Christmas in London 2019
Wander through London’s streets or along the banks of the Thames to see the city transformed by Christmas lights and festivities.
Free festive activities in London
There are plenty of free festive things to do in London. For example, in Covent Garden, you can watch teams in fancy dress take on a Great Christmas Pudding Race obstacle course (7 December). In the meantime, search for your inner child in London Bridge City when you follow a special The Snowman art trail of 12 sculptures inspired by the 12 Days of Christmas.
Christmas window displays
Selfridges window displays are always magnificent but this year the store is even more magical than ever. The theme at Selfridges this year is ‘A Christmas for Modern Times’. Highlights include the Cinderella’s Ballgown display and an icy Rapunzel’s Tower. At Liberty, be sure to go into the main atrium so that you can gaze up at the spectacular peacock coloured velvet bonsai tree. Meanwhile, over in SW1, Harrods’ Kingdom of Christmas windows feature festive animals and snowy settings.
Christmas markets in London
Browse the stalls at the Winter Wonderland and the Southbank Centre Winter Market for presents and Christmas treats. Meanwhile, in W1, the Christmas in Leicester Square market has craft and food stalls. But for the most iconic views, head for Christmas by the River at London Bridge City and gaze out across Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
Columbia Road Market aims for maximum Christmas atmosphere, so expect the sound of carols and the scent of mulled wine. The market opens on selected Wednesday evenings (27 November, 4, 11 and 18 December, 5pm – 9pm).
Gingerbread City at Somerset House
Sustainability and cutting edge design lead the way at the Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City exhibition. The ingenious city is made entirely out of gingerbread but created by some of the UK’s top architects and designer, so do resist the urge to nibble! Now in its fourth year, the mini, edible city will be on display at Somerset House from 7 December. The event also includes family-friendly gingerbread house-making workshops.
Somerset House, 7 December – 5 January 2020
Winter carriage rides in Richmond Park
Not quite a sleigh ride, but the next best thing is a festive horse-drawn carriage ride through Richmond Park. It’ll feel cool but you can snuggle under a blanket and feast on sloe gin and mince pies.
29 November – 5 January.
Ice rinks in London
Festive ice rinks are by no means new to London. What is new, however, is the New-York inspired Tiffany & Co rink in Covent Garden’s East Piazza. You’ll enter via a Central Park-inspired bridge adorned with oversized Tiffany jewellery boxes so you can make quite an entrance! Then get ready for scented puffs of Tiffany Eau de Parfum which will waft over the rink at intervals throughout the day.
Christmas light festivals
Make tracks for one of London’s many light festivals such as Christmas at Kew which involves sparkling light trails through the garden, food stalls and funfair rides. An illuminated ‘waterfall’ is new for 2019.
20 November 2019 – 5 January 2020.
Start in Oxford Street which has had a makeover this year, transformed by 27 LED ‘light curtains’ made up of 222,000 lights. Then, turn down Regent’s Street which has its own spectacular display. After that, slip off behind Liberty’s to Carnaby Street and Soho. Carnaby Street’s Christmas installation is ocean-themed, with glittering whales and turtles floating overhead.
Christmas in Covent Garden
Covent Garden’s Piazza is as alluring as ever. Firstly, the towering Christmas tree is awash with 30,000 festive lights, with an additional 115,000 lights twinkling across the Piazza and neighbouring streets. There’s also a big reindeer sculpture. However, do also wander down to Seven Dials which has partnered with the homelessness charity Shelter with a ‘Starry Night’ Christmas light installation.
Christmas in St Christopher’s Place
Lastly, you can catch more Christmas lights in St. Christopher’s Place and Marylebone High Street, just moments from your apartment.