Best Christmas Things to Do in London 2021

There is nothing quite as magical as Christmas in London. 

When the dark nights draw in, the cold weather kicks in and the clocks go back, the big smoke is transformed into a magical, winter wonderland full of Christmas lights, Christmas trees, festive films, Christmas markets in every area and mulled wine for all. 

If you are living as a student in London or visiting the capital this year we’ve put together a list of Christmas things to do in London.

1. Christmas Lights

christmas lights in london you need to see

The event and celebration of watching the Christmas lights being turned on is fantastic and really gets you into the festive spirit, but even just a wander round to see the lights at any point during November and December is a great way to spend an evening, and you can tie it in with a catch-up with friends or Christmas drinks.

We’ve chosen Carnaby Christmas Lights as our go to this year, lighting up Soho between 4th November and 12th January. 

The lights on Carnaby Street are always high up on most people’s list of Christmas things to do in London. 

They are always spectacular and include the favourite illumination style that we know and love, with the Carnaby Kaleidoscope show bringing 600 3D and 2D butterflies that float around the area and the bright pink shimmer disks and coloured butterflies’ become part of the famous Carnaby arch. 

This is complemented by new installations aimed at raising awareness of key issues. Choose Love, is a shop set up by Help Refugees, providing funds, blankets, and necessities to refugees in more than 80 areas where humanitarian aid is at work around the world.

2. Winter Wonderland

winter wonderland

There’s only one place to go to take part in one of the main Christmas things to do in London, and that’s Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. 

It is the essential Christmas experience in London, running between mid-November until early January every year. 

There is a massive ice rink to go skating on with your friends, two circuses, a Magical Ice Kingdom and wheel that brings out the little kid in you, and a few themed bars where you can partake in some mulled wine and cider to really get the festivities going. 

The Winter Wonderland is the perfect place to go with a group of student friends for sure, drinking from the Bavarian-themed winter stalls and having loads of fun, but for us it is the quintessential London date spot during the Christmas period. It’s busy, for sure, but a whole lot of fun!

3. Ice Skating

national history museum with ice skating outside

If you want to go ice skating this Christmas in London, but don’t want everything else that comes with the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, the best place to go is down to Ally Pally. 

The indoor skating arena at Alexandra Palace is actually open all year-round, so you can get your skating on at any time of year, but to us ice skating always feels like a much nicer experience during the winter months. 

The refurbished indoor skating arena has special Disco Nights on Friday and Saturday, with late opening on a Sunday too giving you ample opportunity to take to the ice and show off your skills this Christmastime.

4. Panto

pantomine

For slapstick comedy, big belly laughs and plenty of joy, why not take in some panto this year as one of your Christmas things to do in London? 

Panto is a big tradition in the UK “Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes, it is!” and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to go see some shows this year, with washed up soap stars dressing up and your favourite stories from when you were a child being jazzed up for a modern, Christmas tale. 

Pantoland at the London Palladium runs from December 4th, 2021, until January 9th, 2022, and stars Mormon 70s heartthrob Donny Osmond as the traditional big panto guest star.

Pantoland played a limited run due to Covid in 2020 and is back this year for a full run. 

It is a show that brings together all the best bits of panto, the big seasonal blockbuster at the Palladium, featuring favourite performers of panto tradition, such as Julian Clary and Nigel Havers, as well as Sophie Isaacs who starred as Goldilocks in the 2019 ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’. 

Pantoland is all about fun, entertainment, and massive laughs.

5. Lightopia

lightopia

The award-winning light festival runs in Crystal Palace Park from mid-November until early January and is a spectacle of interactive light installations and large lanterns. 

The handmade, hand-painted Chinese lanterns are created using methods dating back to the Tang dynasty, and this combines perfectly with the modern multi-sensory interactive lights and installations to tell a truly Christmas story through an exciting trail.

6. Christmas Markets

christmas markets

You’ll find Christmas markets in almost every town and city through November and December these days, but there is something quite enchanted about the Christmas markets in London. 

Wandering through the markets, arm in arm with your date, searching for those special little trinkets for family gifts on a solo trip, or taking in the food and drink with friends, somehow feels like you are part of the tapestry of a big Christmas film in the city.

There are a few Christmas markets in London that you can choose from, but we’ve chosen to highlight the Southbank Centre Winter Market. 

It might be full of tourists and dead busy, but the German-style chalet Christmas market on the South Bank is the perfect representation of this type of festive vibe and is one to check off the list of Christmas things to do in London, 100%! 

Running in November and December on the South Bank of the Thames, the seasonal street-food stands, pop-up bars, alongside comedy, drag, and cabaret performances at Spiegeltent venue, make it a must-see.

There are loads of Christmas things to do in London, and these 6 tips are just the tip of the festive iceberg. Let us know what you enjoy most about Christmas in London.

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