Baffled by the festive decs in your local supermarket? Christmas starts earlier every year, and 2023 is no exception. As of September, the department stores have opened their special Christmas shops, the advent calendars have arrived in shops, and restaurant bookings are firmly open. Fancy getting into the spirit ahead of time? Here are the best Christmas things to do in London for 2023. Yes, already…
Christmas Things To Do In London 2023
Harvey Nichols’ Festive Fairground
Step into a throwback world of fairground games with a Christmas twist at Harvey Nichols this festive season. From 4 November, visitors can play the likes of hook a duck and ring toss to win exclusive prizes from Nars, Ganni and Charlotte Tilbury, as well as gift experiences. Elsewhere, visit on the weekend of 17–19 November to make the most of Harvey Nichols’ Personalisation Weekend, featuring engraved fragrance bottles, customised whisky and monogrammed leather accessories. Then, everyday from 1–24 December, the life-size advent calendar will gift one lucky REWARDS member a special big-ticket prize.
Details: All of this takes place at Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge (109-125 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ), though the Personalisation Weekend is also happening nationwide.
Chomp On A Festive Donut
There’s nothing quite like a Crosstown donut: the sourdough combined with inventive flavours creates the perfect sweet-savoury option. Luckily for us, they’ve released two special festive flavours – Ginger, Blackberry & Pear, and Gianduja Chocolate & Hazelnut – to sink your teeth into this season. If you’d like to treat a loved one, special boxes, gift-wrapping, ribbons and gift notes are available to add to six packs.
Details: The Christmas special donuts are priced at £5.75 and are available at all Crosstown stores nationwide and online at crosstown.co.uk
The Great Christmas Feast
Celebrating five sold-out years, The Lost Estate’s iconic Great Christmas Feast returns for 2023, transporting guests back to 1843 inside the enchanted home of Charles Dickens. Expect an incredible immersive production of A Christmas Carol featuring cinematic live music and a mouthwatering Dickensian feasting menu.
Details: 14 November 2023–14 January 2024 at The Lost Estate (9 Beaumont Ave, London W14 9LP). christmasfeast.thelostestate.com
Curling On The South Bank
The Curling Club returns to the South Bank this winter, bringing London’s favourite winter sport back with a resident DJ and bucketloads of Alpine spirit.
Details: 13 October 2023–11 February 2024 on the South Bank. thecurlingclub.com
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Hansel & Gretel At Shakespeare’s Globe
The Globe is hosting a festive family production of Hansel and Gretel this December, starring Ted Lasso and Midsomer Murders favourite Annette Badland, and based on a new version of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.
Details: 8 December–7 January 2023 at Shakespeare’s Globe (21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT). Get your tickets here.
Woolwich Works’ ‘24 Days of Christmas’ Celebrations
From Santa’s Grotto to festive yoga, a 24-day calendar of events will kick off at Woolwich Works on 1 December, situated just a 14 minute journey from central London on the Elizabeth Line. A stunning riverside destination, Woolwich Works is home to a lovely courtyard that will be transformed for the festivities with trees, ribbons and foliage, as well as a pop-up Shed Bar and live music.
Details: 1–24 December 2023 at Woolwich Works. See all the details and book your tickets at woolwich.works
Christmassy Department Stores
Liberty’s iconic annual Christmas shop has opened, brimming with baubles ripe for the browsing. Soak up the festive cheer with the furry reindeer and twinkling fairy lights strung across the ceiling, and stock up on your Christmas decs, wooden advent calendars, and stocking fillers.
Details: Liberty London (Regent St., Carnaby, London W1B 5AH) is open 10am–8pm everyday (11:30 am–6 pm on Sundays). libertylondon.com
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The Christmas Dino
Forget Tom Fletcher’s Christmasaurus, little ones will want to feast their eyes on the Natural History Museum’s 2023 Christmas jumper, beautifully modelled by its most ferocious inhabitant, the animatronic T-Rex. Take a look, and then cop your own dinotastic festive jumper: adult jumpers are £40, and childrens’ are £30.
Details: See the T-Rex in his jumper throughout the festive season at the Natural History Museum (Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD). Purchase your own at the gift shop or online at nhmshop.co.uk
Alongside London’s classic Christmas markets, twinkling lights and outdoor ice rinks, the city also plays host to an array of winter pop-ups every year, which bring festive cheer with hot toddies, alpine-inspired food, twinkling lights and more. Here’s our guide to the best to visit in 2023, from rooftop cinemas to waterside igloos.
Wreath Making Classes
The iconic London event is back, open everyday from 10 am–10 pm, 17 November 2023–1 January 2024 (excluding Christmas day). Every year, visitors flock to Hyde Park to make the most of Winter Wonderland’s festive joy. Expect new attractions alongside firm favourites, like a new Norse Mythology theme, the Hollenblitz, Magical Ice Kingdom and the UK’s largest outdoor ice skating rink.
Details: Winter Wonderland takes place in Hyde Park, London. Tickets are free during off-peak times, and either £5 or £7.50 at peak times. Booking ahead is essential. hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
‘Walking With The Snowman™’ Art Trail
New for 2023, a brand new art trail will take over Fleet Street Quarter from 21 November, giving visitors the chance to find 12 Snowman sculptures standing 1.6 metres tall on recyclable plinths, in partnership with Wild in Art and Penguin Random House Children’s.
Details: From 21 November in Fleet Street Quarter.
Hogwarts In The Snow
Harry Potter is one of our favourite cosy Christmas watches. Over in Watford, The Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley and Hagrid’s Hut are all getting a wintery makeover at Warner Bros. Studio’s Harry Potter tour this Christmas. Plus, visitors can get a lesson on Neville Longbottom’s Yule Ball dance steps, learn the secrets behind the fires that don’t burn and snow that doesn’t melt, get an insight into set dressings during Christmassy scenes and see the handmade Christmas cards created by the original crew during filming.
Details: 11 November 2023–14 January 2024 at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London (Studio Tour Dr, Leavesden, Watford WD25 7LR). Book at wbstudiotour.co.uk
Lace Up For Ice Skating
From the ever popular Skate at Somerset House, to the pretty Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink and the huge Winter Wonderland rink, Christmas in London is all about the ice rinks. Check out all of our favourite London skating spots here.
The Kingdom Of Winter
New on the festive scene for 2023 is the Kingdom of Winter at the ExCeL London. Running from 8 December 2023–7 January 2024, expect over 20,000 sqm of festive fun, including an ice rink, fairground rides, an ‘Ice Expedition’, a circus, craft stalls, chalet bars, and two food and drink villages – all safely tucked inside away from the notorious wet British weather.
Details: Tickets are on sale now at kingdomofwinter.com
This brand new immersive experience from Swamp Motel combines the ultimate festive snowy party with a mouth-watering menu from MasterChef finalist Omar Foster. But first you’ll have to battle your way through a blizzard. Then you’ll find yourself in a glamourous, ‘70s inspired European resort where you will be treated to delicious courses interspersed with music, cabaret and surprise interactions. Plus, visit on 11 or 14 November or 6 December to see Drag Race UK superstar Ginger Johnson as part of the cast.
Details: 7 November–23 December 2023 at 49 Tanner St, London SE1 3PL. Tickets are £147.95pp including a three-course dinner, entertainment and cabaret across three and a half hours. velvetpines.co.uk
Winter Light Shows
Traverse a glittering winter wonderland at one of London’s lovely winter light shows. In the city, there’s Christmas at Kew and Lightopia at Crystal Palace Park – or venture slightly further afield to Waddeson Manor in Aylesbury, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, or the Windsor Great Park. Check out our full guide to 2023’s winter light shows here.
Catch a Festive Show
London’s festive theatre scene is back with a bang this winter, with the return of the festive classic The Nutcracker and Elf The Musical to Richard Curtis inspired shows. Check out our guide to the must-see shows.
Pretty Christmas Lights
The London lights are once again lighting up the gloomy streets this Christmas. Here are the best places to see them in all their glory.
Creative Christmas Displays
Head to one of London’s popular shopping districts to see the magnificent window displays that retailers have created this year. We’ll be flocking to Bond Street, Knightsbridge and Chelsea for our faves, but here’s our full guide to 2023’s best.
There’s nothing quite like the warming smell of mulled wine and gingerbread floating through the air. Head to one of London’s festive markets this season to make the most of it. Our annual favourites are the Southbank Centre, Covent Garden and Borough Market. Check out our full guide here.
Christmas Carol Concerts
From traditional concerts from world-renowned choirs to playful renditions of Jesus’ birth, there are plenty of spectacular carol concerts in London this year. Don’t miss our favourites.
Christmas Afternoon Tea
Time to get quintessentially British this Christmas, with festive afternoon tea galore across London. From sweet treats designed to look like little Christmas trees to a festive tipple, check out our guide to the best.
Extravagant Christmas Trees
London hotels, shops and destinations love to go all out for the festive season, pulling in top designers and creatives to design show stopper Christmas trees. From a zero-waste honesty tree to an installation designed to make us contemplate the world’s beauty, check out our guide to London’s prettiest Christmas trees. Keep your eye out for Trafalgar Square’s magnificent annual Norwegian tree, too – coming on 1 December.
London’s Best Festive Menus
Or, if a slap up roast is more your speed, book into one of London’s many restaurants for a delicious roast (or Christmas-inspired special menus). Here are the top menus to peruse this season.
Indulge In A Festive Staycation
Is all this tempting you to stick around even longer? Why not book a festive city staycation at one of London’s beautiful hotels? Check out our full guide to the best festive packages here.