also has other seasonal decorations and displays, and hosts a Christmas market where you can shop for gifts and treats. This is the magic of Christmas in the heart of the capital.
Give back this Christmas
For many, Christmas brings peace and joy, but that's not the case for everyone. Many Londoners feel the most lonely when Christmas comes around or might be grappling with challenges such as homelessness, hunger, or isolation. If you fancy helping someone else this Christmas, our guide to charity at Christmas is a good place to start. From volunteering at a food bank to fundraising to help tackle homelessness, our guide lists a few things you can do this festive season to help someone else.
Cosy winter domes
Near London Bridge, Vinegar Yard is a mish-mash of eclectic market traders and street food vendors. It's lively and colourful with a spacious terrace. For Christmas, the terrace is transformed into a winter wonderland with stylish domes for up to six guests to relax and sample street food and cosy winter drinks. There will be festive takes on food from resident traders Baba G's, Nik's Kitchen and Nanny Bill's, which you can enjoy in the cosy outdoor cabins and on the heated terrace.
Family-friendly light trail
Explore a magical light trail around Kew Gardens for a festive evening activity suitable for all ages. The gardens here are spectacular at any time of the year but the dazzling illuminations make them even more special. Along the trail you can stop at vendors selling treats including hot drinks and snacks.
Impressive festive illuminations
For the month of December, Kenwood House in Hampstead becomes a magical winter wonderland. The impressive stately home is lit up in a dazzling display, and there's a brand new light trail to explore around the carefully-landscaped grounds. Winter cocktails and festive food are available to buy during your visit.
Retro Christmas bar
Relive the childhood magic of Christmas along with some tempting cocktails at the uber-festive Miracle at Henrietta bar. This Christmas-themed pop-up in Covent Garden is decked out with retro decorations and lights and has a menu of seasonal cocktails, served up in cups and vessels that are right on theme.
Thames-side festive market
Christmas by the River transforms the Thames into a winter paradise. Wooden cabins line the area around London Bridge, offering a wide variety of festive treats ranging from stocking filler gifts to mulled wine and street food. Other exciting events like storytelling sessions, workshops, and seasonal tasting events are on too.
Deck the halls with stuff from Liberty
Liberty is famous for many things – a striking building, gorgeous textiles, and its Christmas shop. If you’re looking to really go all out on the decor this year, this place is a must-visit. You’ll find imaginative baubles and decorations in every possible design, plus the store’s other departments are fab for Christmas shopping.
Lively festive market and events
Head to Leicester Square to explore a glittering Christmas market with shows that bring the season to life. The market stalls here sell seasonal treats and refreshments in a lit-up area. Performances like spectacular cabaret shows and festive events just for kids take place in the run-up to Christmas.
Spectacular skating rink
Somerset House is a prominent arts centre with a busy programme of activities and events in a neoclassical building. At Christmas there’s an ice rink where you can skate next to a 40ft Christmas tree. There’s a hot chocolate booth if you get chilly, as well as a pop-up bar and restaurant.
Regular carol concerts
The Royal Albert Hall in Kensington is famed for its distinctive domed building. It has served as a concert venue for over 150 years and in the run-up to Christmas it hosts festive carol concerts. Performances run several times each day with the final ones of the year on Christmas Eve.
Christmas at a palace
Known for being the home of Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace is a Grade I listed palace on the outskirts of London. Visitors are welcome to explore the building and grounds. For Christmas it has its famous outdoor ice rink and the palace is illuminated in a dazzling light and lantern display.
Eclectic Christmas performances
Home to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Cadogan Hall is a concert hall in Chelsea. Performances cover genres ranging from classical to jazz and pop, plus dance and films. At Christmas the venue is hosting a variety of seasonal concerts and performances from ballet to choir music, carols, and orchestral music.
Time to meet Santa
Visiting Hamleys in Regent Street is a fab Christmas activity for kids. The world’s oldest toy shop offers seven floors of fun, and is one of London’s favourite places for meeting Santa in his grotto. Lots of other festive fun is going on too like parades, performances, and character meet-and-greets.
See the annual Christmas ballet
Throughout the year, Sadler's Wells is a top venue for dance performances and productions covering a wide variety of styles. Every year this theatre near Angel puts on a Christmas ballet production, with this year's shows being Sleeping Beauty and The Snowman. This is a great way for dance fans to get into the festive spirit.
Immersive and interactive
Head to Crystal Palace Park for spectacular illuminations and an immersive multisensory experience with the takeover of Lightopia. The park is brought to life with a magical Christmas trail that's full of interactive displays and Insta-worthy photo opportunities. Wandering through multiple fantasy zones, with themes like fairies, flowers, and the circus, is fun for all ages.
Family activities for the season
London Transport Museum has festive family-friendly events going on. The museum is dedicated to celebrating London’s busy transport network and has a transport-themed winter wonderland for Christmas. Jump aboard a Routemaster-inspired sleigh, follow the wintery museum trail and answer trivia questions, take part in Christmas crafts, and meet Santa Claus himself.
See a classic pantomime
Going to the pantomime is a festive tradition, so check out what's on at The London Palladium. This famous venue in the West End hosts a broad range of performances and puts on a popular panto every year, with this year's being Peter Pan. The theatre can seat more than 2,000 audience members.
Immersive seasonal destination
Neverland in Fulham is unique; it's all about escapism. Throughout the year, it adopts three different immersive themes, and from October to February this contemporary spot becomes a snuggly alpine retreat. Book a seat in their cosy alpine lodge, ski lift bubble, or downtown bar cabin, and tuck into on-theme food like fondue whilst indulging in warming winter cocktails.
See the market's festive makeover
Browsing in Covent Garden Market is a great tip for Christmas shopping, with various big retailers and independents. You can experience much more than that here - every year, it transforms into a Christmas Village with its world-famous Christmas lights, including over 40 giant bells with bows, 12 huge baubles, and eight spinning mirror balls. There's fabulous decor, warming mulled wine, and special events such as making your Christmas table centrepiece.
Iconic shopping space
Iconic department store Harrods is famous for the elaborate Christmas decorations that adorn its famous exterior. Pop down during the festive season to admire the decor and window displays. If you’ve still got some presents to buy, the various departments here offer lots of choice from fashion and jewellery to foodie gifts.
Seasonal shopping by the river
With wooden cabins springing up along the river, the Southbank Centre Winter Market transforms the area. Whether you're Christmas shopping or want to absorb the atmosphere, you can buy gifts and souvenirs, festive street food, and warming mulled wine from the pop-up bar in this seasonal haven.
Architecture with a festive theme
Explore Christmassy architecture at The Museum of Architecture’s annual The Gingerbread City exhibition. Visitors can explore a series of cities designed by professional architects, made from gingerbread, and showcasing sustainable design concepts. You can also have a go at creating your own gingerbread structure at a gingerbread house-making workshop.
Christmas photo opps
Arguably one of the most photogenic pubs around, The Churchill Arms is widely-recognised for its floral facade. At Christmas the pub gets a bit of a makeover, decked out with row upon row of Christmas trees. Remember to get a few photos before venturing inside for a warming drink in this traditional pub.
Carols by candlelight
Centrally-located church St Martin-in-the-Fields is well-known for its programme of classical and choral music concerts in a unique setting. During the festive season it hosts candlelit carol concerts performed by the church's choir and brass band. Some concerts are designed to be family-friendly or specifically made to entertain little ones. Every weekends there are gingerbread-decorating classes on for kids too.
Riverside ice skating
Go skating in the shadow of an iconic Brutalist landmark at Glide at Battersea Power Station. You’ll enjoy stunning views wherever you turn at this riverside ice rink, which is actually three interconnected rinks for plenty of space. Food vendors, live entertainment, amusement rides, and lights and decorations add to the festive vibe.
The Nutcracker is classic Christmas entertainment for the whole family, and you can take in a performance at the London Coliseum. This is the largest theatre in London, seating almost 2,500 people. It’s also the base for the English National Ballet, the company that puts on the Christmas performance each year.
Father Christmas is in trouble and needs your help
Kingswood House, a beautiful Victorian mansion that now hosts a community arts centre, is hosting “Once Upon a Kingswood Christmas” this year, a magical adventure for the whole family to enjoy. As you traverse multiple impressive sets in the mansion's halls, you'll be tasked with saving Father Christmas from the clutches of the Snow Queen. If you succeed, the grateful man might even stick around for a photo!
An annual tradition
Attending the carol services at St Paul's Cathedral, a masterpiece by architect Sir Christopher Wren, is an annual ritual for many Londoners. Throughout December, you can enjoy a range of concerts, spanning family-friendly services, Handel's Messiah, and traditional carols. Standout events include "A Celebration of Christmas" and the Christmas Carol Service on 23rd and 24th December, both free and hugely popular - arrive early and brace for queues.
A chilly Christmas dip
The Peter Pan Cup has been around since 1864, making it one of the city's oldest festive rituals. Reserved primarily for spectators unless you belong to the Serpentine Swimming Club, this 100-yard swimming race unfolds on Christmas morning at Hyde Park's lido. The race's moniker dates back to 1904 when Sir James Barrie, the renowned author and playwright, introduced the trophy. Brave participants dive into the waters at 9 am.
For the cats and dogs of Battersea
Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit at this carol concert supporting a renowned animal rescue charity. A guard of honour formed by rescue dogs will kick things off by greeting the congregation, paired with enchanting music from the Collegium Musicum of London Chamber Choir (CML) and the talented West End actor and singer Nardia Ruth. The evening will finish in true festive style with mulled wine and mince pies.
For the grinches amongst us
This alternative shopping market at Electrowerkz offers a carefully curated array of occult and unconventional treasures, featuring items such as tarot cards, witch-inspired paraphernalia, prints, taxidermy, zines, and even genuine human skulls. The market is a haven for those seeking quirky gifts, paired with the chance to relax at the open bar and restaurant to enjoy delicious food amidst the eclectic atmosphere.
Festive afternoon tea with city views
Elevate your experience to new heights at Tíng; the Shangri-La restaurant perched 35 floors above the city. Soak up the city surroundings as you feast on an assortment of dainty finger sandwiches, savoury bites, and a range of scones, including plain and cranberry scones. There will also be a selection of festive sweet treats to round off the experience.
An annual spectacle
Every year, the festive spirit covers the London streets with a blanket of twinkling Christmas lights, transforming the sombre city streets into a winter wonderland. Numerous neighbourhoods throughout the capital cover themselves with Christmas lights and other festive decorations, making London's Christmas lights a major attraction for winter visitors from around the world. Our guide on the best places to see the dazzling lights in London allows you to plan your very own trail to see the best of London's Christmas lights.
Indulge in a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings
For many, food is the best thing about Christmas, and there are many places in the city where you can indulge when the festive season comes around. Numerous restaurants in London will feature special festive menus during the Christmas season, and we're showcasing some of our favourites in our guide to Christmas dinners in London. From classics at the Michelin-starred St. John to Bombay-inspired feasts at Dishoom, there's something for every palate.
Tick off all the Christmas markets
We've mentioned a few of our favourite Christmas markets already but there are many more for you to explore, so we've written the ultimate rundown of the best Christmas markets that are popping up this year. Whether you want to stock up on gifts crafted by local artisans or you just want to see how much mulled wine you can guzzle down, you'll be able to do all this and more at London's multitude of Christmas markets.
Festive neon maze
Head to Wembley Park at any time of the year for an exciting mix of events, shopping destinations, and places to eat and drink. Visit over the Christmas period and you can explore The Luminaze, an original neon art installation that'll fascinate all age groups. Wander through this maze of neon installations and find The Hourglass, a four metre high audio-visual sculpture, at its centre.