by Janis / 12 comments - Orginally published:23rd November 2018

Stand aside Ebenezer, let the revelries begin!

If you don’t mind wrapping up warm over Christmas, then I personally believe that there is no better place to be enchanted than London over the festive celebrations.

It has something for everyone and every age, and we’re not just talking about the believers, non-believers are welcome here too.

The half-timbered buildings take you back to Dickensian times.

You can ice skate by the Tower of London, run amok in Hamley's toy store and indulge in the elegant shopping district around London’s West End.

Who knows who you’ll bump into.

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The illuminated Christmas Tree reflected in a fountain in London's Trafalgar Square at night
Trafalgar Square at Christmas
Hamley's, the toy store on Regent Street, decorated for Christmas
Hamleys on Regent Street at Christmas

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Discover London at Christmas

So where do you start?
To be perfectly honest it doesn’t matter; there are festivities around every corner. However, perhaps if you’re not laden down with Christmas shopping, then start at an ice rink.
The lanes off of Seven Dials lit for Christmas in London
The view from Seven Dials in London's West End
There are a few to choose from, Natural History Museum, Hampton Court Palace, although, two of our favourites are the Tower of London and Somerset House.
The River Thames in front of the Tower of London against the backdrop of the skyscrapers of the City of London at dusk
The Tower and the City of London
Now, when I say our favourites, that may imply that we are ice skaters, that’s a big NO. I think I’m slightly better at skating than Gary, but that’s not setting the benchmark very high, as he was rescued by a skating rabbit.

How to get here

If you are not a London dweller, then one of the easiest ways to get to the capital is by train.

Check the best prices with RailEasy.

Tower of London ice rink at Christmas

A great historic setting
The ice rink at the Tower of London is set within the dry moat of the Tower and makes such an incredible back-drop to the glistening ice rink.
The Tower of London Christmas ice rink in front of the tower's walls
Skating on ice in front of the Tower of London
Even if you are not joining in it is great fun to ‘people watch’, as you get a great view peering down onto the skaters below.

Be prepared

Bring a brolly, a warm coat and comfy shoes – it is London after all.

Somerset House ice rink

London's Best Christmas Ice Rink?
Somerset House is another beautiful London landmark, and at Christmas feels so romantic. It has been used many times as a filming location, you may remember it within the opening credits of “Love Actually”.
Skaters on the ice at London's Somerset house after the sun has gone down.
On the ice at Somerset House at Christmas
Once again, the elegant store of Fortnum & Mason is sponsoring the event, their trees are so big they have Christmas hampers as decorations.

Don’t forget to book

Ensure you don’t miss out, reserve your slot at the Tower of London ice rink and Somerset House

The best of London at Christmas

Let’s hit the streets

As I mentioned so many of London’s streets are festooned with decorations, however, there are always the key streets and lanes that you must head to.

One of my favourite areas is Covent Garden, there’s always so much going on. Street entertainers, carols being sung and quirky gifts for sale on the market stalls.

A 14 metre, illuminated Christmas Tree, with purple fairy lights in a wooden barrel in front of decorated Covent Garden Market in London at dusk.
The Christmas Tree in front of Covent Garden

Although saying that, last year we strolled around Seven Dials at Christmas and that was really charming.

A lot of the shops are boutiques or one-off stores, so the windows decorations are a little different.

The column at the centre of Seven Dials surrounded by Christmas lights
Seven dials at Christmas

Find your accommodation

Have a peek at the latest offers from, our preferred hotel booking website.

Stylist London at Christmas

The old favourites
Regent Street is always a great place to head, seeing the red buses travelling along, it looks so iconic. The shops really do make an effort to bring the festivities alive, Hamleys is a must-see for the young and old.
A view along Regent street with its illuminated Christmas Angels outstretched between either sides of the wide shopping street.
Regent Street Saint James's at Christmas
Just a short stroll from Regent St. is Carnaby Street, there’s always a fantastic colourful spin to Christmas along here.
Illuminated Angels, with wings spread out, along London's Regent Street in the run up to Christmas.
The view down Regent Street
The vibrant Carnaby Street in London decorated for Christmas
Carnaby Street at Christmas from 2017
Another couple of our favourite streets are Haymarket, Regent Street St James’s and particularly New Bond Street’s display was incredible – no expense spared.
A view along New Bond Street in London decorated for Christmas
Looking along New Bond Street
A giant illuminated Christmas decoration hanging over New Bond Street
The elegant New Bond Street

Our Tip

Avoid always taking the tube, your favourite places may be nearer to each other than you think.

Shopping in London at Christmas

The perfect gift
Every year the stores and shop fronts seem to get better and better, Cartier was wrapped up like a huge Christmas present and as usual Fortnum and Mason’s surpassed themselves.
The Cartier store in London's New Bond Street decorated as a brightly lit gift box.
The Cartier store on New Bond Store
Fortnum & Mason's on Piccadilly decorated for Christmas
Fortnum & Mason's store at Christmas

I know I keep saying you must see this, you must see that, but, there are so many parts of London that make this incredible city so enchanting.

Take the stylish arcades of Burlington, Piccadilly and the Royal Arcade. These are wonderful all year round, however, at Crimbo time they take your breath away with their elegance.

Inside the Royal Arcade at Christmas
The Royal Arcade at Christmas
A look along Burlington Arcade at Christmas
Burlington Arcade

We have a little book on our shelves that we sometimes delve into when we're about to hit an area of London.

Packed full of historical facts, and broken down into the different regions of London, it's a great resource to help you see what's hidden in plain sight.

Available in Kindle & Hardback editions, it's an excellent addition to anyone's collection who loves London.

Christmas by the River Thames

Down by the river-side
One of the much-loved areas of London is down by the River Thames. At Christmas time dotted all along the South Bank from the London Eye to Tower Bridge little wooden cabins have popped up.
On the south bank of the River Thames, the Christmas by the River market, with the illuminated Tower Bridge in the background.
Strolling along the Queen's Walk at Christmas Market
Here you can grab your favourite German delicacies of bratwurst, gluhwein and little chocolate kisses. The bustling atmosphere really gets you in the mood for the Christmas celebrations ahead.
A brightly lit classical carousel next to a German wooden Christmas pyramid at the German festive market in front of the Tate Moden Gallery
The carousel at the Christmas Market at the Tate Modern
A drinks stall with large copper cauldrons on the Christmas Market at Tate Modern
Mulled cider in London at Christmas

Exploring London at Christmas

More we loved
A couple more places that caught our eye while we were soaking up the merry atmosphere was Leadenhall Market in the heart of the financial district. Leadenhall is an amazing piece of architecture, and Harry Potter performed some wizardry and turned it into Diagon Alley.
The Christmas tree at the centre of the ornate Leadenhall Market in the City of London
Inside Leadenhall Market at Christmas

Also, St. Paul’s Cathedral is such an icon to this magnificent city.

I worked by St. Paul’s for 24 years, so this place holds some lasting memories for me.

A Christmas Tree, decorated with blue lights, in front of St Paul's Cathedral in London.
A Christmas tree in front of St Paul's Cathedral

If you've yet to discover London and its ancient history, then let's start planning. I find these DK Eyewitness Travel Guides invaluable. They're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.

You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.

More of London at Christmas

Afternoon Tea

If those feet are now becoming weary, give them a rest at the Ritz hotel and partake in afternoon tea in style.

Or like my mum and me, jump on an old-style double-decker bus and enjoy an afternoon tea while touring the London streets?

The Ritz hotel on Piccadilly decorated for Christmas
The Ritz Hotel at Christmas
The Afternoon Tea Bus Tour in a traditional London Red Bus on the streets of London at Christmas
A Routemaster bus in London

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  1. my first ever trip to London was for New Year’s a long , long time ago:) beautiful photos #farawayfiles

    1. London is just fantastic anytime of the year, but around Christmas and New Year it just comes into its own. I haven’t been in London for New Year’s Eve; did you catch the firework display?Thanks very much for the comments.

  2. Some great ideas here! I grew up very close to London and lived there while at uni, but I’ve still done less than half the things on your list. Might need to plan a trip… 😉 #FarawayFiles

    1. It’s always a pleasure visiting London, we love it. We now live in the south east and used to commute in every day, I don’t miss the commute, but I certainly miss London, particularly at Christmas time.

  3. Great list of things to do in London over Christmas. I love the rink at Sommerset House as well, such a beautiful backdrop. #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks Paul for your comments, as you know there’s so much to see and do in London, choosing just a few is difficult. I agree about Somerset House as you stroll through the arches into the square, you just can’t help but smile.

  4. You are right there are so many things to do in London, but often just wandering around soaking up the sights and of course the lights and stopping for coffee along the way is the best fun. I love the ice rink at the Natural history museum too. #Farawayfiles

    1. You’re so right, just strolling around is the best way to see London. We often tell people to try and avoid using the underground as places are so much closer than you think & also there’s so much to be see in between destinations.I’m a bit of a bystander when it comes to skating, I enjoy watching people, just not very good myself.

  5. London really IS magical at Christmas, isn’t it? Just wandering around and looking at the beautiful shop windows and the lights is a treat in itself. We loved skating at Somerset House last year. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. Yes, you can really immerse in the Christmas atmosphere and spend hardly any money. As you mentioned the shop fronts are amazing & I particularly love it around Covent Garden.

  6. London is high on my list and this post makes me want to make sure I get there for Christmas.

    1. Yes, you really should try and go, strolling around the streets at Christmas time there is so much going on, you just can’t stop smiling all the time. When you do get to London head to Seven Dials, this little area is wonderful.

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