London in December is the perfect time to visit and my favorite time of year. This is because there are so many festive things to do in London in December. The city is full of Christmas spirit and it feels quite magical. In this post, we will go over the best things to do in London over the Christmas period. Most of these fun things start in early November. London starts going all out for Christmas pretty early!
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🎅🎄Top Christmas-Themed Tours in London!
1. Christmas Lights Tour by Vintage Bus Open Top
2. Christmas Lights Walking Tour
3. London Vintage Bus Afternoon Tea (Christmas Themed)
4. Christmas Sights and Sounds of London Tour
5. Guided Winter Markets Food Tour
1. See the Christmas Lights on Regent & Oxford Street
The Christmas Lights in London is like no other. The most classic place to see them is on Regent and Oxford Street. This is where the iconic angel wings sparkle above the road and many red buses and black cabs pass. A super fun thing to do is to ride on an open-top bus for a tour of the Christmas lights as you pass famous landmarks too.
Read my full post on the best Christmas Decorations in London here
2. Visit a Christmas Market
London has a few Christmas Markets and if you’re visiting London in December you’re in luck to see them. My favorite has to be Christmas by the River. Running through January 2nd, this market is set alongside the River Thames. You’ll find the iconic London Tower Bridge in the backdrop while you stroll through the shops selling everything from the yummiest foods to jewelry! You can also hide away in the festive and cozy cabins for a cocktail like I did at the Riverside Lodge!
Other Christmas Markets in London include:
- Covent Garden Christmas Markets
- Southbank Centre Winter Market
- Trafalgar Square Christmas market
- Leicester Square Christmas market
- Spitalfields Christmas Markets
- Greenwich Christmas Market
- Winter Wonderland Christmas Markets
You can book this Guided Winter Markets Food Tour and also see lights along your walk from Borough Market to the South Bank.
3. Go Ice Skating
There are many places in London to Ice Skate and it’s such a fun activity. Skylight pictured above has views of the city. They have a fun photo booth where you can take your photo with a friend and they have igloos you can keep warm in as you take a break from the rinks!
Other fun Ice Skating Rinks in London include:
- Skate at Somerset House
- Canary Wharf
- Glide at Battersea Power Station
- Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink
- Queen’s House
- Westfield Winter Village
4. Attend a Christmas Feast & Show
The Great Christmas Feast at the Lost Estate in West Kensington is one of the most unique things to do in December in London. The play is a story featuring Charles Dickens and is based on the Christmas Carol. The experience is very interactive with the actors engaging and involving the audience. There are 3 acts and in between each act, you’ll enjoy a 3-course meal featuring duck, potatoes, and other Christmassy snacks.
Tickets start at £149.50 and should be booked online ahead as the show does sell out.
5. Drink Christmas Themed Cocktails at Miracle at Henrietta
This Christmas-themed Bar is tucked away in Covent Garden.
Miracle at Henrietta serves up festive cocktails in unique vessels like a Santa Clause mug and the like. The room is decked with so much holiday cheer. Add this to your list of best things to do in London in December.
You can visit from November through December 23rd. Some spots are available for walk-in on a first come first serve basis but it’s better to book ahead online.
🎄 Read my full post on The Best Christmassy Restaurants in London
6. See the Light Show at Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens has to be the best light show in London!
From mid-November to early January, the gardens transform into a twinkling wonderland, with a captivating walking trail adorned with a myriad of impressive light displays. Get your holiday spirit ready as you wander through the beauty of each exhibit. While there, treat yourself to some snacks and Bailey’s Hot Chocolate.
Be sure to book your £22.50 tickets in advance here and add the Kew Gardens Christmas Light Show to your list of festive things to do in London in December. This show is very popular and often sells out fast so try to book as early as October.
7. Eat at a Festive Restaurant
There are so many festive restaurants in London during the Christmas period. My absolute favorite is Daphne’s where they go all out and decorate the place with Christmas cheer. The ceiling usually has many ornate decorations like baubles and ribbon. The food is also excellent featuring Italian cuisine and some of the best ever tiramisu.
Other Christmas-themed restaurants in London I like include:
8. Stroll Through Covent Garden
Covent Garden in London has a plethora of Christmas activities. Each year they decorate with a large Christmas tree, a sleigh, and changing displays in the arcade courtyard. They also have a new pop-up featuring a brand. In 2023, there is a cute red vintage car at the Sezane pop-up store.
9. Reserve an Igloo at Coppa Club
December in London can be cold, so why not snuggle up in one of these super cool igloos at Coppa Club with views of Tower Bridge. They have heaters inside and blankets too. There’s a minimum spend of £35 per person which can easily be done especially if you’re having one of their nice cocktails too.
10. Shop at all the Festive Stores in London
Many of the department stores and high-end shops decorate their facades with Christmas decor. Fortnum & Mason’s facade is an advent calendar, Cartier and all the other shops on New Bond Street like Chanel and Dior usually go all out with their display. The interiors of these shops also are nice too. Liberty always has a beautiful indoor installation that hangs from the ceiling and you can see it from the differing levels of the store.
11. Join the Fun at Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland is a huge amusement park located in Hyde Park. It features endless rides, food stalls, ice skating, and more. It can get quite busy as it’s very popular so keep that in mind as you plan your visit and be sure to book tickets ahead online.
12. Have a Christmas Themed Afternoon Tea
Pictured above is one of my favorite festive afternoon teas in London. It’s at Marriot County Hall in the Library. I adore it because they have these cute Big Ben-shaped cakes and you have the view of Big Ben from the window. Afternoon tea is a must for anyone visiting London.
Afternoon tea is a light meal typically served between lunch and dinner, featuring tea accompanied by sandwiches, pastries, and cakes. It is said to have been introduced in the 1840s by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, who began having tea and snacks in the afternoon to alleviate hunger between lunch and dinner, eventually popularizing the social practice in England.
Other festive afternoon teas:
- Lanes of London
- Strand Palace
- The Langham
- Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill
13. Check out the Festive Museums in London
The Natural History Museum (pictured above) features its T-Rex in a Christmas jumper and Santa hat.
Other festive museums in London include The Postal Museum, where you can see the first commercial Christmas card, and the London Transport Museum, where you can visit with Santa.
14. Watch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Photo by Kevin Hackert
If you want to watch the NYE light show, you’ll need to snag tickets quickly when they go on sale in early November. Otherwise, there are many places to watch and celebrate NYE in London. If you don’t have tickets you can always stream online to see the show.
Best Hotels to Stay in London in December
If you want to see the Christmas festivities in London, there are endless opportunities for places to stay. In fact, if you’re near a tube you can get just about anywhere quickly. However, if you want to be where all the action is, I’d recommend staying in Covent Garden, Soho, or Westminster. This will put you right near all the biggest Christmas light displays and attractions. But so that you know, the decor and cheer is spread literally all over London!
Here are my top hotel picks:
Hopefully, you enjoyed this post on the most festive things to do in London in December. Comment below if you’ve tried any of them!