10 things to do in London in December

December is one of the best months to visit London. Christmas is all encompassing but there are also other things to do, let's check it out!

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

9 min read

10 things to do in London in December

The big red bus | ©Jamie Davies

The British capital is a fantastic place to see at any time of the year but London in December has a special charm as the Christmas spirit permeates everything from November to early January and this is the month when the city shines in all its splendor.

Want to know everything you can do during a trip to London in December? Discover these 10 fabulous plans that will give you a great time.

1. Ride on the tourist bus to see the illumination of the city

London Street Lighting| ©Mark Higham
London Street Lighting| ©Mark Higham

London is one of the most beautiful cities when winter arrives. Especially at Christmas when the streets are adorned with all kinds of lights, garlands, luminous figures and Christmas trees.

In the center of the city is where you can see the most beautiful Christmas lights, either taking a long walk or taking advantage of the London sightseeing bus ticket, which also makes a route through the most important areas and you can take the opportunity to see both the winter decorations and the most popular monuments of the British capital.

Some of the most beautiful areas that you can not miss to take some spectacular pictures are:

  • Regent Street and Oxford Street (in the latter, the part between Marble Arch and Oxford Circus is usually the most spectacular).
  • Carnaby Street, in SoHo. Christmas decorations have a different theme every year.
  • Covent Garden, one of the most beautiful squares in the city that at Christmas time is even more impressive. It has live music and a giant Christmas tree.
  • Trafalgar Square, with the biggest Christmas tree in London from Norway.

Book a seat on the London sightseeing bus

2. See musicals in the West End

Attending the performance of Les Miserables| ©Aliandro13
Attending the performance of Les Miserables| ©Aliandro13

A fantastic plan that you can do on one of those rainy days in London in December is to go and enjoy the theater of the West End musicals. London in winter is the season of musicals and this can be felt in the atmosphere.

Their shows have nothing to envy to those of the famous Broadway. The musical numbers are wonderful and the staging is impressive. Even if you do not master English, do not be afraid because many of the musicals of the West End have been previously taken to the movies.

During Christmas, many people choose to go to the theater to enjoy a nice evening and to escape the cold, so tickets to musicals in London are in high demand.

If you don't want to queue endlessly at the box office and end up with no tickets available, I advise you to get them online and in advance of your trip, you will travel with peace of mind knowing that you have the tickets in your suitcase!

Buy tickets for London musicals

3. Go up the London Eye and stay for the fireworks display

London Eye fireworks| ©Amanda Slater
London Eye fireworks| ©Amanda Slater

The skyline of the city is amazing at any time of the year, but the atmosphere in London in December is a bit special, with all the decorations and Christmas lights that decorate the streets and squares.

If you want to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the British capital you have to climb the London Eye, the highest Ferris wheel in Europe.

What makes it different from other observatories such as the viewpoint of The Shard is that it is constantly moving, allowing you to see the city from different points and perspectives. In addition, you can also take some cool pictures of the surrounding monuments such as Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the River Thames, among others.

If you feel like riding the most famous Ferris wheel in the world, the London Eye hours for New Year's Eve are different from the rest of the calendar as it closes much earlier, around 3 p.m. Keep this in mind if you decide to buy tickets for the London Eye for that date!

That day I recommend you not to go too far from the area because at midnight there is an impressive fireworks display that will leave you speechless. Go to the banks of the Thames or to one of the bridges that cross it to enjoy the event very close.

Book a tour with tickets for the London Eye

4. Experience the magic of Harry Potter Studios Park

Harry Potter Studios Christmas Decorations| ©The Wizarding World Team
Harry Potter Studios Christmas Decorations| ©The Wizarding World Team

London is a magical city in itself but if you visit in December, the Harry Potter Studios Park is one of the places you can't miss for anything in the world - imagine seeing Hogwarts at the most magical time of the year!

And at Christmas, Warner Bros. studios look with a special charm. Everything is decorated with typical Christmas motifs for this lovely occasion.

For example, the Great Dining Room is decorated with Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths, as is the Common Room of the Gryffindor house. Other spaces such as the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley, Hagrid's hut or the Hogwarts Castle model also look very wintry by covering them with several layers of cinematic snow to suit the atmosphere of this season.

All in all, Harry Potter Studios Park looks beautiful in London but if it is already difficult to buy tickets for Harry Potter Warner Studios under normal circumstances due to the high demand of Muggles, at Christmas this task is even more complicated.

In the post Harry Potter Studios London Park Tickets: where and how to buy tickets for the park you can find information on how to get them. And if in the end even with a spell you could not get them in the post Harry Potter London places you can see some alternatives to enjoy the Potter universe in London.

Buy tickets for Harry Potter Studios in London

5. Visit the Winter Wonderland fair in Hyde Park

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland| ©TimeOut
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland| ©TimeOut

Christmas in London would not be the same without Winter Wonderland, the biggest Christmas fair in the city. A small Christmas paradise located in Hyde Park, the most popular park in London.

Inside there are plenty of places to visit and things to do. For example, a large flea market where you can buy various souvenirs or gifts for your loved ones. There are also attractions to have fun such as an ice rink, a circus, a merry-go-round, a roller coaster or a Ferris wheel from which you will have stunning panoramic views of Hyde Park. There is even a children's area called Santa Land for younger kids.

It opens from mid-November to early January and to access it is necessary to get a ticket on the Winter Wonderland website.

I recommend going around noon and staying inside the park until dark so you can see the whole festival of colored lights that adorns the fair.

Book a bike tour through London's parks

6. Ice skate in London's rinks

Enjoying Ice Skating| ©Ungry Young Man
Enjoying Ice Skating| ©Ungry Young Man

One of my favorite pastimes to do in London in December is to go skating at one of the ice rinks that are set up in the British capital with the arrival of cold weather.

There are plenty to choose from and they are always located in key points of the city so while skating you can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and monuments. Plus, you'll get some great pictures!

Here are some of the ice rinks in London that you can visit:

  • Somerset House: Many tourists do not know it but during the winter a giant ice rink is installed in Somerset House Square. The environment for skating is beautiful, with the neoclassical building behind, the market that surrounds it and the Christmas tree that presides over it, a marvel!
  • Winter Wonderland: Located inside this Christmas fair in Hyde Park you can find this great skating rink. You can go at noon or at dusk when the lights of the fair begin to turn on.
  • Natural History Museum: This is another one of the most beautiful locations for ice skating in London in December, as the rink is located in front of the beautiful Natural History Museum. In the center there is also a very nice Christmas tree around which you can spin.

7. Go bargain hunting on Boxing Day

Looking for bargains on Boxing Day| ©Chickenwaddle77
Looking for bargains on Boxing Day| ©Chickenwaddle77

If you are going to spend Christmas in London, make a note in your diary on December 26th because that date is Boxing Day, a holiday that kicks off the sales and discounts in many stores in the city.

And what a bargain! There are places where on that day you can find bargains at 50% off. Boxing Day is an excellent opportunity to buy some souvenirs and also a few gifts for your loved ones.

Here are some of the best areas in London to go shopping:

  • Oxford Street
  • Regent's Street
  • Camden High Street
  • Soho
  • Covent Garden
  • Portobello Road
  • King's Road

So grab a map of the city, open your eyes wide and get your card ready... because it will end up smoking!

8. Listen to Christmas carols in Trafalgar Square

Carols of Trafalgar Square| ©Kathleen Tyler Conklin
Carols of Trafalgar Square| ©Kathleen Tyler Conklin

Trafalgar Square is one of the most famous squares in London. Although at any time of the year it is usually a very lively and busy place, in winter it is even more so.

Londoners and tourists gather there to take pictures with the giant Christmas tree in front of the National Gallery, enjoy the Christmas lights and also the Christmas carols sung every evening in December by different choirs next to the fir tree.

The show is free! So if you feel like feeling the English Christmas atmosphere, I recommend you to go for a walk through Trafalgar Square in London in December.

9. Stroll through Southbank Winter Market, a fairy-tale flea market

At the Southbank Centre winter market| ©Pete Woodhead
At the Southbank Centre winter market| ©Pete Woodhead

One of the most beautiful Christmas markets you can visit in London in December is the Southbank Winter Market, which you will find next to the London Eye in Southbank, the promenade located on the south bank of the River Thames.

What makes the Southbank market special is that it is inspired by the typical German wooden markets decorated with garlands and lights of all kinds. The look is totally fairytale!

I recommend dropping by for an afternoon to have a good time. In addition to going through each stall looking for souvenirs or gifts to take home you can also take the opportunity to feast in the gastronomic booths that are in the market.

When you are tired, take a break and sit down to enjoy the atmosphere. In general, Southbank Winter Market also organizes live music and art performances for the public and there is no charge.

10. Taste mulled wine, the taste of Christmas in London

Some Mulled Wine| ©Anastasia Tyavina
Some Mulled Wine| ©Anastasia Tyavina

When you are in London in December, take the opportunity to reconcile yourself with British gastronomy. It is true that it does not enjoy a good reputation in the world but they have little tidbits that are very tasty and that will change your opinion.

This is the case of mulled wine, a hot drink that is drunk especially at Christmas when it is freezing cold. It is made with red wine, to which pieces of fruit, cinnamon and other spices are added to achieve that characteristic sweet taste.

You'll see how it helps you get your body back in shape on cold days! You can find it in many of the Christmas markets that are scattered around the city. Of course, don't forget to accompany it with a mince pie, a very typical fruit pastry of this time of the year. It will be difficult for you to try just one!