Christmas in London is a great time, from pop-up Christmas markets to carols and festive movies, here are the best things to do in London at Christmas.
Christmas time in London is hands down one of my favorite times of the year.
What's not to love? There are more Christmas markets than you can visit, shows and Christmas lights - it's like everyone forgets that winter in London can be pretty bleak and decides to go with the flow of the festive season.
Add to that the excuse to drink Christmas cocktails (they taste a lot better in the glow of the Christmas lights, too), enjoy festive Afternoontea and don ugly Christmas sweaters.
Und das alles, bevor ich zu den richtigen Dingen komme, wie… Glühwein und Weihnachtsliedern.
So here they are: the best things to do in London at Christmas - 25 ideas for your December Christmas list. Ho ho ho!
The best things to do to celebrate Christmas in London.
Board a festive boat ride
I can't think of anything more magical than a Christmas boat trip. City Cruises has more than enough for you with its 2022 offerings.
Between Dec. 1 and Dec. 18, City Cruises* is offering a whole slew of fun cruises with Christmas dinner and dinner parties. You won't have to worry about doing the dishes.
Enjoy a Christmas tour of London's top sights - opt for the evening cruise and enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner while admiring the twinkling city lights.
And if that wasn't enough, you'll also be impressed by the Christmas Day events.
Fancy a Christmas Day Lunch Cruise* with a four-course meal, carols and music? I thought you might. Or how about the Christmas Day Sightseeing Cruise, where you'll be treated to mince pies and mulled wine while seeing London's most famous sights?
Merry Christmas, is all I can say!
Take a trip to one of London's Christmas markets.
Remember the sad old days when there were no Christmas markets? When you had to drink your mulled wine at home and do your Christmas shopping in boring malls?
Thankfully, those days are over.
This year hasn't exactly been the easiest.... And if that's not a reason to eat mince pies and drink hot Baileys chocolate, I don't know what is.
First and foremost, starting November 9, Alpine Wonderland in King's Cross is taking over the area, bringing with it 8 Christmas markets over 6 weeks, club curling, and an apres ski bar where you can warm up with hot drinks.
Also returning are Christmas by the River at London Bridge and Pexmas in Peckham's Copeland Park. There, you can shop for gifts from a carefully selected assortment of indie boutiques and makers.
Rich Mix's DIY Christmas Market promises a similar atmosphere - but with over 100 stalls, it may even surpass the others when it comes to the selection of goods on offer.
Greenwich Christmas Market is also a great choice if you're looking to get away from the city center - visit the lantern parade for a magical evening.
Feast at the London Christmas Afternoontea
An Afternoontea in London is a must all year round. It's common knowledge that there's nowhere as good an Afternoontea as London - but it gets a little better in the run-up to Christmas.
Of course, you can also enjoy the festive London Afternoontea at an incredibly chic restaurant like Claridges, The Connaught or The Ritz.
The famous Ritz Palm Court is decked out in decorations that transform it into a winter wonderland - and the tea itself is spiced up with mince pies, festive cakes and a glass of bubbly.
If that's too pricey for you, the festive Afternoontea at Biscuiteers is a (slightly) more wallet-friendly alternative. Enjoy signature cookies (with Christmas decorations, of course) and a selection of other sweet treats - £48 per person.
Experience a hunt for lights
I think the best part of Christmas in London is admiring the capital's magical lights. And I can't think of a better way to admire them than on a scavenger hunt around the city.
That's where The Secret City comes in: they've put together a fantastic lights hunt that takes you through the twinkling streets of London.
A Rift in Time starts at Oxford Circus and ends in Covent Garden. On the trail of a mysterious man, you'll explore the city and embark on an insanely fun scavenger hunt.
If that doesn't give you enough Christmas feelings, you'll be happy to know that this route is inspired by Charles Dickens, so you're guaranteed to feel like you're in A Christmas Carol on the streets of London.
Are you ready to step into the role of a Dickensian detective and put your detective skills to the test?
Best of all, there's 20% off food and drinks at recommended pubs along the way - because nothing screams Christmas more than a festive drink or three with your pals.
Don't stay in the pub too long, though, because there are some puzzles to solve.
Die Tickets kosten £15 pro Person, buche kannst du hier.
See a movie at one of London's Christmas winter cinemas
As tempting as it is to hunker down under the covers and watch a few choice Christmas classics, there are better options.
The Luna Winter Cinema at Kensington Palace is showing Elf, Die Hard, Home Alone, Love Actually - all the classics are there.
The Prince Charles Cinema and the Curzon at One Aldwych also offer Christmas movies.
London Transport Museum is a real feast
A visit to the London Transport Museum may not be at the top of your Christmas list this year, but cut me some slack. The museum is one of the most underrated in the capital and helps its visitors get in the mood for the Christmas season in 2022.
Lights and Sights is the museum's Christmas series this year, so get ready for a tour of London's best Christmas lights in a classic red Routemaster bus. Of course, there's Christmas music and a traditional conductor to check your souvenir tickets and get you in the Christmas spirit.
Backyard Cinema's magical movie screenings
The Backyard Cinema is one of my favorite places in London to watch festive movies.
Here, you can step into a winter wonderland and cozy up while the classics play before your eyes.
If there's one thing the folks at Backyard Cinema know how to do, it's beautiful backdrops - so expect twinkling lights, giant trees, and enough festive drinks to warm you up.
Mulled wine and mince pies are not to be scoffed at.
Be sure to make reservations in advance, as showings sell out quickly.
Christmas cocktails at London's best bars
Isn't it great that things that are already fabulous get even better in London at Christmas? The simple cocktail is a great example of this.
Of course, we all love a good cocktail at any time of year - and London has plenty of bars that specialize in them (like this one in Shoreditch).
The new hotel bar Common Decency at NoMad is one of the most magical Christmas bars of the season. Atmospheric decor + festive booze + groovy soundtrack = a winner.
I'll take five Scrooge Sours, please and thank you.
Want to really kick it up a notch? Grab a drink at Paddington's Pergola under the gorgeous "On the Piste" decor. Here you can sip mulled wine and experience a touch of apres ski in log cabins and Christmas wreaths.
Wenn du dich zu Weihnachten verabreden möchtest, kannst du im The Corinthia London im Innenhof der Bar, umgeben von funkelnden Lichtern, ein oder zwei Drinks zu dir nehmen. Entscheide dich für einen berauschenden Negroni oder eine heiße Schokolade und du wirst nichts falsch machen.
Take part in a long-standing tradition: the Christmas Auction at Smithfield Meat Market.
I really tried to keep the Christmas Auction at Smithfield Meat Market a secret because it's such a cool little festive London event and I didn't want it ruined.... Alright, I'll tell you.
Smithfield is the largest meat market in the UK and one of the oldest markets in the city. But what does that have to do with Christmas in London?
Every Christmas Eve, the Hart of Smithfield butchery holds a Christmas auction in the street outside the market. Christmas carols ring out and a merry crowd comes to bid on a selection of cuts of meat for the Christmas table.
Not only is the auction inexpensive, but its cheeky banter, festive atmosphere and frenetic pace make it one of the quirkier activities to do in London at Christmas. Even as a tourist, it's a lot of fun to just be there.
Take a self-guided tour of London's Christmas lights.
Is there anything more magical than the Christmas lights in London? The answer is clearly "no."
Of course, Oxford Street and Regent Street are the greatest - their lights are two of the most visited Christmas attractions in London.
There really are so many London Christmas lights that you'd best put on a warm winter coat and visit as many as you can once it gets dark.
Visit Oxford Street, Regent's Street, Carnaby Street, Covent Garden, Seven Dials, and Bond Street first, and then take a detour to Kew, where the Christmas lights are something special.
Unleash your inner child at Hamleys.
Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy store in the world. So it's only logical that they put on a big show at Christmas.
You can pretend you're just stopping by Hamleys to buy a gift for your eight-year-old niece, but we all know the truth.... It's okay, your secret is safe with me.
Be like Harry Potter and visit Hogwarts in the snow.
Hands up if you're watching all the Harry Potter movies on repeat once December rolls around. It's a real Christmas treat.
You can visit the Harry Potter movie set* all year round, but at Christmas, Hogwarts in the Snow* gives it a very special atmosphere.
The Great Hall is decorated for the Goblet of Fire Christmas Ball (you know, the one in the Triwizard Tournament when Hermione shows up with Viktor Krum and things really take off).
Many of the sets are even festively decorated - and if you're quick, you can snag tickets to dinner in the Great Hall.
Try out some Christmas activities in London - like ice skating.
Ice skating is something you can either love or hate - I'm honestly not a fan of it, but if you're brave enough, you should definitely check out one of the pop-up rinks in London.
The rink at Alexandra Palace is gorgeous, and the rink at Queen's House in Greenwich is also a showstopper, as is the iconic rink at Somerset House.
The ice rink at Canary Wharf is also popular, and when you're ready to hop on the train, Hampton Court Palace is magical.
Sing along to festive London Christmas carols.
What's your favorite Christmas carol?
Not all Christmas carol concerts are created equal. A choir that can sing is helpful, of course, and a magical setting is a big plus - but most important of all? An enthusiastic audience ready to sway along to the old classics.
If you want the full London carol experience, check out St. Paul's Cathedral or Westminster Abbey - they won't disappoint.
Visit the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square
The good people of Norway have been sending the British a Christmas tree every year since 1947, which is placed in Trafalgar Square to commemorate British support in World War II.
Let's face it, Trafalgar Square is one of the places to visit in London during the Christmas season that seems to be missing from any festive calendar.
Since they went to the trouble of sending a huge Norwegian spruce, it's only polite to look at it as a small thank you. The 25-meter tall tree stands in the middle of the square, decorated with lights and looking so properly Christmassy.
And check out the other Christmas trees in London
Believe it or not, Trafalgar Square isn't the only Christmas tree creating festive cheer in London.
A train station seems like an unlikely place to start your Christmas tree odyssey, but it is - the tree at St. Pancras is all the rage when it comes to choosing your favorite.
The luxury Claridges hotel offers a more modern (but no less impressive) version.... and if that's not enough for you, you should also stop by the Hays Gallery , The Connaught, Somerset House and Wembley Park to admire even more Christmas trees.
On to Christmas at Kew
Kew Gardens* is one of London's most beautiful places all year round, but at Christmas they really pull out all the stops. Christmas at Kew is a dazzling show of lights, sounds and art that gets even better every year.
Let me put it in perspective for you. The sprawling grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens are lit up with more than 1 million lights each night for the Christmas at Kew season*.
In other words, "festive" doesn't even begin to cover it - this place is magical.
Spend an evening in Winter Wonderland
Love it or hate it, Winter Wonderland* is the ultimate festive hotspot in London.
Yes, there are overpriced drinks, long queues and crying children in the air - but nowhere else can you spend an evening quite so iconic.
Rides, the smell of mulled wine and the iconic ice cream bar - this is one of the best Christmas experiences in London. Grab a sausage and have a blast!
Du musst die Tickets im Voraus buchen*, wobei viele Plätze kostenlos sind. Allerdings musst du einen Fünfer berappen, wenn du an den Wochenenden kommen willst. Das ist es aber wert, finde ich.
Practical tips to make the most of London at Christmas.
Make the most of all the free activities
London can be a brutally expensive city - but one of my favorite things about Christmas in London is that there are a whole host of free activities and things to do.
Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Christmas concerts - many of these activities are free, so you can save your money on gifts and Christmas cocktails.
Book in advance for the most popular Christmas attractions in London.
Not to be the voice of reason here, but it's Christmas in London. Everything is booked up. People are disappointed. Kids start crying into their hot chocolate.
Christmas isn't about feeling bad, so book tickets to some of the most popular events ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Dress warmly - even though London rarely drops below freezing, it's cold enough that you should wrap up warmly! The best way to explore London is on foot - the central attractions are in a surprisingly small area and are within easy walking distance. Christmas is a peak time for London's hotels, so you'll need a bit of insider knowledge to find something reasonable. For the best places to stay in London, check out my guide to the best areas and hotels in London.
So there you have it - the best things to do in London at Christmas. Go forth and eat all the mince pies you can wash down with mulled wine.