Things To Do In London On Christmas Day 2019

Things To Do In London On Christmas Day 2019
City Cruises run events on Christmas Day in London
City Cruises get a festive twist.

In London on Christmas Day and wondering what to do? Looking for something to fill the hours between the presents and the turkey? There's more happening in the capital on Christmas Day than you might expect.

If you're up early enough, you can see London's streets blissfully empty. By 11am, the masses are out (and, we've noticed in recent years, the streets get busy earlier every year, largely with tourists here for the holiday season). There are no tubes, buses or trams running, but if you can get into town by walking, cycle hire, taxi or your own transport, here are some of the things you'll be rewarded with.

Christmas day in London on Regent Street
Regent Street on Christmas morning 2014. Photo: Lisa

CHURCH SERVICES: Take a look at the services at Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral. Of course, churches all over London will run services on Christmas Day; check with your local for details. From 7am

GOLDEN TOURS: This tour company runs several tours on Christmas Day itself, including a Christmas lights open top bus tour (£35/£18, 5pm-8pm), or a London on Christmas Day bus tour in the morning (£42/£37, from 8am) or the afternoon (£42/£37, from 2pm) See the full schedule here (note: not all are in London). From 7.15am

Take a Christmas Day dip in Hampton Pool

HAMPTON POOL: West London's Hampton Pool, on the edge of Bushy Park, opens 365 days a year — which means an alfresco Christmas morning dip is an option. Do a few lengths of the 36m pool, before heading back home for a warming drink. £7.60 (peak prices apply over Christmas), just turn up, 8am-12pm (private sessions on Christmas Day also available).

PETER PAN CUP: Every year, a group of hardy swimmers takes to the icy depths of Hyde Park's Serpentine, in pursuit of the Peter Pan Cup. You can't take part unless you're a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club (and really, would you want to?), but you can drop by and offer your support from the safety of dry land and the warmth of actual clothing. Find out more about the history of the Peter Pan Cup here. Free to watch, just turn up, from 9am

CITY CRUISES: Take to the river on Christmas Day for a one-hour sightseeing tour (£21/£10, departures 9.45am-2.45pm), or have a four-course Christmas lunch on the Thames (£125/£99, noon). Book ahead for all. From 9.45am

Serpentine swim in Hyde Park for the Peter Pan Cup on Christmas Day in London.
Watch the Peter Pan Cup. Photo: Sinister Dexter

GUIDED WALKS: Guided walks don't stop just because it's Christmas Day. Take a Samuel Pepys themed walk based on Christmas morning 1660, the first time Christmas celebrations were permitted in England for eight years. Or, take a Charles Dickens themed stroll, based on the life and locations of the man responsible for reinventing Christmas. Both begin in Trafalgar Square, £10/£8, just turn up, 11am/2pm

BODY WORLDS: Like its predecessor, Ripley's, Piccadilly Circus tourist attraction Body Worlds opens on Christmas Day. Wander among Dr Gunther von Hagens’ exhibition of real human bodies, preserved and displayed through the process of plastination. Just what you need before tucking into a huge plate of turkey. £24.50, book ahead, 11am-5.15pm

JW3: JW3 Jewish Centre in Finchley is open on Christmas Day, including its ice rink — the only one in London that we know of which opens on Christmas Day. £17/£12, book ahead, 12.20pm-7.20pm

What else is open?

Plenty of Nicholson's pubs open on Christmas Day — check the website for further information — and plenty of Chinatown restaurants also open, although it's worth checking with specific venues for details. Bear in mind that most pubs start to close around 4pm. Check our full guide to what's open in London on Christmas Day for further ideas, and if it's Christmas dinner you're after, we've got that covered too (you'll need to book in advance though).

Know of something else happening on Christmas Day? Email hello@londonist.com.

Last Updated 26 November 2019