It's the most wonderful time of the year, and Christmas in London is an absolute delight! The holiday season is always so magical because people are incredible kind and in the holiday spirit, the twinkling lights are all around and all the delicious food is so wonderful it makes my heart ready to burst. So obviously when it came time to celebrate my birthday I wanted to go to the most magical place on earth (sorry Disney) and visit London during the Christmas season. Even though I'm entering into a new decade of life, and that fact makes me kinda want to throw up a bit, being in London surrounded by all the pretty, festive things made it so much more bearable. So if you're asking yourself, "What should I do in London during Christmas?" I've got you covered with some festive activities and sights:
Where to See the Best Christmas Lights in London:
Our number one "must do" activity on the list was obviously to visit the Christmas lights around the city. They officially switch on mid-November and stay on until early January, so there's plenty of time to see the lights. While we had an action-packed itinerary in London, we weren't able to see ALL the lights London has to offer, but here are a few of our favorites:
The sparkling streets are so dreamy, and if you're lucky, you'll catch the classic double decker bus in the photo too. Obviously it's an active road, so if you're looking for a quieter time, you'll need to come bright and early in the morning as the lights stay on for a bit after day break. Also, the street lights go on for quite a ways down the road, so take a stroll to soak in the Christmas lights and then pick the quietest spot.
New Bond Street
Honestly, I can't really tell you what's going on here but I know I like it! Our best guess was a peacock and a shining diamond? I don't know, but I'm a sucker for Christmas lights and these were just plain fun. Interesting, with a touch of strange, but fun nevertheless. Also, this street was veryyy quiet in comparison to Regent and Piccadilly. It's also nearby Oxford Street which has some very pretty lights that I was too busy enjoying to snag a picture. Whoops.
The insta famous street is famous for a reason. Right next to Piccadilly Circus you can find Regent Street with sparkling angels similar to Piccadilly, but these angels have capes? Again, I don't totally get what's happening here, but I like it! It's all part of the "Spirit of Christmas" display and is a bit busier than Piccadilly as we walked past several groups of people stopping to snag a photo of the famously decorated street.
If you have time in your London itinerary, here are a few other locations you can include:
- Kew Gardens
- Eccleston Yards to see "The Wave" (It's near Peggy Porschen Belgravia, so we saw it during the day)
- Carnaby Street
- Seven Dials
Go Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum
I might be terrible at ice skating, but that doesn't dampen my Christmas spirit in the slightest! I love buzzing around on a rink like I'm in a romcom, especially in a beautiful setting like this one. If you're looking for a quieter rink, I'd recommend arriving as soon as they open. The picture below was about 3:30pm on a Sunday, so the place was hoppin'!
Christmas Markets in London:
While walking around and exploring the city, we stumbled upon several Christmas markets that- no surprise here- were just absolutely delightful. Every Christmas market had churros with chocolate, mulled wine, and adorable trinkets that could melt even the Grinch's heart. Ok, maybe not, but it was really stinkin' cute.
Tower Bridge & Christmas by the River Market
Not like you need an excuse to see the Tower Bridge at night, but a Christmas market sure is an added bonus! This market runs from Tower Bridge all the way to London Bridge with sweet shops, Christmas decor, and bars with indoor heated seating. I mean, you really can't go wrong here. This was also the lease busy market we walked through which made for a great stroll!
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
Holy crap this place was massive! It's free entrance, but at first we were a little confused as the entrance had quite a long line to enter. We then realized it was just a bag check. Once you're inside there are carnival games, roller coasters, fun attractions and lots and lots of places to eat. Even though it was super crowded (we visited on a Saturday afternoon), it was still a lot of fun. If you have kids, this looked like a great spot with lots of family friendly activities.
This Christmas market was actually smaller than I anticipated, but it checked all the boxes of being cute, centrally located and plenty of Christmas treats. There's a bag check here as well, but we breezed right through in comparison to Winter Wonderland.
Afternoon Tea on A Bus Decked Out for Christmas
So while this wasn't able to make the cut this time, I 100% want to do afternoon tea on a double decker bus and will return in any season to jump on board. It looks so adorable and while I was looking through their website, they have several holiday options including Thanksgiving!
Visit the Tree in Trafalgar Square
This massive tree is famous around the world, and for good reason! Fun fact, each year it's donated by the people of Norway and thanks to them, it's enjoyed by people from all over the globe. I wonder how many scrapbooks this tree is in? The tree is typically setup in early December and this year (2019) it went up December 5th and is scheduled to stay up for one month.
Snap Some Festive Pics Around London
This market is full of gorgeous Christmas installations that make for a picture perfect setting. If you have time, grab a meal at the Ivy Market Grill. Most of the time you will need a reservation but we were able to sit outside right away when we visited for lunch on a Sunday afternoon. The Ivy has lots of locations around the city, so if it doesn't work out here, there are many more locations to chose from.
Coppa Club Christmas Igloos
I was so excited that we were able to get a reservation at Coppa Club Tower Bridge! I have heard that if you come first thing in the morning there is a possibility you can be seated for breakfast; however this place books up super quickly. Because of the perfect (and beautiful) location, it should come as no surprise that this restaurant is almost always fully booked. If you can make a reservation in advance, I highly recommend doing that. I signed up for their email list and was notified when the bookings were available and immediately hopped online. Also, for being such a popular restaurant, their prices were actually very reasonable.
Store Windows Across the City
I don't know about you, but it's as if London was made for Instagram or just photography in general. The city is filled with the cutest window displays, and I feel like London just goes all out for the holiday season. Not mad about it at all. Honestly, I think it was one of my all-time favorite festive activities while in London. Everywhere was just beautiful, and David started to poke fun at how many times I said, "This is so cute!".
P.S. I arrived at the Peggy Porschen Belgravia location at 8:15am on a Sunday, and there was not another soul in sight. I heard that the weekends can get quite busy, but there wasn't another customer for maybe 10 minutes. So if you're wanting it to be this empty, arrive early and you just might get lucky!
Grab Some Christmas Cookies from Biscuiteers Boutique
This beautiful bakery in Notting Hill is home to some pretty spectacular decorated cookies all year round, but I'm a sucker for all things Christmas so obviously I had to stop by and grab some. They were so precious I almost didn't eat them, but spoiler alert: I did, and they were delicious.
Seriously, there are so many festive activities in London during Christmas, and it can be hard to choose what to do during your vacation. I hope this guide helps you plan your upcoming trip for London during the Christmas season because it truly is spectacular, and I can't wait to visit again. If you're looking for another colder weather European city that has some dreamy Christmas markets, then you should check out Copenhagen.