Generally, December in London is taken up by Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. If you're not into that, here are a few non-festive things happening in the capital in December 2021. If you're all about the C-word though, scroll on down to the festive section.
Non-Christmassy things to do in London in December 2021
EVER AFTER GARDEN: 25,000 glowing white roses carpet Grosvenor Square this month, forming the Ever After Garden. The display is a fundraiser for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, with the public able to dedicate a rose to an absent loved one for a donation of £10. 1-23 December
LIFE BETWEEN ISLANDS: 70 years of Caribbean-British art is celebrated in Tate Britain's new exhibition, Life Between Islands. Paintings, photograph, fashion, film and sculpture all feature, with works by both Caribbean artists who made their home in Britain, and British artists whose work has been influenced and inspired by the Caribbean. 1 December 2021-3 April 2022
BEETHOVEN: British Library unveils a new exhibition dedicated to the life and work of the great composer Beethoven. Find out about the challenges he faced, including a battle against hearing loss, and see objects including manuscripts handwritten by the man himself. 3 December-24 April
MARTINI POP UP: A collab between Grey Goose vodka, pop maestra Rina Sawayama, and Luke Selby, head chef of Evelyn's Table, a ticket to the Grey Goose Duet pop up gets you a four course dinner with matched Martinis and Sawayama-curated entertainment — expect twists on the classic cocktail, four courses melding British and Japanese flavours, and an acoustic performance from Sans Soucis. 3 - 4 December
TUDORFEST: For one day only, experts in all things Tudor take over the British Library for TudorFest. Hear from historians Tracy Borman, Suzannah Lipscomb, author Nathen Amin and professor Nandini Das on topics such as fashion and LGBT+ history in the period. 4 December
MOSCONI CUP: One of the biggest events in the pool calendar, the Mosconi Cup takes place at Alexandra Palace over four evenings. Watch Team Europe and Team USA battle it out to be crowned champions. 7-10 December
BROTHERS IN ARMS: The National Army Museum opens a new exhibition, Brothers in Arms, telling the story of eight men from the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. The elite British tank regiment fought its way across northwest Europe in the final stages of the second world war. 9 December 2021-6 May 2022
KEHINDE WILEY: Works by American painter Kehinde Wiley — best-known for new takes on Old Masters works featuring people of colour — go on display at the National Gallery. The new artworks include both paintings and films, showcasing Wiley's take on European Romanticism. 10 December 2021-18 April 2022
GLOBOSCOPE: Head to General Gordon Square in Woolwich after dark to wander through a sea of more than 200 illuminated spheres. Globoscope is the work of French artists Collectif Coin. 10-11 December
THE OAK COLLECTION: [THIS HAS NOW BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL 2022] For one week only, a private collection of over 100 of the finest watches in the world goes on display. The Oak Collection, which is the result of four decades of collection, goes on show at the Design Museum, featuring both vintage and modern timepieces. 10-16 December
SEX AND THE CITY: And just like that, Carrie Bradshaw's Manhattan apartment appeared in the middle of London. The Covent Garden pop-up is a promo for the new Sex and the City spin-off series, and is a chance to get inside a replica of the famous apartment where you can sip cocktails, take selfies and admire that coveted walk-in wardrobe. 11-12 December
NORTHERN LIGHTS: As part of the Mayor of London's Winter Lights season, a replica of the Northern Lights will glow over Guildhall. Dan Acher's installations mimics the colours and movements of the real thing — should be magical. 11-22 December
Christmas things to do in London in December
SQUID SOUP: As part of the Christmas festivities at Greenwich Peninsula, Wave by Squid Soup is installed in the area. The illuminated artwork consists of hundreds of colourful, illuminated orbs suspended above visitors' heads. If it looks familiar, it's been at Southbank Centre and Belgravia in previous years. From 29 November
CHRISTMAS NIGHT MARKET: A collab between BlackEatsLdn and Bohemia Place Markets, the Christmas Night Market's back with a celebration of London's Black-owned, independent businesses, street food traders, and artisan creators. Smash through your Christmas gift shopping, knock back a mulled wine or four, and snack on festive food from traders like Ethiopian vegan Fikre Kitchen. 3 December
FESTIVE FOOD FAYRE: Head to Hampton Court Palace to feast like a king at the Festive Food Fayre. The courtyards and grounds of the palace fill with stalls selling artisan food and drink products, including street food to be eaten then and there, and store cupboard staples to take home with you — plus plenty of foodie gift ideas. Throw in live music and lashings of lights and decorations, and you've got yourself quite the festive day out. 3-5 December
GINGERBREAD CITY: After a 2020 hiatus, London's most delicious exhibition is back, in a brand new location. The Gingerbread City comes to Belgravia, with buildings, bridges and other structures made from the festive biscuit, designed and made by teams of architects. The 2019 incarnation had a working train set running through the middle of it, so we've got high hopes. 4 December 2021-9 January 2022
CHRISTMAS JUMPER DAY: 10 December 2021 is Save The Children's Christmas Jumper Day, when people are encouraged to wear their most ridiculous festive knitwear for the day, and make a donation to the charity. If you're looking to upgrade your wardrobe for this year's event, check out these London-themed Christmas jumpers. 10 December
MIRACLE BAR: Tinsel, tacky fairies, heavily-themed drinks — Miracle at Henrietta is a pop-up cocktail bar that brings together the most kitsch aspects of Christmases past. Book a table to sample such delights as a Jingle Balls Nog (a teeth-stinting concoction of cognac, cream sherry, almond milk, cream, egg, vanilla and nutmeg). Until 23 December
ICE SKATING: From Canary Wharf to Hampton Court Palace, ice rinks pop up in parks and at palaces across the capital in winter. Find your nearest with our guide to ice skating — or take on the challenge of trying them all. Plenty have cafes, bars and places for spectators alongside them. Open until the new year.
LIGHT FESTIVALS: London is absolutely ablaze with light festivals this year, from Christmas at Kew to Winterfest at Wembley Park and Enchanted Eltham as well as new additions Illuminature in Barnes and Christmas at Kenwood House. Here's our complete guide to those Instagrammable light festivals.
WINTER WONDERLAND: After a hiatus in 2020, Winter Wonderland has taken up residence in Hyde Park once more. The ice rink, circus shows, big wheel and funfair rides are back, though there are a few changes this year — here's what you need to know. Until 3 January 2022
CAROL CONCERTS: Getting practising your fa-la-las, because London's packed with carol concerts in December, from small services at your local church to large-scale events at well-known venues. Here's our pick of carol concerts for 2021.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS: Get your seasonal shopping done in one fell swoop at these Christmas markets and fairs popping up round the capital. Find gifts that you won't see on the high street — or just treat yourself to something festive.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Most of London's Christmas lights are now illuminated — here's a guide to what they look like this year, and where and how to see them. Alternatively, why not hop on a bus and see them from on high? This bus route is your best bet for maximum festivity.
CHRISTMAS FILMS: Whether you're a hardcore Elf fan or don't consider it Christmas until you've seen Love Actually, check out all of the Christmas film screenings taking place across London, from independent cinemas to posh hotels.
CHRISTMAS AFTERNOON TEA: Meeting friends for a Christmas get-together, or in need of a pick-me-up after Christmas shopping? Book one of these afternoon teas, and tuck into sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries with a festive twist.
THEATRE SHOWS: After a festive theatre show? London's got dozens of them. Take the kids along to one of these family-friendly Christmas shows with the likes of Peppa Pig, The Snowman and Disney. Adults might prefer London's more grown-up shows, like A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker. Of course, there's panto aplenty — these are our 2021 pantomime picks. And if you're looking for something more light-hearted, these 13 Christmas comedy shows will have you chuckling right through until new year.
CHRISTMAS TREE FARMS: Wondering where to get your Christmas tree this year? Head out to one of these Christmas tree farms and select your own spruce or fir, right from the spot where it's grown. Some farms will even let you cut it down yourself.
PETER PAN CUP: If you do one thing on Christmas Day in London, head to Hyde Park to watch the Peter Pan Cup. A group of hardy swimmers from Serpentine Swimming Club take to the chilly waters; you can't take part unless you're a member, but you can watch them from the comfort of dry land. 25 December
NEW YEAR'S EVE: The biggest party night of the year is approaching. Whether you want to go full-on drinking and dancing, or see in 2022 in a more sedate manner, take a look at our curated list of things to do in London on New Year's Eve. There's no fireworks display this year, but London has a whole new way of marking New Year's Eve. 31 December