What to do during the festive season in London

London Christmas Lights
Christmas lights twinkling in Soho.

Cuddle season is in session, waking up is just that extra bit harder, and the Christmas lights are out and twinkling.

‘Tis the season to be merry and London has its fair share of things for you to be merry about.

Here are the Kingston Courier’s top things to do in London this Christmas:

Kingston upon Thames:

Fun for the whole family:
The Kingston Christmas Market on Ancient Market Place. Available from mid-December, Kingston’s very own merry-mas market is the perfect place to find a few stocking fillers, grab a mug of mulled wine and warm up by the fire pit in Alpine Village, while you let the kids explore Candy Cane Forest.

Christmas at the Bentall Centre. There are plenty of things to do and see at the Bentall Centre. From events to pop up stores and theatre groups, musical performances and the much-loved Bentall Centre Bears. You can even attend wreath making and table centrepiece decorating workshops. The kids can try out the latest toys at the Elf Toy Testing Station and visit Santa’s Grotto on the third floor. Don’t forget to book your free Santa’s Grotto tickets online and you can throw in a present too for £5.95.

Christmas Tree in Kingston. Photo by Kirsten Lee.

Catch the festive tale of Hansel and Gretel at the Rose Theatre until January 6. There’s every reason to support Kingston’s young talent from the Rose Youth Theatre starring alongside professional actors in this sensational show.

The yearly Rose Christmas Celebration is on again this December 18 at 7.30pm. The proceeds from this Rose Theatre production go to charity. See a vast range of acts from the British Recorder Light Orchestra to the Soundbytes Choir and Singing It Back’s Harmonies For Heroines.

The festivities don’t have to end on Christmas Day: see our very own festive spin on the famous classic, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Showing for one day only at the Richard Mayo Centre on December 29 at 10am.

Christmas lights Regent Street

Elsewhere in London:
Things to do:

Explore the Christmas lights dotted around the capital. From the more traditional Oxford Street to the colourful Carnaby or the more elaborate showcases at London Zoo and Kew Gardens, there are plenty of light displays to get you feeling the Christmas spirit. The Londonist has helpfully planned out a fantastic West End light tour route. Simply jump on the 139 bus at Bond Street station, which passes by all the famous lights in the area – you’ll even get to see the famous Norwegian tree in Trafalgar Square. They suggest hopping off the bus near Aldwych, before Waterloo and taking a short walk to catch a glimpse of the lights in Covent Garden.

Pay a visit to the biggest Christmas festival London has to offer: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.  Enjoy all kinds of winter festivities from Christmas-themed rides and games to ice skating, ice sculpting and ice dancing. Look over the Bavarian Village market stalls from the giant observation wheel and cosy up with a spiced warm cider. There will be circus acts, comedy clubs, live music, an ice bar and so much more for the whole family. Be sure to check out the Snowman Experience with the kids and be part of an interactive cinematic experience. Winter Wonderland has free entry and is open every day from 10am-10pm until January 6.

The festive wonderland on Clapham Common, Wintervilleis ready for you. Explore the Christmas Labyrinth and watch a few Christmas classics at the outdoor cinema. Grab a warm wine as you walk through and enjoy live music, comedy, Mexican wrestling, cabaret and even a family Christmas show on a bus. Test your iron stomach on exciting rides or scoot around the ice rink and roller disco. Tickle the taste buds with the many food stalls, challenge your friends to a nine-hole indoor golf course, or watch it all from the big wheel. Entry is just £2 during peak times.

Show off your ice-skating skills at one of the many rinks open this festive season. The famous rink at the Natural History Museum, the rooftop of John Lewis on Oxford Street, Canary Wharf, Somerset House, Winterville, Winter Wonderland and Hampton Court Palace.

Visit Camden’s Elves Workshop and make your own Christmas jumper until 24 December. Book your tickets online for just £25 and you’ll receive a jumper, plus all the crafts you would need. Get festive and BYOB.

The English National Ballet’s rendition of the Nutcracker. With over 100 dancers bringing this tale to life, see this magical Christmas favourite until December 30 at the London Coliseum.

Winterville rides in action.

Christmas at ZSL London Zoo. While the animals snooze, you can enjoy a magical after-dark experience. Be amazed by the Christmas light tunnel, animal sculptures and a magnificent canopy of over 100,000 lights.

Joining us for another year, Christmas at Kew features a brilliant festive trail of lights. Visit Kew Gardens after dark until January 5 and get blown away by over a million lights illuminating the ancient trees and buildings. There’s even a laser garden, a canopy of light, sculptural fire garden, gigantic flowers and so much more. Slowly sip on mulled wine or spiced cider and toss back some roasted chestnuts while you explore the famous light showcase. Try out the family-friendly rides, find a few stalls along the way and even give Santa a wave.

Bring the whole family to Alice in Winterland in Southwark Park. This light festival features incredible giant character lanterns to help retell this famous tale (with a wintery spin, of course!). With over 160 characters to visit, you can see some of your favourite Lewis Carrol characters: from the Cheshire Cat to the Mad Hatter and Alice herself.  Enjoy the food and drink stalls amongst the lanterns and even be a part of a giant flamingo croquet game. Open until January 5.

Welcoming back a festive favourite pop-up right on the Thames, the Coppa Club winter igloos. Gather your friends and family to eat, drink and be merry in one of these cosy igloos.


Visit the Thameside Southbank Centre Winter Market until December 27.  Promising stunning views, festive cheer and delectable food stalls.

Christmas Late Market at Greenwich Market. Visit the last one of the season on December 19. Find all sorts of arts and crafts, last-minute gifts at the market and plenty of street food.

Christmas Decor around Camden

For the fifth year running, the Bankside Christmas by the River is back. Sip on mulled wine, find a few stocking fillers and enjoy the pop-up bars, all whilst admiring the stunning backdrop of Tower Bridge and our city skyline. On until January 2.

Christmas at Camden Market is back and is happening every day until 23 December. They are bringing the North Pole to Camden with an activity themed Christmas Grotto and Santa’s gingerbread workshop, where the kiddies can decorate biscuits before greeting the jolly man himself. Also, every weekend until Christmas you can see a variety of live acts performing at the market: everything from choirs to brass bands, blues, punk and steel drums.

Don’t miss out on the yearly Christmas in Leicester Square. Visit this traditional Bavarian Christmas market to enjoy ample food stalls, a few live shows and Santa’s grotto too.

Winterville comes to life. Photo by Kirsten Lee.
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