London, as well as many other wonderful European cities, gets dressed up for the holidays. Here are the best things to do in London between Christmas and New Year. If you want to live Christmas in London to the fullest don’t miss these awesome attractions and activities! 🙂
Christmas 2016: the article has been updated
1. CHRISTMAS MARKETS
London has so much to offer at Christmas. I’ve already written about Christmas Markets. They are enchanting and I made a list of the best themed London Christmas markets where you can really find everything, from traditional food to handmade stuff and jewelry. Winter Wonderland, for instance, takes place in the stunning location of Hyde Park and give you the possibility to enjoy a lot of attractions such as the Giant Wheel.
2. CHRISTMAS CONCERT AT ST. MARTIN IN THE FIELDS
One of the most interesting things to do in London is enjoying Christmas concerts! To me, the most magical and evocative place to get into the spirit of Christmas is the Church of St. Martin in the Fields at Trafalgar Square, next to the National Gallery. Here you can enjoy both classical and jazz music events. Some of them are free at lunch, while the concerts held in the evening are with fee, but the atmosphere is suggestive and the ticket doesn’t cost a lot. Candles are everywhere and you can experience something truly magical. The concerts last about 45 minutes and are performed by renowned artists. Check out the events in program.
3. CHRISTMAS CAROLS AT TRAFALGAR SQUARE
Walk through the streets of London and stop at Trafalgar Square in the heart of the City. Enjoy Christmas carols throughout the month of December. Take a nice picture in front of the wonderful Christmas pine, a gift to London by Norway since 1947 as a token of gratitude for British support during the II World War. It will be at Trafalgar Square until the beginning of the New Year.
4. ICE SKATING RINKS
Do you love skating? Put this funny activity into your “top things to do in London” list. In fact, there are several ice skating rinks in London such as the Natural History Museum Ice Rink next to the Natural History Museum. It is open from October 27 to January 8 (closed at Christmas). The adult ticket is £12.65 and one session lasts 50 minutes. Another ice skating rink is the one at Winter Wonderland (where there is also one of the most lovely Christmas Markets) or the London Eye Ice Skating rink. Among the best ice rinks there are: Tower of London Ice rink, Canary Wharf Ice rink, Somerset House Ice rink (one of my favourite ones), Broadgate Ice rink, Westfield Ice rink.
5. REINDEER IN LONDON ZOO
Which animal do you make you think about Christmas? To me, reindeer. If you have kids let them meet the reindeers at the London Zoo in Regent’s Park. To save money book your ticket online. The ticket per adult is £24.25, children under 3 years don’t pay, but you can also buy a family ticket (£75 – 2 adults + 2 children OR 1 adult + 3 children) only online.
6. DISCOVER MAGICAL CHRISTMAS LEGO CREATIONS
At Christmas Lego Company fires our imagination through awesome LEGO Christmas creations. Last year you could Santa Claus with his sleigh pulled by nine reindeer at Covent Garden. Well, it was not not a human Santa Claus but it was made with over 700,000 LEGO bricks. In 2015, you could admire LEGO Santa Express. Who will be the next character this year? 😉 More info.
7. JOIN CREATIVE EVENTS ACROSS LONDON’S STREETS
Do you know the cute teddy bear Paddington? To celebrate the release of the Paddington movie the city of London, which always promotes original cultural and artistic events, created a real trail to discover 50 Paddington teddy bear statues around the city (near to the most famous attractions) by artists, designers and celebrities such as David Beckham, Nicole Kidman, Emma Watson. This is a funny way to discover London. Check out other London’s funny events!
8. ENJOY A MUSICAL OR A BALLETT
I’ve always been fascinated by the performances at the Royal Opera House. It is not a place for everybody, you really have to love ballett and musicals. When I visited London in winter I do enjoyed the Swan Lake. There are so many performances between Christmas and New Year, such as Don Quixote by the Royal Ballett and OneGin, you only have to choose your favourite event! The ticket is not so expensive. Otherwise enjoy another play at London Coliseum, which is at St. Martin’s Lane.
9. CHRISTMAS AFTERNOON TEA
Afternoon tea is always a must in London, even better during Christmas season. I love spending time with friends tasting the most yummy desserts and English teas, surrounded by decorations and lights. You cannot say no. There are many places for afternoon tea on a budget. My favorite ones, from the lower to the higher price, are:
- Lanes of London, it is the restaurant close to the Marriott London Park Lane Hotel a stunning 5 starts hotel on Park Lane. The price is not expensive, about £23 or £29 with Champagne Moet and Chandon. You can taste traditional mini puddings (ginger, nutmeg, almonds, raisins, cherries and candied citrus). Check out Lanes of London afternoon tea menu!
- One Aldwych where you can enjoy the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea. There are bottles of milk chocolate caramel, gingerbread pops, cinnamon brioche and whatever you want. The price is about £37.50 per person or £48 per person with a glass of Champagne Lallier. Book in advance! They are often fully booked;
- Corinthia Hotel. The location is awesome and the price a little bit expensive, it is about £55.
10. DECORATED SHOPPING WINDOWS
I do like looking through the shopping windows decorated for Christmas. London is full of beautiful decorations. One of the most well decorated shopping store is Hamleys, an awesome toy world which bring you back to your childhood.
11. NEW YEAR’S FIREWORKS
Enjoy the fireworks at the London Eye overlooking the Thames. When I took part to the event it was completely free. This year 100.000 tickets are available at the price of £10 to guarantee extra security. Tickets are avalaible from the end of September, you can buy them online.
TIP: Go there in advance, because the bridges will be closed and moving between the different London areas will be restricted.
12. LONDON’S PARADE
London New Year’s Day Parade is a parade with about 10,000 artists from all over the world: bands, cheerleaders, several wagons and reproductions of locomotives. The parade begins at 12 and departs from Parliament Square. It ends at 15pm at Berkeley Street and Piccadilly Circus Street.
13. GO SHOPPING
If you are shopaholic, just like me, you have to know that most of the high street stores start their sales on December 26. This is your time to become the queen of sales! 😉 Among the best known stores there are: London Designer Outlet (sales up 70%), Selfridges, Fenwick (fashion and accessories), Harrods. Be ready! Enjoy the Boxing Day Sales and don’t miss London’ sales. More info.
These are the best things to do in London over Christmas and New Year.
Have you ever visited London during this period? Any suggestions? Leave a comment 🙂