There's nothing quite so magical as Christmas in London, and the Christmas attractions in London are world class.2019 June 12
There’s nothing quite so magical as spending Christmas in London. The Christmas activities here are world class, and there’s plenty to see and do in the capital to make you feel festive at this time of year.
This cool metropolis is known for its awesome art galleries, many museums, great nightlife, world class shopping and fantastic food year-round. But, during Christmastime, London offers plenty in the way of seasonal entertainment too.
From world-renowned markets to spectacular seasonal shopping, you’re never short of things to do in London at Christmas. Here’s our pick of the best Christmas activities on offer in the UK capital.
What could be more festive than going to see a Christmas show or pantomime during your stay? Luckily, London’s legendary theatres don’t disappoint at this time of year.
Christmas panto season is in full swing from early December onwards. There are plenty of Christmas shows, plays and musicals in the glittering West End, specially created for the season. For star-studded performances, book your ticket to see the annual London Palladium Pantomime.
The English National Ballet and the Royal Ballet usually present festive shows; Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall is always special too, with a spectacular line-up over the festive season. There’s the iconic performance of Handel’s Messiah, seasonal ballet recitals, traditional carol concerts and big-band Christmas smash hits.
Just remember to book your tickets online – preferably ahead of schedule (they’re popular!).
Please also note that some shows have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. It’s worth checking online beforehand to find out which performances are going ahead.
From November onwards, the streets of London are adorned with beautiful Christmas lights. Take a festive stroll around the city one evening to really make the most of it.
Regent Street is lit up in a lovely way and the Oxford Street Christmas lights are famed the world over. Carnaby Street creates a fantastic display and Covent Garden’s Christmas lights are simply stunning. Marylebone Village has its own Xmas lights to enjoy, as does Northbank. You’ll find lights to marvel at in The Brunswick Centre, Seven Dials, Kingston and Connaught Village. Plus, there are beautiful Christmas lights at Sloane Square in Chelsea, The Royal Exchange, St Katharine’s Docks, The Shard and Trafalgar Square, where you’ll find the splendid traditional Christmas tree every year.
To see the entire city lit up in all its glory, book a ticket for the London Eye and take in far-reaching views of the capital.
Hyde Park is the biggest of four Royal Parks and a short stroll away from easyHotel London Paddington. It’s also home to the annual Winter Wonderland event: a whopper of a Christmas festival, which includes brilliant shopping, ice-skating, family shows, fairground rides, circus shows and a big wheel – where you can view the spectacle from high above. It’s free to get in and so big you could easily spend the day there.
Unfortunately, Winter Wonderland will not be taking place in 2020 due to the pandemic.
At Christmas, after dark, the gorgeous gardens at Kew light up in a stunning festive trail of lights. Christmas at Kew is so popular that tickets go on sale in June. There’s usually a light show at the Palm House and the gardens are lit by more than a million glowing bulbs. A fantastic mile-long trail through the famous botanic gardens awaits you, studded with magical performances, displays and installations.
The Warner Brothers’ Studio Tour’s amazing festive feature, Hogwarts in the Snow, is back again this year. Diagon Alley has been given a wintry transformation in time for Christmas, and the Great Hall will be set as it was for the seasonal feast in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The Gryffindor common room is dressed up too, and a blanket of snow has been dusted over the massive Hogwarts castle model once again. There are glittering Christmas trees lining the Hall; a huge feast is laid out and there are icicles everywhere. Whether you’re a fan of the Harry Potter franchise or not, it’s hard not to feel festive here.
The capital is home to a host of Christmas markets, where you can sample seasonal wares in a suitably festive setting.
There’s Camden Christmas market, London Bridge Christmas Market and the Southbank Winter Market for a start, which are all packed with delicious, exciting and unusual festive treats. Camden Market morphs into a dazzling Christmas wonderland throughout November and December, with Santa’s Grotto, flurries of snow, seasonal live music and lots of tasty street food on offer.
London Bridge Christmas market is a traditional event that takes place along the Queen’s Walk, from London Bridge City Pier to the Scoop at More London. The Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival runs from early November until the first week in January, and offers a feast of glorious festive fun including markets, music, entertainment, food and great shopping. You can also enjoy the festive Christmas market in Leicester Square, and seasonal craft events at Crafty Fox and Winterville’s Solo Craft Fair.
Please note that some Christmas markets, including the Winter Festival at Southbank, have been cancelled this year. We’ve put together a list of the best UK Christmas events taking place in 2020, where you can find more information on the markets that are going ahead in London and the rest of the UK.
London is considered to be one of the best shopping destinations in the country, so take advantage of it while you’re here and do your Christmas shopping. Whether you’re searching for unique, luxury or budget-friendly gifts, you’re sure to find what you’re after in the capital.
Covent Garden, Oxford Street, the massive Westfield shopping centre and Carnaby Street are all great for Christmas shopping.
Covent Garden is excellent for quirky, independent and luxury shopping. The famed Apple Market there is great if you’re looking for handmade gifts.
Oxford Street – one of the capital’s most famous shopping districts – is home to really big branches of your favourite high street brands, including a massive M&S. Here, you’ll also find all sorts of tourist shops and independent outlets. Nearby Carnaby Street is fun too, and is packed with unusual clothing stores and vintage treasures.
The Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush is open until 10pm, offering late-night Christmas shopping for those last-minute gifts. It’s an epicentre of fashion, and stacked with fabulous outlets. You’ll find high street favourites like Topshop, huge department stores including John Lewis and luxury shops such as Gucci here. And, at Christmas, expect seasonal events aplenty.
There’s nothing more romantic (or festive!) than skating gracefully around a sparkling ice rink accompanied by Christmas music. If you’re a beginner that’s fine too – it’s a really cool way to spend time, however steady (or not) you may be on those skates!
In London at Christmas, there’s a whole host of outdoor ice rinks that have been built especially for the festive season. Some of the most popular rinks can be found at the Natural History Museum, Hampton Court Palace and Somerset House. There’s also the ice rink at Ally Pally (aka Alexandra Palace); an extremely popular hotspot thanks to its festive ‘Ice Disco’ events that take place throughout December.
Unfortunately, ice-skating at the Natural History Museum and Somerset House has been cancelled this year. However, you can still book tickets to skate at the Hampton Court Palace and Alexandra Palace ice rinks.
Nothing says Christmas quite like the famous Trafalgar Square Tree. Usually a towering 60-year-old Norway spruce measuring more than 20m high, it’s given to the capital each year by the city of Oslo. The tradition dates back to 1947, when the first tree was gifted to the city as a token of gratitude to the people of London, for their support during the second world war.
If you’d like to experience Christmas in London, we’ve got some lovely, budget-friendly hotels scattered across the city. Book your stay at one of our London hotels today, and try these must-do activities for yourself.
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