Christmas in London
Alice Padfield

Christmas in London | Go City®

Christmas, the most magical time of the year and what better place to spend it than London? Christmas in London is known for its holiday lights and dizzying array of festive activities, so whether you’re looking to stroll the streets in the crisp winter air or hide away from the British weather, this guide has all the ideas you need and more!

Winter Wonderland

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First up, it's Winter Wonderland. Head to Hyde Park for one of the most popular festive destinations in London. Usually running from mid-late November until early January, Winter Wonderland combines all things Christmas. We’re talking authentic wooden market stalls, all the wintery treats and tipples you could ever want, sparkling holiday lights displays and an impressive array of funfair rides and games. Want to know the best bit? If you book a slot during off-peak hours, entry is totally free!

Kew Gardens

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This much-loved London attraction becomes a show-stopping must-see during the holiday season. With a dazzling lights trail through the gardens it is guaranteed to get you feeling festive. The trail features scenescapes inspired by the Kew collections, the 12 days of Christmas tree installation, the Christmas cathedral and loads of other Instagrammable opportunities. Stalls selling everything from seasonal street food, to mulled wines and hot chocolates ensures that everyone is well catered for, and makes this a great choice for a winter’s night.

Please note: general entry to the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew is included with Go City but the Christmas lights trail is ticketed separately.

Go to a show

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There’s nothing more festive than a trip to the pantomime, as far as the UK is concerned. Embrace the British sense of humor at its finest and enjoy a fairytale-themed, all-singing, all-dancing masterpiece that somehow manages to get a laugh from everyone. (Well, nearly everyone anyway.)

If we really can’t tempt you with that, how about a night at the ballet? The Nutcracker is always showing somewhere over Christmas in London and guarantees to give you all the festive feels. Or just go for one of London’s many stage shows and musicals. Let's be real, the magic of any show makes it feel like a perfect holiday activity.

Ice skating

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Can you name a more iconic holiday activity... No? Didn’t think so, and London has some of the prettiest and most festive options for you to indulge in the classic Christmas pastime.

The ice rink at Hampton Court Palace provides a regal backdrop for skating as well as a great opportunity to soak up some British royal history. Please note: ice skating is ticketed separately to the general entry included with a pass. And if history is your thing the rink at Somerset House allows visitors to skate inside the 18th-century courtyard.

Or try the Natural History Museum for a picturesque skate, on the doorstep of one of London’s most popular destinations, a great choice for families looking for fun without so much travel. For a more twinkling and modern experience, try the Canary Wharf rink within London’s business district.

Prefer to skate whatever the weather? Then head for the Alexandra Palace ice rink, which has invited Londoners in to be entertained since the late 1800s.

Wherever you end up, for those who love ice skating, Christmas in London offers plenty of picture-perfect locations to get your skates on.

Christmas Lights

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Christmas in London is not complete without checking out a few of the magical holiday lights displays decorating the city. This combines well with shopping trips too for those looking to get more done in less time.

Festive exhibits you don't want to miss:

  • The magnificent window decorations at Selfridges
  • The creative and colorful creations above Carnaby Street
  • The twinkling stars and angels of Oxford Street and Regent Street
  • The enchanting Lightopia trail in Crystal Palace Park
  • The Winterfest showcase in Wembley Park
  • The stunning Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square
  • The giant Christmas tree and sparkling lights of Covent Garden

Christmas Markets

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For the European-style Christmas markets, think pretty, wooden stalls, homemade crafts and tasty treats, then try the Kingston Christmas Market or Christmas in Leicester Square. Usually running mid-November through to Christmas Eve, Kingston creates a twinkling festive market in a traditional British market town. While Leicester Square offers a similar experience, right in the heart of London.

The Southbank Centre’s Winter Market has similar alpine-style stalls running along Queen’s Walk. Stroll along the Thames enjoying the wide variety of street food, indulgent festive drinks and lots of holiday goodies on offer.

Christmas Shopping

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Get your Christmas shopping sorted on the famous Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street. From Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road the heart of London’s West End is home to hundreds of well-known brands, flagship stores and award-winning restaurants.

If you’re looking for something a little more unique head to the historic Greenwich Market instead. Located in southeast London, it’s home to a large selection of British designer-makers selling everything from arts and crafts to homeware and accessories. This covered market is surrounded by independent shops and bars, making it a perfect choice for those looking for a more individual experience.

For those shopping with kids, you won't want to miss the joy of Hamleys at Christmas. Or do your shopping at Westfield London and treat them to the Kidzania experience while you're there. With a huge range of popular brands and dining options, there’s something to keep everyone happy (not to mention warm and dry if the weather’s bad).

Whether you’re looking to tick off the shopping list with world-class retailers or one-of-a-kind boutiques, London has got it all.

Escaping the crowds

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Christmas in London is beautiful but there’s no denying it can get pretty busy, and this is England so it can be pretty cold and wet too. Make sure to give yourself some snuggly downtime if you need to escape the crowds, warm-up or dry off. Get yourself a Christmassy book and find a cute cozy cafe or coffee shop to soak up the more warming winter vibes with a mince pie or a Christmas coffee.

Top choice: for a friendly and relaxed atmosphere with an expertly curated coffee menu head for Climpson & Sons Café in Broadway Market, Hackney.

Or go for a traditional English pub and sink into a sofa by a roaring fireplace with a warm glass of something, preferably mulled. Either way, take a moment to have a good old people-watch and plan your next activity from the warm and dry.

Top choice: year-round favorite, The Churchill Arms in Kensington becomes a top festive destination from December as they decorate the outside entirely with Christmas trees and a record-breaking number of lights.

Toast the New Year

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And finally, what better way to get in the Christmas spirit, than toasting the last year and cheers-ing in the new one. ‘Tis the season after all. Searcy’s Champagne Bar in St Pancras is ideal for those looking for an atmospheric tipple, and with heated booths it's perfect for those cold winter evenings.

Or try the London Calling Bar by Moët & Chandon. Located on the ground floor of Selfridges, this London-themed option takes the form of a good old-fashioned British telephone box, very fitting for a Christmas in London fizz photo.

Save on London attraction admission

Christmas is a magical time to visit London, but the endless activities can become pretty pricey. With Go City® you’ll save on entry to many of London’s top attractions, ditch endless paper tickets and have the flexibility you want for a stress-free holiday.

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