Things To Do In London On Christmas Eve 2023

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 7 months ago

Looks like this article is a bit old. Be aware that information may have changed since it was published.

Last Updated 24 December 2023

Things To Do In London On Christmas Eve 2023
Audience members wearing Santa hats and other festive accessories singing along at the Royal Albert Hall
There are two performances of Carols at the Royal Albert Hall on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve is a funny one. There aren't too many one-off events happening in London, but if you've got all your shopping done and find yourself with a few hours to spare, there are still plenty of festive things to do — just bear in mind, places may well close earlier than normal.

ICE SKATING: What better way to start your Christmas than at one of London's seasonal ice skating rinks? Take to the ice in festive surroundings — Somerset House, Hampton Court Palace, Battersea Power Station... the list goes on. Most rinks have a café or bar nearby, where less adventurous family members can tuck into a hot chocolate or mulled wine and watch the action.

CHRISTMAS AFTERNOON TEA: Nothing says 'special occasion' like a fancy afternoon tea, and London is packed with festive/Christmas versions right now. You'll need to book ahead for a Christmas Eve slot — choose from our pick of fantastically festive afternoon teas in London this year, including a Disney one, and another themed on The Snowman.

PANTOMIME: It's Christmas Eve... oh no it isn't... oh yes it is, etc etc. Panto season is in full swing by now, so whether you fancy taking the kids along to a classic version of Aladdin or Jack and the Beanstalk, seeing Cinderella with a sassy twist — or taking in a show that's strictly adults-only, brush up on where to see pantomime in London this year, and get booking for those coveted Christmas Eve tickets (note that most performances on 24 December tend to be matinee, or even morning, rather than evening).

People ice skating on the rink in front of Battersea Power Station at dusk
Get festive on Christmas Eve with a spot of ice skating. Photo: Joshua Atkins

CHRISTMAS MARKETS: Last chance to do your Christmas shopping at this year's Christmas markets and fairs. Several of them open on Christmas Eve, including Winter by the River (closes 5pm), Southbank Centre's Winter Market (closes 4pm) and Christmas in Leicester Square. Obviously, they are likely to be VERY busy today, particularly as Christmas Eve falls on a weekend this year.

DISNEY ON ICE: If, like us, Disney On Ice is an absolute staple of your festive season, book yourself into see it at The O2 on Christmas Eve. This year's theme is 100 Years Of Wonder, with old and new characters from Mickey to Moana played by incredibly talented figure skaters. 9.30am/1.30pm

KINGDOM OF WINTER: New 2023 festive attraction Kingdom of Winter is open today, offering ice skating, circus shows, a Christmas market, an ice trail and other family-friendly entertainment at ExCeL Centre. Christmas Eve tickets are likely to sell out in advance, so one to book asap. 10am-6.30pm today

WINTER WONDERLAND: Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland is business as usual on Christmas Eve. The outdoor festival has a Christmas market where you can do your last bits of shopping, plus food and drink stalls, funfair rides, an ice skating rink and a circus. Just remember that you still need to prebook entry this year, and Christmas Eve tickets are likely to be snapped up fast. 10am-10pm (although may close earlier today).

A performer playing Aladdin lifting the performer playing Jasmine above his head in Disney on Ice
Festive staple Disney on Ice has two shows on Christmas Eve.

CAROLS: It's the final day of Carols at the Hall, a programme of traditional and modern festive carols performed at the Royal Albert Hall, with audience members invited to join in. 11am/3pm

CHRISTMAS FILMS: Leicester Square's legendary Prince Charles Cinema has a few festive offerings on the bill today. Choose between The Muppet Christmas Carol — sing along (12pm/2.45pm), The Nightmare Before Christmas (12.10pm), Love Actually (2.05pm), Die Hard (5pm) and It's A Wonderful Life (5.15pm).

DANCE SESSION: Southbank Centre offers a free afternoon of dancing in partnership with Five Go Jiving. All ages and abilities are welcome, and the event starts with a free dance lesson, so you can learn the steps before getting into the free dance portion of the day. Expect plenty of festive tunes courtesy of band leader John Bayley and co. FREE, 1pm

People dancing in pairs
Dance your way through Christmas Eve at Southbank Centre. Photo: Belinda Lawley

DICKENSIAN LONDON: Join Footprints of London guide David Charnick for a guided walk through the London of Charles Dickens, explored through the author's own words. Visit sites Dickens would have been familiar with, and hear his urban insights as you go. 2pm-4pm. If you can't make it in person, there's an online version of the tour at 9pm

SEE THE LIGHTS: Once it starts getting dark, why not take the opportunity to see London's many fantastic Christmas light displays — if you can face the central London crowds, that is. Wander through London, gazing up at angels, stars, and crowns — twinkling in the urban heavens above you. Or hop on a bus to get a closer look. If you're planning a hot chocolate or mulled wine pitstop, bear in mind that cafes and bars may close earlier than usual tonight.

It's worth checking venue opening hours before you travel, as lots of places will close early on Christmas Eve — and don't miss your last train home!