Unwrap the Festive Fun – Your Essential 2024 Guide to Christmas in London

Ah, Christmas in London. Already one of the best times of the year for so many reasons, and to have it in one of the best cities on the planet, well, that sounds like heaven. Looking to have the best Christmas in the UK’s glittering capital yourself? Well, you’ve come to the right place, as this definitive guide features everything you need to know to celebrate the joy of the festive season in London 2023.

From twinkling markets to breathtaking London Christmas lights and displays, from theatrical spectacles to delicious Christmas dinners, and even cruises along the iconic Thames, London offers a magical melange that caters to every Yuletide yen; this is your sign to make this a Christmas you’ll never forget.

Understand the distinct charm each day – from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve – carries. Let’s get into this.

What to do in London around Christmas Time?

Have you ever wondered if London is as magical at Christmas time as it looks in the movies? Do you know how it looks and feels in Love Actually or The Holiday? Well, yes, it does. London is one of those cities that has the power to make you feel like a kid, giddy with Christmas cheer once again. If you ever felt like you lost that, oh, it’s there. You just need the right time or place to bring it out in you again!

Allow me to whet your whistle as I’m about to unleash a cavalcade of festive treats that make London the city of dreams during the holiday season. From the classic charm of bustling Christmas markets to the awe of the city decked in gleaming Christmas lights, here’s your personal sneak peek into how to soak up the merry vibes in the capital! Let’s jingle all the way, shall we?

Christmas in London

Best Christmas Markets in London

There’s absolutely no doubt about it: the London Christmas markets are the highlights of this merry town’s Christmas, and this year, it’s a festive wonderland reminiscent of Narnia. Let’s discover what’s on offer.

Winter Wonderland’s Christmas Market at Hyde Park

Starting 17 November 2023, Hyde Park transforms into its yearly enchanting spectacle – the magical Winter Wonderland.

Besides rollercoasters and ice skating (which is the UK’s largest ice rink, by the way), the star of the show is the traditional German Christmas Market! Chalet-style stalls spill over with handcrafted gifts, delectable food (think bratwursts and pretzels), and heartwarming mugs of mulled wine.

The park attracts over three million visitors a year and covers a massive 350 acres, so yes, feel free to let yourself go, get lost in everything it has to offer, and have the best day or evening you can!

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park in London

Southbank Centre’s Wintertime Market

Do the riverside walk one better – the Southbank Centre’s Wintertime Market, back in 2023. Snuggled between the iconic London Eye and the glittering Thames, this market boasts incredibly festive vibes. Brimming with delicious treats, unique artisan crafts, and spectacular entertainment, shopping becomes a magical experience!

This is a popup market, complete with street food stalls representing worldwide foods and cuisines. Interestingly enough, this kicks off in October 2023, so there are months of fun to be had here in the lead-up to December.

Some of the top events and Christmas shows to catch here this year include:

  • The Nutcracker
  • The Koestler Arts: IN CASE OF EMERGENCY Art exhibition
  • The Christmas Actually Variety Show
  • Reuben Kaye
  • ET in Concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Christmas in Tinseltown with Mark Kermode and the London Philharmonic Orchestre
  • And Bluey’s Big Play Theatre Show for the kids!

And so much more. Check out the Southbank Centre website for more information!

Greenwich Christmas Market

For an authentic Londoner’s market, make a beeline for the historic Greenwich Market. Known for its unique, original creations, this year it’s upping its Christmas game. Starting in December 2023, feast on artisanal food, pick one-of-a-kind gifts and join in singing the Christmas carols.

Grab your cosiest cable-knit sweater your sturdiest boots, and dive headfirst into the Christmas whirl that is London’s Christmas markets. Trust me; this is retail therapy you’ve never experienced before 🎄 ❤️️

Live the magic, love the city – London invites you to play Santa!

London Christmas Lights

You guys, nothing screams “Christmas in London” louder than the city’s fantastic light displays. The light switch-on are some of the most famous and best Christmas events in the city, drawing thousands to city hotspots to immerse themselves in the festive scene – one where the streets look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale, buildings swathed in twinkling LEDs, and Christmas trees shimmering with holiday cheer. 🎄💫

Imagine walking through a luminary wonderland right in the heart of the bustling city. Here’s where you need to spark up your 2023 Christmas game:

Oxford Street

As a festive highlight in Europe’s busiest shopping district, the Christmas lights at Oxford Street are a sight to behold.

In 2023, prepare to be dazzled by an awe-inspiring illumination of over 300,000 magical LED Christmas lights fused to create 5,000 Christmas Stars, transforming this bustling hub into a mesmerising tunnel of light.

An integral part of the quintessential Christmas in London, this breathtaking sight fully encapsulates the Christmas spirit and joy of the season, a radiant spectacle taking place from November all the way up until early January!

Regent Street

No less festive and compelling is the showstopper event on Regent Street, another key highlight that paints London with resplendent Christmas hues year after year, kicking off on November 8 (although this needs to be confirmed!)

Get set to be enthralled by the showcase of stunning lighting architecture, a cornerstone of celebrating Christmas in London; these arresting illuminations inject life into the season’s merriment.

The lit-up display is meticulously designed and almost always features a show and live music from celebrities, so keep an eye open for who it may be!

Unwrap the Festive Fun – Your Essential 2024 Guide to Christmas in London

Covent Garden

A Christmas trip to London would be incomplete without experiencing the festive cheer in Covent Garden, where the holiday atmosphere completely takes over, starting from November 2023 until January.

In 2023, Covent Garden will enthrall guests with its annual Winter Warmer Festival, marking the beginning of a joyous season. Stroll down James Street and treat your eyes to the enchanting Wonder Wood display, as well as the Covent Garden sleigh, a beautifully restored 1884 carriage located on the West Piazza; it wouldn’t be Christmas without this iconic photo opportunity. Nothing short of a perfect backdrop for your family Christmas cards.

Oh, and catch Covent Garden’s magnificent 60-foot British-grown Christmas tree, adorned with over 30,000 twinkling, beautiful Christmas lights. With over 200,000 LED lights forming “The Spirit of Christmas” display, Covent Garden offers a perfect fusion of holiday traditions and enchanting moments that make this season truly unforgettable.

Best Christmas Plays & Shows in London

If you’re a lover of the magic of theatre, then London at Christmas is precisely where you’re going to want to be this year.

It’s time to brace yourself for an extraordinary celebration of drama this Christmas, as London’s theatres are all set to captivate you with an array of exquisite shows.

From traditional performances that steal your heart to innovative shows that leave you stunned, let’s take a look at the platter of enticing visual treats London has to offer 🎭🎄

The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House

Start your festive season with the magical world of the Nutcracker.

With Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score and mesmerizing dance performances, the Royal Opera House promises a dreamy ballet experience in 2023 that’ll make you want to pirouette right back into childhood!

This is one of the most classic and most beautiful performances around, and you’re sure to fall in love with this highlight once again. Showing from December 6 to January 13, this run will talked about for years to come.

Book now

A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story

Prepare for an unforgettable way to celebrate Christmas as the spine-tingling adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story,” returns to London’s Alexandra Palace Theatre from November 24 2023 to January 7 2024. Following a successful premiere season in 2021, Mark Gatiss’ retelling of Dickens’ winter ghost story comes back to enchant audiences, starring Keith Allen.

a-christmas-carol-london-theater-HEADOUT

This irresistibly theatrical production, a classic of our times, is highly praised by critics and is suitable for everyone—especially adults. A captivating show through and through, this promises to be a true highlight of London’s 2023 Christmas season.

To secure your place in this enchanting world of “A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story,” make sure to book tickets well ahead of time.

Book now

Pantomimes Across the City

London stays true to its Christmas ‘Panto’ tradition as theatres across the city prepare to bring classic fairy tales alive with a comical twist! From Hackney Empire to Lyric Hammersmith, expect hilarity to ensue with plenty of slapstick and audience participation!

There you have it! Whether you’re a theatre buff or looking for frolic-filled family entertainment, London’s Christmas plays and shows in 2023 have something for everyone. Book your tickets in advance and get ready to be dazzled.

Remember, the city’s a stage, and you’re invited to experience some unforgettable drama this Christmas! 🌟🎭🎄

Christmas Dinners in London

Okay, it’s time to talk about food, to many, the most important part of Christmas. Christmas decorations are incredible, but you must make sure the food is hot, steaming, and absolute bliss, especially when you’re going all out for a Christmas in London.

And don’t forget, the city is a culinary hotspot in the UK, so make sure you’re planning ahead and booking your table early to avoid disappointment.

So, where to go to forget the hassle of cooking and cleaning? Never fear; London’s incredible line-up of restaurants guarantees a Christmas dinner experience like never before! 🎅🍽️

Traditional Feasts

  • The Gilbert Scott, King’s Cross: This gorgeous eatery inside the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel is known for its elegant twists on British classics. Sample their traditional roast turkey with chestnut stuffing, followed by the oh-so-tempting Christmas pudding doused in brandy butter. Yum!
  • Hawksmoor, Various Locations: If you’re after the ultimate British Christmas spread, Hawksmoor’s got you covered. Tuck into their slow-roasted beef rib, followed by a delightful mince pie sundae. The perfect spot for a warm and inviting festive gathering!

Extravagant Affairs

  • Bob Bob Ricard, Soho: Get ready to push that famous “Press for Champagne” button at Bob Bob Ricard! With gold-leaf adorned décor and a gourmet menu, their luxurious Beef Wellington, followed by the showstopping Baked Alaska flambé, will undoubtedly make you feel like royalty.
  • Sketch, Mayfair: Make it a lavish affair at the stunning Sketch. Their Michelin-starred, 7-course tasting menu promises bold flavours and some of the city’s best contemporary cuisine. Don’t miss their iconic caviar egg!

Unique Experiences

  • Mãos, Shoreditch: For a more intimate experience, look no further than Mãos. This multi-sensory dining concept allows you to mingle with fellow diners in their communal kitchen. Here, their constantly evolving seasonal menu will surely surprise and delight.
  • Ottolenghi, Various Locations: Craving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flair? Look no further than the wholesome, colourful dishes at Ottolenghi. Their Christmas meze menu, featuring sumptuous lamb and warming pumpkin dishes, will leave your taste buds singing with joy.

Ready to tempt those festive taste buds? We recommend booking ASAP to secure a spot at any of these fantastic London eateries!

Christmas Cruises on the Thames

Picture this: Christmas in London, leisurely gliding along the River Thames, all while enjoying heart-warming holiday treats and breathtaking views. Intrigued? You should be. It’s time to talk about Christmas cruises on the Thames for 2023. 🎄🚢

Navigating a Unique Experience

Navigating the waters of the Thames during the Christmas season provides an unparalleled perspective on London’s spirited grandeur.

The city’s famous landmarks – think the Houses of Parliament or Tower Bridge – all dressed up in their festive finery, are truly a sight to behold.

And it really doesn’t matter whether you’re an adventure-seeking solo traveler, a couple longing for a romantic escape, or a family wanting to create unforgettable memories; there’s a cruise on the Thames to perfectly match your holiday vibe.

  • Christmas Lunch Cruises: Opt for a midday voyage and witness London in the crisp winter daylight while enjoying a traditional Christmas lunch on the riverboat.
  • Afternoon Tea Cruises: Fancy sipping warm tea while watching the sunset? The Afternoon Tea cruise, with its festive pastries and sandwiches, brings the charm of British tradition to life.
  • Evening Dinner Cruises: Experience the magic of a London night on the water, with the city’s brilliance reflected in the shimmering river. Simply enchanting!
  • Family Cruises with Santa: Kids will be thrilled to meet Santa aboard the boat and receive a special holiday gift!

Christmas Days in London

One of the most important things I’d like to remind you of is that Christmas is not just Christmas Day. It’s a period of the year – I like to tape it off around the end of October all the way through to early January – and fortunately, London feels the same.

Christmas is a big affair in the city, so whatever time you’ve got spare to visit or whatever your plans are, here’s how to make the most of every special day during the festive season.

Christmas Eve in London: Excitement in the Air 🔔

As December 24 approaches, it’s impossible not to feel the electrifying excitement filling London’s air. The city eagerly prepares for the big day with shining Christmas lights, one-of-a-kind events, and an endless array of cheerful activities to delight in.

Let’s unwrap some fantastic ways to revel in the festive spirit this Christmas Eve:

  • Carols by Candlelight: Soak in a traditional candlelit carol service’s soothing melodies and heartwarming atmosphere. With iconic venues like Westminster Abbey, the Royal Albert Hall, or St. Paul’s Cathedral providing a stunning backdrop, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a heartwarming scene from a classic holiday film. How better to spend Christmas than singing some Christmas carols with friends and loved ones?
  • Unforgettable Festive Shows: Indulge your senses in the enchanting world of theatre with a captivating performance or whimsical pantomime. From side-splitting comedies to heartwarming dramas, there’s no better way to experience an authentic taste of British Christmas cheer.
  • The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland: Immerse yourself in the Yuletide festivities of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. With adrenaline-pumping rides, graceful ice skating, steaming cups of mulled wine, beautiful Christmas decorations, and an atmosphere brimming with joy, you’ll create unforgettable memories that’ll warm your heart for years to come.

Embrace the magic of Christmas Eve in London and find yourself giddy with anticipation for the wonder that awaits on the big day. Don’t miss London’s unique events and picturesque displays—the city awaits your arrival to share its festive cheer!

Christmas Day in London: Joyful Tranquility 🎄

While you might think of London as this ever-buzzing, constantly hustling city, Christmas Day tells a different story. It’s the day when the city exhales, slows down, and reveals a quieter, serene personality that’s just as captivating.

Here’s how you can make the most out of this tranquil side of London:

  • Christmas Day Walks: Fancy a stroll down the silent lanes? Christmas Day offers a perfect opportunity to wander the tranquil streets and cherish the seasonal serenity. Marvel at the peaceful splendor of iconic spots like Trafalgar Square and Tower Bridge, stripped of their usual hustle and bustle. This tranquillity will also allow you to capture some unique snapshots—think of it as London posing just for you!
  • Hotel Celebrations: Ready to level up your feasting game? Time to splurge on a luxurious Christmas lunch or a festive afternoon tea at one of London’s plush hotels. Savour elegant dining experiences where the food is delicious, the decor is superb, and the service is top-notch. You’re guaranteed to feel like royalty!
  • Christmas Day Services: Craving for a touch of Christmas traditions and spirituality? On Christmas Day, attend an inspiring service at the grand St. Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey. These services add a rich depth to your Christmas celebration with powerful messages and soulful carols all set within the epic architecture of these hallowed halls.

For London, Christmas Day in London isn’t just a day off—it’s an exclusive chance to see and feel the city in a whole new light, a cherished memory waiting to unfold. So go on, strap on your adventure boots, and discover a Christmas experience that’s uniquely London.

December 26 in London: Live It Up on Boxing Day! 🛍️

Who says the fun ends on Christmas Day? The festive cheer spills over into Boxing Day, transforming London into an exciting playground filled with unbeatable sales, thrilling sports, and magical winter events. Ready to make the most of your Boxing Day adventure? Follow us! 👇

  • The Christmas Shopping Spree Extravaganza: Hey there, shopaholics—get ready to unleash your inner bargain hunter! Snag those incredible deals on Oxford Street, Regent Street, and even Westfield malls. And remember 😉, the early bird catches the best sales, so set your alarm!
  • Boxing Day Football Madness: Looking for an adrenaline jolt? Say no more—immerse yourself in the electrifying energy of the traditional Boxing Day football matches. Don’t hesitate, grab your tickets pronto, and prepare for a day of exhilarating sportsmanship with fellow football fans.
  • Winter Wonderland Continues: Feel like you missed out on something during Christmas? Fret not! Most festive events and attractions extend beyond Christmas Day, giving you the perfect opportunity to soak in every last drop of wintry magic. From ice-skating rinks to London Christmas markets, this city’s got you covered.

As you can see, London on Boxing Day is a whole new adventure—a chance to indulge in some much-needed retail therapy, cheer on your favourite football team, and catch any fun-filled winter attractions you might’ve missed. Happiness is just around the corner, and London’s ready to make it your best Boxing Day yet!

New Year’s Eve in London: Farewell Spectacular! 🎇

And finally, hang onto your party hats; it’s time to bid farewell to the festive season and welcome the New Year in grand ol’ London style.

With a cityscape that bursts into life with breathtaking fireworks and parties that vibe with unmistakable energy, London’s New Year’s Eve is unforgettable and incredible.

  • Thames Firework Display: Light up your night with the city’s iconic firework display over the River Thames. Trust us, nothing matches the thrill of counting down with the crowds as a riot of colours explodes in the sky, illuminating the city’s landmarks. Snag a primo spot early, or enjoy the view from the comfort of your couch as the dazzling spectacle is broadcast live!
  • NYE Parties & Events: Dust off your dancing shoes and get ready to boogie the night away! Whether you’re up for a glamorous gala, a trendy hotel bash, or letting loose at a swanky nightclub, you’ll find a themed event that’s your perfect match. And don’t forget—snap some cool selfies to kick off your social media game for the New Year!
  • River Cruises & Dine-Outs: Fancy a side of spectacular sights with your dinner? How about a breathtaking river cruise along the Thames or a fine dining experience with a picture-perfect view of the sparkling, firework-lit skyline? Just imagine lifting your glass in a toast as the night sky comes alive with fireworks—talk about starting the year on a high note!

So come on, let’s say a stylish goodbye to the old and wow to the new. Heads up, make your bookings soon—these celebrations sell out quicker than the flash of a firework. Let’s ring in the New Year with a bang, London style! 🥂🎉

London NYE Fireworks

Wrapping It Up

With this guide by your side, you’re all set to embark on a festive journey through the city of dreams!

So, don your warmest coats and festive knits as you explore the city of dreams in true holiday style. And remember: sharing is caring, so share your jolly snapshots and unforgettable experiences with us over on our Instagram. 🎁

Ready, set, go create some unforgettable memories this holiday season. The city’s magic awaits you, and we can’t wait to see your festive highlights. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at Loving London 🎄🎆

Profilbild Laura Haig
About the author

I love traveling in Europe and I am passionate about writing about my travels. The cultural peculiarities of each region always fascinate me. I enjoy exploring and discovering the best-kept secrets of each town or village. I love road trips as much as city breaks; I love visiting an art gallery and also the magic of musicals or discovering new delicacies in a street market. In this blog, I write about all my travel adventures and my best tips and tricks! Auf Loving Travel schreibe ich über alle meine Reiseerlebnisse und gebe euch meine besten Tipps und Tricks!

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