London in the wintertime is a spectacle. It’s a magical place in its own right on an occasion but during this season, it’s transformed into a winter wonderland. There may not be snowfall to complete the idea of a white Christmas, but all the events more than make up for it. It’s one of the busiest times of the year and all around you, people are hurrying to and fro to complete their holiday shopping. But rather than of feeling caught up in a whirlwind of movement, follow this guide to the festive season. Here's your very own Plum Guide-approved list of things to do in London in December.
Arches made of festive lights
10 years ago, Winter Wonderland festival began as an open air Christmas market in Hyde Park. Today, it’s an extravagant celebration of all things festive and is often the answer to 'What is there to do in London in December?'. But we'll be candid (shock), this can feel a little touristy. If you're still keen, get yourself some warm, mulled wine and spend a handful of hours getting lost in a fairground full of christmas markets, food stalls and fun rides. For shopping, there are two Christmas markets in the park. There’s the traditional German Christmas market with over 200 stalls and the Angels Christmas Market, which has 150 stalls full of unique and whimsical items available to purchase. Entry into Winter Wonderland itself is free but you do have to pay for rides. Some of the more popular attractions are available to pre book online for specific time slots.
Southbank Centre Wintertime Fest
Southbank Centre Christmas decorations
South of the Thames is the Southbank Centre Wintertime Fest, where all the stops are pulled out and no expense is spared. You’ll find your typical Christmas market goods here, but there’s something about the combination of the holiday season, sparkling decorations, and the riverside that make the experience all the more magical. There are also pop up performance and Christmas shows set up for your entertainment. It’s free entry, but some events are ticketed.
Sign for Winterville
If you want the festive feel of bigger Christmas fairs but want to avoid the crowds, then check out Winterville on Clapham Common. This one is rather quirky, so expect to play some mini golf or get involved with the roller disco. A few years ago, there was Yoga on Ice, film screenings, cabaret, and drag shows to name but a few. So, in short, prepare for a night to remember.
Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall
Christmas at Royal Albert Hall, London
For a more formal setting and a chance to sit, check out the Christmas events being held at the Royal Albert Hall. Your evening will be filled with music, dance, or film. Watch a play and concert meld together with a dramatic rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a musical accompaniment. Or move to the music as jazz bands play classics from the era of 20th century jazz, soul, and swing with a Christmas twist. No matter your taste, expect to find an evening that’s music to your ears – an evening here is definitely one of our favourite things to do in London in December.
Actors in pantomime
Traveling with the whole family and looking to keep the youngs ones entertained in London? Or maybe, want some lighthearted fun yourself? Then look no further than Christmas pantomimes. Pantomimes are a kind of musical comedy production that’s done on stage. The comedy involves song, dance, slapstick humor and has a story that’ll be loosely based on a well known fairytale. It’s generally geared towards families, but the laughs are for all ages. Around the winter holiday season, you can catch these shows popping up all over London and tickets will be available at the venue or online.
So there we have it, our guide to the best things to do in London in December. 'Is December a good time to visit London?' you asked, and the answer is a definite yes. If you're planning on escaping the city for Christmas though, take a look at our guide Christmas cottage destinations.