Contrary to popular belief — and the scenes depicted in these photos and these ones — there's a lot going on in London on Christmas Day. We've already written a guide to things to do in London on Christmas Day. Here are some of the venues that open in the capital on 25 December — although do check opening hours, as they most likely differ from normal. Just bear in mind that there's no public transport running to get you there.
Museums and tourist attractions open in London on Christmas Day
Slim pickings here, as all the big museums and galleries understandably shut on 25 December — for many, it's the only day of the year they close. In previous years Ripley's (later Body Worlds) in Piccadilly Circus opened, but those attractions have shut down for good now.
JW3 Jewish Centre in North Finchley does open on 25 December each year (expect when it falls on a Saturday). It's home to the only ice rink in London which opens on Christmas Day
Swimming is an option in some parts of town, with these swimming pools and lidos offering Christmas Day dips, with the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds, south London's lidos, and perhaps most famously, Hampton Pool opening on Christmas Day.
Restaurants open in London on Christmas Day
If you want a full-on Christmas meal out in London, you'll have to get booking, as you'll struggle to find anywhere that takes Christmas Day walk-ins. High-end restaurants and hotel restaurants are your best bet — here are some we know of which open for lunch or dinner on Christmas Day.
Traditionally, many Chinese restaurants in Chinatown open on Christmas Day, if you fancy an alternative to turkey. It's mainly a case of just turning up and seeing what's open, although if you've got a favourite, it's worth ringing in advance to check Christmas opening hours. Similarly lots of Kosher restaurants dotted around (particularly) north London are open too, but it's best to check ahead.
If you haven't booked and you're getting peckish, your best bet is to head into one of London's larger hotels, as the kitchens should be open to feed guests staying there — though don't bank on getting in without a reservation at these, either.
Cafes open in London on Christmas Day
Usually, certain branches of Pret A Manger open on 25 December, although they can be a bit coy about revealing which ones.
Pubs and bars open in London on Christmas Day
It's mainly the chain pubs you'll find open on 25 December — Young's, Greene King and Wetherspoons are good bets. Nicholson's even serves Christmas dinner. Listed here are the pubs that usually open on Christmas Day, though do check before you set off. Again, food will probably need to be booked in advance, or may not be available at all, so best line your stomach before heading out for a festive pint.
- The Flask, Hampstead
- The Founders Arms, Blackfriars
- Horniman at Hays, London Bridge
- The Narrowboat, Angel
- The Pilot, Greenwich
- The Ship, Wandsworth
- The Spread Eagle, Camden
- The Alexandra, Wimbledon — this one is famous for serving up a free Christmas dinner to anyone who'd be on their own on Christmas Day. We're awaiting confirmation that that's happening for Christmas 2023.
- With bars, hotels are once again your best option, as many of the larger, more central hotels are likely to have their bars open for their guests.
Toilets open in London on Christmas Day
If department stores, train stations, coffee shops and museums are your usual go-tos for bathroom breaks, you may struggle to find somewhere today. Duck into one of the pubs above for a pint and to use the bathroom, or else, head into a hotel — most of the larger ones will have bathrooms tucked away somewhere near the lobby. A bit cheeky, but when you've got to go, you've got to go.