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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

It's not Christmas if it's not in London: 10 unmissable things to do Christmas in London

Londra a Natale

My friends all know that London and Christmas are probably two of my favorite things in the world, and although I have already been there more times than I can remember, it is not Christmas except in London. You may believe it or not, but I am firmly convinced that every city and every place has its own time of year in which it is at its best and, speaking of London, my suggestion is and will always be the same: go there during the Christmas... it's absolutely a different story! Christmas markets on every corner, amazing decorations and spectacular lights decorate the streets of London, not to mention the ice rinks or Winter Wonderland, the most beautiful Christmas amusement park ever... so let's discover the 10 things you absolutely must do at Christmas in London!

Natale a Carnaby Street

1. Stroll through London's beautiful Christmas markets

During the Christmas period, London is literally invaded by Christmas markets where you can find lots of gift ideas, special souvenirs of the city but above all food.. lots of delicious food! The best Christmas markets you will find in central London are definitely these:

  • Leicester Square Christmas Market

This market is held in the famous Leicester Square, home to cinemas and casinos, but also to very famous shops such as the Lego Store or the M&M Store. Nearest tube station: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus Opening hours: 9 November 2023 - 8 January 2024 from 12:00 to 22:00 from Monday to Friday, from 10:00 to 22:00 Saturday and Sunday; Free entry

  • Covent Garden

Covent Garden Market is famous all year round but at Christmas it manages to become even more beautiful: its iconic Christmas tree is one of the Christmas symbols of the city and the decorations of this covered market are among the most beautiful in the British capital. Nearest tube station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square

Opening hours: 8 November 2023 - 3 January 2024 from 11:00 to 21:00

Free entry

  • Winter Wonderland Angel's Market

The Winter Wonderland Christmas Market (Angel's Market), in Hyde Park, is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and characteristic in the city, an absolutely unmissable stop in your London Christmas! Nearest tube station: Marble Arch, Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner Opening hours: 17 November 2023 - 1 January 2024 from 10:00 to 22:00 Paid entry

  • Christmas by the river

Perhaps one of my favorites thanks to the contrast between the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the stalls and the power and composure of the skyscrapers and modern buildings of this area of ​​London! Nearest tube station: London Bridge Opening hours: 15 November 2023 - 1 January 2024 from 11:00 to 22:00 from Sunday to Wednesday, from 11:00 to 22:00 Thursday and Saturday Free entry

  • Southbank Centre Winter Market

Here you will find a huge choice of street food that will literally make you lose your mind!

So don't miss the opportunity to enjoy some delicacies while walking on the banks of the Thames enjoying a breathtaking view of the London skyline! Nearest tube station: Waterloo Opening hours: 28 October 2023 - 7 January 2024 from 11:00 to 22:00 from Sunday to Thursday, from 11:00 to 23:00 Friday and Saturday Free entry

  • Trafalgar Square Christmas Market

It's not among the largest or most memorable Christmas Markets in the city, but it's located in one of London's most iconic squares, so it certainly earns a mention on this list!

Nearest tube station: Leicester Square or Charing Cross

Opening hours: 11 November 2023 - 2 January 2024

Free entry

2. Ice skate in the most beautiful ice rinks in the city

Ice skating in London is definitely not a cheap experience, but I can guarantee you that it is totally worth it! My favorite ice rinks are the one at Somerset House, which is without a doubt the most beautiful and evocative of all, and the one at Winter Wonderland. If I had to choose one of the two, it would definitely be Somerset House, but unfortunately it's not that simple: access to the track in both cases requires reservation and is often sold out. If you are planning a trip to London over the Christmas period and want to go ice skating, remember to book your tickets in time!

  • Skate at Somerset House

The ice skating rink in the beautiful courtyard of Somerset House runs from 15 November 2023 to 14 January 2024 and costs between £10 and £25 depending on the day and time - skate hire is included in the price. You can book your ticket here from September 28th. Each session lasts 45 minutes (better to arrive half an hour early), from 9:00 to 22:00, except: Saturday 24 December: last session at 5pm Closed Sunday 25 December Monday 26 December and Saturday 1 January first session at 12.00, last at 9.00 pm 27 - 30 December last session at 9.00 pm Saturday 31 December first session at 10.00am, last at 4.00pm

  • Winter Wonderland Ice Rink

The Winter Wonderland rink is huge and is located in the heart of Hyde Park! The park is huge, so if you want to go directly to the ice rink you'd better enter through the Blue Gate. You can book your session from 10:00 to 21:00, during the park's opening hours; each session lasts 50 minutes and it is important to arrive 20-30 minutes early. Prices range from £12.50 for adults and £9.50 for children, depending on the day and time, but here too skate hire is included in the price! Here is the link to book the ticket: Winter Wonderland Ice Rink.

3. Admire the beautiful Christmas lights decorating every corner of London

At Christmas London is filled with wonderful Christmas lights that follow a different theme for each area of ​​the city... I've enjoyed going around the city and seeing them all for many years, but I have to say that this year they really outdid themselves. Here is the list of my favourites:

  • Carnaby Street: Christmas in Carnaby Street is without a doubt one of the symbols of Christmas London! Every year the decorations have a particular theme: last year (2022) they have recreated a mix of all the decorations from past years "Carnaby Celebrates" to celebrate 25 years of the Christmas decorations of this street, giving life to a wonderful, colorful and fun show ! Definitely my favorites. If you get hungry while walking around Carnaby, then I recommend you pop into Kingly Court.

  • Covent Garden: the most famous covered market in the city is always dressed in style for Christmas, with decorations covering the entire ceiling and plays of light, Covent Garden ranks high in this ranking.

  • In the South Hall of the market you will find Christmas trees and a beautiful sleigh perfect for a Christmas card! The sleigh is in fact from 1884 and was restored by hand by the artist James Gemmill.

  • Oxford Street: one of the busiest streets in London, here you will find some of the most famous shops in the city and the Christmas lights are no different. This year they have revived last year's shower of stars, which recreates a wonderful starry sky.

  • Regent Street: the Christmas lights on Regent Street are a true icon of London! Giant angels dominate the famous London street, creating a wonderful light show as soon as the sun goes down.

  • South Bank: the bank of the Thames is decorated with very modern, colorful neon lights absolutely consistent with the modernity of the area, where skyscrapers and buildings overlook the river.

  • Bond Street: peacock feathers and crowns of fairy lights, Bond Street is a true spectacle to be admired, with decorations as elegant and sophisticated as the luxury shops that this very famous London street hosts.

  • Seven Dials e Neal’s Yard: at a short distance from Covent Garden, in this area the streets are illuminated by gigantic snowflakes and strings of pink lights, truly splendid. If you get hungry while walking through these streets, then I recommend you stop by the Seven Dials Market.

Every corner in London at Christmas is full of Christmas lights, have fun exploring it and discovering the most unique and colorful decorations!

4. Explore the city and look for the most beautiful Christmas trees

As you may have understood, in London we don't joke about Christmas: Christmas decorations are a very serious matter, not only when we talk about lights but also when it comes to Christmas trees.

Lose yourself in the streets of London to find the biggest and most beautiful ones! My favorites are:

Covent Garden Christmas Tree
Covent Garden Christmas Tree
  • Covent Garden Christmas Tree: impossible not to notice the immense Christmas tree in Covent Garden, 18 meters high and decorated with 30 thousand lights!

  • Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree: every year since 1947 Norway has donated a huge tree to the United Kingdom as thanks for helping them in World War II. The tree is among the tallest in the city, so much so that a few strings of lights are enough to make it majestic and impressive!

  • Leadenhall Market Christmas Tree: Leadenhall is one of my favorite places, if you've never been there you absolutely must fix it! It is the place where they filmed "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", where the entrance to Diagon Alley is located. The atmosphere is therefore magical all year round, but the Christmas decorations and the splendid tree that lights up the entire square definitely give it an extra touch that makes it a unique place.

  • Sky Garden Christmas Trees: I would suggest you to go up to the top floor of the Sky Garden regardless of the Christmas period, but the breathtaking view from the top of this skyscraper is made even more spectacular by the beautiful Christmas trees placed in front of the terrace overlooking London!

  • Hay’s Galleria Christmas Tree: little known, Hay's Galleria is located on the banks of the Thames (at the height of the HMS Belfast ship) and this year it pleasantly surprised me! A splendid and immense Christmas tree, and equally noteworthy Christmas decorations.

  • Somerset House Christmas Tree: we talked about the ice skating rink at Somerset House, but the splendid Christmas tree that overlooks the rink also deserves a special mention, contributing to the dream atmosphere of this place.

  • Borough Market Christmas Tree: this food market is among the most famous in London, as well as one of my favorite stops in the city... and at Christmas it is even more special, both for the Christmas delicacies that you can taste in the amazing stalls, and for the decorations and the imposing Christmas tree in the center of the market!

  • Camden Town Christmas Tree: in front of Cyber ​​Dog we find the beautiful and immense Camden Christmas tree, right next to the gigantic robots (also in a Christmas version) that stand guard at the entrance to the famous cyber and trance clothing store.

  • TWG Christmas Tree: in the Twinings store in Leicester Square there is the splendid Christmas tree that English tea lovers will simply adore! Enter the store and check it out!

  • St. Paul Cathedral: St. Paul's Cathedral is always splendid and majestic and any Christmas tree would not stand out at all... unless the Christmas tree in question is inside a modern shopping center with a spectacular view of the Cathedral. Go to One New Change, a few steps from St. Paul and tell me if I'm not right! While you're there, pop onto the Roof Top of the shopping center and admire the Cathedral from above, you won't regret it (access is free).

These are just my favourites, but in London you will find many other Christmas trees, all to admire and photograph! Let me know what your favorites are!

5. Get lost among the Christmas windows of the most beautiful shops in London

London is one of the best places in Europe for shopping: whether you are looking for luxury items or vintage clothes, you will surely find what you are looking for in the British capital. Among the best shops to visit at Christmas for their decorations, shop windows and Christmas spirit we certainly find:

  • Harrods: last year the famous department store dedicated its decorations and shop windows exclusively to Dior, giving life to a unique and elegant show, absolutely unmissable called "The fabulous world of Dior".

  • Hamleys: the largest toy shop in the city welcomes you with a splendid tree and very kind elves ready to celebrate with you while you look for the perfect Christmas gifts.

  • Fortnum & Mason: last year Fortnum's Piccadilly store had transformed its windows into a giant Advent calendar!

  • Harvey Nichols: the Knightsbridge store has decorated its windows with mirrored and metallic decorations, for a futuristic but certainly unforgettable Christmas!

  • Selfridges: located on Oxford Street, Selfridge and its 15 windows were decorated with food to represent the power it has to bring people together during the holidays. Definitely an unusual and particular show.

  • Cartier: the red decorations of the famous jewelery shop on Old Bond Street have transformed the building into a huge, elegant and sophisticated gift package!

6. Have a drink in London's most Christmassy pub

The Churchill Arms always manages to outdo itself (every year the decorations increase and improve) and last year, with its 80 Christmas trees and more than 22,000 christmas lights, it has once again won the title of the most festive and Christmassy pub of all London, it almost looks like Santa Claus himself decorated it. The Christmas spirit actually pervades this place, as I met Eddie Redmayne as soon as I left here, and I guarantee you that it was the best Christmas present I could have received! The magnificent pub is located at 119 the famous Kensington Church Street and the nearest tube stop is Notting Hill Gate.

7. Visit the most beautiful galleries in London with their Christmas look

London is full of spectacular locations and hidden corner, unmissable all year round, but especially at Christmas. Thanks to their festive look these galleries become real obligatory stops on a Christmas trip to London:

  • Burlington Arcade: a few steps from Piccadilly, the Burlington Arcade seems to have come out of another era, with splendid luxurious shop windows and elegant and refined decorations, simply wonderful.

  • Leadenhall Market: in the heart of modern, commercial London, this Victorian gallery not only looks like something out of a film, but was actually used for the filming of Harry Potter. At Christmas the atmosphere is even more magical, thanks to the wonderful tree and sophisticated decorations!

  • Hay’s Galleria: Hay's Galleria is a completely different story compared to the previous two. Colourful, sparkling and lively, Christmas at Hay's is certainly more fun and youthful, waiting to be discovered!

8. Experience the true magic of Christmas at Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

When I think of Christmas in London, Winter Wonderland immediately comes to mind.

It is an immense Christmas amusement park that takes place every year in Hyde Park, in the heart of London! This year (2023), for the sixteenth year in a row, the most beautiful Christmas park ever returns, definitely an obligatory stop during the Christmas period in London.

Winter Wonderland

With the largest ice skating rink in the United Kingdom, immense and colorful rides (around 200), the Bavarian Village and the Angel Market, it is truly one of the most beautiful and carefree places in the city! I suggest you to go in the late afternoon and stop for the evening, when the lights and colors will stand out at their best.

For dinner you have so much choice among the many street food stalls from all over the world, sweet and savory, with a wide choice also for vegetarians and vegans. Lose yourself in the scents of mulled wine, cotton candy and fish and chips as you explore the wonderful Christmas market and try out some wonderful carousels.

Winter Wonderland

Trust me: Winter Wonderland alone makes London an ideal destination for a trip over the Christmas period... you will fall in love with it like me, and you are going to go back every year like me! Entry costs £7.50 (if you enter at peak times) but there are free tickets at off-peak times, and if you spend £25 online in advance on attractions, food, drinks, rides or games, you get in for free.

Winter Wonderland

I suggest you to book at least your entry to the park and also the access to the ice rink if it's your intention to try it: here is the link to the website where you can purchase tickets.

Opening hours:

17 November 2023 - 1 January 2024

from 10:00 to 23:00

Nearest tube stations: Victoria, Bond Street, Green Park, Paddington, Knightsbridge, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner.

Winter Wonderland 2022 map

Winter Wonderland mappa

Museo di Storia Naturale Londra

9. Take a selfie with the Christmas t-rex at the National History Museum

The Natural History Museum of London is an unmissable attraction, one of those that even if you've already been there a thousand times, you can't help but go again. At Christmas there is certainly one more reason to visit the Museum, besides the fact that it is free and simply sensational (it is one of my favorite museums): the famous animatronic T-Rex wears a Santa hat and a Christmas sweater! An ingenious idea that amuses both adults and children!

10. Get lost in the streets of Portobello and Notting Hill in search of the most beautiful Christmas wreaths

If there is a place in London that I associate with family Christmas, warm and welcoming, my first thought certainly goes to Portobello and Notting Hill. The markets full of delicacies and gift ideas, the streets full of colorful houses with doors decorated with splendid garlands.. The Christmas spirit is definitely in the air and there's nothing better than walking around this area of ​​London in search of the most festive corners ever!

New Year's Eve in London

The most famous and unmissable event of New Year's Eve in London is undoubtedly the famous New Year's Eve fireworks held at the London Eye. To plan the event safely, in order to participate it is necessary to purchase a ticket well in advance. If you can't get a seat at this show, don't worry, the city is full of many other events!

Useful information to keep in mind if you are planning a trip to London over the Christmas period!

  • Christmas Day (25 December), Boxing Day (26 December) and January 1st are national holidays in the United Kingdom;

  • Public transport is limited during the Christmas period, so it is best to organize your trip in advance - on 25th December public transport is completely at a standstill, including buses, trams, London Underground and Overground, while on the 26th it is active but very reduced, the same goes for the 24th when the trips start to reduce in the late afternoon and there are no night buses or metro;

  • From 24th to 26th December it can also be difficult to move from/to the center of London to/from the various airports: a few years ago I arrived in London on the 26th and there was absolutely no means of transport to take me to the city, I relied on a super Uber costly;

  • Consider getting around using the Santander Cycles public bike rental to explore the city, or rely completely on your legs and walk;

  • Always check the official Transport for London (TfL) website for detailed and updated information;

  • Most shops and attractions are closed on Christmas Day, and many close from December 24 to 26, as well as January 1st;

  • London comes alive on the 26th, when the January sales also begin in most shops;

  • Celebrating New Year's Eve in London can be very chaotic and crowded but on the night of December 31st there are ad hoc night transports to allow access to the various attractions and events.

Weather in London during the Christmas period

Winter temperatures in London generally range from 2°C to 10°C; it is difficult to go below freezing and it is quite rare for it to snow, as well as being able to see the sun. Yet last year London gave us both exceptions: a wonderful week of sunshine, without even a cloud on the horizon, despite temperatures below average (between 0°C and -2°C) and a nice snowfall! In any case, dress in layers, with waterproof clothing and footwear and don't forget a scarf, gloves and hat.

If you're wondering what to do during a rainy day in London you'll be pleased to know you have plenty of options completely free READ ALSO: 5 free museums you shouldn't miss when in London

London at Christmas is truly magical, it holds a super special place in my heart: I've lost count of how many times I've gone there for Christmas, but every time it's like the first... but believe me, it's not Christmas if it's not in London! For any questions or needs, leave a comment and I will reply as soon as possible! Have a nice trip!

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