Things To Do

50 Magical Things To Do In London At Christmas

By Alex Landon

Things to do in London Christmas

Our fair city is just wonderful this time of year, so we’ve gathered up the very best things to do in London at Christmas.

Yes, there might be Christmas films on Netflix and plenty of presents still to buy (guilty!), but the city is doing its best to tempt you outdoors. There are so many incredible things to do in London at Christmas, so we’ve put together a little guide – by choosing our top ten things see, do, or eat, and then giving five fabulous examples for each of them.ย Will you be enchanted by a festive light display? Eat your body weight in mince pies? Fall head over heels for an ice rink (literally)? Whatever you choose to do, go forth and spread that Yuletide joy! โ˜ƒ๏ธ

1. Wander around a marvellous Christmas market

Things to do in London Christmas

Start with wooden huts, full of lovely arts and crafts. Add a sprinkling of hearty street food. Top it off with a mug of mulled wine, and you’ve got a perfectly charming evening planned! Here are our five favourite options, but you can see even more inย our roundup of London Christmas markets.

๐Ÿคฉย Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park’s massive celebration of all things Christmas
โ›„๏ธย Christmas by the River, cute riverside market with a lovely Snowman trail
๐ŸŒ‡ Leicester Square Christmas Market, thriving market in the heart of town
๐ŸŽ…ย Christmas at Camden Market, complete with Santa’s grotto and an ice rink
๐ŸŽ ย Ally Pally Christmas Carnival, where the funfair meets Christmas films

2. Glide around an atmospheric ice rink

Somerset House

Amongst all the things to do in London at Christmas, this is a definite classic. Tovrill & Dean you may not be, but ice rinks are undeniably fun whether you’re weaving in and out of crowds or inching your way around the barriers. Get your skates on at London’s best ice rinks, and don’t forget to reward yourself with a hot chocolate after!

๐Ÿณ Natural History Museum, where you’ll skate around a giant Christmas tree
โ›ธ Somerset House, complete with rinkside bar and an all-night skate
๐Ÿ”’ Tower of London, where the backdrop will take you prisoner
๐ŸŒ† Skylight, skate above the city on this rooftop rink
๐Ÿ‘‘ Queen’s House, a brand new rink on Greenwich’s UNESCO World Heritage site

3. Marvel at these amazing light displays

Things to do in London Christmas
Photo: @tmnikonian

Sometime around early November, London got lit, and whilst the city’s electricity bill is trending upwards, the illuminations have certainly brought the sparkle to town. Whilst you can find festive light displays all over the city, we think these five are top of the tree.

โœจ Oxford Street, which has a sparkling new display for 2019
โ™ป๏ธ Carnaby Street, who’ve made their lights out of entirely recycled materials
๐Ÿ˜‡ Regent Street, where the angels shine down upon the city
๐ŸŒŸ Covent Garden, filled with gorgeous mistletoe chandeliers
๐Ÿ’ซ The Shard, featuring the highest festive light display in town

4. Warm up in a cosy winter pop up

Winter pop-ups

Every year, a whole host of magnificent winter pop-ups take over rooftops, riversides, and terraces, steadily feeding Londoners a diet of gloriously carby street food, warming winter cocktails, and toasty vibes. Lovely stuff!

โ„๏ธย Coppa Club, home of London’s legendary riverside igloos
๐ŸŒฒย Broadgate Winter Forest, a little slice of Lapland in the heart of the city
๐Ÿ’šย Queen of Hoxton, which has a wicked Oz-themed makeover for 2019
๐Ÿ”ฅย Winterland, where hot tubs have sprung up along the Thames
โ›ท The Montague Ski Lodge, all the comforts of aprรจs skiing without leaving Bloomsbury

5. Hit the shops for some last-minute Christmas presents

Photo: @libertylondon

Unless you’re the hyper-organised type who’s got their gifts bought, wrapped, and under an immaculately-decorated tree already, I’ve got a feeling you’ll be needing this one. Stores all over London are dressed up for Christmas, but this is our top five!

๐Ÿ˜ Liberty, home to a spectacular tree and Christmas shop
๐ŸŽ Harrods, the famous department store is full of festive cheer
โญ๏ธ Selfridges, who have gone joyously OTT once more
๐Ÿ—“ Fortnum & Mason, who’ve turned their store into a giant advent calendar
๐Ÿ’› John Lewis Oxford Street, with a beautifully organised Christmas store and a festive rooftop

6. Be enchanted by a jaw-dropping light festival

Photo: @grantczarnik_photography

Syon Park’s stunning Enchanted Woodland may have finished, but there are still light festivals aplenty to marvel at. Everywhere from the boughs of Kew Gardens to the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf are lighting up this winter, and here’s where we reckon you should be heading.

๐ŸŽ„ย Kew Gardens, where breathtaking lights adorn the trees and bushes
๐ŸŒˆย Enchanted Eltham, where the historic palace is now dappled with colours
๐ŸŽ‡ Wembley Winterfest, a first ever trail featuring a Burning Man favourite
๐ŸŒ  Winter Lights, Canary Wharf’s hi-tech feast of illuminations
๐Ÿฎ Lightopia, a magical lantern festival taking over Chiswick House in January

7. Dine in a beautifully decorated restaurant

Things to do in London Christmas

We have a pretty staggering dining scene all year round, but when Christmas comes a-calling, everyone from neighbourhood restaurants to Michelin star spots busts out the decorations. This lot have had quite the glow-up!

๐Ÿ˜ฎย 34 Mayfair, now home to 14,000 baubles
๐Ÿ‚ย Dalloway Terrace, currently transformed to evoke a Swiss ski resort
โšก๏ธย Churchill Arms, the Kensington pub festooned with over 80 Christmas trees
๐Ÿฆ†ย Duck & Waffle, the sky-high spot now dressed up as a Nordic wonderland
๐Ÿฆย The Ivy Chelsea, which has had a magnificent Narnia-inspired makeover

8. Get inspired by a superbly stylish Christmas tree


Red and gold is traditional, sure, but when you’ve got the budget and the creative vision of the world’s top designers behind you, you can afford to dream a little bigger, darling. Don’t let London’s best Christmas trees make you too envious though…

๐Ÿ‘  Claridge’s, designed by Christian Louboutin and featuring a champagne bar
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท St Pancras, which isn’t so much a tree as a Parisian landmark
๐Ÿ’— sketch, back with another mesmerising Yuletide transformation
๐Ÿ† Annabel’s, with a gigantic silver and gold tree guarding the entrance
๐Ÿงฑ The Savoy, who’ve used thousands of Lego bricks to build their tree

9. Settle down for a festive film

Things to do in London Christmas
Photo: @backyardcinema

Everyone’s got a favourite, whether it’s something traditional like Miracle on 34th Street, or something explosive like Die Hard (it’s a Christmas film, don’t @ me). Luckily for you, the finest flick-lovers in town have been cooking up enchanting new ways to watch the classics…

๐ŸŒ™ย Backyard Cinema, who’ve brought their beautiful Winter Night Garden to a new home
โ›ต๏ธย Floating Cinema, where you’ll need to wrap up warm for films on the water
๐Ÿ“ฝ Prince Charles Cinema, who are hosting a staggering all-night Christmas marathon
๐ŸŽž QUEENS, where you’ll be watching festive films on ice
๐Ÿฑย Catford Mews, the new London cinema with a cracking festive lineup

10. Sip on a bevy of Christmassy cocktails

Photo: @miracleon5thst

Let’s face it, you’ll be drinking enough mulled wine this holiday season – so why not mix things up? With London boasting some of the best cocktail bars around, you can be sure of creative concoctions that’ll bewitch the tastebuds and keep you feeling merry (within your limits, of course).

๐Ÿฅณ Miracle, the insanely festive cocktail bar that’s returned to Covent Garden
โ˜„๏ธ Harvey Nichols, where you’ll be enjoying ice cream cocktails beneath the Northern Lights
๐Ÿธย Boundary, who are serving delightful drinks on their toasty roof terrace
๐Ÿ˜‹ Nine Lives, who’ve unveiled a menu with an intriguing almond old fashioned
๐Ÿฅƒ Terra Terra, where you can grab yourself an extremely Christmassy Negroni

Still thirsty for inspiration? Check out our fabulous guide to the best things to do in London this December – or if you’re truly ambitious, you can embark on a majestic quest by using our roundup of the 500 best things to do in London.

Featured image: @levanterman

Also published on Medium.