Learn about all the best things to do in London at Christmastime.
Getting to see London all dressed up for Christmas is such a treat. There are so many special events that take place in the city, and I did my best to explore them all. Here is my list of what to do in London at Christmastime.
Ice skating rinks pop up all over the London at Christmastime. Some are open all winter, while other are just open during Christmastime. I definitely recommend booking reservations for ice skating online since some of the rinks are very busy. Here is a list of ice rinks to check out: Natural History Museum Ice Rink, Tower of London Ice Rink, Canary Wharf Ice Rink, Skate at Somerset House, Hampton Court Palace, and Kew Gardens Ice Rink.
London’s Christmas lights and decorations put other cities to shame. You can even go on bus and bike tours to see the holiday lights. The Carnaby Street Lights were my favorite, but I also recommend seeing Bond Street, and Oxford Street, plus Covent Garden.
We loved Winter Wonderland! It’s part amusement park, part christkindelmarket, part Oktoberfest, and part food festival that takes over a section of Hyde Park from late November until early January. There is something for everyone! There are lots of amusement park rides, a Ferris Wheel, a section with a German Christmas market, an ice rink, an ice bar, a Bavarian village with food and beer tents, and even a Cinderella on Ice show.
Entrance into Winter Wonderland is free, but you do have to go through a security line where they check your bags. For this reason, the line can be long. If you prebook tickets to one of the Winter Wonderland attractions, you get to go in a separate line that is usually much shorter.
Surprisingly, Winter Wonderland wasn’t as packed as I thought it might be. I went twice on weekdays (including on Boxing Day) and it wasn’t crowded at all.
London has several Christmas Markets in addition to the one at Winter Wonderland. The market at Southbank Centre is just beside the London Eye. Christmas by the River at London Bridge City has great view son Tower Bridge. Plus, there is Christmas markets at Leicester Square, Kingston Christmas Market, and Winterville Christmas Market on Clapham Common.
Christmas at Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens gets covered in twinkle lights for the holidays. Plus there are food stalls and Victorian fair rides. This is very popular so you should book tickets in advance.
This famous pub in Notting Hill gets decorated with 80 Christmas Trees, and it is something worth seeing. This is one of the most famous decorations in London at Christmastime.
Check out the holiday windows and displays at some of London’s most famous stores. My top picks are Harrod’s, Claridge’s, Selfridges, Liberty London, and Fortnum & Mason.
You need to book this way in advance – we didn’t and it was sold out! From late November through the end of January the Warner Brothers Studio Tour celebrates Christmas by decorating the Great Hall for the Yule Ball, adding snow to the Hogwarts castle model, and decorating the Gryffindor common room. There are also a few Dinner in the Great Hall events which sound absolutely incredible.
What to Know Before You Go
Some trains shut down between Christmas and New Year. This includes railways to suburbs and parts of the London tube. Check train schedules online for updates.
Much of London is closed on Christmas and Boxing Day. If you plan to visit London during his time, you need to really plan ahead. Many restaurants are closed on Christmas and Christmas Eve, and the ones that are open might be booked solid. Europeans take Christmas seriously, and make their reservations far in advance and you need to do the same. For a full guide of what to know before you go to London, follow this link.
What to Do on Boxing Day
There are some things to do on Boxing Day. Some shops are open and holding after Christmas sales. All of the city’s ice rinks are open. I think the best thing to do on Boxing Day is to visit Winter Wonderland. We went on Boxing Day and it wasn’t very crowded and there is to much to do that you can easily spent 3+ hours there.