Christmas time in London with the family – the ultimate bucket list
There are plenty of Christmas activities for the whole family to enjoy in the capital. And to make it easy for you, we've rounded up our favourite things to do in London during Christmas.
Christmas in London means a city that is celebrating and hosting a spectacular events agenda.
And we truly have one of the most festive atmospheres for Yuletide and go all out with large light displays, giant Christmas trees, special performances, and cheerful holiday markets.
Together with your family, you can easily get in the festive mood and we have the ultimate list with things to do during Christmas in London.
From amazing light decorations to ice rinks, from shows to cosy gastropubs. Christmas in London is spectacular:
The best Christmas lights:
Carnaby Street Christmas Lights
The Queen hit Bohemian Rhapsody was the inspiration for the lights on Carnaby Street this year. A spectacular and unconventional festive display.
Covent Garden Christmas Lights
Next to the lights, Covent Garden shows off with a 55ft Christmas tree this year. And it is adorned with around 25,000 and 30,000 lights.
Oxford & Regent Street Christmas Lights
We have them on the list, but it is the city’s busiest shopping district. Since you can easily walk around all the lights, maybe have a look and decide for yourself if you want to enter the ‘zone’.
Marylebone High Street Christmas Lights
Another highlight and maybe a good place to head down when Oxford becomes too busy for you.
Bond Street Christmas Lights
Bond Street wins our hearts with their bold Peacock-inspired design.
Trafalgar Square Christmas Lights
Norway has gifted London a Christmas tree every year since 1947. And it is back this year too! A newly-cut Norwegian Spruce will sit proudly in Trafalgar Square, adorned with Christmas lights. The fountains also get a festive makeover.
Seven Dials Christmas Lights
Beautifully illuminated streets in the Seven Dials area.
South Bank Christmas Lights
Another spot to see: Charming lights on display all along the waterfront, and the London Eye is also lit up.
London’s Christmas Shop Windows
While you are in the area, make sure to do some window shopping, because some stores really make an art of window dressing at this time of the year. Especially: John Lewis on Oxford St., Fortnum and Mason, Harrods & Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, Selfridges, Liberty or Tiffany.
Special: Kew Gardens Christmas Lights
Running from November 22 to January 5 for another spectacular series of Christmas lights. Guests can walk a trail around the gardens, encountering enchanting arches and festive flotillas as they go. And you will see more than a million twinkling lights. There are also thousands of laser beams that light up the trees and a dramatic Fire Garden.
Go ice skating
Natural History Museum ice rink
A London institution with a scenery that is overwhelmingly beautiful. The fairground carousel is adorned by children and parents alike.
Canary Wharf ice rink
One of the capital’s biggest rinks and it is open for 15 weeks.
Skate at Somerset House
The beautiful surroundings make this an unmissable annual treat. You enjoy mince pies, mulled wine for mum and dad or a hot chocolate for the little one’s rinkside.
Tower of London ice skating
With the Tower of London as a backdrop, this is a gorgeous location.
Winter Wonderland ice rink at Hyde Park
The UK’s largest ice rink and also a very busy one. It opens at 10 am so better to come early if you want some peace with the family.
John Lewis’ Skyline Skating
Ice skating with the best view! John Lewis transforms its secret Oxford Street rooftop into an alpine oasis with a small skating rink.
Photo: Getty Images / Greca Redwood-Jones
Christmas afternoon tea at The Ritz
Why not go a little posh for the season and enjoy the ultimate Christmas afternoon tea at The Ritz. You will sit in an Edwardian winter wonderland full of lavish Christmas decorations. There even is an in-house choir to sing classic carols. And the little ones are given a Ritz teddy bear.
Museum of Architecture Gingerbread City
An absolute must-see is The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City! An imaginary city made by architecture firms, responding to the theme ‘Imagining the Future City’.
Alice in Winterland
Lantern and Light Festival in Southwark Park. Follow this curious trail through Winterland to meet the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts re-imagined as giant glowing lanterns. There are 160 illuminated characters along the walk, including a five-metre-tall Alice and a four-metre-high white rabbit.
See a Christmas show
Before we tell about the shows, no panic about the timing, most run until mid-January! And let you keep the Christmas feeling for a little longer…
The Snowman is back! Delight in this festive favourite, this year at the Peacock Theatre.
There is Snow White at the Palladium and the Old Vic is bringing back its joyful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Or what about a ‘Horrible Christmas’ at Alexandra Palace?
For more glam and bling, choose one of the big, glossy musicals from Matilda to the classic The Lion King. Aladdin even has a glittery Christmas production at the Prince Edward Theatre.
Hogwarts in winter
Hogwarts got a whole load of snow and Christmas trees. And The Great Hall is a seasonal feast with Christmas decor, the Gryffindor common room is filled with presents and cards, and snow drifts in Diagon Alley.
Best pubs with a festive atmosphere and decor:
When you need a little break from the cold a family pub can be a little magical at this time of the year too. And some even went out and put up an extraordinary Christmas display.
Our favourites include the Churchill Arms in Kensington with its stunning festive exterior featuring 97 Christmas trees!
Then, there is the Holly Bush in Hampstead that has the cutest interior ever.
More: The Wellington in Fulham that serves a very lovely and traditional Christmas menu for small and big. The George Inn near London Bridge invites with a very festive decor and the very idyllic The Duke’s Head in Putney.
Ho Ho Ho!