Each year there’s always so much packed on London’s festive to-do lists, and with so many options out there, you might not know where to start.
From music, to theatre, to catching London’s lights displays, here are our top suggestions for things to do this Christmas. There’s something for everyone.
Turn up the tunes!
Let’s begin with an all-time Christmas classic – carol singing! And there’s no other perfect place to continue this Christmas tradition than at Trafalgar Square. Throughout December, different carol groups book 1-hour sessions to sing traditional tunes around the iconic Oslo Christmas tree. With no microphone and amps, this offers an inclusive experience where all audiences are encouraged to rock around the Christmas tree and have a merry sing-along!
The Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival 2023 at the Barbican also offers live performances across the musical spectrum. Traditional choral music can be enjoyed from Christmas with Kings College London (20 December) and the Candlelit Carols service (22 December). For a more modern twist that film-buffs will particularly love, why not try live symphony orchestra renditions of Love Actually or fantastical The Music of the Lord of the Rings and beyond. To properly get into the festive spirit, Christmas at the Movies is the obvious option – a compilation of all-time Christmas classics including Elf, Frozen, Home Alone, and The Polar Express.
Take a trip to the theatre
Whether you’re a theatre lover, avid-film watcher, or bookworm you’re in for a real treat! This year some of the nation’s favourite classic Christmas films, books and TV shows have been re-adapted for the stage; the much-triumphed Elf the Musical is back for another year running at Dominion Theatre and for those with younger children the award-winning children’s book and bedtime classic The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson can be enjoyed at Garrick Theatre.
Or for those who prefer dance or pride themselves as a re-occurring Nutcracker goer, Raymond Brigg’s The Snowman has been adapted into a magical ballet production. Directed by Bill Alexander this beautiful interpretation is accompanied by a live orchestra and performed by Sadlers Well’s at the Peacock Theatre. And of course we can’t forget about pantomimes! From Peter Pan at London’s Palladium to Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith, and Aladdin at the Hackney Empire, they’ll be plenty of laugh-out moments this year (oh yes there will!), If you weren’t aware of it already, Potted Panto at Wilton’s Music Hall is a a pantomime which combines seven of the most beloved pantomimes in just 80 minutes.
Be dazzled by the lights displays
A spectacular display of lights can be a perfect way to unwind from the stress of last-minute Christmas shopping! One of the most common choices is the famous Kew Gardens. This mesmerising light experience includes highlights of a light, music, and water display in front of the iconic palm house, dancing flames in the fire garden, and the 16 UV feathers production. 2023 also contains new, first-time installations such as the 3m high illuminated flowers and cascading lights suspended from the tree canopy. For those who have attended before, why not try Christmas Lights London by Night Bus Tour where you can sit back and enjoy the sparkle of world-famous London landmarks including Regent Street , Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, London Eye, Tower of London, and Tower Bridge.
Our last pit stop on our Christmas events and activities journey are festive-themed sports, and it would be amiss not to mention the Battersea Power Station Ice Rink! London’s first and only riverside ice rink, Glide opened November 2022, and has three interconnecting rinks with a gigantic 30ft Christmas tree. Unlike an ordinary square ice rink, the Glide enables an accessible skating experience for everyone from skater fanatics to first-time skaters with penguin skate aids for children. The festive fun also continues off the ice with vintage-style fairground rides, live entertainment and a variety of food and drink venues in the Grade II* listed Power Station. Another Christmas-themed sport is curling, so why not give it a go at The Curling Club in Southbank. This alpine-themed curling residency is the full experience with eighties hits, fairy lights, Christmas trees and curling coaches to give beginners all the tips and tricks for a curling victory. For those with older families the party can continue into the night accompanied with festive cocktails.