There's no better time to be in London than during December. This is when the streets come alive in streams of fairy lights, so pretty that you can often feel like you're inside a Christmas tree! You can also enjoy the traditional European Christmas Markets, a new tradition that is sweeping London.
This year I went to London to soak up the Christmas spirit and see for myself how magical this city can be at Christmas time. Here are my top picks for everything you should do for a magical Christmas in London.
Post updated December 2021.
How to spend Christmas in London
1. Winter Wonderland
The British version of the traditional European Christmas market, Winter Wonderland is the ultimate Christmas activity for any London visitor in November/December as it is truly a world wonder. Think German pop-up stalls selling glühwein, rollercoasters, carousel bars (those that spin, duh) and all the Christmas market food you can imagine: waffles, pretzels, crepes and more. Best of all – it's free to enter!
Location: Hyde Park
As the world's most famous department store, Harrods is a London destination itself (so much so that it has a special stop for double decker bus tours!) Department stores really come alive over Christmas and if you're in the market for a gift or two, nothing a better place to find everything and get in the Christmas spirit.
3. Ice Skating at Somerset House
Perhaps the most iconic ice skating rink in all of London is tucked away from major thoroughfares. This ice rink is located behind the facade of Somerset House near the River Thames. Be sure to book your tickets in advance (£17) as they are limited on ice. Throughout December it is often impossible to get tickets on that day.
Location: Somerset House
4. Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum
There are a number of ice skating rinks popping up around London during the month of December. But if you only choose one, we recommend visiting the Natural History Museum. There is a huge Christmas tree in the center of the arena as well as the museum's magical backdrop. This makes the Natural History Museum one of the most beautiful places to skate in London.
Location: Natural History Museum
5. Burlington Arcade
Burlington Arcade was created in 1819 and is stunning any time of year. But December is extraordinary, when it is adorned with glamorous Christmas decorations. The arcade features local artisans, British brands and International designers. Decorations grace the arcades throughout the month of December.
Location: 51 Piccadilly, London
6. Shop on Regent and Oxford Street
If it's Christmas gifts you're looking for then check out Regent and Oxford Street, both of which come alive during December in a flurry of Christmas lights, carols and decorations galore. There's certainly no shortage of stores to browse, giving you the chance to find something special for your loved ones (and yourself!)
7. Food Treats from Fortnum & Mason
If you're looking for Christmas shortbreads, jams, chocolates and anything sweet, head straight to the iconic Fortnum & Mason in St James's for a (very) Christmas shopping experience (and one that will leave you with bags of good!)
8. Dinner in the Great Hall
Imagine all your Christmas dreams coming true: being able to dine in Hogwarts Great Hall for Christmas! Yes, this is a very real thing! I've visited the Great Hall in regular months, but Christmas just seems a lot more ethereal. Orders can be made via The Warner Bros. Studio Tour website but beware, they order quickly and sell for a pittance!
Location: Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden