It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas in London, with festive decorations visible and fun activities happening everywhere you go. From beautiful lights transforming the big smoke into a magical merry paradise. To a superb selection of awesome events to get you in the Christmas spirit. With so much going on, the only trouble you’ll have is deciding what to do. To save you the time and stress, in this guide we’ve selected the very best things to do and see this Christmas in London.
Nothing signals the start of Christmas in London quite like the amazing lights installed across the city. These weird and wonderful bright displays are quite the spectacle, creating an inimitable festive ambience, unrivalled by any other city across the world. With the help of our local insiders, we’ve selected some of very best Christmas lights you should check out if you’re in town.
Last year, Carnaby’s Bohemian Rhapsody themed Christmas lights were a scintillating spectacle. This year, the team behind them have decided to switch things up with a social impact theme. In collaboration with local charity Project 0, the lights will focus on the important topic of ocean conservation. With each section of the street showing different underwater environments and the animals that inhabit them. In line with this years theme, the installations will be made from recycled and sustainably sourced materials. Christmas lights with a conscience.
Where: Carnaby Street | When: Thursday 7th November – January 2020
Syon Park’s Enchanted Woodland
If you want to see the most impressive Christmas lights in London, escape the centre and head west to experience Syon Park’s, Enchanted Woodland. Held annually on the grounds of Isleworth’s oldest grand home, it’s woodlands are transformed into a mele of magical colours. Follow the trail and head into the depths of the forest and immerse yourself to see all kinds of awesome artistic installations. There is an entry fee of £12, however, all of this is re-invested back into the maintenance and future development of Syon Park. An amazing experience, all whilst supporting a positive cultural cause.
The Churchill Arms
The Churchill Arms is arguably one of the most instagrammable pubs in London. In the summer, the exterior is covered with an eye-catching blanket of brightly coloured flowers. However, for the festive season, the facade of this much-loved drinking den undergoes a monumental transformation. Becoming adorned with an impressive array of brightly-lit Christmas trees and more. Decorations aside, the spot is the perfect place to stop off for a pint or two. With the interior packed full of quirky Winston Churchill themed memorabilia.
If you’ve seen some brightly coloured lights coming from the shard in the past few days. Don’t worry, it’s just a test run. From the 9th December, the peak of this magnificent megastructure will be the scene for a scintillating Christmas lighting display. Designed by school children, this impressive showcase will consist of three sequences, each lasting around 9 minutes. Transmitted from the top 20 floors from 4PM-1AM every day.
Ever After Garden Lights
The festive season has the power to bring families together, with close and distant relatives gathering to celebrate. However, if you’ve lost a loved one, it is also a time where their absence stands out the most. Every winter, Grosvenor Square is transformed for one of London’s most unique lighting installations, known as the Ever After Garden Lights. You can also commemorate your loved ones with your own silk illuminated rose, for a small donation of £10. With all of the proceeds going to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
Where: Grovesnor Square | When: Friday 19th November – Sunday 22nd December
Annabels is renowned as one of London’s most exclusive party hotspots, counting artists like Drake and even The Queen as it’s clientele. However, just in time for Christmas in London, the facade of this fancy nightclub is transformed with the iconic giant Christmas tree and lighting display. With people from across the globe gathering here to get a snap for the gram, join in the fun and head down to check it out.
Christmas Markets and Shopping
If you’re one of those people who always end up running around like a headless chicken, doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. Don’t fret, London is filled with endless opportunities where you can find the perfect gift for your loved ones. With the help of our local insiders, we’ve rounded up the best spots to check out if your looking to some Christmas shopping in London.
Columbia Road’s Shopping Wednesday’s
Located in Hackney, Columbia Road Market is home to a great selection of independent retailers, selling all kinds of handcrafted artisan goods. From clothing, fashion and beauty to festive food, drink and much more. The famous flower market usually happens every Sunday. However, for the run-up to Christmas in London, the retailers of the area will be extending their opening hours every Wednesday for a proper local, East End shopping experience. So if you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift beyond the norm, then head down and you’ll certainly be inspired and find something that catches your eye.
Where: Columbia Road Market | When: Wednesday 11th & 18th December
If you’re not sure what you want to buy or have very little time, then Oxford Street is the go-to place to shop. This shopping paradise has around 300 stores packed into a 1.5-mile-long strip/ From clothing, beauty products and accessories, to electronics, gadgets and much more. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll most certainly find a store on Oxford Street where you can buy it. What makes the experience of shopping at Oxford Street even more special, are the lights which are installed every year to signal the arrival of Christmas in London.
Kingston Christmas Market
Kingston Upon Thames is the preferred place for people looking to escape the mundanity of London’s busy city life. With lush green spaces, stunning riverside hangouts, shopping and good food just some of the reasons why people head here. However, every year in the run-up for Christmas in London, the area is transformed for the Kingston Christmas Market. With log cabins lining the streets, from which independent vendors sell their unique products. From handmade arts, crafts and clothing, to locally produced food and drink. Perfect if you’re looking for a Christmas gift that is both unique and stands out from the crowd.
Where: Ancient Market Kingston | When: Saturday 14th November – Tuesday 24th December 2019
Greenwich Christmas Market
If you want a real local shopping experience in London, then Greenwich Market is always a great place to go. Even better during the festive period, as colourful fairy lights, decorations and live performances transform this much-loved marketplace into a winter wonderland. On offer for this Christmas in London, the market will have over 150 stalls selling everything. From seasonal stocking fillers, unique hand-crafted clothing, homeware, foods drinks and much more. There will also be stalls selling traditional Christmas fare, from mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and hot chocolate. Keeping you fuelled as you try and find the perfect Christmas gift.
Where: Greenwich Market | Where: Wednesday 11th – 18th December
Crafty Fox Market
The Crafty Fox offers the perfect seasonal shopping experience if you’re seeking something special and unique. This is because the market is focused on supporting independent designers to promote and sell their work. This year you’ll have the opportunity to see the craft creations from over 100 designers. So you’re bound to find something that catches your eye. There are two dates left on the Crafty Fox Christmas Market calendar, so don’t fret if you miss a date.
Where: 1 Granary Square | When: Sunday 15th December
The Hackney Christmas Market
Located in the heart of Hackney, Bohemia Place is an uber-trendy spot home to some hip hangouts and the much loved Bohemia Place Market. However, for Christmas in London, Bohemia becomes host to the merry and magical Hackney Christmas Market. On offer will be a superb selection of artisan, ethical, consciously, hand-crafted goods and treats made by talented independent retailers and creatives, both local and international. To top it all off, there will also be food stalls, live music and entertainment where you can get into the festive spirit. From mince pies, mulled wine and more. There will also be a Santa’s grotto, ideal if you’re taking the kids and want to keep them entertained as you browse the market stalls.
Where: Bohemia Place | When: Saturday 14th – Sunday 15th December
The London Artisan Winter Edition
When it comes to Christmas gifts, artisanally handcrafted goods are in high demand. With the prospect of purchasing something special and unique, being a huge draw for shoppers this festive season. If you fit into this category, then The London Artisan Market should be at the top of your shopping list. Taking place the weekend before Christmas, the Old Trueman Brewery will be packed full of designers selling all kinds of high quality, handcrafted goods. From glassware, clothing, jewellery to ceramics, textiles and much more.
Where: Old Trueman Brewery | When: Saturday 21st – Sunday 22nd December
Renegade Craft Fair
Renegade Craft is a global community of creators and makers, who come together to every year at multiple locations across the world for the Renegade Craft Fair series. Here makers can sell their products to craft loving consumers. The fair will be coming just in time for Christmas in London. Giving you the chance to browse and buy a superb selection of hand-crafted goods, made by talented independent designers and retailers.
Where: 15 Hanbury Street | When: Saturday 14th – Sunday 15th December
Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks
Few things ignite that festive feeling within, then the flurry of Ice Skating rinks that pop up across the city. If you happen to be celebrating Christmas in London this year, then there are plenty of places where you can go and get your skates on. However, with the help of our local insiders we’ve rounded up some of the best skating rinks in London which you should check out.
For the past 20 years in the run-up to Christmas, Somerset House has been the site for London’s ultimate outdoor skating experience. This year will see the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court transform into a winter wonderland. So get your skates on, and take the rink with the sounds of DJ’s scratching live music, to a backdrop of the stunning neon-lit grand building. This years event will be run in collaboration with Fortnum and Mason, with a decent selection of bites and sips on offer for you to enjoy.
Where: Somerset House | When: Wednesday 13th November – Friday 3rd January
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court was the favourite residence of the larger than life ruler King Henry VIII. Now it’s visited by thousands of people every year. However, when winter arrives, the grounds of this magical palace will host one of the biggest and best ice skating rinks in London. So you can skate away in an inimitable and majestic setting.
Where: Hampton Court Palace | When: Friday 22nd November – Sunday 5th January
Tower of London
The Tower of London is hands down one of the most popular tourist hotspots in the big smoke. With the buildings rich history reeling in curious minds from afar. However, the arrival of the winter will see an iconic ice skating rink installed. Adding an extra reason to visit, and a layer of awesomeness that cannot be missed.
Where: Tower Of London | When: Saturday 16th November – Sunday 5th January
National History Museum
Christmas in London wouldn’t be complete without a bit of frolicking around on the iconic ice outside London’s Natural History Museum. This rink is highly revered amongst locals and tourists alike. Packed full of people pirouetting on the ice around the beautifully adorned 30ft Christmas tree. A great place to stop by after you’ve been enriching your mind with information inside the museum.
Where: Natural History Museum | When: Saturday 19th October – Sunday 12th January
Skylight at Tobacco Dock
If you’re not satisfied with the standard outdoor ice skating experience, then head to London’s Skylight Bar at Tobacco Dock. Here you’ll be able to skate away to your heart’s content at Europe’s first and only rooftop ice-skating rink. Here you can sip some cracking cocktails, skate away to your heart’s content with a cracking view of London iconic skyline.
When: Skylight Bar | Where: Starts on Wednesday 30th October
Christmas Festivals and Other Events
With the help of our local insiders, in this section, we’ve rounded up the rest of the best events taking place this Christmas in London. These events have a bit of everything, from stalls selling craft goods, food, drink and much much more. To fun, festive activities to keep everyone old and young entertained.
Southbank Winter Festival
The Southbank Centre is one of London’s premier venues, hosting a whole selection of fun events and activities. However, for new years and Christmas in London, the building is transformed into a magical and merry mecca for the Southbank Winter Festival. This series of events will amalgamate festive food, shopping and a superb selection of entertaining live shows, from cabaret to live comedy. All to a backdrop of colourful festive lights which provide the spark to get you in the festive spirit. There will also be a live art exhibition championing the works of British artists, Bridget Riley. Oh, and on new years eve, it’s the place to be to catch a stunning view of London’s iconic firework display.
Where: Southbank Centre | When: Sunday 8th December – Sunday 26th January
Coca Cola Christmas Trucks
The countdown to Christmas in London has begun, and it wouldn’t be complete without the return of the Coca Cola Christmas Truck. Famed for featuring in the festive Coca Cola TV ads, this truck will be making multiple pit-stops across the city. With the two final stops being Intu Lakeside (Friday 13th – Saturday 14th December) and 02 Arena (Sunday 15th December). So pop down, get a selfie with Santa and enjoy a complimentary coke zero. Or grab yourself a selection of personalised glass coke bottles. This proceeds from this year’s Coca Cola Christmas Truck Tour will go towards supporting Crisis, a UK charity dedicated to fighting homelessness across the UK.
Where: Intu Lakeside & O2 Arena | When: Friday 13th – Sunday 15th December
Nordic Winterland Hot Tub Experience
Located in Fulham, Neverland is a multi-seasonal venue where people of the big smoke head to let their hair down. In the Summer it has a beach theme, but for the arrival of the festive season is transformed into Winterland: The Alpine Paradise. A festive forest filled with fun experiences, with the Winterland Hottub being one you can’t miss. Rent out a hot tub, take a dip and chillax to a view of the River Thames.
Where: Neverland | When: Thursday 12th, Saturday 14th, Thursday 19th, Saturday 21st
Ask anyone about what to do this Christmas in London, then it’s pretty much guaranteed they’ll mention Winter Wonderland. Every year since 2017, this event sees London’s iconic Hyde Park transformed into a fun-filled festive paradise. With a superb selection of awesome events and activities taking place for all to enjoy. From a Christmas market filled with stalls selling hand-made arts and crafts, vendors selling festive street food, treats and more. To ice skating, dodgems and an eclectic selection of fair rides. Endless amounts of festive fun, what more could you ask for.
Where: Hyde Park | Where: Sunday 1st December – Sunday 5th January
If you’re planning on celebrating Christmas in London, after reading this guide you shouldn’t have any issues finding out what to do. If you’re not in the mood for attending any events and want to uncover the city’s hidden gems, then be sure to download the Like Locals app. Available for free on both iOS and Android devices.