There's no better time to visit London than over the Christmas period, not only for the all-important Christmas shopping but also for the huge choice for festive activities for the family to enjoy. London is transformed in to a Christmas playground full of traditional seasonal fare. From markets to carol concerts, ice skating to pantomimes, Christmas in London brings you all that is best at this wonderful time of the year. In fact, why not make it into a short winter holiday? We've got plenty of fabulous places to stay in London.
Hyde Park is a must visit London Christmas attraction right in the centre of the capital. In its twelfth year and running through December and into early January, the Winter Wonderland returns with a host of attractions to get you in the festive mood. The new 70 meter observation wheel offers up great views across the capital, while Paddington on Ice, Santa Land and the Magical Ice Kingdom’s presentation of A Christmas Carol will keep the whole family entertained. Entry to the Winter Wonderland is free and a great starting point for your Christmas to begin.
For the legions of Harry Potter fans nothing will top seeing the Great Hall at Hogwarts decked out in snow amid Christmas trees and sparkling decorations. Hogwarts in the Snow tour at the Warner Bros. studios will ooze Harry Potter authenticity and includes the Yule Ball scene from the Goblet of Fire. The tour runs for over two months, finishing 26th January 2020. Book tickets early and learn the tricks of the film makers craft and how the special effects transform the set in to a stunning Christmas scene.
It is hard to imagine how you make Kew Gardens any more beautiful. Well, head to their dazzling Christmas light show to see how. In its seventh year, Kew Gardens serves up one of London’s most spectacular light displays as an illuminated trail containing over a million lights guides you round. You will see the botanical garden as never before when you wander along the Treetop Walkway and through the Tunnel of Light. Choose from a selection of street food vendors while you watch the Temperate House lit up with a magical laser light display.
Nothing marks the arrival of Christmas more than the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square. The famous tree lighting ceremony on the 5th December 2019 will be attended by thousands of people and through the course of the month visitors can listen to carollers singing beneath. The Christmas tree is a gift from Norway and is beautifully decorated to a simple Norwegian design. The Christmas tree at Trafalgar square remains the most iconic symbol of the UK festive period and for the first time this year the Square will host a Christmas market too.
One of London’s most famous Squares offers its visitors the chance to stroll through a wonderfully traditional Christmas market, full of handcrafted gifts, Christmas treats and mulled wine. The market provides the perfect opportunity to find unique presents for family and friends. The authentic Bavarian-style themed huts which house the stores adds to the feel of a winter wonderland, taking you away from the rush and haste of the modern world. The Leicester Square Christmas Market has something for everyone and is running to 5th January 2020.
St Luke's Church in Chelsea is staging this year’s carol concert to raise funds for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. This worthy charity works tirelessly to re-home cats and dogs, never turning an animal away. By attending the concert on either Thursday 5th December or Friday 13th December 2019 you will be helping support vulnerable animals, allowing them to be cared for and found a loving home. A traditional Christmas carol concert is a heart-warming experience and with mulled wine and mince pies ensures a traditional festive experience.
Release the Torvill and Dean in you and glide across the ice set against the majestic background of the Natural History Museum. Open until the 12th January 2020 the ice rink is set among frost-covered trees to maximise the feel of a magical winter wonderland. This fabulously informative museum situated in South Kensington has a cafe where you can sit and reflect on your skating achievements and watch the fun on the ice below.
The iconic setting of the Royal Albert Hall provides an unbeatable program of wide-ranging Christmas entertainment which residents and visitors to London can enjoy. From traditional Christmas carols and songbook concerts, through to jazz, opera, ballet, theatre and comedy the Royal Albert Hall has something for everybody over the festive period. If there is one place you should try and visit to take in a performance then it is the Royal Albert Hall, and what better time than their Christmas extravaganza.
The London Coliseum plays host to the English National Ballet’s magical performance of the Nutcracker. This production is a Christmas treat and the perfect show for Christmas as we enter a magical world with Clara and her enchanted nutcracker doll on Christmas eve. Rousing music and over one hundred dancers make this a must-see family-friendly performance. If you have never been to the ballet before the Nutcracker is an ideal show to introduce yourself to the delights of this art form, with a score by Tchaikovsky which includes ‘ Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’.
Head down to the river to see the South Bank transformed under a canopy of lights to a winter wonderland. The Christmas market at the Southbank Centre offers shopping and a host of food and drink options to satisfy every visitor. Easily accessible from Waterloo, Embankment and Charing Cross stations, the market is free to wander through. The riverside of the South Bank will be lined with traditional wooden chalets, providing an authentic Christmas feel to the market and the perfect place to start before you head to catch a Christmas show.
The art-deco magnificence of the former Medieval mansion of Eltham and its 19 acres of award winning grounds are transformed into a Christmas spectacle of lights. A wonderful family winter trail takes you through the gardens where magical talking trees and hidden fairies await. The Palace’s historic walls are lit as well as the trees and gardens, while music adds to the entertainment for certain parts of the show. This is an enchanting after dark experience for the whole family to enjoy set over three weekends in December.
Overlooking the Thames, the neoclassical style Somerset House is the perfect location for a Christmas market. Set in the West Wing, the Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade is open daily until 5th January 2020 and provides the chance to find the perfect Christmas gift for your loved ones. Complete with quality food and drink offerings, the Arcade at Somerset House captures all the essential essence of a Christmas shopping trip. After completing your seasonal shop why not pop outside and have fun on the iconic Somerset House ice skating rink and finish your day in style.
For a truly unique and magical winter cinema experience the Backyard Cinema will be tough to beat. Set in a former TV studio in Wandsworth their Christmas at the Snow Kingdom takes you on a creative journey where visitors must locate the hidden entrance to a secret passageway and cross the pit of balls to reach the Christmas cinema. Then sit back on giant beanbags in the cosy 250 seat cinema, complete with blankets and mulled wine for that extra festive feel. This is cinema with a magical touch.
No trip to London over Christmas is complete for the little ones without a visit to see Santa. After a day exploring the many fascinating exhibitions in the museum head along the Victorian winter walkway with its traditional carols and decorations to Santa’s Grotto. Your children can tell Santa their Christmas wishes and have their photo taken with the great man, before heading home with a gift. The Museum has a special offer which includes Santa’s Grotto and their immersive Beasts of London exhibition, making for an even more memorable family day out.
Carnaby Street was at the heart of the swinging sixties and remains as vital to London’s West End today. No Christmas shopping trip to the capital is complete until you have been to Carnaby Street and perused the eclectic mix of boutiques, salons and eateries from a host of well known brands and independent names. Sustainability is at the heart of Christmas in Carnaby Street with the ocean themed installations in collaboration with the conservation charity Project Zero. With one of the best Christmas light installations in London, Carnaby Street remains an essential shopping hub.
London is transformed over the festive period. Right across the city incredible Christmas lights and decorations light up the squares and streets, making London the place to be. From Regent Street, Oxford Street, Marylebone, Coal Drops Yard, Kingston, Leadenhall Market and many more, London will dazzle you with its brilliant displays. Worth a trip into the city in their own right, they will certainly add to any Christmas experience you visit in London. Why not take a bus and tour around the different parts of the city and compare the many lighting installations.
Covent Garden in the West End is a vibrant Christmas destination. A huge Christmas tree set with thousands of festive lights combines with a large reindeer sculpture to welcome you to their Christmas fun. Covent Garden is renowned for the quality of its shopping, food and cultural offerings and is a must visit location. 115,000 lights installed across the historic piazza and surrounding streets make for a magical winter wonderland feel to put you immediately in the Christmas mood and adds to the festive excitement in the West End.
If you are looking for Christmas fare, take a trip down to historic Greenwich market, established way back in 1737. Uniquely housed in a World Heritage site, Greenwich Christmas market offers an array of over 150 stalls selling all you could need for Christmas. From handmade craft items to fashion, food and drink to pottery, Greenwich Christmas market brings back the personal touch to your festive shop. Awful at wrapping presents? Then have them gift-wrapped to take away. With carol singers, choirs and street performers to entertain, the Greenwich Christmas market shows seasonal shopping can be fun.
The iconic Tower of London is one of London’s most popular attractions. Laden with history the Tower is a fascinating place to visit. In December it is also transformed into a spectacular ice rink. This is certainly a rink with a view, made even more dramatic as darkness falls and the lights shine on the Tower walls. This is a unique setting for anyone who likes skating and even if you are wary of the ice, refreshments are available at the cafe bar, which comes with a heated spectator area.
Tradition is everything at Christmas and nothing is more traditional than a pantomime. They offer a great way for the family to celebrate the festive period together and London is fantastic for the selection of venues available. Packed full of show business favourites from across the world of entertainment you can not help but smile at a pantomime. Whether it is the London Palladium, the Hackney Empire or the Trafalgar Studios there is plenty of choice where you can treat the kids and introduce them to this Christmas institution.