Christmas in London: What to do

Christmas lights

England’s capital city gets even more magical during the Christmas season. Soak up the festive atmosphere with a night-time tour of the holiday lights, sample some treats at Christmas markets, and of course, indulge in some retail therapy... 

See the city's sights lit up by night 

london-by-night-2What better way to appreciate London’s spectacular holiday lights than snuggled up on an open top bus tour – at night! 

Take in all the classic sights including Harrods, Piccadilly Circus and the Tower of London, all dressed up in their Christmas best. The London By Night sightseeing tour runs every day from 7.30pm 

Go on a snowflake trail at Kew Gardens 

christmas-at-kewKew Gardens comes alive with magical night-time trails at Christmas. Be guided by twinkling snowflakes through beautiful displays of plants and trees, for a Christmas experience with a difference.  

Santa Claus himself will be at his grotto, and there are plenty of festive foodie treats on offer at Kew's market stalls! Nearest Tube: Tube icon Kew Gardens (Zone 3) 

Visit Christmas markets galore 

xmas-market-article-304x188Traditional Christmas markets pop up all over London in the winter, so wrap up warm and head out to soak up the festive spirit. 

You'll find stalls selling unique stocking fillers, foodie treats, and, of course, a glass or two of mulled wine... 

There's a market for everyone with lots of unique themes, so find a market and start shopping! 

Treat yourself to afternoon tea 

afternoon-tea-304x188A very British tradition, afternoon tea is the perfect respite after a hard day’s Christmas shopping. So why not indulge in the ultimate festive treat, with a decadent selection of sandwiches, pastries, scones and cakes at a choice of two top London hotels.

Choose from Grosvenor House, with the charm of an English stately home in a fantastic Central London location, or Lutyen’s Lounge, in beautiful Bloomsbury, and relax with a cup or two of fine English tea. Find out more here.

Go ice skating at London's top attractions 

ice-skating-304x188Something extra special about Christmas in London is the chance to go ice skating beneath some of the city’s biggest attractions! 

Ice rinks open up across the capital in mid- to late-November: choose a backdrop of the London Eye, Hampton Court Palace, the Natural History Museum or Somerset House, to name a few! See a full list of London's Christmas ice rinks 

Dine out for less 

dining-guideChristmas is a time for indulgence, relaxing with friends and enjoying a hearty meal to escape from the chill outside. Whether you’re in London for some Christmas shopping or a sightseeing trip, save the queues and stress by booking your table in advance at a choice of over 200 restaurants.

Choose from contemporary Indian fare, award-winning pizza or maybe a traditional roast – there’s something for everyone! Find your perfect restaurant now.

Take a Harry Potter Walking Tour 

hp-walking-tourExperience the magic of Christmas at Hogwarts for yourself with a Harry Potter walking tour of London!

The tour includes filming locations like Leadenhall Market – the real life Diagon Alley – the perfect place to pick up a Christmas present or two. Harry Potter Walking Tours run Wednesday to Saturday 

See Christmas films and theatre 

theatreChristmas is the perfect time to indulge in entertainment, whether it's on the big screen or the small. Catch a festive show such as The Snowman or have some family fun with Matilda. Have a look at our theatre deals or pick up a Theatre Passport to save some money. 

If cinema is more your thing, check out some of the screenings of festive classics like Home Alone going on around London.

Be a big kid at Hamleys and indulge at Harrods 

hamleysA stroll around London’s ultimate toy shop is a Christmas experience like no other! From displays of traditional toys to modern masterpieces, it's hard not to feel like a big kid at Hamleys... Nearest Tube:Tube icon Piccadilly Circus (Zone 1) 

Looking for a touch more luxury? Visit Harrods, the world-famous department store, and pick up a unique Christmas decoration as a festive momento. Nearest Tube: Tube iconKnightsbridge (Zone 1) 

Christmas carols in Trafalgar Square - FREE 

london-by-night-article-304x188Every year, London receives a magnificent Norwegian Christmas Tree as a gift from the people of Oslo. In 2014, the tree will be up from 4 December. 

And each evening from 8-23 December, a different choir will gather to sing Christmas carols beneath the tree.Visitors are welcomed to enjoy the carols, and maybe even join in! Entry is free; all donations go to charity.