Happy Holidays In London

Get ready for Christmas! Whether it’s a panto, an ice sculpture or a seasonal market, we compile your ultimate guide to London’s festive activities to help plan your trip.

It's November and too early to look ahead to Christmas—or is it? With these tempting seasonal delights, let us lure you across the pond to London for the holidays.

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

Christmas is the most magical time of year, and Londoners and visitors are spoilt for choices for seasonal cheer. Hyde Park has been welcoming festive fun since 2007, when Winter Wonderland was born. Let the sweet smell of hot chocolate and mulled wine guide you towards the Bavarian-style Christmas markets, food stalls and bars. Warmed and refreshed you’ll be ready to skate around the Victorian bandstand marking the centre of the UK’s largest ice rink.

In the Magical Ice Kingdom, take a stroll through a world of dragons and castles, intricately carved from real ice. Elsewhere, witness world-class circus acts in the brand new Sky Dome with Zippo’s Christmas Circus, and if you want to reach the dizzy heights, then head to the rides that include fun houses, three roller coasters and a giant observation wheel.

Magical Ice Kingdom at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London
See magical ice sculptures at Winter Wonderland. (©Winter Wonderland)

Enjoy the trail beautifully engineered around Syon Park’s Enchanted Woodland, transformed into an illuminated spectacle with its grand oak trees decadently frosted with coloured lights. Why not also visit Kew Gardens, and enjoy the annual Christmas at Kew celebrations, with a glittering garden trail and giant light sculptures scattered throughout the grounds and the dancing fire inspired by The Nutcracker against the iconic Palm House building backdrop.

It’s Snow Time!

The Snowman festive show, London
Festive favourite The Snowman, on stage in London this winter (©Alastair Muir)

Christmas is a time to be merry so we’ve rounded up the best seasonal shows. It simply wouldn’t feel like Christmas without The Snowman, based on the book by Raymond Briggs (Peacock Theatre from 27 Nov). It’s the tale of a young boy’s magical adventure with his snowman, flying high into the sky meeting numerous characters along the way, including the famous song Walking in the Air.          

For a timeless seasonal hit, you can’t go wrong with Irving Berlin’s musical White Christmas (8 Nov-3 Jan, Dominion Theatre). Two ex-army pals put on a show to save a remote Vermont ski lodge that’s fallen on hard times—you’ll no doubt be singing White Christmas on your way home.

Get Your Skates On           

Skating rink at Hampton Court Palace, London
Whizz around the ice at Henry VIII's former home. (©Nick Wilkinson/Newsteam)

The winter months mean putting on your gloves and a cosy hat and showing off your super slick moves on one of London’s numerous ice rinks. At Ice at the Palace, Hampton Court, whiz around the grounds of Henry VIII’s one-time home. Skate at Somerset House, partnering with Fortnum & Mason, which has added extras such as champagne and chocolates—though perhaps avoid those while on the ice!

Christmas Markets

Southbank festive market, London
Be tempted by tasty treats at the SouthBank Festive Market. (©Belinda Lawley)

German traditions hit the capital, with a plethora of mini-villages of fairy-lit wooden chalets. As well as Winter Wonderland (through 3 Jan), Southbank Festival’s market, part of its Winter Festival, has 70 chalets selling arts, craft and food, overlooking the Thames and enchanting by night. Enjoy riverside views at the More London Christmas Market (8-21 Dec) near City Hall, where 25 local business and stalls again offer homemade crafts and fashion accessories, with the Shard towering above and Tower Bridge behind you.

If you’re feeling adventurous, head down to where the real Londoners go: the Crafty Fox markets in the Dogstar in Brixton (6-7 Dec) and the warehouse space of the Bussey Building in Peckham (13-14 Dec). From bags to birdcages, mugs to cushions, these markets are full of inventive designs, which make for truly unique and modern gifts.

Christmas Concerts

Carol concert at St. Paul's Cathedral, London
Carol concert at St. Paul's Cathedral, London

City-wide landmark venues hold majestic concerts marking this festive time. Head to St. Martin-In-The-Fields church for the annual ‘The Spirit of Christmas by candlelight’ (19 Dec). Royal Albert Hall’s ‘Christmas Carol Singalong’ (13 Dec) will get you in the mood, and St. Paul’s Cathedral has a more classical experience with Handel’s Messiah (3 Dec).