Things To Do In London Between Christmas And New Year

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 6 months ago

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Last Updated 01 January 2024

Things To Do In London Between Christmas And New Year
The Regent Street angel Christmas lights
Take a self-guided festive tour through central London. Photo: Londonist

Looking for things to do once Christmas Day is out of the way? Wondering what's open between then and New Year? Just want to get out of the house and away from the Monopoly/cheese board? Here's what's cooking over Twixtmas.

CHRISTMAS TRANSPORT: Before you make any plans for the upcoming week, check the Christmas transport situation in London. There's not *too* much disruption this year, but there are a couple of big station closures to know about.

ICE SKATING: London's festive ice rinks remain open throughout the Christmas period and into January. Somerset House, Battersea Power Station and Hyde Park are just some of the places you can take to the ice this year — here's a full ice skating guide.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Similarly, London's Christmas lights stay on after the big day, illuminated every evening until early January. Have a read of our guide to London's Christmas light displays for tips on seeing them, either on foot or by bus. We've even put together a self-guided walking route through central London so you can see as many lights and decorations as possible in one go.

WINTER WONDERLAND: Huge festive fair Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is all-systems-go throughout the festive season, closing only on 25 December. Fairground rides, markets, food and drink stalls, circus shows and an ice rink are all part of the fun — just bear in mind that you need to book your entry in advance to get in. Until 1 January

PANTO: From classic Aladdin at the legendary Hackney Empire, to Cinderella with a sassy twist, via Jack and the Beanstalk, Dick Whittington and Peter Pan, London's panto scene is absolutely thriving this year. There's even The Hunger Gays, strictly for the adults. Read our guide to London's pantomimes this year to choose your show.

FESTIVE THEATRE: Elf, The Snowman, The Nutcracker. Nope, not a list of Christmas films, but rather a selection of the festive productions taking place on stage in London this year. From ballet to circus to musicals, take a look at these fantastically festive theatre shows in London, and book yourself a seat this Twixmas. We've also got a guide to family-friendly shows, if you're treating the whole clan to a festive outing.

The Snowman drives James around in a yellow motorbike/sidecar
The Snowman is on at Peacock Theatre. Image: Tristram Kenton

AFTERNOON TEA: If turkey and cheese stocks are running low in your house by the middle of this week, why not treat the family to a festive afternoon tea instead? Restaurants, hotels and cafes all over town offer a Christmas twist on the traditional afternoon tea, with most of the limited edition menus only available until late December or early January.

LIGHT FESTIVALS: Wrap up warm and head out to one of London's ongoing light festivals. At time of writing, tickets are available for Christmas at Kenwood and Christmas at Eltham Palace this week. Alternatively, hit up Winter Light at Southbank Centre or the Luminaze at Wembley Park — both are free and don't require booking.

WEEKEND WALKS: This week is practically one long weekend anyway, so grab your walking boots and head out on one of our weekend walk routes. See a part of London you haven't visited before, and best of all, it's free — unless you stop in a pub for a pint or two...

DUVET DAY: Can't be bothered with the outside world? Stock up on mince pies, kick back and work your way through the videos on our YouTube channel.

DAY TRIPS: Want to get out of London for a day?  Browse some of our favourite day trips and weekend breaks from from the capital (just remember that train services are a bit hit-and-miss this week). Perhaps leave the seaside trips until the summer, but why not visit a new town, city or museum?

CHRISTMAS DAY: Yep, we've got a guide for that too. Here's our pick of things to do in London on Christmas Day, and we've also covered what's open on Christmas Day as well as where you can go swimming on Christmas Day. A selection of restaurants and pubs in the capital even serve up food on 25 December — though you'll need to have booked in advance for most of them.

BOXING DAY: You guessed it — we've already covered that too. Aren't we good to you? Here's the lowdown on Boxing Day events in London.

NEW YEAR'S EVE: Whether you're looking to get glammed up and go out on the town, or usher in 2024 in a more sedate manner, we've got it all covered.

Current exhibitions in London: Christmas 2023

Miniature buildings made from gingerbread and decorated with pretzels
The Gingerbread City is open in White City all week. © Luke O'Donovan

If you're got some free time, why not spend it seeing one or two of the exhibitions you've been meaning to catch? Note that gallery and museum opening times may vary over this week, but all of the ones listed here are open at least some days between Christmas and New Year — check with individual venues before you travel. For further inspiration, check out our art critic's guide to the biggest exhibitions to see in London this winter.

GINGERBREAD CITY: Festive favourite Gingerbread City is open in White City, displaying five mini cities made of gingerbread and edible decorations. Architects and civil engineers are behind the designs, which feature buildings, bridges and a working train set. Until 7 January

TITANOSAUR: Natural History Museum's blockbuster exhibition, Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur stomps its way out of South Kensington soon, so here's your final chance to get up close to a cast of the skeleton of the biggest dinosaur species ever known to have existed — and learn about how it managed to survive. Until 14 January

DISNEY100: In 2023, Walt Disney Studios marked its centenary with Disney100, a large-scale exhibition delving into all facets of the company, from films to theme parks, and Cinderella to Star Wars. Props on show at ExCeL Centre include the carousel horse ridden by Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Until 21 January

FRANS HALS: The National Gallery hosts the first major retrospective of work by Dutch painter Frans Hals in more than 30 years, bringing together 50 of his best portrait works, including his most famous picture, The Laughing Cavalier (1624) which is on loan from The Wallace Collection. Until 21 January

BURMA TO MYANMAR: The country of Myanmar, also known as Burma, is the subject of the British Museum's current exhibition. It looks back at 1,500 years of the isolated country's history, from civil war to military dictatorship, and the extraordinary artistic output which came about as a result. Until 11 February

Actor Tom Hanks in front of a large image of the moon landing
Tom Hanks was involved in creating The Moonwalkers at Lightroom. Photo: Justin Sutcliffe

WES ANDERSON: Things get seriously symmetrical, and somewhat pastel-hued over in west London, where there's an exhibition dedicated to filmmaker Wes Anderson. The images displayed aren't Anderson's own work, but those from the Accidentally Wes Anderson Instagram account, which shares photos resembling the aesthetic of Anderson's films. Sounds like a soothing place to escape the seasonal madness for a little while. Until 17 February

FANTASY: The British Library offers a magical, multimedia celebration of the fantasy genre, exploring its roots in myths and fairytales, and charting its rise in popularity in recent years. Read our full review of Fantasy: Realms Of The Imagination. At time of writing, the BL website is still down due to a recent cyber attack, but tickets can be booked here instead. Until 25 February

THE MOONWALKERS: The Lightroom in King's Cross has taken on a lunar theme with The Moonwalkers, an interactive experience voiced by actor Tom Hanks. Hear the story of the Apollo missions, and watch interviews between Hanks and astronauts on the current Artemis programme, which aims to return crewed missions to the moon's surface. Until 21 April

ASTRONOMY PHOTOGRAPHY: For further out-of-this-world escapism, head to the National Maritime Museum for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition, and ogle some seriously impressive shots of the moon, neighbouring planets and galaxies, solar flares and the like. Until 2024

TEA: Horniman Museum's current exhibition 茶, चाय, Tea (Chá, Chai, Tea) tells the story of the much-loved drink, including its productions, and traditions around drinking it in different countries. Have a little swot up on the history of tea in London before you go. Until July 2024