Things To Do In London At Christmas

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Looking for things to do in London at Christmas? Whether you live here or are visiting the capital over the holiday period, it's a great place to get festive, with plenty of different events taking place. This guide to London at Christmas features unique festive events, and event covers what's open in London on Christmas Day.
Please note: the events here took place over Christmas 2017. We'll be adding more details for Christmas 2018 closer to the time, so keep checking back.

Photo: JH

Countdown to Christmas in London

Trafalgar Square is where you'll find the huge Christmas tree, donated to the people of Britain by the city of Oslo each year, and it's lit up beautifully from early December. On weekday evening and weekend afternoons lots of different groups get involved in carol singing beneath the tree, making it a very festive place to be.

Plenty of charities and organisations look for volunteers to help both in the run-up to Christmas and on Christmas Day itself. Have a look at what's going on and where you can volunteer over Christmas 2017.

Looking for things to do on Christmas Eve? Here's a guide to what's going on over Christmas Eve 2017. Bear in mind that many shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, museums and galleries may close earlier than usual on Christmas Eve.

Where to go ice skating in London at Christmas

Winter ice skating is always hugely popular in London. Pretty ice rinks pop up at places like the Natural History Museum, Canary Wharf, Somerset House and Hampton Court Palace from October right through until February. Here's our guide to where to get your skates on over Christmas 2017.

Ice skating at Somerset House in 2012. Photo: London Shots

London's Christmas lights

London's Christmas light switch-ons have mostly taken place now. We've rounded up some of the best photos of this year's lights here (and if Christmas trees are your thing, we've got London's loveliest here).

If that's whetted your appetite, here's our guide to seeing London's Christmas lights by bus.

Christmas shopping in London

Photo: Saúl Tuñón Loureda

Lots of Christmas markets, festive fairs and yuletide festivals proliferate throughout the capital in December to help make Christmas shopping jolly. Here's our guide to London's 2017 Christmas markets and fairs.

London's got a wealth of department stores to choose from — find out which is our favourite.  We've done a recce of the department stores' 2017 Christmas departments and used a scoring system to determine the best — find out which one won here.

Christmas events in London

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in 2015. Photo: Adrian Chandler

Christmas films — plenty of places screen festive classics in the run-up to the big day. Find out where to get your dose of Elf, Love Actually or It's A Wonderful Life here.

Winter Wonderland opens in Hyde Park (17 November 2017-1 January 2018) featuring a huge fun fair, games, Christmas market and seasonal food and drink. It's free to enter but gets very busy and everything you do inside will cost you apart from walking around and soaking up the atmosphere.

Christmas At Kew is a twinkly light trail, winding through Kew Gardens after dark. As well as the lights — which are always stunning — there are food stalls and Victorian funfair rides.

Greenwich Winter Time is new for 2017, set in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College, with an ice rink, food and drink stalls, live entertainment and Santa's Grotto. You'll have to pay for entry, with extra costs for things such as the ice rink and visiting Santa.

Winterville is back again too, this time it's in Clapham Common, providing the park with its first ever ice rink.

Enchanted Eltham Palace is a winter lights trail, new for 2017, lighting up the beautiful grounds with fairy lights, to be enjoyed with a mince pie and mulled wine.

Christmas at Kew is well worth a visit. Photo: Londonist

Stratford's Roof East gets a winter makeover from 2 November 2017, complete with rooftop curling, a ski lodge bar and igloos to dine in.

Syon Park's Enchanted Woodland will be illuminated once again with colourful lights, all situated around an ornamental lake, and inside the historic arboretum.

Find more Christmassy content on Londonist.

Christmas Day in London

Christmas Day sunrise by Sarah Oliver via Londonist Flickrpool

Christmas Day can be a magical time to explore the capital if you get up early enough. After about 11am there's a surprising amount of people about and more and more pubs and restaurants open each year. It's still a special day in the city however. No tubes, buses or trams will be running but if you can get into town by walking, cycle hire, taxi or your own transport, here are some of the things going on.

Here's our complete guide of things to do in London on Christmas Day 2017, and if it's Christmas Dinner you're after, these places are serving it up — although you'll have to book in advance.

An increasing number of central London cafes, pubs and restaurants open on Christmas Day but the decision to do so can be last minute.

Get in the mood with this lovely time-lapse video by Mattia Biacci.

New Year's Eve in London

It's never too early to make your New Year's Eve plans — plenty of parties and events sell out months in advance. Here's our guide to this year's New Year's Eve events. It contains daytime events and parties that go on well into the night.

New Year's Day in London

Ease yourself back into everyday life with our guide to things to do on New Year's Day. We've put together a special guide to the New Year's Day Parade, which takes place in central London every year.