12 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in London

October 17, 2018

If you LOVE Christmas, you will never forget the sparkle and wonder of London in December. There are twinkling lights, the fragrance of baked goods, and the ice skaters in Hyde Park. You can imagine that you have hopped into the pages of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; watch for Ebenezer Scrooge coming around the corner with a scowl, or hunched over his coins. But wait, you won’t find that guy! Scrooge was transformed and discovered the beauty and magic of the holiday season and all the people around him. This same enchanting London waits for you!

6 Ways to Celebrate in London During December

  • Nutcracker
  • Royal Palace
  • Ice Skating
  • Shopping
  • Living Nativity
  • Charles Dickens

1. The Royal Ballet presents The Nutcracker from 03 December to 15 January. This traditional production cannot be anything less than delightful. Afternoon and evening performances are available.

2. There are several ROYAL celebrations at the historic castles and towers.

  • Kensington Palace will have family-friendly events throughout the month. Meet Queen Victoria and Prince Albert 1-4 and 7-11 December and learn why Christmas was such a special time for their family. Make Victorian style tree decorations on 1-2 December, create a Victorian card 8-9 December, play with Victorian toys, and explore the palace. 
  • The Luna Winter Cinema will be held from 17-22 December, 2018 with films from Home Alone to It’s A Wonderful Life. Shown on the big screen at Kensington Palace, what a great way to get in the holiday spirit!
  • The Tower of London even comes alive and is transformed into a Victorian Christmas from 27 to 31 December.  
  • Hampton Court Palace will be decked in holiday decor from 1 December to 6 January. You can enjoy the Christmas Present, Christmas Past that will include singing carols and story-telling. Festival Fayre will be 7-9 December, and the ice rink will take you back in time from 23 November to 6 January. Lots to do!

3. Are you ready to strap on your skates and feel the ice beneath your blades? Even if you haven’t tried skating before, no reason to resist— many others are having their first experience, too.

  • UK’s largest ice rink in Hyde Park has family tickets available, skate aids, and bob skates that fit over a child’s shoes. Live music from the Victorian bandstand. Their Winter Wonderland festivities are in full swing from 23 November to 6 January from 10am-10pm each day (except 25 December).
  • Somerset House is an amazing place to visit any time of year. But it is exquisite during the holidays. The courtyard transforms into a huge rink from 14 November to 13 January and has one hour ice skating sessions starting at just £8.50 for children. You can buy your tickets at the box office or call ahead for a reservation. Ice guides are available for groups of 3 or more.
  • Winterville has the first ever ice rink on Clapham Common in South London. Check out the many other attractions while you are there including movies, food, children’s activities, roller disco, and a market.  This is definitely worth the short tube ride to get there.

4. The Christmas lights switch on along Regent Street on 15 November. Enjoy some of the most elegant shopping you will find on the planet with fashions for men and women, toys, technology, and home decor. Oxford Street has all levels of shopping and beautiful lights that will start twinkling on 6 November. Knightsbridge has modest to high-end shopping. There is no better place than London to finish crossing off your Christmas gift list while enjoying the ambiance.

5. London Zoo is ready for Christmas beginning with the Living Nativity 3 – 19 December this year. Meet Father Christmas, his elves, and other characters throughout December. Tickets sell out well in advance, so plan months ahead for this event.

6. There are so many ways to learn about Charles Dickens, and what better place than in London!

  • The Dickens Walk with author Richard Jones.
  • Visit the Charles Dickens Museum with their rotating exhibits of all aspects of Dickens life and characters. It seems that it will even be open on 25 December!
  • Go on your own walk around London by visiting some of the 7 famous places in London mentioned in A Christmas Carol.

6 Ways to Celebrate in London on Christmas Day

  • December 25 Tour
  • Church Services
  • Swimming Race
  • Christmas Lights
  • Decorated Windows
  • Fabulous Dinner

On Christmas Day, the city gets quiet. Most museums and stores are closed. Public transportation doesn’t run. There you are, all cozy in your London Connection vacation apartment. You have opened your gifts and had a nice breakfast from your lovely kitchen. And now you are ready to get out and see something, but what is there to do? Depending on which area of London you are staying, there will always be somewhere within walking distance that will be filled with holiday charm. Here are a few ideas to help you venture out of your comfortable flat.

7. Go on a Christmas Day Tour around the city, or  on a day trip nearby.

  • There are many options including the Christmas Day Hop on Hop Off Bus with Golden Tours. They also have other festive tours throughout the week.
  • London Walks also hosts two options for Christmas Day. Just meet by the big Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. Samuel Pepys’ 1660 walk at 11:00 am, and the Charles Dickens walk at 2:00pm.

8. Most churches in and around London hold services on Christmas Day. What a wonderful way to feel the spirit of Christmas.

  • Westminster Abbey takes your breath away. There are many free services that day, but tickets are required for some of the events. They are available mid-November. There are many ways to see the Abbey throughout the season. Click here: Advent & Christmas.
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral services are free, and as of 2017 will require a ticket that can be obtained online.
  • There are music concerts in St. Martin in the Fields throughout the year, but hearing those carols really make Christmas come alive.
  • St. Bartholomew the Great church has an entire list of activities throughout the month.

9. If you are close to Hyde Park, go watch the Peter Pan Cup. It is a swimming race held on 25 December each year since 1864 in Serpentine Park. Although participation is limited to swimming club members, spectators are welcome. The race begins at 9am. Wow, that looks cold!

10. There are many streets and parks to see amazing displays of Christmas Lights. Regent Street, Oxford, Covent Garden, St. James’s Market, Sloane Square, and the new Bohemian Rhapsody lights display on Carnaby Street. You may find others as you stroll to and from your flat. DELIGHTFUL

11. Don’t forget to look at all those beautiful Christmas Windows. Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, and many others are talked about well before and after the holidays. Window shopping is great fun, and it is FREE!

12. Of course, you want a nice Christmas Dinner. London is a tourist-friendly town and is accommodating to travelers. Many restaurants and pubs are open throughout the city on 25 December. The best bet is to watch throughout the week and notice the posted days and hours as you walk around the area near your flat. That way, you won’t need to worry about finding a taxi that might be very difficult. If you want to ensure a reservation in advance, try Opentable.co.uk.

If you like to shop, you may want to relax on 25 December and save your energy for the following day – BOXING DAY. One legend tells it began as the day that royalty boxed their unneeded gifts and distributed them to their subjects. It continues now as a day when there are after Christmas specials, and most inventory is marked down.

Christmas is a vibrant and enchanting time to visit London. Check out our Anglophile blog for other upcoming events in December. No matter what you choose as an activity, the holiday season in the royal city is an unparalleled experience. It will be easy to remember the lessons learned from Scrooge and enjoy those you love as you give and serve with an open heart. Have a Merry Christmas in London!