Things To Do In London On Christmas Day

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 8 months ago

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Things To Do In London On Christmas Day
Photo: Tom Chen/Unsplash

In London on Christmas Day and wondering what to do? Looking for something to fill the hours between the presents and the turkey? Here's the lowdown on Christmas Day in the capital.

Is London busy on Christmas Day?

If you're up early enough, you can see London's streets fairly empty. That used to be a novelty, but these days is more likely to trigger lockdown flashbacks. By 11am, the masses are out (and, we noticed in recent — pre-Covid — years, the streets get busy earlier every year, largely with tourists here for the holiday season. Of course, that probably won't be the case in 2021).

What transport runs in London on Christmas Day?

Photo: Hat Creative/Unsplash

No tubes, buses, trains or trams run on Christmas Day, leaving walking, cycle hire, taxi or your own vehicle (the ULEZ and Congestion Charge don't apply on 25 December) as your options for getting into and around town.

What opens in London on Christmas Day?

We've covered that in detail here, but one thing we will reiterate is that a lot of London's toilets, located in cafes, restaurants, pubs and stations, won't be available today. Just something to consider before you fill a flask with mulled wine.

Things to do and events in London on Christmas Day

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. Some events are ticketed this year and may already be sold out, but live streams are often available — check websites closer to the time. Of course, churches all over London will run services on Christmas Day; check with your local for details.

VOLUNTEERING: If you're reading this in advance of the big day, you might still be in time to sign up for a volunteering slot at one of the many charities that operate on Christmas Day to help the capital's most vulnerable, including the homeless, and the elderly or isolated who may otherwise spend the day alone.

GOLDEN TOURS: This company runs tours on Christmas Day, taking you past sights such as Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London over the course of three hours on board a coach. Pick from a morning or afternoon slot (£45 adult/£40 child) 8.30am/2pm, or splash out on the tour followed by a three-course Christmas lunch at a London pub (£99 adult/£94 child).

Take a Christmas Day dip in Hampton Pool

SWIMMING: While London isn't exactly replete with options for a Christmas Day dip, some pools do open for a few hours, including Hampton Pool, pictured above. Here's our guide to swimming in London on Christmas Day, though consider yourself warned that you need to book several weeks in advance for some of the options.

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

Serpentine swim in Hyde Park for the Peter Pan Cup on Christmas Day in London.
Watch the Peter Pan Cup in Hyde Park. 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 — and you thought missing last year was bad enough. Begins in Trafalgar Square, £20/£10, booking required, 11am

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: What could be more festive that wandering among London's Christmas lights? Today's likely to be one of the quietest days to see them, even with festive sightseers lurking, as the West End shopping crowds aren't around. Our preferred option of seeing them by bus isn't available today due to the festive transport shutdown, but there's nothing to stop you walking or cycling between the twinkling displays as darkness falls.

Last Updated 03 December 2021

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