This post is a guide to things to do in London for Christmas 2023, written by a team of local tour guides from Free Tours by Foot.
We've included events, Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, beautiful lights, winter festivals, as well as virtual tour videos.
As locals, we take part in these events and markets with our friends and families.
But, we also lead many guests on tours of London's markets and Christmas lights.
And in the video below, Sinead, one of our guides, takes you on a virtual tour through London's Christmas markets.
We organized this post into sections, and you can jump to any particular section by clicking on one of the jump links below.
- Christmas Lights & Decorations
- Christmas Themed Tours
- Christmas and Holiday Shows
- Christmas Markets
- Ice Skating
- Christmas at Kew Gardens
- London Eye Festive Flight
- Charles Dickens Museum
A great way to really get into the Christmas spirit without spending a lot of money is simply by walking down the many colorful streets.
During the holiday season, nearly every street and building in London is covered in lights and decorations.
You can see a long list of where to see Christmas Lights and Decorations in London from our post.
However, below we list a few streets that stand out above the rest.
- Oxford Street is probably the most famous of them all... and for good reason!
- Regent Street is a spectacular array of lights and colours that are guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit!
- Trafalgar Square boasts one of the most impressive Christmas trees you will find in the city.
There are many holiday and Christmas-inspired tours available to you in London, including bus tours, walking tours, and even bike tours.
See our post on the top 7 Christmas tours of London to see the many options.
We, of course, invite you to join our pay-what-you-wish London Holiday Lights Tour as seen in this video.
More information is listed just below the video.
Travel centuries back in time to uncover all of London’s Christmas season secrets.
Take in all that London has to offer this Christmas with Free Tours By Foot!
- Oxford Street
- Regent Street
- Carnaby Street
- Piccadilly Circus
- Leicester Square
- Covent Garden
- Trafalgar Square
- Somerset House
Reservations: Click here to reserve.
Where: The tour begins at Oxford Circus. The exact location will be provided upon booking.
Duration: 2 hours.
When: View our full tour calendar.
Cost: This tour is free to take, and you get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it's done. A name-your-own-price tour is a tour for any budget.
If you’re more interested in learning about the history of street art of this city, make sure to check our list of pay-what-you-wish London Walking Tours.
Every year you can find many Christmas and Holiday shows in London, including musicals, ballet performances, plays, and traditional pantomimes. Truly the options are endless!
You can also look forward to festive classic Christmas movies in concert, including Home Alone.
There is always a production - if not more - of the Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol.
There are ice spectaculars for the kiddies and for the adults, traditional Christmas 'pantos' (risqué versions of holiday tales).
Royal Albert Hall dedicates the entire month of December to a full schedule of Christmas-themed performances!
See our post on Christmas and Holiday Shows with over 30 performances, carol singalongs, ballets, and more that you can take in during the holiday season.
If you're visiting the UK during the holiday season, you absolutely must visit a Christmas market!
London boasts a huge variety of Christmas markets, including some that are more quaint and traditional, as well as others that are very big and modernized.
You can see a long list of the best Christmas markets in London here, but below the video, we list our favorites.
- Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is the biggest Christmas market in London. Though it can get overcrowded on the weekends, it's absolutely worth seeing for the production value alone.
- Southbank Centre Christmas Market is conveniently located along the River Thames and features traditional chalets selling holiday trinkets, traditional German food, and mulled wine.
- The Greenwich Christmas Market isn't quite as well known as some of the others but features an amazing array of over 100 chalets.
There is no shortage of incredible ice rinks to go skating on in London during the holiday season.
With so many incredible places to choose from, the hardest part is figuring out where to go ice skating first!
As with the Christmas markets, you really can't go wrong with any of these options.
And, in the video below, Sinead brings you virtually to the ice skating rink at Somerset House.
Below are some of our favorites.
- Somerset House - Think of this as the Times Square of London in terms of ice rinks. Beautiful location set in the courtyard of a 17th-century building.
- Tower of London - Did you know that you can go ice skating in the shadow of London's oldest fortress? Mulled wine and baileys are served nearby to keep you warm in between skates.
- Natural History Museum - This is another fantastic location set in front of the beautiful Natural History Museum.
- For a full list, check out our post: The Best Ice Skating Rinks in London.
This year Kew Gardens is putting on a fabulous show of seasonal illuminations. Visitors walk a “one-mile sparkling path” lit up especially for Christmas.
And, in the video below, Sinead takes you on a virtual tour of Winter at Kew Gardens from 2022.
There will also be food, music, and vintage fairground rides so there is something for everyone!
- When: November 15th – January 7th, 2024. From 4:20 pm – 10 pm
- Fee: £22.50/off-peak/£29/peak for adults / £19 for children 4-15 / FREE for under 4’s / Family of 4 for £86
- Nearest Underground Station: Kew
- More information here.
CHRISTMAS IN COVENT GARDEN
Christmas is a special time in Covent Garden, and in 2023 things are particularly festive.
The historic covered market will be decked out with giant baubles, mistletoe wreaths, garlands, and dazzling lights. A lot of lights. 115,000 lights!
All surrounding the market and decorating their iconic 55-foot tall tree.
To get a feel for the market, check out Sinead's virtual tour from 2022 below.
Throughout the 2023 holiday season, there are a number of things to check out. Check out our full post on Christmas at Covent Garden.
The Covent Garden Christmas Village features chalet-style market stalls selling handmade goods, street food vendors, musical performances, Santa's sleigh, and giant bauble forest domes, where guests can enjoy a festive menu inside a lit-up Christmas bauble!
The LEGO adventure - a free immersive experience where guests walk through a lit up LEGO wonderland.
Expect to see a rocket race and a firefighting dragon, in addition to a number of surprises.
A LEGO pop-up shop will be nearby for some Christmas shopping for your LEGO lovers.
Disney's Frozen in Covent Garden - Covent Gardens turns into Arendelle in partnership with Disney's Frozen, currently playing in the West End.
Guests can walk through a frozen forest featuring snow-capped Christmas trees, walk through an LED infinity chamber decorated with 3D neon installations, see ice sculptures depicting 10 characters from Frozen's West End production, and let it snow!
Every hour from 12:00 - 7:00 pm snowfalls in Covent Garden, while an instrumental version of Let It Snow plays alongside the flurry.
- The Covent Garden Christmas decorations are on from 7:00 a.m. - to 11:00 pm every day, 7 days a week from 9th November - to 3rd January.
- The Covent Garden Christmas Village is open from 12:00 pm - 10:00 pm, every day, 7 days a week from 15th November - 8th January.
- The Dining Domes are open from 11:30 am - 10:15 pm, every day, 7 days a week, from 15th November to 8th January.
- The LEGO adventure is accessible from 7:00 am - to 11:00 pm, every day, 7 days a week from 1st November - 3rd January.
- The Let It Snow snowfall takes place on the hour from 12:00 pm until 7:00 pm, every day, 7 days a week from 9th November - 27th December.
NOTE: Official dates and times for 2023 have yet to be announced.
There's also a Mulled Wine Festival and a Christmas Sandwich Festival! Find out more on their website HERE.
For Christmas, the Coca-Cola London Eye is offering a special VIP Christmas package - their "Festive Flight" package.
NOTE: This event is not yet confirmed for 2023. We will provide updates whenever possible.
The Festive Flight package includes:
- Festive Flight
- A chocolate tasting of renowned Hotel Chocolats with a guide
- One glass of prosecco (18+ only)
- Hotel Chocolats Festive goodie bag for little ones
- One 30-minute rotation
- Fast Track entry
- £35 Adults (16+)
- £28 Children
- Purchase tickets here. This is likely to sell out so book now!
To find out about booking a regular ticket to ride this incredible attraction, read our post on how to get discount tickets to the London Eye.
No visit to London during the month of December is complete without a visit to the Charles Dickens Museum!
As stated on their website, this museum holds the “world’s most important collection of paintings, rare editions, manuscripts, original furniture, and other items relating to the life and work of Dickens.”
And in the video below, Jess, a guide with Free Tours by Foot and a.k.a. the Museum Guide, takes you on a virtual tour of the museum at Christmas.
This impressive collection is carefully arranged and displayed over the three floors of the house.
Learn more about visiting in our post on the Charles Dickens Museum.