This post's overview:
1 Where to stay in London?
2 Do you need to book the top Christmas spots in London online in advance?
3 Best Christmas spots to visit in London:3.1 Leicester Square
3.2 Covent Garden
3.3 Best Christmassy Outdoor Ice Skating rinks in London
3.4 Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
3.5 Peggy Porshen
3.6 Regent Street & Oxford street
3.7 Christmas Market near Waterloo – Southbank Centre
3.8 Winterwille in Clapham Common
3.10 Igloos in London (Coppa Club Tower Bridge)
3.11 St. Pancras International or Somerset House Christmas trees
3.12 Christmas in Kew Gardens
3.13 Carnaby Christmas Lights
3.14 Trafalgar Square
3.15 Annabel’s London
4 The Ivy Chelsea
Hi guys, in this post, I’d like to share with you the best Christmas spots to visit in London – best Christmas Markets, lovely outdoor ice skating rinks, Christmas lights, photo locations, shops and more. London is a wonderful destination for Christmas and luckily, Christmas arrives early in London – you can find some of the Christmas lights being on as early as the beginning of November, while some other Christmas locations open around the middle or end of November.
Usually, each year, there are different dates for the ceremony of the Christmas light switch and each location has its own dates. If you’re really interested in the opening ceremonies, you need to check out each location individually! For example, the lights on Regent street might be the earliest (with the 5th of November being the official start date), however, the Seven Dials market might light up a bit later.
Before we start with the most beautiful Christmas locations in London, let’s chat about a few helpful things!
Where to stay in London?
If you’re not a local in London, here are some great affordable hotels in London, where you can stay without breaking a bank (London can be very expensive):
Also, if you’re interested, I have a list of the best free things to do in London – feel free to check it out here.
Looking for the best Instagrammable places in London – look no further – here’s the guide to the most Instagrammable places in London!
Do you need to book the top Christmas spots in London online in advance?
Well, if you’re wondering whether you need to book London’s top Christmas spots online in advance, that really depends on the location. For the ceremonies of switching the Christmas lights on you usually do and the tickets aren’t free. Kew Gardens are also a [aid attraction and you need to book these tickets in advance. It seems like this year (in 2021), you also need to pre-book your Winter Wonderland visits!
Naturally, the outdoor ice skating rinks in the iconic locations (especially, the Natural History Museum – this one is happening the last year this year) need to be booked in advance due to the high demand.
Other locations such as streets or squares don’t need any tickets or bookings.
For the restaurants, I recommend booking them in advance as well!
Best Christmas spots to visit in London:
One of my favourite Christmas Markets in London is located right in the middle of Leicester Square near Picadilly Circus tube station. The location couldn’t have been more centric – if you’re a tourist in London, you will definitely visit this place. If you’re a local, I’m sure you are visiting Soho from time to time to visit one of the new trendy spots, so why not visit the Leicester Square Christmas Market?
This Chrismas market has some stalls selling delicious mulled wine, a few food stalls and stalls with beautiful baubles and other Christmas decorations and a lot stalls full of souvenirs, winter clothes, candles and jewellery.
There is no Christmas Market in Covent Garden, I’m afraid, however, its Christmas decorations are amazing and that makes it a perfect spot for Christmas photos in London. It’s decorated really well through the market and there are a few restaurants in the Covent Garden area that also have stunning decor
Best Christmassy Outdoor Ice Skating rinks in London
There are plenty of amazing outdoor ice skating rinks in London that are set up specially for the Christmas holidays. Some of my favourite Ice Skating rinks in London include:
Somerset House Ice Skating Rink
The ice rink in Canary Wharf
The ice skating rink in front of the Museum of Natural History in London (2021 Update: it’s the last year it’s open in London, so make sure to visit this iconic spot before it transforms into another museum building).
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
The Winter Wonderland Christmas Market in Hyde Park is one of the biggest Christmas Markets in Europe. It gets an insane amount of visitors, so prepare to queue for 30 min – 1 hour to get in on a busy day. If you’re planning to visit Winter Wonderland before the crowds get in, head there around
Looking for Christmas Markets outside London as well? Here’s my post about the absolute best Christmas Markets in Europe that you need to visit at least once!
2021 UPD: this year, Winter Wonderland is back! However, they just announced that you need to pre-book your visit in advance, so they can monitor the attendance and reduce the capacity!
Peggy Porshen is the iconic instagrammable spot in London that gets new decorations every season. My favourite so far has been the Christmas Decor they have – it’s absolutely stunning, so you can definitely head there for great photos. Hint – if you want to take a photo without people, come early on a weekday or very early on the weekend!
Regent Street & Oxford street
One of the most beautifully decorated streets in London is Regent Street – it’s incredibly nice and festive and it’s just lovely to walk there enjoying all the Christmas decor and beautifully decorated spots. Some of the world’s best stores have their flagships on Regent Street, so you can only imagine how lovely are the decorations there! If you could only one spot with the best Christmas lights in London, I would recommend coming directly to Regent street and Oxford street.
Christmas Market near Waterloo – Southbank Centre
Another Christmas Market to visit in London is the Wintertime at Southbank Centre – unlike Winter Wonderland that is inspired by German Christmas Markets, the Wintertime is inspired by Scandinavia! Scandinavian Christmas Markets are actually amazing (I visited Danish city Aarhus last year and was honestly impressed – more about my experience in this post).
Winterwille in Clapham Common
Another iconic Christmas Market in London for those who are based in SE or South London and have no desire to head to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. There are a lot of nice eats, shows and attractions, so you won’t leave Winterwille without buying anything.
The iconic department store in London looks great before Christmas and it also has its iconic floor of beautiful Christmas decorations – if you like special decor – head there. Selfridges is also one of my favourite department stores in London – you can buy almost anything there.
Igloos in London (Coppa Club Tower Bridge)
If you want to have a cosy dinner in an igloo, but you’re not planning to travel anytime soon, you can head to Coppa Club near Tower Bridge – you need to book in advance, though, the demand for the igloos is huge. However, even if you’re not able to book an igloo, just come there for the photo – the igloos stand right on the embankment and you can take a lovely photo with them!
St. Pancras International or Somerset House Christmas trees
If you’re looking for the best Christmas trees in London, you can either head to St. Pancras International or to the Somerset House – both of the Christmas trees look amazing.
Christmas in Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens are the most famous botanic garden in London. You might think, what is there to do in a botanic garden in winter? Well, there is the amazing Christmas installation with the chorus of singing trees, lights and piano music. Read more about Christmas in Kew Gardens here.
Carnaby Christmas Lights
Another spot to visit for Christmas in London is the famous Carnaby street that is nicely decorated for Christmas. It’s just a few steps away from Regent Street, so don’t worry, you won’t have to walk a lot.
Do you think there’s nothing for Christmas at one of the most important and famous squares in England? No, it can’t be. Head to the Trafalgar Square for a huge Christmas tree and a choirs singing traditional Christmas songs.
Another iconic location in London is Annabel’s. Annabel’s is a private Club, so you won’t be able to go inside unless you know someone who is a member there. However, nothing stops you from admiring Annabel’s from the outside. Annabel’s are famous for their outstanding decor – some years it’s absolutely mind-blowing!
The Ivy Chelsea
Finally, the last but not least of the wonderful Christmas spots in London and the best photo spots in London for Christmas is the Ivy Chelsea. The decor they put outside the shop is actually way more impressive than inside, so sometimes it’s just worth coming there for a picture. However, if you haven’t been to the Ivy before, I definitely recommend enjoying The Ivy at least once – it’s a perfect brunch spot with amazing cocktails and warm homemade bread.
Here’s how London is decorated for Christmas in 2018:
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