Christmas in London 2023 is going to be a magical time. It’s a time of the year that is loved by many, and that’s down to the fact that London knows how to do Christmas. The holidays in London are pretty epic. Not only are there tons of things to do as a family, but there’s also a whole host of things to do for adults. Kids aren’t the only ones who can have fun at this time of year!
From foodie things to do, to activities, events, fancy dress and more- there is something for everyone this festive season in London. No matter if you’re a local or you’re just visiting, you can guarantee you’ll have a great time in London this December. So without further ado, here’s what you can get up to, to enjoy Christmas in London.
1. Christmas at Kew
Christmas at Kew is a must-visit to soak up Christmas in London 2023. It brings back that childhood nostalgia and the setting of Kew Gardens on a Christmas night is magical. As you walk around the gardens there is light display after light display, with a special light show featuring projections and fountains (you need to see it for yourself).
It’s a special event that’s suitable for children and adults alike, and of course, there’s food trucks, mulled wine and hot chocolate available close by.
Be sure to book Christmas at Kew early to avoid disappointment! Find out more here.
2. Christmas Lights at Regent’s Street
The best things to do in London at Christmas are surely the ones that are totally free. An iconic scene is of course the Christmas lights at Regent’s Street. If you’re in London for Christmas, they’re an absolute must-see.
The lights at Regent’s Street are conveniently located so that you could shop on Oxford Street, head to Regent’s Street to see the lights, and then pop by to Liberty London and Carnaby Street to see their respective Christmas offerings. A delightful way to spend an evening!
3. Ice Skating
You may not expect it in a city that rarely sees snow in December, but London is home to several ice rinks during the festive season. Again, they get booked up quickly, so make sure you secure your place early to avoid disappointment.
If you’re in London for Christmas in 2023, the iconic Somerset House ice rink is where everyone wants to go ice skating and get the exclusive photos to share on social media. Why? The surroundings are absolutely stunning.
For a romantic date, or a fun evening with friends, ice skating at Somerset House is IT. For optimum festive feels, book into Somerset House early. You can find out more here.
Glide at Battersea Power Station
Another iconic location, this time due to the beautiful 30ft Christmas tree. The ice rink here is a little more family-friendly than the rink at Somerset House, and you may find that you are more likely to be able to get a ticket slot to go skating here.
The location is unrivalled- you’re right next to the Power Station, with fabulous views of The Thames- so why not make a day of it?!
If you’d like to go ice skating at Battersea Power Station, you can buy your tickets here.
Hampton Court Palace
This ice skating option is a little further out of town, but the setting is beautiful and well worth the short train journey out of central London. The Palace is lit up with a beautiful festive light show and provides a stunning backdrop as you skate around the rink.
Controversially, this is actually my personal favourite ice rink in London to go skating at Christmas. The tickets also have better availability so it’s a great one to go to if you’re booking just a couple of weeks in advance. Interested? Find out more here.
4. Southbank Centre Winter Festival
If you’re visiting central London, you must head down to Southbank Centre Winter Festival. Not only are there fantastic Christmas markets lining the banks of the River Thames, but there’s also a whole host of festive events being held at the centre itself.
Events include Christmas Actually, a Christmas variety show curated by Love Actually director, Richard Curtis. Nutcracker, a reimagining of the classic, and E.T in concert.
To book your tickets, head to their website here.
5. A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic
A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic is possibly one of the most popular Christmas shows in all of London. The show premiered in 2017, and has returned every year since to a sell out audience.
The show is described as suitable for children aged 8+, but is truly a sight to behold for adults too. What gets more festive than the Victorian tale of A Christmas Carol? You’ll even get mince pies and clementines at the showing too.
Seats sell out quickly, due to the show’s popularity, so book your tickets here.
6. Concert By Candlelight
Is there anything more cosy than listening to a concert by candlelight during the winter months? These special candle-lit events are held in unusual and extraordinary places- including churches and cathedrals.
The concerts themselves range from classics such as Vivaldi, Bach, and Chopin- to modern offerings such as a tribute to Oasis, ABBA, and even Fleetwood Mac, Jackson 5, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift! There is a Concert by Candlelight for everyone. Secure your tickets here.
🎁 Concert By Candlelight also offer gift vouchers– the perfect Christmas gift!
7. Check Out Christmas Displays
In some of London’s most up-market neighbourhoods you’ll find elaborate Christmas displays complete with flowers, Christmas trees and an eclectic mixture of adornments. Usually the displays will be themed, and they’re different each and every year. Here are some of my favourites…
Located just a short stroll from Covent Garden market (a Christmas must-see in itself), you will find Henrietta Hotel. It’s not only a boutique hotel, but also a restaurant and bar should you wish to pop inside.
Henrietta’s loves a themed display, and Christmas in London 2023 is no exception. Pop by to snap a picture-perfect moment, and go round the corner to Mr Fogg’s while you’re in the area…
Mr Fogg’s is a collection of four bars- each very characterful, and all inspired by their namesake, Phileas J. Fogg. If you’re visiting Henrietta’s, Mr Fogg’s Covent Garden is another must-visit.
You’ll find a beautiful arch of Christmas décor on the outside of the bar, and inside even more curiosities await you! If you love a good cocktail, you must check it out.
The famously pink parlour, Peggy Porschen is well known for their exquisite seasonal displays- from Valentine’s Day, to Halloween, and of course, Christmas. Go to see the displays, and stay to try the cakes, trust me.
Peggy Porschen has two locations in London- Belgravia and Chelsea. Be sure to stop by this festive season- you won’t want to miss it!
The Ivy, Chelsea
The Ivy has a famous reputation, but if you are in Chelsea, you must visit to see their Christmas display. Yet another establishment that provides a beautiful seasonal display throughout the year- but Christmas really is when all the stops are pulled out.
And if you’re heading to Chelsea? You may as well stop by Peggy Porschen (above) too!
8. The View from The Shard at Christmas
As you are already now aware, London becomes illuminated by hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights during the festive season. And what better place to view them than The Shard? When you reach the top of The Shard, you will see London at Christmas in all its glory.
It’s without a doubt the best view of the city at Christmas (and throughout the rest of the year, if we’re honest!). Secure your tickets here.
9. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
If you’re planning Christmas in London 2023, you’ve surely already heard of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. This iconic London festive event was once free to enter, but is now ticketed (cost of living increases and all that!).
Winter Wonderland is full of fairground rides (including a ferris wheel), stalls, food, bars, and even an ice skating rink! It’s a great evening out with friends, but (if I’m totally honest) as a Londoner, I think it’s a little overrated.
But that said, if your interest is piqued, you can get your tickets here. Enjoy!
10. Shopping on Oxford Street
Oxford Street at Christmas can be a little overwhelming- the street is more crowded than ever, and you may even find it difficult to cross the road or walk on the pavement as a pair. That said, shopping on Oxford Street is something of a Christmas staple for many.
Our top tips for stress-free shopping on Oxford Street?
- Go on a week day or week night if you can- it’ll be less busy than a Friday or Saturday evening.
- Book lunch or dinner in advance, that way you know you won’t get stuck for food if restaurants are full.
- Create a game plan of where you want to go. Try and start at one end of Oxford Street (Tottenham Court Road, for example), and then make your way to the other end (Bond Street).
11. Department Stores at Christmas
Liberty was founded in 1875, and as you might expect, this department store is a London icon. From the Tudor-style frontage to the epic interior, Liberty is a stunning building that seriously comes alive during the festive season.
Perhaps most famously, Liberty opens their magical ‘Christmas shop’ every year. This is a dedicated area of the fourth floor which becomes something of a Christmas grotto with the most extravagant and special decorations that you can think of. The Christmas shop is usually open from September- they love that early festive cheer!
Who visits London at Christmas without going to Harrods? Yet another epic department store, Harrods also has a luxury Christmas store for all of your festive requirements. Be warned, it’s expensive! Some individual baubles are priced as high as £50!
But that said, you can usually pick up a special Harrods branded bauble for around £15, which is a much more affordable souvenir.
Just like the other luxury department stores in central London, Selfridges also has their famous Christmas shop too. Each year the Christmas shop gets bigger and always transforms the fourth floor into a wonderland of decorations, gifts, and toys.
If you were hoping to visit Selfridges anyway on your trip, you don’t want to miss out on the Christmas shop!
12. Carol Singers at Liberty London
If you visit Liberty in December, you may be lucky enough to hear a choir of carol singers in store. This is particularly special because of the mezzanine layout of the store. You can look over the bannisters and hear the singing from every floor!
To check for upcoming singing, be sure to keep an eye on the Liberty Events page on their website. And if you can’t get enough of the Liberty festive cheer? Channel 4 has even done a behind the scenes documentary of what goes on behind closed doors to bring us all the magic of Christmas at this department store.
13. Harrods Christmas Lights
The scene of Harrods all lit up at night is surely one that is etched on the minds of many. Technically, the lights at Harrods are switched on every night of the year, but it does just feel that extra bit festive at Christmas time.
If you’re visiting London at Christmas, do stop by at Harrods (and go to their Christmas shop too!). This is especially convenient if you’re already planning to go to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland- they are right next to each other!
A top tip from us if you’re spending Christmas in London this year? Take public transport whenever you can. There is such a thing as cheap parking in central London, but it will certainly be more convenient if you can use The Tube.
14. Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market is less of a market and really more of an upscale shopping destination with posh shops, eateries and bars. It is truly stunning, and quintessentially British. Due to it’s location in The City (the middle of the banking district), it’s usually open on weekdays.
However, you can still visit at the weekend to see the fantastic Christmas tree- you might just find that the shops and eateries are closed. But honestly? The Christmas tree and architecture are the real stars of the show. We’d say it’s even one of the most Instagrammable places in London.
Did you also know that Leadenhall Market is where some scenes in Harry Potter were filmed? It’s not difficult to see why- the market has a magic quality that is only amplified at Christmas time.
15. Covent Garden at Christmas
Covent Garden should be on the to-do list of everyone visiting London (and be sure to branch out to Seven Dials too!). At Christmas, this is especially true.
Covent Garden is alive with crowds, beautiful displays, and unique festive street entertainment during the festive season. Go inside the market to find market stalls, shops, cafes, and the special décor that awaits inside.
But the real showstopper? The 60 foot Christmas tree that is adorned with over 30,000 lights, and finished with a beautiful red bow.
16. Carnaby Street Lights
Carnaby Street has got to be one of the most fun areas of London (be sure to drop by Kingly Court when you’re there!). One of the reasons? It’s always decorated for every season- and Christmas is the real shining moment.
Each Christmas Carnaby Street is lit up with thousands of lights with a unique display. Each year the theme is different, so you’ll have to check it out for yourself this year! Another bonus? You’re right next to Liberty London- so no excuse not to pop in!
17. Hogwarts in the Snow
At the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, you can of course experience all the magic of Harry Potter. But did you know that you can take a visit to the studio in the winter, to see Hogwarts in the snow? Not only that, but everything is completely decked out in festive cheer- just like in the films!
From the original Christmas decorations shown in the Great Hall (from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), and other pieces of festive magic at every turn. Think Christmas trees, snow, and everything festive from the movies.
Hogwarts in the Snow usually starts from November and finishes in January, so be sure to book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment (it’s very popular!). You can book your tickets here.
18. Christmas at Kenwood
Christmas at Kenwood is based in Hampstead Heath- it’s a truly enchanting outdoor light trail that is perfect for a family Christmas evening. The experience usually runs throughout the month of December, and with a surprise around every corner, it certainly captures the spirit of Christmas.
Wrap up warm and relish the chance to wander the grounds of this magnificent stately home at Christmas time. This is a popular option for Christmas in London 2023 and so be sure to book your tickets early. You can book your tickets here.
19. West End Shows
If you’re something of a theatre buff, you won’t want to miss out on the myriad of Christmassy shows that grace the stages of the West End over the holiday season. Favourites include Elf The Musical, Frozen The Musical, and A Sherlock Carol.
20. The Nutcracker
Always wanted to see the ballet at Christmas? The Nutcracker is performed at the Royal Opera House in London. The costumes and projections are breathtaking, and combined with the enchanting ballet and musical score? It’s a real masterpiece.
The performance is usually held between early December and early January. You must go and see this mesmerising show if you are in London at Christmas-time. Secure your seats here.
21. A Night at the Opera at Christmas
Maybe you’re visiting London, but you fancy doing something a little bit different this year. A Night at the Opera at Christmas is a special one off event at St Mary Le Strand Church in the heart of London.
This event is the perfect introduction to opera for those who wish to celebrate Christmas in style. You’ll hear from The Piccadilly Sinfonietta, with dazzling selection of the world’s greatest operatic repertoire.
To book tickets for this outstanding performance, go to the website here.
22. Christmas Pantomime at The Palladium
If you’re going to watch a Christmas pantomime this year in London, make it a showing at The Palladium. It’s the home of larger than life pantomime in London, and well renowned for bringing the best Christmas panto in the West End!
In 2023, Peter Pan is the musical of choice, with Jennifer Saunders starring as Captain Hook. With the fantastic sets, costumes, and actors, you won’t want to miss this one. A limited time only showing, be sure to secure your tickets as soon as possible here.
23. Borough Market
Christmas in London 2023 is not complete without a trip to Borough Market. Located right next to London Bridge and the associated tube stations, it’s accessible for locals and tourists alike.
Not only is Borough Market decked out in full Christmas décor come December, it also offers the most delicious festive treats. Whether you’re treating yourself with a festive bite, or buying some gifts or souvenirs- you won’t want to miss out on this foodie fun.
Several stalls at Borough Market also caters very well to dietary requirements such as gluten free and vegan, so you will almost definitely find a brilliant cake to nibble on no matter what your requirements.
24. Alpine Lodge Bars
So although you definitely can’t hit the slopes and go skiing in London, you can definitely head to somewhere cosy for some faux après-ski joviality.
There are several bars that turn from summer havens to alpine lodges as soon as the weather turns chilly. Think furry blankets, cosy fires, candles and twinkling lights. Not to mention an incredible winter drinks menu!
It’s the perfect set up whether you’re on a date or catching up with a friend. It will certainly make you feel (almost) glad it’s winter.
So where do we suggest?
📍 Alpine Lodge, 100 Wardour Street
📍 The Montague Ski Lodge (book in advance for a group or event)
25. Churchill Arms Light Display
The Churchill Arms is yet another Christmas in London 2023 favourite. Located in Kensington, this pub is very well known for its extravagant Christmas light display every year.
Not only is it decked in thousands of lights, it is also adorned with Christmas trees. Inside? It’s a cosy London pub classic, with even more lights and decorations surrounding the bar. It’s been voted most festive pub in Britain, and you know what? I think they’re right!
26. Drive in Cinema
The Luna Cinema is pretty famous all over the UK for providing incredible cinematic experiences. Their winter cinema schedule is no different, and The Luna Cinema has showings all over the UK in special locations as well as drive-in cinema.
Think Home Alone, Love Actually, Elf and other Christmas classics. This is a fun way to see your festive favourites in a whole new way. To find out what’s on for Christmas 2023 and secure your tickets, head to their website here.
27. Trafalgar Square Carols
In need of a healthy dose of Christmas spirit? Look no further than Trafalgar Square in December. Not only will you be surrounded by festive fun, but there are almost always carol singers most evenings from 4pm.
In past years there have been over 40 groups of singers and choirs who sing for an hour each time, so do pop by to Trafalgar Square if you’re in the area to sightsee. You won’t want to miss the Christmas carols!
28. Santa Run
Affectionately called ‘Santa In The City,’ the Santa fun run happens every December. And, you guessed it, participants must dress up as Santa to complete the run.
The run is held in aid of a different charity each year- so it’s a great way to boost Christmas spirit and get your friends and family to join you for the run (even if they just cheer you along from the sidelines). There is a payment fee to enter, and you can also purchase your Santa costume from the website.
To secure your place, head to their website.
29. Leicester Square Christmas Markets
What’s a visit to London in December without the Christmas markets? Leicester Square hosts a festive hub of Christmas stalls which are usually packed with visitors from November to January.
If you’re already in the West End for a show, it’s worth stopping by for a mulled wine, a spot of gift buying, or even some food. You can expect traditional Christmas market stalls, which are all free to browse. This is not a ticketed event so head down for some warm festive spirit in this bustling location.
30. Winter Igloos in London
There is something quite novel about drinking and dining in an igloo in London. You’re sheltered from the cold outside, and existing in your own little bubble for a moment.
The perfect wintery treat for a small group, there are several winter igloos in London that you can frequent this winter.
📍 Willows on the Roof is a roof terrace on top of John Lewis, Oxford Street. Check out their website to keep updated on when their winter igloos will start this Christmas.
📍Aviary is located on the 10th floor of Montcalm Royal London House Hotel in Finsbury Square. To book your igloo (they accommodate up to 8 guests!) head to their website.
🎅 And that wraps up our guide to Christmas in London 2023! Eat, drink, and be merry!