It’s one of the most festive cities in the world. There are so many things to do in London at Christmas. Each and everyone of them are unique, magical and oh so festive. The London Christmas decorations are breathtaking and the city is dotted with outdoor ice rinks. Spending Xmas in London is an incredible experience and a fantastic time for a vacation to England. Join us as we share the very best Christmas things to do in London!
One of the prettiest things to do in London at Christmas is visit the Covent Garden markets
When it comes to things to do in London at Christmas you can’t go past the markets. Covent Garden market has the most spectacular traditional decorations. Picture giant baubles, bow adorned fir trees and lots of delicious Christmassy foods.
There are plenty of pretty photo opportunities, with the exterior and interior of the market carefully themed. London Xmas markets are a great place to drink a mug of mulled cider and eat a fresh fruit mince pie. Take a basket and do some Christmas shopping or just stroll through the market and enjoy the festive vibes.
PLAN | For more about what’s happening at Covent Garden Market over Christmas visit their site.
Go iceskating in London on an outdoor ice rink
Iceskating in London is a firm favourite when it comes to celebrating the festive season. The outdoor ice rink season starts in Mid November and runs through to mid January. These temporary pop up outdoor ice rinks are set in iconic locations such as the Natural History Museum and the Tower of London.
Many feature brightly adorned giant Christmas trees and have an accompanying village where you can hire skates, warm up with a hot drink or enjoy a snack.
Iceskating on an outdoor rink is one of the most festive things to do in London at night and makes a fantastic activity for couples, families or groups of friends.
Iceskating in London is a popular activity in London in December so book ahead to ensure there’s availability at your preferred time. Dress warmly and wear thick socks and most importantly prepare to laugh and smile as you try some tricks across the ice! It’s a fantasticly festive way to enjoy Christmas time in London!
ICE SKATE | Prebook your iceskating at the Natural History museum
READ| For up to date details on the locations on rinks this year click here.
Drink mulled wine whilst exploring a London Xmas market
One of the tastiest and warming things to do in London at Christmas is to enjoy e mug of mulled wine. The warm spicy scent epitomises Christmas in London and its a fantastic way to warm up frozen fingers! Enjoy a mug whilst exploring a Christmas market or whilst enjoying the Christmas lights.
A Europe Christmas market experience includes mulled wine, cider and mead are all readily available throughout the city. It is alcoholic so 18+ is the required age in England. Keep your eye out for the non alcoholic variety which is just a spicy and warming.
PLAN | Plan ahead and stay the night in London. Hotels in Southwark offer great value.
Stand in awe under a giant Christmas tree
Unlike a hot summer Christmas in Australia, Christmas in London is cool and lends itself to giant living Christmas trees. Soaring fir trees trimmed with decorations can be found throughout the city.
Covent Garden is home to one of the most impressive and biggest of all of the giant Christmas trees. Trimmed to perfection and lit beautifully of an evening its impossible not to feel festive in this traditional surrounding.
London in December is the prime time to search for Christmas trees. Any earlier and you may find some of the displays are not yet at their peak. If you like a story behind your Christmas tree, why not visit Trafalgar square? It’s giant Christmas tree is gifted each year from Norway and is dressed in a traditional nordic style. Additionally, it’s also the biggest tree in London.
Somerset House is the home to one of London’s best outdoor ice rinks and also features as 12 metre (40 foot tree) located on the rink. It’s the perfect centre point to the rink with the architecturally beautiful Somerset house framing it. Add a glass of mulled wine and some iceskates for one of the best things to do in London at night.
PLAN | Find the locations of the best Christmas trees in London this year here.
CATCH THE TUBE | Organise your Oyster card here and get around with ease
Cosy up in a Cabana on the Selfridges rooftop bar
The Selfridges rooftop bar is a local London secret with the best views of Oxford street below. The Selfridges rooftop is transformed into a magical winter wonderland and is one of the most festive things to do in London in Winter.
Take the cosmetics lift to the top floor and you’ll be greeted with a Scandinavian Christmas wonderland. There’s indoor dining, but the ultimate experience for your Christmas in London is outdoors at the open bar. Cosy cabanas are dotted across the rooftop and are the perfect place to cosy up under a wooly rug. Additionally tables and chairs are cosily arranged over the courtyard with heaters carefully placed to keep you warm.
Peer over the balcony and watch the Christmas shoppers busy in London in December. The rooftop bar is the perfect location for a snack or a warming drink. It also makes the perfect pit stop for some shopping or viewing of the Christmas lights. It’s one of the prettiest things to do in London at night and is also open during the day.
PLAN | To find out more about visiting the Selfridges rooftop bar, visit their website.
READ | Our comprehensive guide to London in 4 days
Enjoy festive Christmas window displays
Retailers go all out in London which means that it is absolutely essential to do some window shopping and view the most wonderful Christmassy shopfronts around. When it comes to things to do in London at Christmas this is high on the list and luckily its easy to do.
The Oxford Street precinct (including Regent street, Bond Street and the surrounding minor roads) are the epitome of Christmas window displays. Hot favourites include Fortnum and Mason, Liberty of London, Selfridges and Harrods.
The big retailers can’t be missed, however you should most definitely wander down some of the smaller lanes. You’ll be rewarded with smaller displays that range from traditional to ultra modern and interpretive in style.
London in December comes alive as retailers reveal their windows and the Christmas lights are turned on. The windows in conjunction with the Christmas lights make a little window shopping one of the most incredible things to do in London at night. Even if you’re only spending 2 or 3 days in London, make sure to schedule in time to see the Christmas windows.
The best places to stay in London will be near all of the action, so research the precincts in advance and book early. We love staying around Oxford Street.
READ | Discover the best toiletries kit for your London vacation
Take a walking tour of the Christmas lights
Xmas in London means competition. There’s competition between the retailers to have the best windows, the outdoor ice rinks to have the most impressive rinks and then the boroughs compete to have the most impressive Christmas lights.
London in December is spectacular as all of the Christmas displays are in full swing. Oxford Street is a great place to start. The whole street comes alight. Regent street has the most impressive angel displays and Bond Street is traditionally beautiful. Small laneways will call you to explore.
Make sure you make your way to Carnaby street for the most unique London Christmas decorations. Each year Carnaby street takes on a different theme, taking inspiration from events within the city and historical events within the street. It’s a colourful, modern interpretation of Christmas.
READ | if you want to discover The best Christmas lights in London, read our guide here
READ | Many of the lights are turned on in late Autumn. Discover some incredible places to visit in England in Autumn.
Ride a carousel under lights
Xmas in London is a fun and festive season. It’s not just a singular day, but months of celebration, feeling festive, catching up with friends and warming up to the oncoming winter season. Longer days and cooler weather can encourage people to stay indoors, but with all of the Christmas festivities happening in London, locals and visitors are encouraged to rug up, head outdoors and have a good time.
Winter carnivals, such as Winter Wonderland are a fantastic outing during the day or of an evening. Reconnect with your inner child and take a carousel ride. By night the Christmas fairs are under lights making them twinkle and feel more festive than ever. Post carousel ride wander the Christmas markets, warm up with some mulled wine and maybe even purchase a new decoration for your tree. A carousel ride is the perfect little stop to bring a smile to your face and spike your Christmas cheer.
The best Christmas things to do in London
No matter your age, who you’re travelling with or how much time you have, if you’re looking for things in do in London in winter you simply must partake in Christmas celebrations.
Whether it’s a drink on the Selfridges rooftop, being awestruck by the incredible Christmas lights or simply stopping by a London Xmas market to warm up and refuel, London in December and the winter months, is an utterly magical time of the year.
Passport Collective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.