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What to Do in London in December

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This post lists the many things to do in December in London, including family-friendly events, things to do at night, and of course, free activities.

All items have been updated to the best of our knowledge for 2021 with information on cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, check out our post on Christmas in London.

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

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. Enjoy Christmas Carols at Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall will be hosting a holiday concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing several classic Christmas Carols. 

This will undoubtedly be one of the best Christmas concerts of the year and shows run from Dec 19th - 24th.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

Don't forget to sing along to your favorite Christmas carols!

This is a great activity 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.


3. Visit Father Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall

This year, Royal Albert Hall will be hosting an event called My Christmas Orchestral Adventure which welcomes young visitors to help Father Christmas find his lost map.

Due to the pandemic, this event will require strict adherence to social distancing guidelines, but it is still scheduled to take place on December 12th.

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

Purchase tickets or learn more.


4. See a Musical

There will be multiple theatrical productions in London this December, including both popular Off-Broadway shows and even some holiday themed options.

Here are some of the best musicals and theatrical productions to see in London this month:

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, and they will be open from November 19th, 2021 - January 3rd, 2022.

Tickets are free when you spend at least £20 on attractions, rides, games, food or drink. Otherwise you can expect to pay £7.50 during peak hours and £5 during off-peak hours.

Learn more or book your tickets today.


6. See The Muppet Christmas Carol in Concert

If you're looking for a new way to experience one of your favorite holiday films, The Muppet Christmas Carol will be screened at Royal Albert Hall this month.

The Muppet Christmas Carol in Concert. Source: Disney Concerts.
While the movie is playing, a live orchestra will perform the musical score, giving you the chance to hear all of your favorite songs from this movie live!

There will be two opportunities to see the film this way on December 11th at 2:30 pm and 7 pm.

Purchase tickets or learn more.


7. 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.

NOTE: There will also be several great holiday-themed concerts at churches and other locations in London.

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


8. Attend a Live Sporting Event 

There are usually several great football (soccer) matches to enjoy in London during the month of December.

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.


9. Celebrate New Year's 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.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

11. UNCONFIRMED: 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 Covent Garden which are absolutely worth seeing!

Although there's a chance this event will be canceled due to the pandemic, it has been confirmed that Covent Garden will at least have their traditional lighting display for Christmas.

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 in our section below on free things to do in London.

NOTE: This event has yet to be confirmed for 2021.


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.


12. 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 King's 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.


13. 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.

NOTE: This event has yet to be confirmed for 2021.


14. 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. 

Due to the pandemic, they might change Christmas services during the holiday season in 2021. 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.


15. 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!


16. 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.


17. 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.


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.


18. Join the Santa Pub Crawl

The Santa Pub Crawl at Santafest London is the longest-running Santa Pub Crawl in the world, but then there probably aren't a lot like this out there.

Guests dressed like Santa Claus will wander from one pub to the next. Sadly, this event may be canceled for 2021, and they have yet to announce their plans for this winter.

That said, there's nothing to stop you from dressing like Santa and giving this activity a go on your own!


19. Visit the Sky Garden

Located in the 'Walkie Talkie,' this is one of the best FREE indoor views of the city.

If you want to get a good look at the Christmas lights in London, this is an excellent place to see them all!

We also recommend staying for dinner to enjoy a festive Christmas meal while you're in the area.


20. Check out a free comedy show

There are many free comedy nights around London — each of which offers a fun and entertaining way to spend a chilly night indoors in December.

You might be required to observe certain social distancing measures while you're at the comedy club, but it's a small price to pay for a good laugh!


21. Late Night Museums

Many museums operate late nights such as the Tate Modern which is usually open until 10 pm on Fridays & Saturdays and the National Portrait Gallery which is typically open until 9 pm on Fridays.

Sadly, these locations have either closed or reduced their hours as a result of the pandemic in 2021.

If you're looking for other museums you might be able to visit after dark, check our post covering free museums in London.


22. Join us on a tour!

Our walks don’t stop when the sunsets. 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.


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.


23. Visit Hogwarts in the Snow

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

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.


24. 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.


25. Go Ice Skating 

There are ice skating rinks throughout the city - even in 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.

The London Eye Frostival Event may be canceled for the 2021 holiday season due to the pandemic, but chances are there will still be at least a few great places to enjoy this activity.

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.


26. 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 2021, so look for him at places like Kew Gardens, Hamley’s Toy Store, Harrod’s, Westfield, and Fulham Palace.

You should probably expect certain measures to be put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Prepare to wear your mask and practice social distancing!

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


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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.
Updated: October 12th, 2021
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