What to Do in London in December

This post lists the many things to do in December in London, updated for 2019, including family-friendly events, things to do at night, and of course, free activities. Also, check out our post on Christmas in London.

 

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This section features our top 10 activities to enjoy in London throughout December. 

For tips on the most popular activities in London, check out our popular posts: 

Some of the items below are already included with a London tourist attraction discount pass

These passes can save you up to 50% off the retail prices of popular tours and attractions.


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO

1) Go on a Christmas-Themed Tour

Go on a tour with us throughout the city to see the very best Christmas lights and decorations that London has to offer on our pay-what-you-wish Christmas Lights Walking Tour.

 

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There’s no fee to take the tour. You can pay whatever you like or can afford only after the tour is over.

Or join us on our Soho, Rock n’ Roll or Theatreland Tours which will take you along the seasonally decorated and lit streets of the West End.

With Christmas on the way, December in London is full of festive fun and there are more than enough activities for you to experience.


2) See a Concert 

There will be several notable musicians playing in London this December.

If you’re looking for a great concert to attend, consider one of the following options, including a band with a name perfect for the holidays – Snow Patrol.

 

 

NOTE: There will also be several great holiday-themed concerts based on popular Christmas movies. 

You can find all of the concerts happening in London this month here.


3) Attend a Live Sporting Event 

There will be several great football (soccer) matches to enjoy in London this December.

No matter which team you support, chances are you’ll find a great game to attend!

 

 

Arsenal FC

  • Brighton & Hove Albion FC | Dec 3rd
  • Manchester City | Dec 14th
  • Chelsea FC | Dec 28th

Chelsea

  • Aston Villa FC | Dec 4th
  • Lille LOSC | Dec 10th
  • AFC Bournemouth | Dec 14th
  • Southampton FC | Dec 26th

Crystal Palace

  • AFC Bournemouth | Dec 4th
  • Brighton & Hove Albion FC | Dec 14th
  • West Ham United FC | Dec 26th

West Ham United

  • Arsenal FC | Dec 7th
  • Leicester City FC | Dec 28th

Tottenham Hotspur

  • Burnley FC | Dec 7th
  • Chelsea FC | Dec 21st
  • Brighton & Hove Albion FC | Dec 26th

Most of these teams offer tours of their stadiums, and many of them are included with the London Pass.

If you’re already planning to use this service, you may want to consider combining your trip with a tour of their home stadium.

And you can find all of London’s sporting events happening this month here.


4) See a Holiday Musical

There will be several holiday-themed musicals held in London this December. Check our post on Christmas and Holiday Shows to see some of the best options.

White Christmas is sure to be one of the most popular options, but there will also be productions of A Christmas Carol and the Nutcracker.

 

 

Even if you’re not interested in this theme, there will still be several great musicals to see that have nothing to do with the holidays. Here are some shows to consider:

You can find all of London’s theatre productions – holiday-themed or not – at this link.


5) Visit Winter Wonderland

Here you will find the largest German-style Christmas market in town, as well as games, rides, ice skating, food, and drink (keep an eye out for delicious classics liked mulled wine and cider!)

 

 

This event includes thrill rides, a gigantic Ferris wheel with amazing views over London, and a section specifically for children. Winter Wonderland will surely make an excellent day out for the family. 

While it’s free to visit, most activities and services will cost at least a few pounds, so we recommend bringing some money with you.

Winter Wonderland isn’t the only Christmas Market in London. Read our post on the best Christmas markets in London.


6) Go Ice Skating 

There are ice skating rinks throughout the city – even at places like the Tower of London!

The London Eye Frostival is an annual holiday event at the London Eye that features a giant ice rink with incredible views. 

 

 

Regardless of whether or not you will be celebrating the holiday season, ice skating is a great way to take advantage of London’s cold weather festivities.

Click here for a full list of all the best ice skating in the city.

Ice skating is a fun family-friendly activity. For more great attractions you can visit with the family, read our section below on things to do with kids in London.


7) Meet the Reindeer at Covent Garden

Real reindeer are brought to Covent Garden every year for visitors to see. Since they’re busy helping Santa prepare for Christmas, the reindeer are only available on Saturdays from noon to 4 pm.

 

 

There are also fantastic decorations and Christmas lights all around Convent Garden which are absolutely worth seeing!

If you want to learn even more about the area, consider following our self-guided food tour of Covent Garden.

You can also find additional affordable activities on our section below on free things to do in London.


8) Experience Classic Holiday Films in Concert

In addition to all the great musicals listed above, there will also be special screenings of classic Christmas movies with live orchestras performing the soundtrack!

The Nightmare Before Christmas takes place on December 4th and 5th at the SSE Arena Wembley. If you’ve ever found yourself singing along to this popular film, this is sure to be a show you’ll enjoy!

 

 

For fans of the romantic comedy Love Actually, you’ll be happy to know that you can attend this concert on December 1st at the Eventim Apollo.

If holiday-themes are not for you, go see the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in concert on December 8th at the London Royal Albert Hall.

These are all great activities after dark, but if you’re looking for even more to do when the sun goes down, check our section below on things to do at night in London.


9) Celebrate New Years Eve in London

London is one of the best cities in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve. There is a wide array of fun events and activities taking place, including fantastic fireworks displays.

 

 

This is one event that checks off all the boxes: it’s free, family-friendly and fun after dark!

Learn more about where to see the fireworks and other fun activities in our post on free things to do on New Year’s Eve.


10) Save Money With a Tourist Pass

No matter what you’re planning to do during your trip to London this December, chances are you’ll be able to save a few pounds by using a tourist attraction discount pass.

 

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If you have a lot of plans, you may want to consider an all-inclusive pass. This service will provide admission to dozens of attractions for a set amount of time (1, 2, 3, 6, or 10 days). 

Alternatively, you can also pay one flat price for a flex pass, which can be used for a specific number of activities (3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 attractions).

Finally, the build-your-own-pass is for visitors who don’t have much planned and just want something simple to use. With this service, you can save 20% off admission at 2 or more popular locations.

Here are a few of the more popular attractions included with various London tourist passes:

  • Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Charles Dickens Museum
  • Chelsea FC Stadium Tour
  • Twickenham Stadium Tour
  • Emirates Stadium Tour
  • Science Museum IMAX
  • View From the Shard
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Royal Albert Hall
  • Tower of London
  • London Zoo
  • And more!

Some of these passes also include skip-the-line admission at certain popular locations, making it easy to save both time and money.

For more details about these opportunities, please read our post covering London tourist attraction discount passes.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO

All of the winter festivals, the reindeer at Covent Garden, New Year’s Eve fireworks as well as Christmas lights displays – are free to visit (see our Top 10 section). 

Food and rides can be a bit pricey, but you can save by eating beforehand and just splurging on a mulled cider or hot chocolate while you’re there.

 

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Below are some additional ideas for free things to do in December. Click here for more ideas about free things to do in London at any time of the year.


Go to a Christmas Market

During the holiday period, the Southbank along the River Thames holds a wonderful Christmas market with handmade goods and treats, making an excellent spot for some Christmas shopping.

There will also be mulled wine and cider – the traditional London holiday drink! 

Most pubs throughout the capital will be providing mulled wine throughout the holiday season and stalls selling it will pop up in places like the Southbank market, Covent Garden, along the Kings Road near Sloane Square and in Leicester Square.

This is just one of the Christmas markets you can enjoy in London, but there are many more, and they are all free to visit!

Read our post on the Christmas markets in London for more information.


Trafalgar Square Caroling

Listen to Christmas caroling in Trafalgar Square between 4 pm – 8 pm on weekdays, and between 2 pm – 6 pm on weekends.

No tickets are required and you can take a selfie in front of the large Christmas tree in the square.

If you feel so inclined, you can also join in on the singing yourself when you feel the holiday spirit taking over!

Singing takes place between December 10th – 21st. For more details, visit their website


Advent and Christmas Services at Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey offers several advent and Christmas services during the month of December. 

If you are attending a service, you do not have to pay. However, you may need to reserve a spot. 

You won’t be able to explore the building, the tombs or memorials, but you will have a chance to see the central nave to enjoy the magnificence of the building. 

Learn more on the Westminster Abbey events calendar. Both Westminster and St. Paul’s Cathedrals have daily mass services as well as choral services in the evening.  Read more on our tips for free entry post.

Our Westminster Tour finishes just outside of Westminster Abbey so you may want to consider combining a visit to the church with this tour.

TIP: Don’t forget that admission to Westminster Abbey is included with some London tourist passes.


Hamley’s Toy Store

Go window shopping in Hamley’s Toy Store which is considered one of the greatest toy stores in the world. Is there a better time of year to visit a toy store than during December? 

 

 

Of course, the temptation will be to spend loads of money, but you don’t have to. Sophisticated state of the art displays of the newest toys will entertain you for not even a pound.

Our Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Chinatown Tour starts and finishes within walking distance of Hamley’s! 


Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

This is a bucket list item. For many of you, it’s a must-see. December means smaller crowds and likely better views. So, if you don’t mind the colder temperatures, then this is a great time to witness this spectacle. 

We have a post detailing where to get the best views and describes the ceremony in detail. You can even watch the video that we produced.  

Our Westminster Tour also incorporates the Changing of the Guard – and will put you into the perfect spot for a great view and good photographs.


See the Christmas Lights

There are beautiful Christmas lights all over London – particularly along the shopping streets of Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, and Bond Street. 

Covent Garden will be lit up with lights, as well as a public Christmas Tree dominating the plaza which will be full of holiday-themed goods – and don’t forget, they will also have reindeer in the area!

For a true visual treat, make time to visit Selfridge’s and Harrods, both of which will put up their most fabulous over-the-top and luxurious world-famous window displays – always worth seeing, even if you do not wish to go inside! 

Read our post on where to find the best lights, or come along with us on our pay-what-you-wish Christmas Lights Walking Tour. There’s no fee to take the tour. You can pay whatever you like after the tour is over.

Click here for more ideas about free things to do in London at any time of the year.

 


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NIGHTTIME ACTIVITIES

After dark is one of the best times to walk around London during the month of December as you can enjoy all the incredible Christmas lights displays.

There are also several fun holiday activities in the evenings as well, such as ice skating and seeing a classic Christmas movie in concert.

 

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As mentioned in our free things to do section above, you can go Christmas caroling in Trafalgar Square, which on weekends takes place till 8 pm (20:00) or stop at Hamley’s Toy Store in St. Pancras station, which stays open till 9 pm (21:00).

Below are a few additional night activities.  Check out our post on things to do in London at night for even more ideas. 

Join us on a tour! Our walks don’t stop when the sun sets. Come along with us after hours for our fascinating Dark Side of London Ghost Tour or the ever thrilling Jack the Ripper Tour.

Find even more night activities looking at our post on things to do in London at night.

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY 

Below are just some of the many things to do with kids in December and the Holiday Season in London.  

Be sure to look at all the sections of this post as many activities are family-friendly such as seeing the Christmas Lights, going to a holiday musical, attending a sporting event and visiting Winter Wonderland.

 

 

For more ideas, read the family section of our free things to do in London post.


Visit Hogwarts in the Snow

Christmas has come to Hogwarts this year at the exhibit The Making of Harry Potter at  Warner Bros. Studios.

In 2019, this special exhibition runs from November 16, 2019 – January 26, 2020

You’ll see the Great Hall and Gryffindor common room decorated with Christmas cheer, as well as the model of the Hogwarts castle covered in snow. 

Tickets are limited so be sure to book them in advance. 

Join our Harry Potter Tour in London to learn even more about the filming of the series. You can also take this tour on your smartphone any time you wish.


Go to the Charles Dickens Museum 

Although Charles Dickens didn’t live in this house when he wrote A Christmas Carol, this former home of the great English novelist is his official museum. 

And what better time of year to visit than during December and the around the Christmas holiday. 

Read our post on visiting the museum

There is an admission cost, but it’s waived if you have the London Pass.  


Take the Kids to Disney on Ice

The Disney on Ice show 100 Years of Magic will be making its way to the O2 Arena this month from December 26- 31, 2019 with multiple performances on most days.

This show will feature some of the most popular characters from throughout the history of Disney, including friendly faces from The Lion King, Toy Story, Pinocchio, and Frozen.

Purchase tickets or learn more here.


Visit Father Christmas’ London Headquarters at the Royal Albert Hall  

This year, Santa’s headquarters are in the iconic Royal Albert Hall and children of all ages are invited to come and visit. This is no Santa’s Grotto, this is an hour-long visit to the magical wonders of the Christmas season.

Christmas elves will ask for your help to make their toys, you’ll have the opportunity to sit in Santa’s sleigh, and you’ll meet a colorful cast of characters including a Christmas fairy! 

Expect sweets and a special toy to take home from this enchanting Christmas experience.

This event will take place between December 21-24, 2019.

Purchase tickets or learn more.


Meet Santa! 

If you’re looking for other opportunities for your kids to meet Santa, Father Christmas often visits several locations in London during December, which means it’s a great time to take the family to meet him! 

Santa will be travelling all over London in 2019, so look for him at places like The Winter Wonderland, Kew Gardens, Hamley’s Toy Store, Harrod’s, Westfield, and Fulham Palace.

For more ideas, be sure to check out our post on visiting London with kids.

 


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About the author

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 15 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.