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Things You Must Try in London This Christmas
- Tuesday September 12th 2023
- Big City Saver
- Christmas, Secret London, London Winter
London at Christmas: Things you must try
• Introduction: Want to see all the best things to do in London in December?
• Places to visit in London in December
• Free things to do in London in December
• Winter Date Night Ideas in London
• London at Christmas
• London at Christmas Must-Sees FAQs
Introduction: Want to see all the best things to do in London in December?
It’s that magical time of year again when the streets are wrapped in lights, tinsel adorns every window from Richmond to Ealing and the excitement of Christmas is everywhere. If there was ever time to visit London, it’s in December during the Christmas period. From start to finish, the nation’s capital has wide variety of festive things to do and see during the final month of the year. And with all the city’s usual attractions doing something extra special to celebrate Christmas, you’re going to have a long list of must-sees and must-dos for Santa this year. So, in the spirit of Christmas giving, we’ve put together a guide to help you find the perfect event to bring in the Christmas cheer. From the fun places to visit for all the family and the city’s best free things to do if you’re on a budget, (and even some tips for a romantic winter date night and the best things to do if you’re lucky enough to spend a full Christmas Day in London.
Places to visit in London in December
With so many places to visit in London during December, it can be tricky to figure out what you should and shouldn’t see. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the three most important things to see during the Christmas period in London. Strap on your gloves, put on your bobble hat and don’t forget your favourite scarf because this is Christmas in London at its finest.
Southbank Centre Winter Festival
The world-famous Southbank Centre attracts thousands of people all year round with its magnificent artistic events and shows. But during the Christmas month of December, the Southbank Centre reaches new heights when it transforms itself into a spectacular winter festival market. With an array of delicious food, drink and more at festive stalls on the riverside, this isn’t to be missed. Even better, as you’re in London’s South Bank, you can visit the area’s array of world-class attractions , including SEA LIFE London Aquarium, the thrilling London Dungeon and the classic Madame Tussauds.
Follow the Christmas Lights at Kew Gardens
Between the 15th of November 2023 and the 7th of January 2024, the event masters ‘Christmas at Kew’ are turning the Royal Botanical Gardens into an utterly enchanting and very twinkly Christmas trail, complete with lights, installations, and spectacular projections. This is a perfect evening out with friends or family, and definitely one of the most picturesque parts of the capital.
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland
Known the world over as London’s must-see event at Christmas, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland will once again open its doors between November 2023 and January 2024. For those who have never seen the Winter Wonderland, you can expect ice skating (on an enormous ice rink), hours of fantastic live music, circus performances to amaze and captivate, and some of the best food and drink the city has to offer. Truly, Christmas in London starts at Winter Wonderland.
Free things to do in London in December
Everyone knows that December can be a particularly tricky month for budgeting. Whether it’s this year’s must-have gift or the realisation that you have more friends whom you need to buy gifts for than you originally thought, the Christmas period is an expensive month for all. But don’t fret. If you’re looking for a few free things to do in London this December, we’ve got you covered.
See the Christmas Markets
If there’s one thing that London at Christmas time is known for, it’s the abundance of festive markets. With many of them being free to enter, the only time that you’ll have to part with your pennies is when you grab a mince pie and a cup of mulled wine. From Mayfair to Southbank and Leicester Square, you’ve got plenty of Christmas markets to choose from this December.
Take in the Regent Street Christmas Lights and the Trafalgar Tree
Nothing says Christmas quite like a tree dressed in classic decorative lights, reams of tinsel and as many baubles as you can find. Fortunately, some of the most dazzling and delightful Christmas decorations can be found freely on display in the streets of London. In order to get the best decorations the city has to offer, we recommend the two favourites of all Londoners; Regent Street, for some truly spectacular lights, and Trafalgar Square, for one of the most famous Christmas trees in the world. Known by many as the Trafalgar Tree, this 21-metre-high tree is a traditional gift from the City of Oslo to London.
Go Carolling around London
If you’re looking for something fun, free and full of Christmas cheer, why not listen to one of the many groups of carollers that grace the streets of London with well-known Christmas songs and plenty of festive spirit. Many carollers’ schedules can be found on the websites of local churches, so just check your nearest one for more details. And, for the more adventurous, many carollers are equally thrilled to have you sing along with them.
Winter Date Night ideas in London
Winter in London is not just a time for cheer and merriment, it’s also a time for love and romance. What could be more romantic than a date night in the snowy streets of London town? With so much to do and see, we’ve picked three ideas that are guaranteed to please anyone.
With over 5,000 marriage proposals under its belt, the London Eye is an ideal winter date idea. At over 135 metres tall, it’s the perfect way to experience the beautiful city of London in a private and intimate setting. To make things extra special, the London Eye offers bespoke champagne experiences and the renowned Cupid’s Pod , which includes a glass of chilled Pommery Brut Royal Champagne (served by a host), a luxury box of Hotel Chocolat Pink Champagne Truffles, a private pod and Fast Track boarding through a dedicated entrance. Nothing says winter romance like chocolate truffles and champagne (you could even make a day of it with a pass for SEA LIFE London Aquarium and the London Eye together).
What could be more romantic than a date night where you glide gracefully across the ice, hand in hand, with that special someone? Fortunately, London in December is full of outdoor ice rinks for you to choose from. One of our favourite ones would have to be the giant rink in Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. However, if that’s too crowded, Canary Wharf, Hampton Court Palace and Queen’s House (surrounded by a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are equally as good for a winter date night.
See a Christmas Show
It wouldn’t be a winter date without the classic dinner and show. So, when you’ve finished your romantic dinner, why not take your special someone to one of London’s renowned Christmas shows? With so many to choose from at that time of year, we recommend one of the classics, like the famous ‘A Christmas Carol’ or 'The Nutcracker’ – because nothing says winter romance like a giant rat king battling a nutcracker brought to life. Many of London’s theatres will put on an excellent show for your date night, but for the best of the best, we recommend the Old Vic.
Spending Christmas Day in London
For some, Christmas Day is a time dedicated to family and friends. For others, it’s a time especially suited to community and local festivities. Whichever one you are, London has something for you on Christmas Day.
Christmas Lunch and a Cruise on the River Thames
For something a little different, why not try a traditional four course festive feast, whilst you gently sail across the River Thames. See the sights, sip on some sparkling wine and indulge in some mince pies on a Christmas Day cruise with friends. Remember, this is a popular Christmas Day activity, so remember to book well in advance.
The Peter Pan Cup
For a uniquely British Christmas Day tradition, head down to the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park and watch the Peter Pan Cup race unfold. Here, you’ll see the hardy members of the Serpentine Swimming Club take part in an ice-cold swim across the lake the likes of which you’ll never forget. Entry is free but it’s a popular event, so try to get there early for a prime viewing spot.
Stroll through the Royal Parks
For many, the perfect break from the feast that is Christmas lunch is a nice long walk. Well, if you’re in London, you’ll be glad to know that all of London’s famous public parks are open. And at that time of year, you’ll really get to enjoy them as you’ll have most of the parks largely to yourself.
London at Christmas
We hope that if you’ve taken anything away from this guide, it’s that London is even more spectacular than usual at Christmas time. With so many things to do and see (for free or otherwise), December in England’s capital city really does have something for everyone, and there’s even something to do and see on Christmas day!
London at Christmas Must-Sees FAQs
December is one of the best months to visit London because it is full of Christmas activities, such as markets, shows and festivals. Many of London’s famous attractions do something extra special for the Christmas month and there are also a variety of pop-up events to look out for.
There’s an array of activities to do and attractions to see in London during Christmas. Some of the best things to do are visit Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, see London’s snow-topped buildings from the London Eye, ice skating at a pop-up rink or watch the lights on Regent Street.
London is especially fun in the winter months. In fact, there’s a range of must-see activities happening in the city between November and January, including Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival Market and the famous 21-metre-high Trafalgar Tree in Trafalgar Square.
There are several great activities that you could do on Christmas Day for a date. We recommend taking a walk around London’s famous Hyde Park, then heading to the Serpentine Lake to watch the Peter Pan Cup race, and then finishing in China Town for a Christmas lunch with a twist.