London is one of the most busy, vibrant cities and in the world, and Christmas is the best time to visit. Restaurants and shops are adorned in lavish Christmas decor, ice skate rinks pop up all over the city, and there are an abundance of Christmas markets to choose from! I asked my audience what their favourite Christmas activities in London are for 2021 and this is what they said!
Whilst the fairground rides might be on the pricey side, entry into Winter Wonderland is actually free during off-peak periods so you can soak up all that Christmas Cheer without spending a penny.
For those who aren’t already familiar, Winter Wonderland is a huge Christmas Market located in Hyde Park offering a wide variety of attractions, activities, entertainment, food, drinks and shopping stalls. The experience has been ongoing for 15 years, first starting out as a simple Christmas Market before turning into the ultimate Christmas destination, rollercoasters included!
As of 2021 you must prebook your entry here (don’t worry, it’s still free of charge!). Evenings and weekends now have charges between £5 and £7.50, if you pay on site it is 50p more than purchasing tickets online.
Somerset House Ice Skating
Somerset House is my favourite skating venue in London, set in the middle of a neoclassical courtyard with a 40ft Christmas tree, you will have an unforgettable experience.
Skating sessions start at 10am all the way through to 10pm, make sure you prebook as it is a very popular experience. Tickets for adults start at £11 with a £2.95 order fee, children under 12 cost £8.50 and for families over 4 people a 10% discount is applied. You can book your tickets here, there are a small number of tickets available on the day but they sell out fast.
Afternoon Tea at Fortnum and Mason
Fortnum and Mason is one of the most iconic department stores in the UK and Christmas time is certainly the best time to visit, so why not incorporate an afternoon tea before taking a look at their world-famous Christmas decorations.
The Tea Salon at Fortnums has been around for 314 years, starting as an apartment for the Fortnum family and since 2012 has been serving their delicious Diamond Jubilee afternoon tea, the tea room was opened by the Queen herself.
Pre-booking is highly advised and can be done here.
Miracle at Henrietta
Enjoy festive cocktails in one of the most decadently decorated bars in London. The Henrietta Hotel is conveniently located in Covent Garden with decor inspired by a 1970s home. There is a strict over 18s policy and pre-booking is recommended, you can book your slot here.
Dinner at Balthazar
Another gem hidden in Covent Garden, Balthazar offers a quintessentially French menu with iconic dishes including Escargots with Garlic and Butter, Steak Tartare, Moules Frites and Dover Sole Meunière. This Christmas they have adorned the restaurant with twinkling lights, reminiscent of a Christmas in the City of Love itself.
Balthazar offers lunch dinner, and an all day brunch on weekends!
Christmas at Kew
Experience an epic light trail at Kew Gardens this Christmas with sparkling tunnels of light, waterside reflections, and trees dressed from head to toe in colour, topped off by the panoramic Palm House light display. The displays in total offer over 1 million twinkling lights, making it one of the best light trails not only in the city, but in the whole country,
Visits can enjoy delicious independent street food vendors along the trails, offering hot food and sweet treats to spiced winter warmers and hot chocolate.
Pre-booking is a must, off-peak adult tickets cost £21.50 and peak tickets are £26.50, family tickets are also available.
Tickets can be booked here.
Natural History Museum Ice Skating
Ice skating at the Natural History Museum has been one of the most popular experiences in the city for a number of years, but this year is all the more special as it is the last year the event will be happening. The museum itself is an architectural masterpiece so there is no wonder it has become such a well known backdrop across the city.
Prices range between £12.95-£17.05 depending on what time you visit, pre-booking is a must, tickets can be booked here.
Lunch at Daphnes Restaurant
Daphnes is a popular Italian restaurant located in South Kensington (perfect after an hour on the Natural History Museum ice rink!) and this year it has undergone a Christmas transformation with hundreds of brightly coloured baubles hanging from the bar and ceilings.
Pre-booking is highly advised.
Brunch at Dalloway Terrace
Located in Bloomsbury, Dalloway Terrace has become well-known for their beautiful seasonal decor and picture perfect backdrops, and this Christmas is no different. This year they have gone for a much warmer winter vibe and for those who aren’t aware, the seating space is sort of inside outside… but there are plenty of heaters to keep you warm. All day festive cocktails are available alongside an all day dining menu, brunch menu and of course, a quintessential afternoon tea.
Every year Covent Garden puts on a fantastic Christmas display and 2021 is no exception with a ‘Frozen’ theme. Frozen in Covent Garden is free of charge and will be open from 9th November 2021-3rd January 2022.
The Frozen Forest will be located in the north piazza and will experience snow flurries every hour from 12pm-7pm.
Last year, 34 Mayfair went viral thanks to its insane bauble display, and this year they have gone even bigger and better with both a beautiful indoor AND outdoor display. This year they have gone for a French apres-ski, 70s menu with limited edition limited-edition ‘As Choux Like It ’ desserts.
Browsing through Liberty
Situated on a big plot between Regent Street and Carnaby Street, Liberty London is a luxury department store that was founded in 1875. It transforms over Christmas, with floors upon floors of beautiful decor and Christmas gifts you can purchase for your own home. In fact, the Christmas displays are so loved, they even had a Channel 4 documentary dedicated to them!
See the Christmas Lights
I’m not sure why I didn’t put this first as it is a personal favourite of mine, but there is no time better spent that walking through the streets of London on an evening and watching all the twinkling Christmas displays. The most loved are the Regent Street lights which are one of the largest in the country, and of course they are right next door to the beautiful Oxford Street lights. whilst you’re in the area, don’t forget to head over to Carnaby Street and St James.
Christmas Nibbles from Borough Market
Borough Market is a year round haven for foodies and has had a complete Christmas makeover complete with wreaths, tinsel and twinkly lights, mulled wine, Christmas cakes and gifts are all available of course.
Deck the Halls at Paddington
Fabulous for a Christmas party of a get together with friends , Pergola at Paddington as transformed into a winter wonderland with twinkling lights, snow-dusted pine trees and unmissable seasonal festivities.
Seating at Pergola is communal but groups of up to 8 can pre-book the ski chalets and enjoy a gooey cheese fondue to share. Blankets are provided to keep you snug and cosy but Hot Bourbon Toddies will do the job too!
You can purchase tickets and see the full list of events here, such as gospel choirs, candlelight dining and Christmas singalongs.
Watch the Ballet
Going to see a ballet at the Royal Opera House was one of my favourite Christmas traditions as a child, and this year the Nutcracker is back until 8th January 2022. Tickets can be bought here.
Peggy Porschen Christmas Tea
Thanks to its yummy cakes and always adorable decor, Peggy Porschen is always wonderful but Christmas really is the best time! Diners can expect to find Christmas cupcakes, cookies, gingerbread and confectionary shaped as nutcrackers ballerinas, candy canes and all things festive. Available until 2nd January 2022, the festive afternoon tea offers a three-act journey through seasonal sandwich favourites, followed by light & fluffy scones and a finale of Nutcracker inspired treats.
Afternoon tea must be booked in advance.
Southbank Christmas Market
The Southbank Centre Winter Market is one of the most loved and a personal favourite of mine, until 23rd December visitors can stroll under a sea of twinkling lights alongside the River Thames, enjoying some delicious sweet treats and street food along the way!
Coppa Club Igloos
This year the Coppa Club igloos at Tower Bridge are in partnership with Champagne Laurent-Perrier, if you can’t get a booking around Christmas (they are very popular!), the igloos will be around until March 2022. The menu offers unfussy European food, brunch is a firm favourite with regulars and of course you can swallow it down with a nice glass of fizz.
Carolling in Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is home to one of the most iconic Christmas trees in London thanks to the annual gift from Norway, this has created the perfect backdrop to the carol singers who put on a wonderful recital of Christmas classics to raise funds for charity.
Hour long performances usually take place between 4 and 8pm on weekdays and 2 to 6pm on weekends, final times are not yet available.