Christmas in London: top things to see & do

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Picture Christmas in London – you know what it looks like. The temperature drops, days are shorter, and the festive Christmas decorations pop up around the city. Stunning window displays in shops, Christmas trees twinkling in windows, and the aroma of roasting chestnuts in the air. Ice skating rinks spring up around the city, and traditional markets bring the holiday spirit alive. Christmas in London is undoubtedly a truly magical part of the year.

It’s been in countless movies, so we’re sure you’ve seen it before. London dressed up in festive lights becomes incredibly merry around Christmas. The sparkling décor and the festive spirit certainly make London one of the most Christmassy destinations in the world. And for a good reason. It’s an excellent place to be, so get out there and enjoy some quality time with friends and loved ones (after the lockdown is over).

Christmas in London 2020: Covent Garden tree

 Could there be anything better than experiencing Christmas in London?

 

There is no denying that Christmas in London 2020 will be different – but it’s not cancelled. With no usual popular switch-on events, social distancing, and reduced capacity, it might not be the merriest holiday. However, there are many festive Christmas attractions and activities in London that can lighten up your mood. Whether you’re a local or one of the millions of tourists who visit London every year, dress up in your Christmas sweaters and get in the holiday spirit!

 

GOOD TO KNOW – UPDATE 2020:

Due to the covid restrictions, some of the listed attractions are cancelled in 2020. Hence, check their websites before visiting.

 Magical London Christmas

Here are our top things to do in London at Christmas!

 

Things to do in London at Christmas 2020:

 

1. Christmas cinema pop-ups

 

Does anything say Christmas better than Christmas movies? Going to the cinema during the festive period and watching those holiday classics is certainly one of the best things to do during Christmas in London. Luckily for you, the capital is dotted with Christmas cinema pop-ups. Start your Christmas movie marathon, get your glass of mulled wine, snuggle up and enjoy your favourite Christmas movie!

GOOD TO KNOW – UPDATE 2020:

Visit one of the following Christmas cinema pop-us:

  • The Luna drive-in cinema 
  • Rivoli Pop up cinema in Rivoli Ballroom
  • The cinema in the snow
  • Film and Fizz with Curzon, and others

 

2. Regent Street at Christmas in London

Regent Street at Christmas in London: The installation, inspired by Regen street's very first Christmas light scheme, is undoubtedly an unmissable thing to see during Christmas in London. The largest light installation in the country, with giant golden angels shining over central London, is an iconic sight.

 The famous Christmas golden angels along Regent Street make comeback every year.

 

There is no place like Regent Street during the festive season in London. For over sixty years, the iconic Regent Street creates a beautiful festive light display. In fact, this shopping street with luxury brands started the tradition of Christmas lights in London!

The installation, inspired by Regent street’s very first Christmas light scheme, is undoubtedly an unmissable thing to see during Christmas in London. The largest light installation in the country, with giant golden angels shining over central London, is an iconic sight. Stroll through Regent Street where 300,000 lights illuminate one of the most prestigious streets in London. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped out of a Christmas movie.

 GOOD TO KNOW:

This year, the famous gold angels will remain lit until 5th January 2021.

 

3. Oxford Street at Christmas in London

What would be a trip to London without shopping in Oxford Street?

 

During the holiday season, one of Europe’s busiest shopping streets sparkles everywhere you look. Stroll along London’s the famous shopping street and soak up the Christmas atmosphere. Not only Oxford Street offers a beautiful lighting display every year, but also every shop has an epic window display. Oxford Street is surely one of the most popular spots during Christmas in London to get in the holiday spirit. Like many other streets, Oxford Street has a different theme every year. This year, Europe’s longest shopping street pays tribute to heroes who have helped during the pandemic.

 Oxford street lights

Oxford Street had snowball type decorations for many years.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Christmas lights will be glittering in Oxford Street until 7th January 2021.

 

4. New Bond Street

Christmas in London: Another beautifully decorated street in London during Christmas is New Bond.

 New Bond Street, London

 

Another beautifully decorated street in London during Christmas is New Bond Street. This high-end shopping street becomes a fairyland over the festive period. An elegant street lit up with “peacock” themed lights is surely one of the prettiest festive streets in London.

Bond street London city lights

 

5. Cartier at Christmas in London

the best things to do in London during Christmas 2020

There are so many beautiful things to see during Christmas in London, and Cartier certainly is one of them. Each year millions of shops and houses decorated their buildings, but Cartier takes it to another level. Chic Cartier wrapped up like a present has undoubtedly one of the best decorations in London during Christmas. It surely gets you in a jolly holy spirit.

 

6. Christmas skating rinks in London

Christmas in London: Ice skating at the Natural History Museum in London is surely one of the best things to do during Christmas in London. The famous skating ring with a massive Christmas tree in the middle and lights dangling from the overhanging trees is magical.

Believe or not, numerous skating rinks spring up in winter in London. The beloved ice rinks offer ice skating under the crispier skies with beautiful twinkling lights. Ice skating at the Natural History Museum in London is surely one of the best things to do during Christmas in London. The famous skating rink with a massive Christmas tree in the middle and lights dangling from the overhanging trees is magical. However, this beautiful attraction is one of the most popular outdoor rinks in London. Hence, buy your tickets in advance as they sell out quickly.

GOOD TO KNOW – UPDATE 2020:

Unfortunately due to the covid, the Natural History Museum ice rink, Tower of London ice rink, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland ice rink, as well as Skate at Somerset House won’t be operating this season. However, Hampton Court Palace ice rink and Queen’s House Greenwich ice rink is open in 2020.

 

  • Hampton Court Palace ice rink from 5th December 2020 – 17th January 2021
  •  the Queen’s House ice rink 5th December 2020 – 24th January 2021

 

7. Christmas at Kew Gardens

 

While many of London’s most iconic must-see attractions are not opening their doors this year, Kew Gardens in an exception. The most famous botanic gardens in the capital come alive with festive spirit. What’s more, Christmas at Kew Gardens in 2020 is more spectacular than ever. Wander through the gardens lit up with twinkling lights and enjoy a magical light installation with festive spirit. An annual winter celebration with thousands of lights, sound and art is certainly a must attraction during Christmas in London in 2020. The famous gardens with the illuminated winter trail, the Waterfall of light and other attractions create an excellent light show. In hungry, treat yourself with street food or stop at the Victoria Plaza Café.

 

GOOD TO KNOW – 2020 UPDATE:

Additional slots to help the spread the flow of visitors and one-way system on the trail are just some of the safety measures to visitors safe.

Advance booking only from 4th December 2020 – 17th January 2021 (4 PM – 10 PM).

 

8. Covent Garden at Christmas in London

Covent Garden may be one of the most touristy spots in this cosmopolitan city, but it's also one of the most popular places to experience Christmas in London.

 Christmas decorations above the main area, Covent Garden

 

Covent Garden may be one of the most touristy spots in this cosmopolitan city, but it’s also one of the most popular places to experience Christmas in London. This shopping and entertainment hub is certainly famous for luxury fashion stores, perfect restaurants and the Apple Market. Wander around the Apple Market and shop some affordable souvenirs in quirky stalls at the market. A visit to Covent Garden with over-sized silver baubles and mistletoe hanging from the ceiling is excellent for getting into the festive spirit. 

decorations in London at Christmas

Covent Garden

 

Besides, elegant Covent Garden with car-free Piazza is traditionally home to a beautiful twinkling Christmas tree and other festive decorations.

Christmas in London: Elegant Covent Garden with car-free Piazza is traditionally home to the best Christmas decorations in London.

Are you driving home for Christmas this year?

 

9. Trafalgar Square at Christmas in London

Trafalgar Square in London also comes alive during Christmas. The main highlight here is a 25 metre tall Christmas tree located in the middle of the square. An annually donated Christmas tree from Norway is a symbol of remembrance of British support during World War II. Therefore, this beautiful tree, decorated with twinkling lights in traditional Norwegian style, is a much-loved Christmas tradition. 

TIP:

Christmas carols traditionally sing beneath the tree, make sure you don’t miss their performance.

 

GOOD TO KNOW – 2020 UPDATE:

Due to the covid restrictions, the lighting of the tree at Trafalgar square will be screened on 3rd December at 6 PM via Facebook and YouTube.

 

Free Travel Planner for your next holidays during Christmas in London

 

 10. See the Christmas decorations and displays around London

London Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations in London is always eye-catching every year.

 

As we all know, London is famous for the beautiful Christmas decorations. Every year, many restaurants, cafes and also clubs have eye-catching Christmassy displays. Stroll along streets and discover beautiful Christmas decorations on your walking tour in London. Make sure you don’t miss Anabel’s private member’s club, Ivy Chelsea and also Peggy Porschen Cakes.

Annabels

 Anabel’s giant Christmas tree with twinkling lights and baubles

 

11. Christmassy Churchill Arms

Churchill Arms pub has extravagant Christmas decorations every year.

 The Churchill Arms pub has extravagant Christmas decorations every year.

 

Get into a Christmas spirit and visit the most Christmassy pub in London. The Churchill Arms decorated with twinkling Christmas trees on its exterior walls surely gets you into a holiday mood. Enjoy a mulled wine (or a pint) in the most festive pub in London. You can find near Nothing Hill Gate tube.

 

12. Have a Christmas meal somewhere special

Ivy Chealsea at Christmas is certainly one of the most Christmassy places

Ivy Chelsea

 

After the lockdown is over, treat yourself and the loved ones and have a Christmas meal in one of the restaurants. There are many to choose from, and many of them are also beautifully decorated. A Christmas brunch in Christmassy decorated restaurant (or café) is a memorable experience.

 

13. Christmas Markets

 christmas market stalls

No trip to London at Christmas would be complete without a visit to Christmas Markets. Twinkling lights, unique gifts and a festive atmosphere are surely just some of the reasons why Christmas markets are our favourite thing to do during Christmas. Popular Christmas Markets with festive fun return to London every year, and you are never far from original gifts and festive treats.

 

GOOD TO KNOW – UPDATE 2020:

 Unfortunately, some Christmas markets have been cancelled in London due to the coronavirus. The other Christmas Markets still haven’t released their dates.

 

14. Carnaby Street at Christmas in London

One of the best ways how to experience Christmas in London 2020 is certainly in Carnaby Street. This pedestrianised shopping street located just a short walk from Oxford Circus tube station has unique festive decorations every year. Stroll through Carnaby Street and enjoy the pink neon decorations with a powerful message of love and unity. “Choose Love” theme decorations pay tribute to the strength, kindness and courage of people during these difficult times.

 

15. Hogwarts in the Snow

Hogwarts in the Snow

All Harry Potter fans should keep their eyes peeled for the Warner Brother’s Studios during Christmas. Every year during the festive period, this iconic film set transforms into a wintery wonderland. Hogwarts in the Snow decorated with magical Christmas decorations is surely one of the best things to see at Christmas in London for all Potterheads out there.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Experience Christmas in the wizarding world from 3rd December 2020 – 17th January 2021

 

16. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

Christmas in London: The annual festival with funfair rides, ice-skating, and many food and drink stalls, is one of the best places where you can experience Christmas in London.

 Soak up some the party atmosphere and get in the Christmas mood in Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. The largest Christmas market located in one of the prettiest parks in London is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in London during Christmas. The annual festival with funfair rides, ice-skating, and many food and also drink stalls, is one of the best places where you can experience Christmas in London.

GOOD TO KNOW – UPDATE 2020:

Unfortunately due to the covid, Winter Wonderland is not taking place in 2020.

  

17. Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House

 

As you’ve probably guessed, Nutcracker returns this holiday season to the Royal Opera House. The English National Ballet’s annual Nutcracker performance is an excellent way how to celebrate a festive season in London at Christmas. Enjoy Tchaikovsky’s magical Nutcracker ballet – one of the greatest classical ballets, with your family over the Christmas period. 

 

GOOD TO KNOW – 2020 UPDATE:

11th December 2020 – 3rd January 2021, general booking opens on 1st December 2020

  

18. The Love Actually filming locations

When you think about Christmas in London, all “Love Actually” lovers think of all those romantic Christmas Classis` filming locations. From the pink home where Keira Knightley’s character lived, Trafalgar Square, the central court of Somerset House to Grosvenor Chapel. London is full of locations you’re familiar with.

 Christmas in London: things to do and see (from christmas markets, pop-up Christmas cinemas to all those must-see Christmas places where you can get much-needed Christmas spirit.

Pin Christmas in London for later!

Free Travel Planner for your next holidays in London during Christmas

 

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2 thoughts on “Christmas in London: top things to see & do”

  1. Pingback: Christmas traditions around the world - Travel Done Clever

  2. Wow, Christmas lights, ice skating, traditional markets, Christmas shows – London looks amazing during the festive time. One of the things I would love to see is a Christmas show. I would probably choose to see a Christmas Carol. I loved your post about the Christmas Traditions from around the world, too. There was no option to leave a comment, so that’s why I am writing it here. Thanks for sharing and bringing festive cheer to your reader, Martina. I hope you are all set for Christmas. Aiva xxx

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