Christmas in London is nothing short of magical. Having spent my childhood there I have Christmas time memories that are beyond compare. Peering wide-eyed into the windows of stores like Harrods and Hamleys, gazing up at the lights on Carnaby and Regent Streets, the smell of Christmas treats wafting out of Covent Garden and Borough Market and ice skating at Somerset House are just a few of the memories that bring a smile to my face.
Now I’m an adult and I only get to visit London at Christmas time every few years but the magic is still very much alive. I still love the store windows and bright lights but I also get to enjoy the grown-up activities like sipping mulled wine in a cozy pub and Christmas shopping for my nieces.
I now also have to do my own planning, which is no easy task with all of the many Christmas sights and activities in London. It takes stamina, determination and a good solid itinerary to see even half of the festive options but with these tips it is possible:
Tips for Spending Christmas in London
Tip 1: Book your accommodations close to an underground station and get an Oyster Card.
Tip 2: Use sites like Time Out London and Visit London to make a list of all the Christmas sights and events.
Tip 3: Prioritize the items on your list. Trust me when I say you won’t get to see everything so you’ll want to make sure you have your must-sees at the top.
Tip 4: Create a color coded Google map. Many of the sights are clustered in different areas so it’s best to plan a route that covers one area at a time.
What to See & Do in London at Christmas
Here are some of our favorite festive sights and activities, in no particular order:
- Visit Borough Market for delicious food, mulled wine and carolers
- Walk along the Southbank and explore the Winter Market and festive stalls and events.
- Walk along Regent Street, Oxford Street and Carnaby street and admire the beautiful light and window displays.
- Stroll the streets of Soho and pick a pub for some Christmas cheer while watching all the fabulous Christmas costumes of party goers.
- Munch on meat pies while exploring the shops and markets of Covent Garden.
- Visit the famous and massive Hamleys toy store and maybe even go and see Father Christmas.
- Christmas at Kew Gardens is beautiful place for a stroll anytime of year but at Christmas it’s extra special.
- Explore the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with activities like ice skating, big top shows and a Christmas market.
- Somerset House Ice Rink is one of several skating rinks set up for the season but I think it is the prettiest.
- Sing carols around the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square. The famous square will have carolers and a singalong every afternoon until Christmas.
- Go to a traditional Pantomime. These comedic takes of fairy tale classics play at many theaters over the Christmas season and are a great way to experience a fun British tradition.
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.