Christmas In London 2014

Our guide to being in London over Christmas and what’s on and open on Christmas Day. 

London Eye by Nick Jackson

London Eye by Nick Jackson

Countdown to Christmas

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. See what’s on here.

Winter Wonderland opens in Hyde Park on 21 November 2014 with a huge fun fair, games, Christmas market and seasonal food and drink. It’s free to enter and very jolly but everything you do inside will cost you apart from walking around and soaking up the atmosphere.

Out east, Winterville opens in Victoria Park, Hackney on 2 December 2014. A newcomer to the London Christmas scene is promises a covered ice rink, ferris wheel and horse-drawn carriage rides plus lots of what you’d expect to find in Hyde Park with a bit more urban edge e.g. on trend street food traders, LGBT-minded entertainment and local craft beer. It’s free to enter but attractions and events are ticketed inside. Read our preview.

Southbank Winter Festival 2014 brings together family Christmas shows, comedy, a Christmas market and a vintage new year party.

Kew Gardens has a mile-long twinkly trail through the trees, complete with dancing fountains, pyrotechnics, a funfair, and even a chance to toast marshmallows on open fire pits. Who hasn’t always wanted to do that?

Lots of Christmas markets, festive fairs and yuletide festivals proliferate throughout the capital in December to help make Christmas shopping jolly. Here’s the huge list of this year’s events. Looking for unusual, London-themed gifts? Follow our London Gift Guide, publishing a new idea, every weekday until 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. Here’s our 2014 Guide To Seasonal Skating In London.

Theatre gets extra twinkly in December with a cracking programme of festive shows, especially for children and families. And whether you’re entertaining children big or small this festive season, London has some unique Christmas family activities for you all to enjoy.

Sort your fah-la-las from your do-reh-mi-fahs at London’s many carol concerts and nativity services. We’ve selected a few of the more unusual ones.

There are many opportunities to volunteer in London this Christmas-time.

Find more Christmassy content on Londonist. 

South Molton Street by Francesco Camardo

South Molton Street by Francesco Camardo

Christmas Day in London

Christmas Day can be a magical time to explore the capital. No tubes, buses or trams will be running, but if you can get into town by cycle hire, taxi or your own transport, here are some of the things going on.

The Peter Pan Cup is an annual Christmas Day swimming race in the Serpentine whose roots go back 150 years. The race starts at 9am, just turn up to spectate.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not? is open, although it may be busy as very few other attractions are! Here’s what we thought of it.

Enjoy a festive feast and sightsee on the River Thames at the same time aboard a City Cruises Christmas Day Traditional Lunch Cruise. Booking essential.

Westminster Guide, Pete Berthoud, hosts a special, epic Christmas Day Walk — a Grand Tour of London — starting just before 6am and taking in 10 miles of (mostly) deserted London over the course of the day. Booking essential.

London Walks traditionally put on a ‘Christmas Morning 1660′ walk about Samuel Pepys London at 11am and an afternoon Dickens walk at 2pm. Just turn up, meet in Trafalgar Square.

If walking’s not your thing you can take a coach tour of London with Golden Tours, with or without a Christmas lunch cruising the Thames added on.

An increasing number of central London pubs and restaurants open on Christmas Day but the decision to do so can be last minute. Here’s our list of what’s open on Christmas Day and we’ll keep updating it. NB Pubs usually start to shut by 4pm. Hotels are a good bet for bars open later.

Find more Christmassy content on Londonist.

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

Is Xmas Time – A London Time Lapse film from Mattia Bicchi Photography on Vimeo.