Things to do for Christmas in London
If I could choose any time of the year to visit London I would go for the winter season. Ice skating by Natural History Museum or visiting Christmas Markets are just a few things to do in London. When Christmas lights are switched on and decorations are put up in the city, London turns into a winter wonderland.
South Crescent, Store Street, London
One of the most vibrant cities in Europe offers so much during wintertime. From winter events such as Chinese New Year, light festival Lightopia to Christmas shopping in Oxford Street.
Christmas lights, New Bond Street
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Why winter is the best time to visit London?
Contributed by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages
It’s best to visit London in winter for so many reasons, including to check something off your →London bucket list. The capital of England truly comes alive in the winter and it’s incredibly enchanting to see the city covered in fresh white snow.
London’s low season is in the winter to early spring, so you can visit nice places with fewer tourists. Compared to the rest of the year, pricing for accommodation tends to go down a bit in the winter which makes it more affordable to visit as a tourist. Plus, the city hosts a wide range of fun activities that make the wintertime so magical.
One thing to keep in mind is that because the United Kingdom is far north compared to other countries in Europe, you need to dress for the weather. Bring your nice jacket, winter boots, hat, and gloves at a minimum.
If London has always been a place you’ve wanted to visit, book your flight for winter. Not only will you be able to avoid the tourists that come during the rest of the year, but you’ll also be able to have a truly unforgettable winter trip!
Tower Bridge, London (photo by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages)
Things to do for Christmas in London – Check out amazing Christmas displays
Contributed by Dymphe from Dymabroad
One of the best activities during Christmas in London is seeing the Christmas displays in the city. Many cafes, restaurants, art galleries, shops, and other places have beautiful displays that are in a certain Christmas theme. Besides only looking at these displays, you can also take photos there as these places are very photogenic. One of the best locations for this is Annabel’s. Each year, the front of this club changes in something related to Christmas, such as a Christmas tree.
Annabel’s Christmas Tree, London (photo by Dymphe from Dymabroad)
Also, Maddox Gallery is a great place for seeing Christmas displays in London. Maddox Gallery changes its front throughout the year, and during wintertime, you can see lovely decorations here. The cake shop Peggy Porschen looks incredible during Christmas as well. Every year, this cafe features beautiful decorations that fit the season, and there are many other →cute cafes in London with Christmas displays. Furthermore, Covent Garden is a great place to visit during winter as you can see there beautiful decorations too.
Things to do for Christmas in London – Admire the Best Christmas Lights
1. Regent Street
A hotspot to admire Christmas lights in London. Moreover, this is a place where the whole tradition of decorating streets in the capital of England has started. “The Spirits of Christmas” or “Angels” are impressing visitors every year. The biggest light display in a country with 45 spirits flying over Regent Street is a truly magical attraction during winter.
Christmas lights, Regent Street
Christmas lights are switched on at the beginning of November. Over the years many celebrities turned them such as Kylie Minogue, Craig David, Robbie Williams, and Jim Carrey. Between 2 pm and midnight golden angels shine above the famous street in London. First Christmas lights in Regent Street date back to 1954. The iconic design of flying angels is one of the best projects that we can admire during the winter season in London.
Christmas lights, Regent Street
2. Oxford Street
The world’s biggest shopping paradise is just a few minutes walks from Regent Street. Oxford Street is the longest street in Europe that it is worth seeing when visiting London. Make sure to stop at House of Fraser to see beautiful Christmas lights that last till January. Every year decorations are different, but always spectacular.
Christmas lights, Oxford Street
3. New Bond Street
Magnificent peacock-inspired New Bond Street Christmas lights are attracting tourists every winter. Getting there from Oxford Circus Underground Station takes less than 40 minutes. In addition, this famous destination is a home for some designer stores like Gucci, Dolce Gabbana, or Tiffany Co. If you are looking for luxury Christmas gifts this is the best place to visit.
Christmas lights, New Bond Street
4. South Molton Street
Another amazing spot to see winter decorations is just a few minutes walks from Oxford Street. A lot of stores with woman’s fashion and jewelry makes it a great stop for Christmas shopping. What’s more interesting is some famous people like Ernest Bevin or William Blake lived in this area.
Christmas lights, South Molton Street
5. Northbank, Strand & Lancaster Pl junction
Did you know that the first road in London with the numbered address was Strand? Every fan of English writer Charles Dickens should visit this place. Besides, a lot of poets have lived there or near Strand. The road’s name means “edge of a river” because it previously ran next to River Thames. However, due to Victoria Embankment construction, Strand is no longer by the river.
Christmas lights, Northbank, Strand & Lancaster Pl junction
6. Irving Street
A few minutes’ walks from Trafalgar Square you will find a great place to eat and drink outside. Furthermore, Irving Street has a lot of Italian restaurants where you can eat a cheap meal with a view. Christmas lights at Irving Street are surely one of the most beautiful in London.
Christmas lights, Irving Street
Things to do for Christmas in London – Christmas shopping with style
1. Burlington Arcade – London’s most exclusive shopping arcade
One of the first shopping arcades in the UK that was opened in 1819 looks really beautiful with Christmas decorations. Lord George Cavendish also known as Earl of Burlington decided to build one of the most exclusive shopping malls in the heart of Mayfair. Burlington Arcade was likely built for his wife as a safe place to shop. If you are looking for a posh place in London you do not need to look any further.
Christmas decorations, Burlington Arcade in London
179 meters long shopping arcade made me stop on a street and say “WOW, it’s impressive!”. Exclusive shops required security so Lord George Cavendish decided to have his army. The Beadles – private police of London’s Burlington Arcade look after the shopping mall to the present day.
Christmas in London can not be fulfilled without a walk along with one of the best-covered arcades. However, there are some rules to follow if you plan to visit Burlington Arcade. No whistling, running, riding bicycles, or even opening umbrellas. The only person that is allowed to whistle in the arcade is the bassist of The Beatles – Sir Paul McCartney.
2. Stella McCartney, Old Bond Street – London’s most luxury stores
Stella McCartney store in London always stands out during Christmas. Colorful lights and decorations can not be missed when walking down Old Bond Street. As Stella McCartney says: “Old Bond Street is probably one of the most prestigious retail locations in the world.” Do you think that one of the poshest shopping areas is something that you should tick off from your London bucket list?
Stella McCartney, Old Bond Street
3. Oxford Street, Chelsea High Street, Portobello Road Market, and much more – places recommended by other bloggers
Contributed by Ada from Beyondyellowbrickblog
With its plethora of shopping opportunities, Christmas shopping can be a magical experience. Oxford Street serves as the epicentre of London Christmas shopping since its multiple department stores, including Selfridges, John Lewis, and Marks and Spencer, make easy one-stop shopping. For similar selections but (slightly) fewer crowds, check out Chelsea High Street or Kensington High Street instead. You’ll also want to prioritize a visit to Harrods, London’s most famous department store, where you can shop their Christmas market and enjoy their stunning Christmas window displays.
Speaking of markets, get into the Christmas spirit and get some shopping done at Christmas markets like Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park or Southbank Centre Winter Market.
You pick up delicacies for the foodie on your list at Fortnum and Mason and browse luxury goods on Bond Street. Booklovers will delight in anything from Hatchards. If you’re shopping for travel and/or map lovers, definitely check out the selection at Stanfords in Covent Garden. For unique gifts like antiques and vintage clothing, hit up the Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill.
Don’t overlook the London museum’s gift shops for Christmas shopping. These shops often have a fantastic selection of Christmas ornaments and decorations, as well as their usual offerings of books and high-quality souvenirs. Purchasing your Christmas gifts from museums that offer free admissions, like the Victoria and Albert or the Museum of London, is a great way to support these institutions while also getting some shopping done.
Tiffany & Co., Old Bond Street
Things to do for Christmas in London – Eat a Christmas meal in one of the best restaurants
1. Clos Maggiore – London’s most romantic restaurant
Another WOW effect, but this time for the best outdoor Christmas decorations. French restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden offers over 2,500 wines. In fact, some of the best wines in the world. If you want to spend Christmas time with style make sure to visit one of the best restaurants in London.
Clos Maggiore outdoor Christmas decorations, London
Things to do for Christmas in London – Visit hotels and clubs with the best Christmas decorations
1. Annabel’s – Most instagrammable place in London during Christmas
No club in London gets as festive as Annabel’s. During wintertime, the whole elevation of the building is packed with Christmas decorations. This is one of the most instagrammable places in London.
Annabel’s Christmas decorations, London
2. One Aldwych Hotel – The best location for Theatres lovers in London
Sometimes you don’t have to go big to impress with Christmas decorations. For example, upside-down Christmas Trees by the entrance of the building look superb. One Aldwych Hotel is just a few minutes’ walks from over 20 Theatres.
One Aldwych Hotel, London
Short winter days are great to watch shows in some of the best London’s Theatres such as National Theatre, The London Theatre, The Globe, The Old Vic, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Royal Opera House, Barbican Centre, Young Vic Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Savoy Theatre or Novello Theatre.
Novello Theatre, London
Things to do for Christmas in London – Search for festive cars
1. Royal Academy of Art & Covent Garden – Most festive car decorations in London
Decorating cars with Christmas presents in London is no surprise. You can find them for example in Covent Garden or next to the Royal Academy of Art. Photo with such Christmas decorations makes a huge impression. When visiting London in winter you should look out for those cars and take the best Christmas pictures ever!
Royal Academy of Art, London
Things to do for Christmas in London – Visit The Best Christmas Markets
1. Covent Garden
Wandering around Covent Garden is one of the top things to do during winter in London. When lights switch on November and one of the biggest Christmas Trees is put up in heart of the Covent Garden piazza there is no better place to feel the festive season.
Covent Garden, London
If you are looking for a Christmas gift idea make sure to check out Apple Market. In the past, this place was the most famous fruit and vegetable market in the world. However, fruits and vegetables were replaced by handmade crafts that you can buy in one of the best Christmas Markets in London.
Covent Garden, London
Furthermore, huge mirror balls and mistletoes welcome you at the entrance to Apple Market. Christmas decorations in Covent Garden are one of the best in London. Besides admiring decorations there are plenty of other things to do. Over 60 pubs and restaurants including Rules – London’s oldest restaurant are within a short distance.
Apple Market, Covent Garden
A lot of attractions near Covent Garden make this place one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Over 44 million visitors explore the famous Covent Garden every year. Check out some of the attractions near this area are such as Trafalgar Square, London Transport Museum, or Neal’s Yard – one of the most charming streets in London.
Covent Garden, London
2. Camden Town Market
Any idea for Christmas gifts? Visit Camden in London to find the most unique presents for your friends and family. Camden Market is one of the most quirky and at the same time the most creative markets in London. If you are looking for a special experience during the Christmas season you should explore Camden Town.
Camden Town, London
3. Leicester Square
Between November and January visit the magical Leicester Square Christmas Market. It always looks festive and offers great evening entertainment. When you get hungry make sure to check out some of the best restaurants near Leicester Square. A delicious meal in one of the Michelin Guide Restaurants might be a great idea to welcome New Year in London.
Leicester Square Christmas Market
4. Winter Wonderland
Hyde Park never gets busier than in December. The most famous Christmas Market in London attracts more than three million visitors every year. You can enjoy ice skating in the largest outdoor Ice Rink in the UK or ride one of the rollercoasters. This German-style Christmas Market offers plenty of activities for families with kids, but also is a great option for a night out with friends.
Winter Wonderland, London
Things to do for Christmas in London – Check out The Best Winter and Christmas Events
1. Lightopia Festival
Some of the best winter events in the world are in London. Between November and January, central London turns into a winter paradise of illuminations. Lightopia Festival is a magical experience for kids and adults. Get wrapped with warm clothes and walk around luminous plants, animals, and sculptures.
Lightopia Festival, London
2. Lumiere London
The largest light festival in the UK came to London for the first time in 2016. It is usually hosted in Durham, however, keep an eye on dates, it might be back in London again. Light installations of local and international artists are something that can not be missed. During the creation of artwork, all installations are made as energy-efficient as possible.
Lumiere light festival, London
3. Chinese New Year
You never know what is going to happen when you visit China Town in London. We were very lucky to see flying flamingos over our heads as a part of the light festival Lumiere. China Town is worth visiting at any time of the year. However, celebrating Chinese New Year with a colorful parade and tasty street food is something to tick off from your travel bucket list.
China Town, London
4. New Year’s Eve in London
Contributed by Victoria from guideyourtravel
Spending New Year’s Eve in London is a great choice for those looking for a place that perfectly combines tons of activities and nightlife. Just keep in mind that this is one of the most expensive places in Europe, especially on New Year’s. Book your hotel as far in advance as possible and expect to spend a lot on food and drinks. A great activity is to go on a river cruise which will include a nice dinner and lots of fun and dancing. The view of the Thames will be spectacular and you’ll have an unforgettable night. If you’re looking for an even more exciting experience why not party at the Shard, one of London’s most famous buildings? You can enjoy cocktails and a great DJ with a view. Finally, another great option is a midnight ballet like The Nutcracker at Royal Albert Hall if you enjoy classical music.
Tower Bridge, London (photo by Victoria from guideyourtravel)
Things to do for Christmas in London – Explore the capital’s top attractions
1. London Eye
Heated capsules with amazing views of London on a cold winter day is something to experience in December. A 30-minute rotation in one of 32 capsules is a perfect place to start your winter adventure in London. Take some amazing pictures from the top before you leave a cozy capsule.
London Eye, UK
There is no bigger New Year’s Eve celebration than in London. Fireworks display next to Big Ben and London Eye makes a huge impression. However, one of the biggest events in London has been canceled due to Covid-19 in recent years. Let’s hope they bring back this amazing fireworks display one day so we could start New Year with a Bang!
2. Big Ben
Just 10 minutes walk from London Eye is the most famous clock tower in the world. This British icon attracts many tourists every year. Big Ben’s refurbishment started in 2017 and the cost of the project exceeds £80m. As a result of 5 years of restoration, you will be able to admire the most beautiful clock of London in its full glory.
Big Ben, London
3. St. Paul’s Cathedral
You can walk across the contemporary Millennium Bridge to the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral. The annual cost of keeping Cathedral open is £7 million. Despite this Cathedral offers free carol concerts every year. Visit this architectural masterpiece with your family to feel the magic of Christmas.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, London
4. Tower Bridge
When skies are grey walk down Tower Bridge and admire its beautiful blue colors. Over the years the bridge was painted in different colors including grey or brown. I hope Tower Bridge will stay blue as it looks so cool in this shade.
Tower Bridge, London
5. City Hall
Next to Tower Bridge, there is a futuristic building designed by famous architect Norman Foster. The oval shape makes it stands out among other buildings. 45 meters tall glass structure is a great place to stop and take some pictures while exploring London.
City Hall, London
Things to do for Christmas in London – Spend Christmas in the sky
The best views of London are definitely from →Shard. 360-degree view in 309 meters tall structure makes an impression. From level 69 up to level 72 visitors can admire the London skyline. During nice weather, you can see plenty of the capital’s attractions up to 40 miles. You will be also impressed by how quick is the lift. It takes just seconds to take you up to the highest levels in the building.
View from Shard, London
Shard is a truly amazing place to visit on cold days. Moreover, this vertical city has award-winning restaurants, exclusive residential apartments, offices, and Shangri-La Hotel. Why not celebrate New Year’s Eve in Western Europe’s Highest Hotel Bar? End the year with style in one of the most iconic buildings in London.
2. Sky Garden
Entry to Skye Garden is free of charge and it offers one of the best views of the London skyline. Thus, book your free ticket in advance and escape winter in the capital’s highest public garden. Furthermore, being located in the heart of London is a great alternative to Shard.
Sky Garden, London
Sky Garden has not only two restaurants but also two bars surrounded by lush greenery. 160 meters tall skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street is also known as “The Walkie-Talkie”. The shape of the building resembles a two-way radio handset. However, the main idea of the design was to maximize floor space at the top of the building to admire the London skyline.
3. The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe
If you want to spend Christmas in the sky there is no better place than London. The Gherkin has a lot of packages to choose from. For example exclusive Christmas Party in an iconic building designed by famous architect Norman Foster.
The Gherkin, London
Moreover, one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in London was put up for sale in 2006 for £600 million. Nevertheless, in the end, it was sold for £630 million which makes it the most expensive office building in England. What’s the more interesting owner of The Gherkin made a £300 million profit in that sale.
Things to do for Christmas in London – Visit Museums
1. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Start the festive season with the most famous figures in Madame Tussauds. Snap a selfie with your favorite celebrity and share your Christmas photo with friends. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is a great place to visit when temperatures go down in winter.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, London
2. Tate Modern
When it is cold outside visit one of the free attractions in London. Book your free ticket online in advance and start exploring the best modern art gallery in the capital. Tate Modern is opposite Millennium Bridge – a steel suspension bridge which is also a great attraction in London.
Light installation, Tate Modern
Things to do for Christmas in London – Connect with nature
1. Richmond Park & Sea Life London Aquarium
If you are looking for a day out with nature London has plenty of beautiful parks that you can visit. Specifically, Richmond Park where you can spot deer in its thick winter coat. Before planning your London trip make sure to check out one of my posts about →Richmond Park. You can also explore the underwater world in Sea Life London Aquarium which is a great option for kids. As Polish legend says animals have the magical ability to speak with humans only on Christmas Eve…
Sea Life London Aquarium