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Christmas in London: A guide to festive activities in the capital

Christmas | 3 MIN READ

There are few more magical experiences than spending a Christmas in the capital. Whether it’s an early- to mid-December trip to get yourself in the mood or you’re planning to stay for the festive period itself, there’s a million and one things you can do to sample London at this most special time of the year.

Let’s take a look at some of the best things you can do in London at Christmas time.

Explore London’s Christmas markets

Nothing quite sparks the magic of the festive season quite like a Christmas market.

Most of the London boroughs will offer some type of market-style attraction or Christmas village where you can sample traditional drinks like spiced cider and mulled wine, and enjoy some tasty treats.

Christmas in Leicester Square

The world-renowned epicentre of London’s West End, Leicester Square is transformed into a magical festive scene from November through to early January. With food and drinks stalls and a plethora of hand-made gifts and goods to browse, it’s a magical destination for those looking for Christmas cheer.

Christmas by the River (London Bridge City)

Cast against the eye-catching backdrop of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, Christmas by the River brings a touch of festive magic to the Thames.

You’ll find a host of gift stalls and traditional wooden huts selling food and drink, all with a view to admire.

Borough Market

Borough Market is popular all year round, but comes even more alive in December as it 

Greenwich Christmas Market

With well over 100 stalls and huts selling food, drink, gifts and keepsakes, the market at Greenwich offers the perfect opportunity to while away some hours throughout the festive season.

See the famous Christmas lights

The Christmas season really comes into its own on those dark nights, where the streets are lit with the twinkling of Christmas lights. 

You could go Christmas shopping in the famous Oxford Street or Carnaby Street, with both areas illuminated by stunning lights. You could also check out the beautiful golden angels spanning Regent Street.

There are also several modern-day light installations and exhibitions at places like Kew Gardens and Crystal Palace Park which are worth a visit.

And if you can’t choose where to go, consider the Christmas Lights London by Night tour, which takes in the best of the festive lights.

Discover festive events and attractions in London

If all of that isn’t enough to whet your festive appetite, here are some more Christmas activities to consider when in London.

Winter Wonderland (Hyde Park)

Perhaps the most high profile and sought-after event in the capital in the build up to Christmas is Winter Wonderland. Set in the sprawling beauty of Hyde Park, this one-stop festive attraction provides fun for people of all ages. From food and drink to ice skating, funfair rides and live shows, there’s something for everyone.

Covent Garden Christmas Village

Open from mid-November to early January, the Christmas Village at Covent Garden is a real gem. Bedecked in stunning lights and offering food and drinks stalls, the village also plays host to daily performances from a choir - what could be more festive than that?

Outdoor Ice Skating

For many people, ice skating is an activity synonymous with the festive period. The good news is that London boasts a range of outdoor rinks to choose from, including prime locations such as Somerset House, the Natural History Museum and Hampton Court Palace.

Don’t worry if you’re a first-timer - the rinks are welcoming and accessible for people of all abilities and experience levels.

What to do on Christmas Day in London

If you’re spending Christmas Day itself in London, you can be assured that although many everyday tourist attractions will be closed, there’s still plenty of fun to be had and things to do.

Looking for a traditional start to the day? London’s many cathedrals and churches are home to Christmas Day services. If you want to go along, you’re advised to get there early - and in some cases you’ll need to pre-book, given how popular the services tend to be.

For many people, another traditional part of the festive celebrations is to enjoy a drink in the pub. It’s a British institution, and in London you will - of course - find a whole host of pubs opening their doors for a few hours on the 25th.

Perhaps you’re looking for somewhere special to enjoy a memorable Christmas dinner (without all the preparation and washing up that comes with doing it yourself). In that case, you’ll be pleased to learn there are establishments open on Christmas Day to suit pretty much any taste and budget - whether it’s a low-key affair or a high-end fine dining experience.

For those looking to veer a little further from tradition, there are many restaurants serving up international cuisine on the big day. Some, like the Cinnamon Club offer clever takes on the Christmas classics - like Indian spiced goose.

To round off the day, why not enjoy a post-lunch walk around one of the capital’s many parks and walkways?

Need Somewhere to stay in London this Christmas?

London is a vibrant and welcoming city at any time of the year, but a Christmas visit can be the perfect way to get into the festive spirit.

If you’re looking for a comfortable, luxurious and well-connected place to stay during your Christmas visit to London, look no further than Dolphin House. Perfectly placed in Pimlico, you can easily hop on a tube or bus to get to the many attractions and sights London has to offer. And the surroundings themselves are pretty splendid too - Pimlico is one of the most sought-after areas in London right now.

Our stunning range of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments are available to hire for short stays, so get in touch and book your festive stay now.