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Christmas at Covent Garden

Updated: November 2, 2023
 By Margaret

This post covers everything you need to know about celebrating Christmas at Covent Garden.

As local tour guides, we spend a lot of time in Covent Garden, but our favorite time of the year is around Christmas.

And in the video below, Sinead, a guide with Free Tours by Foot, takes you on a virtual tour of the Christmas market.

This year's theme will feature brand-new decorations, light installations, and events and will last until the 3rd of January.

Note that the lights are lit from 11:00 to midnight every day!

We include details about festive activities, decorations, winter markets, and other fun things to see and do.

Tour Guide Tip: For an atmospheric place to grab a drink and/or a bite to eat consider stopping by the beautiful 3 Henrietta Street! This 5-floor restored Georgian townhouse offers up a number of places to eat in some truly stunning and unique surroundings.


Overview

Covent Garden is worth visiting any time of the year, but at Christmas, it truly stands out.

The covered market and piazza are festooned with beautiful decorations, giant baubles, over 30,000 twinkling lights, and mistletoe chandeliers.

Music plays, the stall owners sell their seasonal goods, and holiday food and drink are plentiful!

This is all in addition to the regular market stalls and shops that are open all year round.

But aside from thousands of lights, giant baubles, and wreaths, there’s a lot happening in Covent Garden this Christmas time that you won’t want to miss.

Oh - and take note...Our London Christmas Lights Tour, the first pay-what-you-like Christmas lights tour in London, starts right here in Covent Garden so consider combining the two for a truly unforgettable festive experience!

It runs every night but Tuesdays at 18:00 and includes a stop at the Leicester Square Christmas Market along the way. Book HERE.


Things to Do for Christmas at Covent Garden

This section will cover several fun things to experience at Covent Garden during the holiday season.

We include details about both festive activities and major attractions in the area.

The Tree

Right in front of the iconic covered market is the Covent Garden Christmas tree, one of London’s tallest, topping out around 60 feet (18 m) high.

The tree will be trimmed by a team of around 60 workers who will adorn the branches with 30,000 lights and ornaments.

It’s hard to miss, but you’ll find it adjacent to the Royal Opera House.

The tree is actually brought in from the same place where the Royal Family gets its Christmas trees, which makes it that much more special.

To keep things sustainable, three trees are planted for every tree cut down from the farm where it is harvested.

At the end of the holiday season, the Covent Garden tree will be recycled into woodchips!


The Sleigh

Introduced last year, Santa's sleigh returns to Covent Garden in 2023!

On display this year is a recommissioned sleigh, dating from 1884 and hand-painted by British artist James Gemmill.

Covent Garden Christmas Sleigh
Photo by @nurse_ruff

The sleigh is not only beautiful to look at but guests are invited to take a seat and get a festive photo in Santa's favourite seat!

The Sleigh is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. and roped off after hours.


The Decorations

This is a new one, folks! For the first time in nearly TEN years, there is going to be a new Christmas decoration installation at Covent Garden.

The 2023 design is "inspired by traditional golden bells."

Expect over 40 giant bells, bows, gigantic baubles, and spinning mirror balls.

2023 will also see over 140,000 lights (up from 115,000 last year!), over 29 miles of gold leaf...and 275 kilos of glitter!


The Music

There will be seasonal music aplenty, but keep your ears open for some special performances.

In addition to performances of the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House, there will be free performances in the piazza by the London International Gospel Choir and the cast from ELF the musical!


The Christmas Sandwich Festival

Returning from 2022 is the Christmas Sandwich Festival.

From the 1st to the 31st of December, Covent Garden will see participating restaurants offering a unique twist on a "Christmas Sandwich."

Photo by Rawpixel (Public Domain)

This year, the festival will stretch from the iconic Market Building all the way to Seven Dials.

There are plenty of vegetarian offers available, too!


The Winter Warmer Mulled Wine Festival

If you like mulled wine, then Covent Garden is where you want to be!

Running from the 7th to the 26th of November, Covent Garden will become the home of mulled wine.

Photo by Marco Verch CC2.0

Indulge in "Christmassy" drinks from Covent Gardens' well-known dining hot spots.

There will be traditional wine as well as "creative twists" like mulled Rose!


The Wonder Wood

This one is back by popular demand!

This year, Covent Garden's Market Building will be transformed into a magical wonder world - a forest brimming with dozens of beautiful Christmas trees, all expertly decorated by the creatives of Covent Garden's horticultural society.

Winter Wood Covent Garden
Photo courtesy of Facebook

The Wonder Wood will be open until the beginning of January.


Festive Thursdays

Once again, in 2023, Covent Garden has made Thursdays a designated festive night with shops and restaurants opening with extended hours.

Photo by P&P CC2.0

This light-night event also sees shops hosting in-store events with exclusive discounts and special festive moments to ensure something a little special for everybody who comes down to enjoy it!


Dates and Times

  • The Covent Garden Christmas decorations are on from 11:00 am to midnight every day, 7 days a week from 9th November - to 3rd January.
  • The Covent Garden Wonder Wood is open from 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm, every day, 7 days a week from 29th November - 3rd January.
  • The Sandwich Festival takes place from the 3rd - 10th of December.
  • The L'OR Cafe' is open from 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. - to 6:00 p.m. Sundays from the 23rd of November - to the 23rd of December.
  • Snowfall takes place on the hour from 12:00 pm until 9:00 pm, every day, 7 days a week from 1st December to the 21st of December.
  • The Dolce&Gabbana x Covent Garden is open from 8th November - 15th January with varying operating times (see full description above).

How To Get Here

Nearest Underground Stations: Covent Garden, Leicester Square (5-minute walk), Charing Cross (6-minute walk), Embankment (10-minute walk), Holborn (10-minute walk), Tottenham Court Yard (12-minute walk)

Nearest Rail Stations: Charing Cross Station

Bus Routes: 9, 13, 15, 23, 24, 139, 153


Past Covent Garden Christmas Features

L'OR Coffee: L'Art du Cafe'

Luxury coffee brand LO'R has launched its first-ever pop-up in Covent Garden last year.

An immersive space featured not only delicious coffee but a range of cocktails and mocktails for those not so into java.

The Cafe' advertises itself as a "superior coffee experience away from the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden's streets."

This Cafe' is open from 10:00 am - 8:00 pm Monday to Saturday and 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm on Sundays.

It has not yet been announced for 2023.


Dolce&Gabbana x Covent Garden

Luxury shoppers rejoice!

For Christmas 2022, Dolce&Gabbana has set up an immersive shopping experience at the Covent Garden Piazza and Market Building.

In addition to pop-up shops selling a selection of goods, there were also numerous curated photo opportunities.

Expect bold patterns and bright lights, perfect backgrounds for your holiday photos!

The Piazza Pop-Up opening times are:

10:00 am - 9:00 pm Monday to Saturday and 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays in December.

Then, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm Monday to Saturday at 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays in January.


The Forecast Predicts Snow Flurries (No report on 2023 yet!)

London gets plenty cold in the winter, but it doesn't tend to snow as often as people think - except in Covent Garden! 

Carrying over from 2021's popular flurry experience, it should be snowing every day in Covent Garden!

In the previous 2 years, the snowfall was daily, starting on the 1st of December until the 31st of the same month. 

The flurries fall hourly from 12:00 pm - to 9:00 pm and, of course, is a free experience. 

This experience is truly magical and, honestly, worth a visit just on its’ own!

About The Author

Margaret

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries. Read More...
Updated: November 2nd, 2023
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