You can’t beat London throughout the summer months, just ask any local and they’ll probably agree. But, come December, the city gets a new lease on life, and it’s not just because Christmas is right around the corner (although that does help a little). The month of December welcomes a programme of exciting, wintery events taking place all across the city, many of which only occur during this time. From an evening of cheese at Borough Market to a range of incredible New Year’s Eve events, here are our suggestions on the top things to do in London in December.
See the city’s Christmas lights
One of the top things to do in London in December is to see the Christmas lights, which you can’t really avoid anyway if you’re travelling around the city. Many streets are lit with twinkling displays, but Oxford Street is the most famous, adorned with 5,000 dangling stars, made with 300,000 LED light bulbs and recycled plastic. The neighbouring Regent Street and St James’s displays are also pretty spectacular, showing from 3 pm to 11 pm (shorter than last year to be more eco-friendly), comprising ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ scheme, where sparkling spirit figures soar through the skies above the streets. Take a look at our article about the best places to see the Christmas lights in London for more information on where to go to get the best views.
Image Courtesy of Candlelight
Enjoy Christmas carols all around London
Nothing gets you into the festive spirit more than a Christmas carol concert at St Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral is an architectural masterpiece designed by the highly acclaimed architect Sir Christopher Wren and is well worth a visit at any time of the year. But, every December, the London landmark opens its doors to host a wonderful Christmas carol service in celebration of Christmas Day. You can also catch a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, the grand music hall in Kensington, candlelight concerts at Freemason’s Hall in Covent Garden, or concerts and Christmas services at the renowned Westminster Abbey.
Image Courtesy of Borough Market
Head along to Borough Market’s evening of cheese
Cheese fiends rejoice, for Borough Market’s evening of cheese is returning for a cheese-themed shopping fiesta. This annual event brings together cheese connoisseurs and cheesemongers, ready to provide expert advice and help you construct your perfect Christmas (or non-Christmas) cheese board. Expect high-quality cheese from all over the world, including Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
Plan a NYE in London to remember
New Year’s Eve in London is always a night to remember, but picking where to go and what to do is the real challenge. From masquerade balls where you have to dress to impress to classical music concerts lit by candlelight, there’s an event in London for every kind of person on NYE. The annual world-famous fireworks show is always a hit, but it can get super crowded and overwhelming unless you book a room with a view – take a look at our article on the best hotels to book for New Year’s Eve to find out more. We also have an article about the best things to do on New Year’s Eve, so have a read if you’re planning to welcome the New Year in London.
Image Courtesy of Winter Wonderland
Go to a Christmas market
Join in with the December seasonal fun at one of the city’s bustling Christmas markets, undoubtedly one of the top things to do in London in December. Every year, markets pop up all over the city to spread festive joy and prepare you for the big day. Winter Wonderland is the most famous of them all; although it can get super busy, there are plenty of smaller markets that are well worth a visit, like Christmas by the River in London Bridge and Selfridges Christmas Market. We also love the Southbank Centre Winter Festival, chock-full of pop-up bars, excellent artwork and crafty creations, and cabins filled with market goodies.
Image Courtesy of The Holly Bush
Enjoy a wintery dinner and drinks
From igloos and snug pubs with roaring fireplaces to romantic candlelit tables, there are many places in London you can enjoy a bite to eat while embracing the inevitable but cosy wintery feeling. The Holly Bush pub in Hampstead is a picturesque pub serving a menu of classic British fare in a candlelit, old-school boozer vibe. It’s a lovely spot to enjoy a bite to eat while keeping warm next to the crackling fire. Vinegar Yard also serves Christmas-themed street food and transforms its terrace into a wintery, igloo-lined Aprés-Ski haven. You can snuggle up on one of the sofas inside the transparent, fairy-lit dome with a view of London’s towering skyscrapers surrounding you.
Image Courtesy of Rebel
Hear the stories of the women of Whitechapel on a Jack the Ripper Tour
Are you fed up with all of the Christmassy content? This one’s for you. Mix up the festivities with a walking Jack the Ripper tour, but not as you know it. Whenever someone mentions Whitechapel, it’s always about the infamous killer himself, but what about the poor victims who were murdered? This tour moves away from glamorising the gruesome killer and tells the story of the resilient women of Whitechapel who lived their lives in the notorious Victorian slum side by side with Jack the Ripper. Learn about the ins and outs of the neighbourhood that created the monster as your guide leads you through the historic streets and alleyways of Whitechapel, Aldgate and Spitalfields.
See what other tours and experiences we offer at Love and London Tours and Experiences.
Image Courtesy of Skylight and Somerset House
Go ice skating at one of the city’s pop-up ice rinks
Last on our list of the top things to do in London in December involves gliding around on two skates. Throughout December, the city is home to several spots where you can enjoy soaring around an ice rink, most likely to the sound of Christmas tunes. Somerset House (WA) is home to the most famous rink in the city, set in the neoclassical courtyard with an impressive 40ft Christmas tree decorated with twinkly Moët & Chandon decorations. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a bite to eat at the gourmet Chalet Suisse restaurant, where they’ll be serving an exquisite menu of Alpine-inspired dishes. Tobacco Dock (WA) also has a pretty epic ice rink which features sweeping views of the city’s skyline.