Guides / Guide

Things to do in London this Christmas

Check out the latest and greatest events happening in the capital.

No matter who you are or where you come from, you’ll find something captivating, unusual and oh-so-amazing going on in London. This is the city where everything happens.

The iconic arch of Wembley Stadium reaches toward the sky, and the West End radiates energy unlike anywhere else. Throw in age-old royal palaces, skyscraping architecture, the Tube, world-class museums, sport of all forms and nonstop live music…and you’ve just begun to scratch the surface.

Although the London weather can be unpredictable, you can be certain each month will bring a whole new ginormous selection of events – and you’re not going to want to miss these awesome December activities.


Spotlight on: Festive fun

In London there are a million ways to make the season special. From ice skating under twinkling lights and enjoying merry music, to watching a timeless production of The Nutcracker ballet, we’ve rounded up loads of merriment to warm hearts of all ages.

One of the most popular destinations in the capital at Christmas time is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. In addition to an open-air ice rink and giant wheel, enjoy a variety of family-friendly rides, the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club and shows including Paddington on Ice, Zippos Christmas Circus and Cirque Berserk.

It isn’t Christmas without ice rinks. Without a doubt, one of the best places to skate is the Natural History Museum Ice Rink. Don’t miss the chance to glide under the stars with family, friends or that special someone – and then warm yourself up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate at the café bar.

Camden Market’s North Yard has also been transformed into the North Pole, complete with an ice rink and Christmas grotto.

The Sh*t-Faced Showtime troupe, known for getting a cast member drunk and then sending them onstage to perform, are back at Leicester Square Theatre with their seasonal production, A P*ssedmas Carol. Trust us, you’ve never seen Dickens’ classic tale performed with so much spirit.

A spectacular new production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is open at the Dominion Theatre. The feel-good musical has all the classic songs you love from Blue Skies and Sisters to that most famous festive song of all, White Christmas.

 

Watching Love Actually has become a Christmas tradition and nothing compares to seeing the movie with a live orchestra playing its iconic score, which you can enjoy at Eventim Apollo on 1 December.

A unique and uplifting staging of A Christmas Carol, as adapted by Jack Thorne is playing at The Old Vic from 2 December – 18 January.

Don’t miss Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas Live in Concert when it returns to life during a special arena show at The SSE Arena, Wembley on 4 – 5 December as part of the film’s 25th anniversary celebrations. Danny Elfman and other original cast members will be there to perform alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Entertainer extraordinaire John Barrowman will be celebrating the most “fabulous” time of the year at Eventim Apollo on 5 December with a brand new Christmas show.

A collision of science, comedy, music and wonder, Brian & Robin’s Christmas Compendium is coming to Eventim Apollo on 6 December, while comedian and former doctor Adam Kay will perform Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas at Bloomsbury Theatre on 7 December.

Roll up, roll up to see panto join the circus when Goldilocks and the Three Bears arrives at the London Palladium from 7 December – 12 January. This festive extravaganza is packed with riotous comedy routines, extraordinary special effects, hair-raising stunts, international circus acts and an all-star cast that includes Paul O’Grady, Julian Clary and Paul Zerdin.

Sharon Osbourne heads up the cast of Nativity! The Musical, which returns to Eventim Apollo for a third successive year from 11 – 24 December.

Enjoy two incredible performances of The Nutcracker by the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum from 11 December – 5 January and the Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall from 28 – 31 December.

Don’t miss The Robbie Williams Christmas Party on 16 – 17 December at The SSE Arena, Wembley where the pop star will perform two special shows in support of his new album, The Christmas Present.

 

Celebrate the festive season with more merry music courtesy of Ace of Base, Vengaboys, Whigfield, Haddaway, 2 Limited, Snap! and many more at We Love the 90’s Christmas Show at The SSE Arena, Wembley on 18 December.

The Overtones are out on the road this month with their annual Christmas tour, stopping at indigo at The O2 on 18 December.

Matt Goss is touring the UK with A Vegas Christmas. You can have a night to remember that includes a glass of fizz and four-course dinner when he stops at London Hilton on Park Lane on 19 December.

Based on the hit Will Ferrell movie, Elf: A Christmas Spectacular is coming to The SSE Arena, Wembley on 21 – 23 December. This unique musical production features a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree that audiences get to decorate.

 

Plus, get into party mode with a couple of jolly clubbing events – the The Gallery Xmas Party with Ferry Corsten at Ministry of Sound on 13 December, the Amor Christmas Boat Party with a fantastic DJ line-up across two decks at Westminster Pier on 14 December and Soul City: Disco, House & Soul: Christmas Party at the Jazz Café on 21 December.

Of course, there’s no better way to send off this year and usher in 2020 than at KISSTORY NYE 2019, which returns to indigo at The O2 on 31 December.

Find loads more festive fun in Scotland and all around the UK in our Winter Guide and get the skinny on New Year’s Eve parties so you can rock in the biggest night of the year with our Clubs Nights Guide.


Other things to do

Music, theatre and sport, oh my! In addition to getting into the Christmas spirit, you’ll find plenty of live entertainment to help you make most of the chilly days and long nights in December.

On 2 December Scottish rock quartet Hunter & the Bear are playing Camden Assembly on 2 December, while Clairo is celebrating the release of her debut album Immunity at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Punk duo Slaves are performing a series of gigs at ULU Live on 5 – 6 and 12 – 14 December in support of their recently released four-track EP, The Velvet Ditch.

 

Want to immerse yourself in a world of imagination? Head to StarDust LDN at Tobacco Dock on 7 December for a winter festival like no other. There’ll be a Gypsy Shrine pop-up and roller disco from House of Dinosaur, plus enjoy music from Artful Dodger, Shola Ama, Shift K3Y and Mike Skinner.

American rapper Tyga is coming to O2 Academy Brixton on 9 December, and Devin Townsend is stopping at Roundhouse on 12 December as part of his solo acoustic tour.

See The Faim at Electric Ballroom on 13 December with support from Hot Milk and Cemetery Sun. Rapper Little Simz is capping off her big year with a series of performances that includes the O2 Forum Kentish Town on 15 December.

And Bury Tomorrow will be performing Black Flame in full on 21 December at Roundhouse.

Sport fans will discover lots of fast and furious action in the capital in December too.

As the month kicks off, you can catch the last day of Champions Tennis, the season-ending finale to the ATP Champions Tour, on 1 December at the Royal Albert Hall.

 

Watch some serious slam dunks at the Copper Box Arena as the London Lions go up against the Glasgow Rocks on 8 December. Following his stint in the Love Island villa, Ovie Soko has joined the BBL team and this will be the first game he plays in! The Lions will also take on the Bristol Flyers on 18 December and the Sheffield Sharks on 22 December.

On 12 December The Varsity Match returns to Twickenham Stadium. Played since 1872, it’s one of the most iconic clashes on the rugby calendar as the men and women from Oxford and Cambridge Universities do battle.

Also at Twickenham Stadium, don’t miss London’s biggest rugby party with Harlequins facing Leicester Tigers in Big Game 12 on 28 December.

If sport isn’t your thing, head to the West End for an unforgettable theatrical production.

Recently opened at Shaftesbury Theatre is & Juliet, an uplifting and irreverent take on Shakespeare’s most famous love story. A new adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano De Bergerac starring James McAvoy kicked off its run at the Playhouse Theatre.

From 1 – 15 December you can catch Whitney – Queen of the Night at Savoy Theatre. This spectacular show pays tribute to the music and life of one of the greatest singers of our time, Whitney Houston.

Based on Britain’s best-loved picture book, families won’t want to miss The Tiger Who Came to Tea during its special run at Theatre Royal Haymarket beginning on 9 December.

Featuring the re-imagined music of Bob Dylan, Conor McPherson’s heartbreaking story Girl from the North Country is back for a second run in the West End at Gielgud Theatre from 10 December – 1 February.

Plus, the Alexandra Palace Theatre welcomes the hilarious Peter Pan Goes Wrong from Mischief Theatre on 13 December until 5 January.

Get more insider news from Theatreland by reading our monthly roundup here.

You can enjoy some side-splitting comedy in the capital this month as well.

Jim Jefferies is taking his Night Talker tour to The O2 on 3 December, and Jimmy Carr is coming to indigo at The O2 with his Terribly Funny tour on 5 & 15 December.

On 7 December, Stewart Francis appears at Eventim Apollo with his Into the Punset show, while Adam Kay is performing Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas at Bloomsbury Theatre.

 

What’s more, Jack Whitehall is bringing his huge Stood Up tour to The O2 on 15 December.

And calling all ABBA fans! Get ready for ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition at The O2. Running from 6 December to 31 August, this immersive exhibition brings the world of the chart-topping Swedish pop group to life as you explore a series of atmospheric rooms, one for each of their eight albums.


Live music venues

Looking for a gig to see? On any given night, you’ll be spoilt for choice in London. From stadiums and world-class concert halls to historic theatres and hole-in-the-wall bars, we’ve rounded up some of December’s music offerings as a starting point.

Stadium and arena shows:

Mid-sized venues with big atmosphere:

New music to have on your radar:


Iconic attractions

Along with the London Underground, the capital is famous for many things – among them its royal palaces, beloved landmarks, fantastic selection of museums and gloriously green parks. Here are a few ideas of the fun you can have at these and other popular sites this month.

Take in the view from The Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building and one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. The highest viewing gallery in London, you can access the indoor platform and open-air Skydeck to enjoy 360-degree views of London.

Shard

Not far from London is the beautiful Kensington Palace and Gardens. Since being renovated in 1689, it’s been an official residence of the British royal family and currently occupied by the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Tour an iconic piece of British history by visiting Westminster Abbey which has been the traditional coronation site for English monarchs since William the Conqueror, as well as the burial place of kings, queens, statesman, poets, and philosophers.

ZSL London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. Opened in 1828, it now holds one of the largest animal collections in the UK with everything from penguins and lions to meerkats, gorillas and Galapagos tortoises.

A popular sight on the city’s skyline, the Coca-Cola London Eye on the south bank of the River Thames will give you an incredible bird’s-eye view of Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and much more!

Coco-Cola London Eye

Be whisked back to the London’s perilous past at the London Dungeon. In addition to two thrilling rides, you’ll get up close and personal with notorious figures like Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd at this iconic attraction.

Go behind the scenes at one of the most famous stadiums in the world. Wembley Stadium tours give you the chance to relive great sporting and entertainment moments from Britain’s past.

Don’t miss Bond in Motion at the London Film Museum which is home to an extensive collection of original vehicles and props featured in the revered 007 film series.

Looking for some thrills? The Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit is the world’s tallest, longest and fastest tunnel slide with breathtaking views across London.

And attention Potterheads! Go on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter in Leavesden where you check out everything from movie props and magnificent sets, to chocolate frogs and the Hogwarts Express.


You can do all this and more in the capital this December. For full details, head to our London Guide.

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