Spending Christmas in London? Then I’ve got a gift for you! Here’s how to spend the perfect holiday season in London. Straight from a London travel blogger. Happy holidays!
Christmas in London makes my heart sing. Something about the city bursting with Christmas lights, festive markets and a suspicious amount of happy Londoners truly makes it the best season to see the city come to life.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist for the holidays, it can be uber overwhelming to navigate just how many awesome things there are going on in London over Christmas time. Lucky for you (and in the spirit of Christmas, of course) I’ve got you covered!
In this post, I’ll be sharing how to spend Christmas in London including the best Christmas tours in London, the best places to see the Christmas lights in London, the best Christmas markets in London, the best Christmas events & activities and where to stay for Christmas in London. Plus, a special Christmas bonus for you at the end of this post. Enjoy!
How to Spend Christmas in London
Best Christmas Tours in London
If you’re new to London or just looking to see the city from a new perspective, I highly suggest booking a Christmas tour. Here are the best seasonal tours in London and how to book them!
• London Christmas Lights Tour by Vintage Bus Open: If you love seeing Central London Christmas lights but want to avoid the crowds, I highly suggest doing an open-top bus tour.
The Vintage Bus Christmas Tour will whizz you through tons of Christmas spots in the city on a 1960s Routemaster bus. From Oxford’s street to Harrods you’ll enjoy all the Christmas decorations Central London has to offer while being entertained (British style) with funny commentary along the way.
Treat yourself to afternoon tea whilst riding through Central London and taking in all the Christmas lights on offer. You can also add some Prosecco or Champagne to your booking if you’re really in the holiday spirit 😉
• London Christmas Party Dinner Cruise: There’s nothing quite like a cruise along the Thames. Especially at Christmastime.
The London Christmas Party Dinner Cruise includes a classically British 3-course meal, a night of Christmas tunes, and of course, incredible views of the city.
• London Christmas Lights Bike Tour: Biking in London helps you see the city from a whole new perspective — and a lot more of it too!
Take the London Christmas Lights Bike Tour to cycle through Christmas in London like a local. You’ll see all the seasonal displays and gorgeous Christmas installations (while getting your workout on!) all lead by a friendly Londoner guide.
• A Local’s Private Christmas Tour: The best way to see London is undoubtedly through the eyes of a local.
If you like your city tours on the more intimate side, I highly suggest A Local’s Private Christmas Tour. Unlike many London tours, it’s entirely customizable. Just book your ticket, share your preferences and you’ll get a custom itinerary and tour straight from a London local. How’s that for the holidays!
Check more Christmas Tour Details on Get Your Guide below (except Brigit’s Bakery Christmas Tour)
Best Places to See the Christmas Lights & Decorations Across London
Wandering for Christmas lights and decorations in London is a whole winter itinerary in and of itself! I suggest exploring the city by foot to truly get the ‘Christmas in London’ experience.
Use the Google map at the end of this section to plan your own walking tour or download the map for later when you’re out and about exploring to see if there’s any Christmas decorations to check out near you! Here’s where to see the best Christmas lights and decorations in London:
• Baker Street: See three beautiful bespoke installations at 55 Baker Street, Portman Square Garden and Manchester Garden
• Oxford Street: The most famous street in London to see the Christmas lights, also right next to Regent’s Street!
• Regent Street: You’ll instantly recognize Christmas here, with hanging angels and swarms of classic red buses as your backdrop (very Instagrammable 😉)
• Carnaby Street: Carnaby never disappoints, with dozens of Christmas butterflies hanging from the sky for the ‘Carnaby Kaleidoscope’ Installation
• Bond Street: Perfect for seeing the bustle and buzz of the city all at once, see the blue arch installation at 85 South Molton Street, around the corner
• Fortnum and Masons: Where the Queen shops! With a giant dazzling red advent calendar taking over the building for the season
• Burlington Arcade: A small but gorgeous shopping arcade with a James Bond ‘Festive 007 Spectacle’ on for the season!
• Covent Garden: The whole area is magic come Christmastime, but especially with flurries of snow covering their famed Christmas tree this year (every hour from midday-7pm)
• Selfridges: Whether it’s for a cheeky splurge or just gawking at the decorations, Selfridges is a great place to visit for Christmas in London, be sure to visit their Edward Mews Christmas Market (at the rear of Selfridges) too
• Hay’s Galleria: A lovely arcade filled with charming and quaint Christmas markets for the season and a grand ship sculpture called ‘The Navigators’
• Trafalgar Square: London’s most iconic square will be coming back and better than ever this year with the giant Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree!
• Piccadilly Circus: You won’t catch as many decorations here as Oxford or Regent’s Street, but it’s still a great place to sip on a winter drink and watch the street performers
• Coal Drops Yard: Not the first place you think of when Christmas in London comes to mind, but if you’re in the King’s Cross area, it’ll be dazzling with festive displays and lights here
• Canary Wharf Winter Lights: Okay, so you won’t be able to the Canary Wharf Winter Lights here til January 19th, 2022 but it’s still worth saving on your bucket list!
• Chinatown: You won’t find oodles of Christmas decor here, but it is a great place to grab a Christmas meal on the 25th and is splashed in red regardless, so you’ll feel the holiday spirit 🙂
• Marylebone Village Lights: The charming street will be lit to the brim with loads of cosy shops to pop into along the way
• Soho & Mayfair: The shop windows throughout Soho & Mayfair are beautiful this season, have a walk along Old Bond St, New Bond St and all hidden side streets along the way to take a peek
• Motcomb Street in Belgravia: A stone’s throw from Knightbridge station you’ll find the flashy Motcomb Street decorated for the season, you can also catch more lights nearby at Elizabeth Street, Pimlico Road, Eccleston Yards and Halkin Arcade
• Skygarden: I love the Skygarden to bits already, but it gets the full Christmas makeover for the holidays, and is still amazingly free to visit
• The Shard: Likewise the Shard will be all Christmas’d up, so snag your ticket for a winter visit!
• Connaught Village: Don’t freak, but there’s a Christmas themed Love Actually Installation in Connaught Village, does it get anymore Christmas in London?
• The Royal Exchange: The 16th-century shopping hub will be dosed in winter charm this December
• Chelsea: There’s so much Christmas goodness to choose from in Chelsea, have a peek at Duke of York Square, The Ivy Chelsea, Pavilion Road, Sloane Street and King’s Road to see all the holiday decor
• The Strand and Villiers Street: Connecting the Strand with Embankment you’ll be able to catch tons of Central London Christmas decorations with a stroll in the area
• Churchill Arms: The famous Notting Hill pub somehow outdoes itself at Christmastime, be sure to pop in for a winter pint!
• Cartier Bond Street: The famed jewellery store will be all wrapped up for the Christmas season
• Tiffany & Co.: Looks like a starry night this season — literally!
• Stella Mccartney: Has become a giant rainbow-illuminated gift box. You have to see it for yourself.
• Annabel’s: Every year the high-end club outdoes itself with Christmas decor, and this year’s no different!
• Hedonism Wines: Hidden and beautiful this wine shop always outdoes itself come the holidays!
• Harrods: And Harrods at Christmas feels like walking into Santa’s playground itself
Map of the Best Places to See the Christmas Lights & Decorations Across London
Best Christmas Markets in London
I LOVE the food at Christmas markets in London. Here’s where to get your foodie fill this Christmas.
• Winter Wonderland Market at Hyde Park: It’s impossible to spend Christmas in London and not know about Winter Wonderland, but outside of all the rides and games there are tons of Christmas Markets here too (just be mindful, they do get a bit pricey). Click for more info.
• Southbank Winter Market: As part of the Southbank Centre Winter Festival the area will be brimming with a Scandi-style lodge, cosy fire pits and local food traders from around the world (until December 23rd). Click for more info.
• Christmas by the River: London Bridge is getting a makeover this season with a twinkling Christmas Market along the Thames. Click for more info.
• Greenwich Christmas Market: Greenwich Market is lovely to visit any time of year. But for Christmas, they take it up a notch. Click for more info.
• Columbia Road Christmas Market: I love Columbia Road Flower Market! Luckily you can enjoy it past Sunday in December for their Christmas Wednesdays, with 60+ amazing local vendors stocked with Christmas goodies (on until December 22nd. Click for more info.
• Festive Flea: If you love London Bridge you’re bound to have heard of Vinegar Yard. Well, this year they’re adding on even more cool points with the Festive Flea — highlighting sustainable and independent traders for the season. Click for more info.
• Leadenhall Market: Beautiful, airy and buzzing with holiday spirit — Leadenhall Market is a perfect pit stop if you’re in the City of London area (plus it’s the market from Harry Potter!). Click for more info.
• Christmas in Leicester Square: I stumbled on the Leicester Square Market years ago and have loved it ever since. Agenda? Listen to street performers, then take in all the traditional markets on offer. Click for more info.
• Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre: Hampton Court Palace is getting even more magical in December with the long-awaited Festive Fayre, a Christmas foodie haven (just be mindful, it’s only on from December 3rd-5th ). Click for more info.
• Borough Market: Okay, so I won’t pretend Borough Market is this ‘niche Christmas market in London no one’s heard of’, but sometimes you gotta stick with the classics. Visit this season to see it decked out for the holidays! Click for more info.
• Eccleston Yards Christmas Market: If Belgravia’s on your mind — take it as your sign to visit the Eccleston Yards Christmas Market. The glamorous market will be on December 4th-19th with delicious baked goods and charming decorations. Click for more info.
• Kingston’s Christmas Market: As it’s a bit far out, you wouldn’t think Kingston-Upon-Thames has a lot going on for the holidays. But you’d be very wrong. Grab some hot chestnuts and take in the cosy town centre for the holidays. Click for more info.
• DIY Christmas Market: Getting the same generic gifts gets old after a while (still love a good Primark stocking), head to the DIY Christmas Market at Truman’s Social Club for 100 stalls of handmade gifts from local artists to choose from. Click for more info.
Map of the Best Christmas Markets in London
Best Christmas Events & Activities in London
It’s crazy how many events & activities are going on in London for the holidays. Here’s the scoop on them all:
• Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park: It’s not Christmas in London without Winter Wonderland. Embrace the season at the most iconic festive event in the city. Click for more info.
• Iceskating at the Natural History Museum: Did you know this is officially the last year you can skate at the Natural History Museum? Make sure you go before the season ends! (and check out my experience here 😊) Click for more info.
• Iceskating at Somerset House: Hosted this year by Moët & Chandon, Somerset House is perfectly lit for the season, time to grab your skates! Click for more info.
• Christmas Club de Fromage at Alexandra Palace: From panoramic views of London to an iconic venue, Ally Pally is one of the best places to be for Christmas time. Take up some skating at their charming Christmas Club de Fromage. Click for more info.
• Barbican’s Christmas Carol Singalong: If singing along to cheesy Christmas songs is your jam you’ll love Barbican’s Christmas Carol Singalong. The Christmas performance has been running strong for over 20 years — so you’re in for a good time. Click for more info.
• St Martin-in-the-Fields-Church Christmas Carols: St-Martin-in-the-Fields holds beautiful services in London all year long. Check out their schedule for ‘Christmas at St-Martin-in-the-Fields’ to see a lovely holiday service. Click for more info.
• Christmas at the Kew: The famous winter light trail will be glowing throughout the whole of the Kew. Don’t forget to visit the Palm House! Click for more info.
• London Cabaret Club Gatbsy Experience: I love the London Cabaret Club! (see how my experience went here!) every season hosts a new theme and this Christmas is Gatsby! You don’t want to miss it. Click for more info.
• Crystal Palace Park Lightopia Light Trail: Crystal Palace is getting a makeover this season, with a Christmas light walk filled with an immersive display and all the parks landmarks come to life. Click for more info.
• Wembley Park Winterfest: Free Christmas trails? I’m there! If you’re in the Wembley area don’t forget to catch the Winterfest in its full glory. Click for more info.
• Horse-drawn carriage through Richmond Park: For a very, very special Christmas in London, consider taking a horse-drawn carriage through Richmond Park. It’s beautiful! Click for more info.
• Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros Studios: Harry Potter and Christmas go together like peanut butter and jelly. Visit Hogwarts in the Snow for an immersive Christmas-fied experience. Click for more info.
• Backyard Cinema Winter Night Garden: Movie nights in London are one thing, but they’re even better when it’s in a Christmas-themed Winter Garden. You’ll have to see it yourself! Click for more info.
• Bar Elba Santa Bottomless Brunch: Bottomless brunch in London is second to none. Especially when it includes a naughty Santa. Yum! Click for more info.
• Friends Festive: Feed your Friends addiction from across the pond at the Friends Festive. An annual Christmas-themed mock set of the iconic sitcom. Click for more info.
• The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum: With over 100 dancers and musicians and beautiful musical scores — The Nutcracker Show is a must for theatre lovers this season. (16 Dec-8 Jan): Dec 10-12, Click for more info.
• Christmas at ZSL London Zoo: If you’ve got some munchkins to entertain this Christmas in London, consider at Christmas at The London Zoo. One of the most family-friendly Christmas activities in the city! Click for more info.
• Love Actually in Concert: Love Actually is easily one of my favourite British movies, and you can relive it all again at Love Actually in Concert on Dec 11th. Click for more info. (P.S. – You can take yourself on a movie tour of the city here!)
• Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall: Royal Albert Hall is as famous as they come. With a Christmas in London programme running for over 150 years, you’ll definitely want to check out what they’ve got going on this season. (23 Nov-8 Jan) Click for more info.
• Coppa Club: The igloo experience at the Coppa Club is magical beyond belief. Make sure to book yours before the season ends! Click for more info.
• Attend a Christmas Church Service in London: Church services are a lovely way to celebrate the holidays wherever you go, but especially in London. Check out the services happening at Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral over December.
• Windsor Castle: Love the royals? Love Christmas? To Windsor Castle we go! A bit far out of London, but if you’d like to see the magical castle on full winter display, be sure to pay it a visit. Click for more info.
• Christmas at the London Eye: Partnering with Absolut Vodka you can enjoy Christmas at The London Eye with an immersive pub experience and festive drinks, accompanied by 360° views of the city. Click for more info.
• Rat Pack Christmas Show at Boisdale Canary Wharf: As I said, you won’t be able to the Canary Wharf Winter Lights here til January 19th, 2022 but the Rat Pack Christmas Show at Boisdale Canary Wharf will hold you down until then. Click for more info.
Map of the Best Christmas Events & Activities in London
Where to Stay for Christmas in London
When it comes to where to stay for Christmas in London, there are few places that become extra magical for the season (or put you right in the centre of it!). Here are my recommendations:
• The Ritz London: The Ritz London is known for many things. But outside of being Mayfair’s most exquisite hotel with some of the best hospitality in the world, they also go full-out for the holiday season.
• ME London: It’s rare to find a hotel as stylish and centrally located as ME London.
Enjoy an immersive experience at ME London with festive brunch at their Radio Rooftop, a winter bubble pop-up and festive treats on-demand, right in the heart of Covent Garden.
• CitizenM Hotel: Did someone say Christmas with a view?
Housing iconic sights of Tower Bridge right outside your window (literally), I’ve yet to come across a hotel as affordably amazing as the CitizenM. Smack in the middle of the city you can enjoy Christmas on their rooftop bar or out in the wild of London (P.S – It’s very close to Christmas by the River too!).
• The Z Hotel Covent Garden: Z Hotel is a great place to stay for Christmas in London if you want to experience the season without breaking the bank.
The rooms are spotless and quaint and just a stone’s throw away from Christmas in Covent Garden. And let’s be honest, where else could you indulge on mulled wine and holiday treats in Covent Garden Piazza and be tucked into bed in under five minutes?
• The Resident Kensington: Ah The Resident Kensington.
Elegant yet simple, a stay here feels like you’ve unofficially entered the royal family. Just five minutes from Earls Court station you can take up brunch in Kensington, Iceskating at The Natural History Museum, and Winter Wonderland all in one stay.
Map of the Where to Stay for Christmas in London
Bonus: Christmas in London Presets 🎄
Let’s be real honest. It’s not Christmas in London without a photo opp or two. Which is exactly why I’ve launched 6 custom Christmas in London presets 📸. Each preset will transform your Christmas in London photos into magic, all with one simple click.
London Bridge Preset
Bond Street Preset
West End Preset
Covent Garden Preset