Things to do at Christmas in London
Sparkling Christmas lights, mulled wine and mince pies; it certainly is the most wonderful time of the year! The festive atmosphere in the capital is truly magical, with so many great things to do in London at Christmas.
Between eating, drinking and being merry, there are lots of festive activities to enjoy in London including a hop-on hop-off bus tour of the city in full festive swing. To help plan your visit, our ultimate guide to Christmas in London provides some great ideas to celebrate Christmas in the capital.
Christmas Lights 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.
Christmas Lights Bus Tour
Be dazzled this Christmas in London on our Christmas Lights tour with Tootbus. See the sparkling Christmas lights from above 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 and see magnificent sights while wrapped up with blankets on the top deck. Pre-order winter warmers like mulled wine and hot chocolate and sing along to your favourite festive tunes on board the Bar Bus with Tootbus.
Christmas at Kew Gardens
Step into a world of fairytales and fantasy at Kew Gardens this Christmas. Every winter, 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.
Christmas Events in London
Some of the best Christmas activities in London are only available around the festive season. So, make the most of these pop-up Christmas things to do in London during your visit to the capital.
Get Christmas off to a magical start with a visit to Santa’s grotto in Leicester Square. Meet Father Christmas or take a walk around the market stalls and enjoy a variety of shows around the 1920's spiegeltent.
For the ultimate Christmas fun in London, visit Winter Wonderland for free at Hyde Park, home to the biggest pop-up ice-skating rink in the UK. Enjoy the ice bar, circus shows, Christmas markets and fairground rides with all of the family.
Hogwarts in the Snow
See Hogwarts transformed into a magical snowy setting at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. The Great Hall is decorated for the Yule Ball, Gryffindor common room is dressed for the season and a model of Hogwarts is draped in snow. Adult tickets start at £45 and the visit lasts around 3.5 hours. Afterwards, see the rest of the Christmas sights on our bus.
The Natural History Museum is the perfect backdrop for a skate and mate date. Surrounded by frosted trees, mulled wine and toasted marshmallows, put your skating talent to the test and warm up in the Cafe Bar. Book your ice-skating slot before you visit and experience one of the best things to do in London at Christmas. Then continue your visit round London on an open top bus tour.
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, afternoon tea or a tasty mince pie 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 £32 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. This Christmas afternoon tea in London is served in the Indigo and Lobby Bar and starts at £52 per person.
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 mince pies over the festive period. Their warm mince pies are a real festive treat and there is also an array of breads, doughnuts and pastries for you to devour.
Christmas Shows 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. Since 2014, the London Palladium has been hosting irresistibly entertaining pantos - be sure to check out what's on.
Christmas Carols by Candlelight
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.
Christmas Shopping in London
There is no better place to go Christmas shopping than London. Hit the high streets, seek out unique gifts and make time to break for delicious food and hot drinks.
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. Also, the ice rink at Somerset House is just a short walk away to break up your day.
A magical interactive shopping experience for the latest toys and classic treasures, Hamleys is every child’s dream and is one of the most exciting places to visit in London at Christmas. The store on Regent Street is open every day and has a Christmas toy parade towards the end of November before unveiling their window display. Give the kids inspiration for their Christmas list at Hamleys.
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.
Christmas Markets have become a festive favourite in London. At the various pop-up markets around the city, wander between cosy log cabins as you enjoy mulled wine, delicious food and festive performances. Purchase artisanal gifts, stocking fillers and spread some festive cheer with friends and family at one of London's Christmas markets.
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.
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 at to race at 9am on Christmas Day. Head to Hyde Park to experience a unique and exciting Christmas Day tradition in London.
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.
There are so many things to do in London over Christmas. Make sure you wrap up warm as temperatures can drop below 5°C and plan your visit as pop-up attractions can get busy. Stay cosy and comfortable as you visit London’s sights by taking a London bus tour around the city to explore London at Christmas.