Winter in London is simply magical and there’s bundles of festive fun to be had. To help you guys have the best time in the run-up to Christmas, we’ve rounded up the coolest things to do in London from November through to December, guaranteed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. From the city's annual yuletide traditions to festive events new to London for 2021, if you're planning days or nights out in the city with friends before the end of the year, here are a few ideas for you.
Get your scarves and gloves out...
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1. SEE THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
London lights up over the Christmas season each and every year, with dazzling decorations and lights illuminating the city streets. The highly anticipated Oxford Street lights - and they look pretty stellar. The famous shopping street has been draped with 1,778 decorations and 750,000 LED light bulbs. The theme has been inspired by falling snowflakes, definitely living up to the previous year’s display.
Walk down Regents Street, head to Oxford Street then take a stroll down Carnaby Street to see all the beautiful lights in one evening. The Carnaby Christmas lights always have a theme and this year they've gone with Carnaby Kaleidoscope, partnered with refugee charity Choose Love. The overhead illuminations display hundreds of twinkling butterflies, signifying rebirth, change, transformation, life and hope. Other notable areas in the city to take in the Christmas lights in 2021 are Covent Garden and Belgravia.
2. WATCH A MOVIE IN THE SNOW KINGDOM
One for the movie lovers. You'll absolutely want to come to this cinema in Wandsworth which has been transformed into the icy Snow Kingdom. Backyard Cinema changes with the season, but there's something about snuggling up on their big, cosy beanbags for a winter film that really hits the spot. Enter the cinema through a cave, take your place on your designated beanbag and sip some Christmas themed cocktails while you watch your movie Movie screenings sell out fast so be sure to book your tickets as soon as you can.
3. SOAK UP THE ATMOSPHERE AT THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS
Is there anything more festive than a Christmas market? The glorious markets in London have started to pop up all around the city, to make you feel festive in the run-up to Christmas. Our favourite one is the Southbank Winter Christmas Festival by the Thames because it’s great for the foodies.
Tuck into some festive street food favourites such as mince pies, sausages, burgers, cinnamon buns and hot chocolate. Or buy some handmade Christmas gifts and stocking fillers. Stroll alongside the line of Nordic-inspired wooden chalets, get a photo under the huge Christmas tree and a soak up the lively atmosphere. The nearest tube stations to this bustling market are Waterloo or Embankment.
As well as this market, London Bridge’s Christmas by the River is also super festive, where you’ll be rewarded with the iconic view of the river Thames and Tower Bridge. Here you can feast on mince pies and mulled wine while you wander the 68 variety of stalls.
4. GET YOUR SKATES ON!
London’s ice rinks are coming out this November. The Natural History Museum, Somerset House and Winter Wonderland ice rinks are always super festive and fun, but there are so many others that are just as exciting. Skate in front of the Queen's House in Greenwich or amongst the skyscrapers in Canary Wharf. Just be sure to book in advance to avoid missing out.
5. SIP COCKTAILS AT THE CHRISTMAS POP-UPS
Feel your jaw drop at the sight of the Museum of Architecture's 'Gingerbread City' - yep, that's a mini city of baked goods constructed by real-life experts, soak up the atmosphere from Electric Winter at Between the Bridges on Southbank, try your hand at some Christmas curling in King's Cross' Coal Drops Yard, head to Flat Iron Square for a night of drinks in cosy chalets or dine in a rooftop igloo at Skylight. London at Christmas is absolutely packed with festive things to do, it's almost overwhelming.
6. CHRISTMAS AT KEW
22 November 2017 to 1 January 2018
For a truly magical festive experience head to Kew Gardens for Christmas at Kew. The botanical gardens go all out for the Christmas season with the whole garden beautifully lit and ready to put on a show. The concept is unique. As darkness hits, the magic begins. The idea is that visitors follow the trail of lights through the gardens: there are over one million twinkling lights, illuminating trees and buildings throughout along the way. There is even a light show, a fire garden and singing trees! There's a chance you will have missed out on tickets for your preferred dates this year, but if you're in London for Christmas 2022 then watch out!
7. STROLL THE BEAUTIFUL PARKS
London’s Royal parks may be chilly in the winter, but they are simply beautiful for a crisp walk and coffee. From the beautiful rose gardens in Regent's Park and the deer in Richmond Park, to the beautiful swans at Hyde Park, and the sparkling lake at St James’ Park, a visit to one of the cities Royal green spaces is a brilliant way to spend a crisp, sunny day over the festive season.
8. ADMIRE THE TRAFALGAR SQUARE CHRISTMAS TREE
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree. London pulls out HUGE trees over the festive season, dotted all over the city, but the most famous has to be the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. Get off the tube at either Trafalgar Square or Leicester Square and you can walk to it easily. While it’s a huge tree and maybe not the most beautiful in London, it’s the history behind it that makes it so special.
The 22 metre Norwegian spruce has been an annual gift to London from the people of Norway since 1947, to say thank you for Britain’s support during WW2. The lighting of tree takes place on December 1st where it will be illuminated by over 700 light bulbs!
9. FEAST ON BRITISH ROAST IN A COSY LONDON PUB
You can’t not indulge in a hearty comforting roast if you’re in London throughout November and December. Roast potatoes, Yorkshire puds, roast beef topped with flavoursome gravy - and let’s not forget the carrots and parsnips. Brits traditionally eat a roast turkey on Christmas day, but in the time around that the meat can range from chicken, lamb, pork, duck or beef. These are our top picks in the city to get your roast:
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10. WARM UP WITH LONDON’S BEST HOT CHOCOLATE
There’s nothing better than a hot beverage to warm you up in London’s chill. You're spoilt for choice when it comes to cafes in London, but for a sweet, silky hot chocolate these are the spots we highly recommend...
11. PARTY AT BELUSHI’S
Need somewhere to party in the evenings? Head to Belushi's bars. Christmas here won’t let you down for a fun night with juicy burgers, sticky wings and a giant selection of drinks on tap and shaken by the bartenders to enjoy before you get on the dancefloor.
There are Belushi’s bars dotted all over London, you just have to choose which one and book your package!
12. GET YOUR THRILLS AT WINTER WONDERLAND
Winter Wonderland is back! From 19th November to the 3rd January, Hyde Park is filled with German-style markets serving mulled wine and hot dogs, amazing stalls and over 100 rides plus the UK's largest outdoor ice-rink. Consider yourself a bit of an adrenaline junkie?
See if you can brave the ‘The Munich Looping’, a HUGE loopy roller coaster back again for a second year. It made its first-ever debut at Munich’s Oktoberfest. Or why not test out the beer in the German-style tent. This year, you'll have to book your entry slot in advance for free during off-peak times, and £5 or £7.50 for peak hours.