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Christmas in London, best things to do

Christmas in London, best things to do

Contents

For you time during Christmas in London, we will tell you everything you need to know :

  • What are the best places to see Christmas lights in London?
  • What are the Christmas Events to not miss in London?
  • Is Winter Wonderland free?
  • Where to go ice skating?
  • Where to eat Christmas dinner in London and festive treats ?
  • What Christmas shows to see in London?
  • Where to go Christmas Shopping in London?
  • Which London Christmas Markets to visit?
  • What to do on Christmas Day in London?
     

What are the best places to see Christmas lights in London?

Most of London’s Christmas lights are switched on around mid-November and there are lots of ways you can enjoy them in the city. Go visit Kew Gardens and take bus tours !
 

Christmas Lights Bus Tour

Be dazzled this Christmas in London on our Christmas Lights tour with Tootbus. See the sparkling Christmas lights from up close as we take you past the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street Christmas lights and the world-famous Regent Street.
 

Wintery Bar Bus

Rooftop bars are not exclusive to summer. Journey through London on the city's only bar bus, the Winter Bar Bus, and see magnificent sights while wrapped up with blankets on the top deck.

Order winter warmers like mulled wine and hot chocolate and sing along to your favourite festive tunes on board the Bar Bus with Tootbus. The perfect place to get in the Christmas spirit!
 

Christmas at Kew Gardens

Step into a world of fairytales and fantasy at Kew Gardens this Christmas.

From Wednesday 15 November 2023 to Sunday 7 January 2024, Kew Gardens lights up for Christmas. Take a brand new route around the twinkling light trail, through the enchanting gardens, singing trees, a treetop walkway and a spellbinding fire garden.
 

What are the Christmas Events to not miss in London?

Some of the best Christmas activities in London are only available around the festive season. Rides, cabaret performances or visits to the world of wizards, make the most of these pop-up Christmas things to do in London during your visit to the capital.
 

A cabaret at Leicester Square

This year, Leicester Square is celebrating Christmas with an exceptional show: the "La Clique" cabaret.

From 8 November 2023 to 6 January 2024, you can enjoy the best of circus, comedy and music in this special show that will blow your mind.

Please note that this show is reserved for over 16s.

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 1 Coventry Street

Blue route: hop off at stop 25 Trafalgar Square
 

Hogwarts in the Snow

From 11t November 2023 to 14t January 2024, see Hogwarts transformed into a magical snowy setting at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. The Great Hall, Gryffindor and Slytherin common rooms, the Forbidden Forest Diagon Alley, … all your favourite sets are dressed for the season and a model of Hogwarts is draped in snow.

Adult tickets start at £53.50 and the visit lasts around 3.5 hours. Afterwards, see the rest of the Christmas sights on our bus.
 

Is Winter Wonderland free?

The event returns from 17 November 2023 to 1 January 2024, and admission to Winter Wonderland is free at off-peak times!

The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is with no doubt the biggest and most famous Christmas Market in London. It features over 200 traditional chalets selling jewellery, craft items, clothes, food and drink.

There is also a huge fun fair with high adrenaline or family rides, a circus megadome, theatre shows and the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink. The perfect place for a festive day out in London!

To finish with, you can’t miss Santaland, with the very famous Santa’s Grotto.

The fair can get very busy, especially on evenings and weekends closer to Christmas. If possible, try visiting during the daytime and weekdays to avoid the crowds.

Tickets can be booked in advance on the website of the event.

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 16 Hyde Park - Queen Elizabeth Gate

Blue route: hop off at stop 16 Hyde Park - Queen Elizabeth Gate
 

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

Where to go ice skating?

This winter, there are several places where you can go ice skating in London. Here are a few ones :

  • Somerset House ice rink ; from 15 November 2023 to 14 January 2024
  • Skate West End - Hanover Square ; from 4 November 2023 to 1 January 2024
  • Glide - Battersea Power Station ; from 10 November 2023 to 7 January 2024
  • Hyde Park Winter Wonderland ice rink ; from 17 November 2023 to 1 January 2024
  • Westfield ice rink ; from 10 November 2023 to 7 January 2024
  • Skylight Tobacco Dock ice rink ; from 10 November 2023
  • Canary Wharf ice rink ; from 21 October 2023 to 24 February 2024

Book your ice-skating slot before you visit. This is one of the best activities to do in London at Christmas. Then continue your visit around London on an open top bus tour.
 

Where to eat Christmas dinner in London and festive treats ?

The Christmas season in London is the best time of year to tuck-in to hearty meals and delicious Christmas treats. Indulge in Christmas dinner in a traditional pub, afternoon tea at One Aldwych or a tasty mince pie at St John’s Bakery during your Christmas days out in London.
 

Christmas Dinner in London

Tuck in to a hearty Christmas dinner in London in a traditional English pub, decked out for the holidays. Visit Punch Tavern on Fleet Street over Christmas for festive feasts, cocktails and fine wine. The Christmas feasting menu is £42 per person and includes a starter, main and dessert. Vegan options are also available.
 

Christmas Afternoon Tea

Christmas is a time to indulge, so tuck in to a festive afternoon tea. The spread at Tea at One Aldwych is a Roald Dahl lover's dream with a festive twist on a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme. It starts at £90 per person for adults and £58 per child.
 

Delicious Mince Pies

You can’t beat a humble mince pie at Christmas. Head to St John’s Bakery in Neal’s Yard to try their warm mince pies over the festive period. It’s a real festive treat! There is also an array of breads, doughnuts and pastries for you to devour.
 

What Christmas shows to see in London?

When it is dark and cold, it can be hard deciding what to do in London at Christmas. Stay indoors and immerse yourself in a traditional British theatre experience by attending a pantomime, ballet or enjoy some of your favourite Christmas carols.
 

The Palladium Pantomime

One of the ultimate British Christmas traditions is going to see a pantomime. Fortunately, it also happens to be one of the best Christmas activities in London. From Saturday 9 December 2023 to Sunday 14 January 2024, you can discover the beautiful story of Peter Pan!

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 1 Coventry Street

Blue route: hop off at stop 25 Trafalgar Square
 

Christmas Carols by Candlelight

On Friday 22 December 2023, head to the Barbican for a traditional concert of Carols by Candlelight. Enjoy a concert of seasonal classics and musical masterpieces by performers in 18th century costume. You will hear some of your favourite carols throughout the evening.
 

The Nutcracker Ballet

The Nutcracker by the English National Ballet shares an enchanting tale of Christmas. This traditional festive Christmas treat will transport you through dance to the magical Land of Snow. You can enjoy this beautiful show from Wednesday 29 November to Saturday 2 December 2023, and from Thursday 14 December 2023 to Sunday 7 January 2024 at the London Coliseum.

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 1 Coventry Street

Blue route: hop off at stop 25 Trafalgar Square
 

Where to go Christmas Shopping in London?

There is no better place to go Christmas shopping than London. Covent Garden, Hamleys, Oxford Street : hit the high streets, seek out unique gifts and make time to break for delicious food and hot drinks.
 

Covent Garden

Home to a grand-looking Christmas tree and more than 115,000 sparkling lights, a trip to Covent Garden will have you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Admire the lights or visit the high street stores and pretty market buildings for designer labels and independent brands to find the perfect outfit for a Christmas party.

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 5 Covent Garden

Blue route: hop off at stop 25 Trafalgar Square
 

Hamleys

Santa is coming to town and he's chosen the famous Hamleys shop on Regent Street to spread the festive cheer from Saturday 18 November 2023 until Christmas Eve before he has to deliver all your presents. Hamleys is every child’s dream and is one of the most exciting places to visit in London at Christmas.

To find Santa's grotto, just head to the third floor of the shop!

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 1 Coventry Street

Blue route: hop off at stop 21 Piccadilly Arcade
 

Oxford Street

Find your favourite high street stores on Oxford Street where you can eat, drink and shop until you drop. Whilst Christmas shopping in London, you’ll be blown away by the iconic Oxford Street Christmas lights, window displays in Selfridges and the John Lewis Christmas Roof Garden to get you in the festive spirit.

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 1 Coventry Street

Blue route: hop off at stop 18 Oxford Street
 

Which London Christmas Markets to visit?

London is home to many Christmas Markets and winter fairs. Winter by the River, Southbank Center Winter Market, Greenwich Christmas Market… These are the only places where you can sip mulled wine, eat mince pies, admire decorations and arts and craft, go on a fairground ride, and buy that last-minute gift.

Here is our selection of the best Christmas Markets in London, and how to get there.
 

Winter by the River market at London Bridge City

All I want for December is a Christmas market with views of Tower Bridge. Well, we have a winner with this festive market offering vintage German-style chalets, homemade gifts, delicious street food and glühwein.

And with the views of Tower Bridge, it simply makes it one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in London. Some even say it’s the best Christmas market for a first date… Find Christmas by the River at London Bridge City between 14 November 2023 and 1 January 2024.

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 7 London Bridge
 

Southbank Center Winter Market

Southbank’s riverside transforms during the festive season and becomes a wintry wonderland for foodies. Winter classics such as raclette and bratwurst will be served up alongside an array of world cuisine. In addition to these delights, the market offers a large selection of homemade crafts, rides, shows and activities like the curling pop-up to entertain the whole family.

Entry is free and the Winter Market is open from 28 October 2023 to 7 January 2024.

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 4 Waterloo Station

Blue route: hop off at stop 18 Westminster Bridge

Southbank Center Winter Market
 

Greenwich Christmas Market

Greenwich Market is open all year-round but December is a special time for the UNESCO World Heritage site. On Wednesday 15 November 2023, Christmas comes to the market and, with the fairy lights, gift stalls and mulled wine stands, it’s just so cheerful!

To mark the launch of the Christmas Market and the switching on of the twinkling Christmas lights, the spectacular Lantern Parade will take place on Wednesday 15 November 2023 between 4pm and 6pm.

Travelling to Greenwich might seem a little far from the city, but remember that its location will mean that the market will be less crowded. And it is the opportunity to visit the must-see historical attractions of Greenwich.


 

Kingston Christmas Market

The lovely and picturesque Kingston-upon-Thames will have its own Christmas Market on the Ancient Market Place. The city centre will be filled with festive cheer, food, drink, and handmade stocking fillers. The perfect place for unique Christmas gifts.

This European-style Christmas market is one of the most magical Christmas markets in London. It is open from 16 November 2023 to 31 December 2023.

How to get there?

Public transport: take a train from Waterloo Station (yellow route: stop 4) to Kingston station. The train ride will take you about 30 minutes.
 

What to do on Christmas Day in London?

If you’re looking for things to do in London on Christmas Day, you’ll find the city much quieter than usual. There is no public transport so the tube is closed on Christmas day. Lots of restaurants are also closed so try to book a hotel offering Christmas dinner and fill your time with some relaxing Christmas day events in London such as church services or strolls.
 

Church Service

If you are looking for church services in London on Christmas Day, visit Great St Bartholomew at 9am and 11am. Other Christmas services in London’s oldest parish church include a Mid-Advent Carol Service and a midnight mass of the Nativity at 11.00pm on Christmas Eve.
 

Peter Pan Cup

The Peter Pan Cup has been a Christmas tradition for open water swimmers since 1864. Only members of the Serpentine Swimming Club with a handicap can enter and they take to the water to race at 9am on Christmas Day. Head to Hyde Park to experience a unique and exciting Christmas Day tradition in London.

How to get there?

Yellow route: hop off at stop 16 Hyde Park - Queen Elizabeth Gate

Blue route: hop off at stop 16 Hyde Park - Queen Elizabeth Gate
 

Go for a walk around the city or park

On one of the only days the city sleeps, enjoy a quiet walk through the streets of London on Christmas Day. Stroll along the high streets beneath twinkling Christmas lights or walk off your Christmas dinner in one of London’s beautiful parks before relaxing for the evening with friends and family with some Christmas TV.

With our feature Tootwalk in the Tootbus app, you can enjoy 3 beautiful themed strolls across the city, such as :

  • Kensington Gardens (1 hour)
  • Royal shopping in St James’s (40 min)
  • Architecture & Celebration (30 min)
     

On that note, we hope you have a wonderful festive season. Merry Christmas ! 🎄