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16 Christmas Things to Do in London

Searching for the best Christmas things to do in London? Discover the best Christmas activities including things to do on Christmas Day in London and things to do on Boxing Day in London too in our article plus answers to FAQs.

If you’ll be in London during the second half of November, December or early January, then you’re probably going to be looking for Christmas things to do in London!

London is magical during the festive season. There are twinkling lights strung everywhere, markets pop up all over the city and everyone seems to join in with the spirit of Christmas. Visit London at Christmas and it’s a different city to the one you may have already seen in summer. 

Not yet seen the Christmas attractions of London? Then you need this list of things to do in London at Christmas so you can plot your festive visit! Christmas activities in London are held all over the capital, so whatever you’re into there’s something for you. Even if you’re not really into shopping.

Read on to discover what London’s like between mid-November and early January. From festive lights and a Winter Wonderland to Christmas Day and Boxing Day activities, here are 16 of the most awesome Christmas events in London to take note of!

8 of the best Christmas things to do in London

Marvel at London’s Christmas lights

Christmas things to do in London include festive light displays.
  • When: mid-November to mid-January
  • Where: all over London
  • Open Christmas Day? Yes
  • Open Boxing Day? Yes

You can see the Christmas lights in London during late November and December for free!

Or book an organised tour if you prefer to see the best spots such as Oxford, Regent, Carnaby, and Bond Streets to Covent Garden and the Southbank.  

Explore 17 top London Christmas lights spots here

Take a Christmas tour of London

Woman standing in front of Christmas decorations.
Can you tell being in London during Christmas makes me happy?
  • When: throughout December
  • Where: all over London
  • Open Christmas Day? Selected tours operate on 25th December
  • Open Boxing Day? Selected tours operate on 25th December

There are lots of guided tours to take in London at Christmas – even on the big day itself or Boxing Day. Pick between walking tours, open-top bus trips, Christmas markets, Thames cruises and even church services. 

Click here to read about 22 of the top London Christmas tours.

Head to the Southbank Winter Festival

South Bank walk to Tower Bridge at night
  • When: 28th October 2023 – 7th January 2024
  • Where: Southbank
  • Closest tube: Waterloo
  • Open Christmas Day? No
  • Open Boxing Day? Yes

There’s more to the Southbank Winter Festival than just a Christmas market. You can also expect twinkling lights, street performers, artworks and performances. It’s also a great place to try seasonal and street foods from around the world. 

See what the Southbank Winter Festival is all about here

Visit Hogwarts in the Snow

  • When: 11th November 2023 – 14th January 2024
  • Where: Harry Potter studios
  • Open Christmas Day? No
  • Open Boxing Day? No

If you fancy a day out of the city, head to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studios for Hogwarts in the Snow. You can just imagine Harry, Ron and Hermione wandering around the bright white landscape during the run-up to Christmas here.  

Read more about Hogwarts in the Snow here

Enter Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
  • When: 17th November 2023 to 1st January 2024
  • Where: Hyde Park
  • Closest tube: Hyde Park Corner
  • Open Christmas Day? No
  • Open Boxing Day? Yes

Between the smart shops of Knightsbridge – including the legendary Harrods – and bustling Oxford Street you’ll find Hyde Park. This large green space is transformed into a Winter Wonderland every December, and it’s not to be missed! The festive atmosphere is simply magical. 

You can enter the Winter Wonderland for free if you visit during off-peak times. Otherwise, entry costs up to £7.50. Some rides, shows and attractions are chargeable on top of that.

Be warned, though – there’s so much to see, eat and drink here that one visit may not be enough! 

Read all about the Winter Wonderland here.

See the huge Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square at Christmas
  • When: throughout December
  • Where: Trafalgar Square
  • Closest tube: Charing Cross
  • Open Christmas Day? Yes
  • Open Boxing Day? Yes

See the vast festive tree that Norway kindly donates to the UK every year at Trafalgar Square in the centre of the capital. Many thousands of twinkling lights decorate it, and every year the magnificent fir is more than 20 metres tall and 50 years old or over.  

Time your visit carefully and you may hear carol singers performing here too. Or just wander on over when you’re nearby and you might just get lucky!

Find the full carol singing programme here.

Enjoy Christmas at Kew

  • When: 15th November 2023 – 7th January 2024
  • Where: Kew Gardens
  • Closest tube: Richmond
  • Open Christmas Day? No
  • Open Boxing Day? Yes

Like Hyde Park, Kew Gardens are transformed at Christmas time. The lights are spectacular, and in darkness the spaces have an otherworldly feel. As well as all the gardens have to offer, there are food and drinks stalls here to keep you fed and watered. 

Discover Christmas at Kew here

Go to a Christmas show or pantomime

  • When: November to January
  • Where: West End
  • Open Christmas Day? No
  • Open Boxing Day? Yes

Seeing a show or pantomime is among the top Christmas in London things to do. All sorts of performances are offered in the West End, around the Shaftesbury Avenue area and beyond. 

Pantos are also a big British Christmas tradition, and the most sought-after tickets are often sold for Boxing Day performances. Whether you go for a fun panto, a musical or a more serious sort of show, you can pick a festive-themed option or simply go for something you desperately want to see. 

Explore the options on London Theatre Direct

5 Things to do in London on Christmas Day

Shopping London at Christmas

As well as the best things to do in London at Christmas listed above – and you’re free to enjoy Trafalgar Square, the festive lights and simply wandering around the city or Southbank on any day in December – there are some things that are best enjoyed on the big day itself. 

Book Christmas lunch at a London pub

Traditional English Christmas dinner.

You’ll have to plan well ahead for this one! Many pubs in Britain do open on Christmas Day, and what’s more is that they serve up an enormous festive feast. Expect roast turkey with all the trimmings, as the natives say, plus a starter and a pudding at least.

There’s no better place to savour a Christmas Day feast than in a proper British ‘boozer’. Your plate should be piled high with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, ‘pigs in blankets’ (tiny sausages wrapped in bacon) and lots of freshly-cooked vegetable side dishes including roast parsnips and Brussels sprouts. 

The atmosphere is likely to be lively as everyone toasts the season and socialises with other tables. If you want to join in, you’ll need to book in around September or earlier before all available spaces have gone.   

Attend a Christmas Day service

St Pauls in winter.
St Paul’s Cathedral

Christmas Day services will be taking place all over London in the capital’s churches. Not least mighty St Paul’s Cathedral, of course. Check timings in advance, and bear in mind that some venues may require a booking. Wherever you go for a Christmas Day service or Midnight Mass, do make sure you get there early. 

Walk through a Royal Park

Hyde Park in winter.
Hyde Park in winter

The Royal (and other) Parks of London remain open during the festive period, so you can take a walk in any of those on Christmas Day. Pick between Regent’s Park near London Zoo, St James’s Park near the palaces, Greenwich Park south of the river or Richmond to the west. 

Plus there’s Bushy Park, Hampstead Heath, Crystal Palace Park, Lee Valley, Victoria Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park, Clapham Common, Battersea Park and more. Pick one near where you’re staying and off you go!  

Ice skate at JW3 

You can actually ice skate in London on Christmas day if you really want to. The winter rink opens from the first Saturday in December and stays open on Christmas Day. 

This pop-up rink is organised by JW3, an organisation dedicated to Jewish life, so you can skate on Christmas Day or Boxing Day here. 

Watch the Peter Pan Cup Race

Though Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is closed for the day on 25th December, you can witness another spectacle at the park. The Peter Pan Cup Race takes place every Christmas morning at the Serpentine Swimming Club. At 9 am, members take to the water to compete in a 100-yard race. 

Only members can take part, so you’ll only be able to watch!

3 things to do in London on Boxing Day

On Boxing Day in London, many of the attractions, shops, and restaurants are open once more and activities will be operating again.

If you’re looking for something special, though, here are some of the best Christmas things to do in London on 26th December.

Dine out in festive style

If you aren’t prepared to pay the eye-watering prices demanded by many restaurants and pubs for a Christmas Day meal, book one for Boxing Day instead. It’s still popular and busy – so do book ahead – but prices are a steal compared to the day before!

Join a Boxing Day tradition

Seeing a show on Boxing Day itself is one of the ultimate things to do in London over Christmas. Snap up your tickets early and you could bag the best seats in the house!

Bag a bargain

The Christmas markets, small shops and major stores are likely to start their post-Christmas sales on Boxing Day. Start early if you want to avoid the crowds – and keep in mind that some shops will stay shut on the 26th.  

That said, it’s one of the best times of year to grab a bargain buy, as retailers clear their seasonal goods to make way for new stock.

Harrods in London.
Head to Harrods for their Boxing Day sale!

Christmas things to do in London FAQs

A festive calendar with the date the 25th December.

Are London attractions, restaurants, pubs, museums and shops closed on Christmas Day?

  • London attractions – While many attractions are closed on Christmas Day you will find London Royal parks are open and the perfect place for an after or pre-dinner stroll.
  • Restaurants – Many restaurants are closed for Christmas Day. Check online if you have a particular restaurant in mind, and book in advance for Christmas Day dinner or lunch. There are often a few eateries open in Chinatown, near Leicester Square, however. 
  • Pubs – Some pubs are open for a few hours on Christmas Day around lunchtime, but then will close for the evening.
  • Museums – Most London museums are closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day including the British Museum, Imperial War Museum, V&A, National Maritime Museum and more.
  • Shops – Closed.

Is public transport available on Christmas Day in London?

No public transport options run on Christmas Day. However, you can jump onto a Santander cycle, walk wherever you like or take a black cab. The latter will be limited and will charge higher fares, however. So might want to bear this in mind when booking your London accommodation!

Tag saying Boxing Day.

Are London attractions, restaurants, pubs, museums and shops closed on Boxing Day?

  • London attractions – Some attractions are closed on Boxing Day as well as Christmas Day, so do check before you travel.
  • Restaurants – Some restaurants are also closed on Boxing Day. Check online if you have a particular restaurant in mind, and book in advance for a Boxing Day meal.
  • Pubs – London pubs are normally open as usual on Boxing Day, but you’ll still need to book a table in advance if you want to dine there.
  • Museums – Most London museums are closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day including the British Museum, Imperial War Museum, V&A, National Maritime Museum and more.
  • Shops – Some shops are closed on Boxing Day, while others fling open their doors once more. It depends on the retailer, so check in advance if there’s one you particularly want to visit. 

Is public transport available on Boxing Day in London?

London buses, trams, and Underground and Overground trains operate a reduced service on Boxing Day. Note that public transport begins to slow down from early evening on Christmas Eve, and there will be no night bus services at all on the 24th or 25th. 

Which Christmas things to do in London are for you?

There are so many things to do in London during the Christmas season! You can always find festive things to do in London when visiting the UK capital between mid to late November and the start of January. 

If you’re planning to spend Christmas Day in London, then planning ahead is essential. The only transport options are costly black cabs, hire cycles where they’re available and walking. So you may want to plan what to do, and where to stay, with that in mind.

From Boxing Day, many attractions reopen. Some museums, shops, restaurants and attractions are closed, though, so do check beforehand if there’s somewhere special you want to go. Also bear in mind that though public transport is running, it’s not yet business as usual and a limited service will be in operation. 

Which places to visit in London during Christmas are on your shortlist? Whatever it is, we know you’ll love all the Christmas places to visit in London just as much as we do. 

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