London has no shortage of things to do all year round – this is especially true in December when the British Capital is filled with festive holiday cheer. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll give you some ideas on where you can get your fill of Christmas lights, markets, minced pies, and mulled wine!
Christmas Markets in London
Living in Italy, we’ve got plenty of Christmas Markets all around us. But the sheer amount of Christmas markets in London amazed me!
Covent Garden Christmas Market
Covent Garden hosts a small yet beautiful Christmas market every year in London. This was by far the prettiest market we visited. With giant ornaments and mistletoe, along with a gorgeous sparkling tree in the middle of the square.
2021 Opening Hours: 12 November – 02 January; 0700 – 2300 (7AM-11PM).
Note: Although the lights are on until 11PM (2300), most of the stalls in the market close around 1700. Don’t worry though, there are still food and beverage shops open after this!
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Now, before going here, be aware that this is basically a fair. A Christmas themed fair with festive treats and shops but a fair nonetheless. This means it can be a complete money pit and if you’re not careful spend way too much money. However, the lights are pretty and it’s a good spot to check out. In addition to usual carnival rides and attractions, there’s an ice bar, an ice kingdom with ice sculptures, and an ice skating rink!
Opening Days and Times: 19 November – 03 January; last entrance 2130 (9:30PM)
Note: You’ll want to buy tickets in advance, especially if you’re going on weekends during peak times! You can buy tickets here.
Christmas by the River
Located along the Thames between the London Bridge and Tower Bridge, this market has a cozy, romantic feel to it. While it seemed to be focused on a variety of food options (everything from German to Thai and plenty in between), it also included ornaments, soaps, watches, and plenty of other options for shops.
Opening Days and Times: 16 November – 02 January; Sundays to Wednesdays 1100-2100 (9PM); Thursdays to Saturdays 1100-2200 (10PM)
Note: This market also shows Christmas films on Tuesdays!
Bonus: Check out Hay’s Galleria near Christmas by the River for some spectacular lights and decorations!
Southbank Centre Christmas Market
Another Christmas market situated along the Thames River, the one at the Southbank Centre is full of gorgeous lights, Christmas cheer, rides, and warm drinks and snacks. You can also walk from here to the Christmas Market at the Tate Modern!
Opening Days and Times: 04 November – 24 December; 1100-2300 (11PM)
Leicester Square Christmas Market
While this one is a pretty small Christmas Market, it’s still a great spot for Christmas cheer in London! This market is perfect to check out before or after seeing a show on the West End, since it’s right in the middle of the theater district!
Opening Days and Times: 12 November – 09 January
Note: This market also includes Santa’s Grotto and La Clique, the circus and cabaret show. If you want to check these out, you’ll need to purchase tickets in advance.
Christmas in London: The Best Christmas Light Displays
There is no shortage of incredible Christmas lights in London. In addition to the below locations, most of the markets listed above have amazing lights as well!
Oxford Street Christmas Lights in London
The Oxford Street lights are near Hyde Park (hop off the underground at Oxford Circus). I only got to see these briefly but loved the shooting star look of them!
Regent Street Christmas Lights in London
I’m sure you’ve seen photos of the glittering angels above Regent Street all over Instagram. Even in the short while we were there, we saw a number of girls posing in the middle of the street in clothes they must have been freezing in! They are stunning and a good starting point to take a walk past some of the best Christmas lights in the city. Plus they’re located just off Picadilly Circus!
Brook Street/Bond Street Christmas Lights
While on Regent Street, turn down Brook Street (opposite the H&M). Just before the Victoria’s Secret, take a peek down Bond Street to check out the blue peacock feather lights. Here you can also take a detour down the side street just after Victoria’s Secret to see some pretty lights on quieter streets with some adorable little wine bars!
Anabel's Christmas Lights
Continue straight down Brook Street and you’ll run into Grosvenor Square. You can’t miss Anabel’s on the right hand side! While it’s a very exclusive private club, you can still stop by to appreciate the decoration of the life size ginger-bread house!
Carnaby Street Christmas Lights
These were probably my absolute favorite Christmas lights in London! They were so incredibly unique and colorful, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There are also side streets along Carnaby Street with some gorgeous lights as well. Carnaby Street is located just a few minutes walk from Regent Street and from Leicester Square.
Harrod's Department Store Christmas Lights
Harrod’s is a luxury department store in London that has some spectacular Christmas lights. Harrod’s is pretty pricey, but there’s also a Christmas Shop on the ground floor with some great gifts and decorations!
Harrods is right near Hyde Park (and it’s Winter Wonderland!) and only a few stops on the underground from Picadilly Circus!
This is far from an all-inclusive list of things to do for Christmas in London, but these were some of my absolute favorites! What about you? Let me know in the comments what I missed for the next time I’m in London for some festive cheer!
If you’re looking for ideas of other things to do in London, check out my post here on the Best Things to Do in One Weekend in London. Or, to add some extra magic this holiday season, check out my guide to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London.
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The Christmas Markets look magical. It would take me months to explore all of them. I wish we had more like this in North America.
Christmas here in London really is lovely and lit up, great post! Covent Garden is my fave at christmas time 🙂
Covent Garden was my favorite too! It is so cute!
I will go to each one of the Christmas markets. But for Christmas lights, I love Brooke St. And Carnaby. Now the only problem is…how do i survive in the London cold?
Haha unfortunately I can’t help much with that! The first time I visited London was in February, during a hurricane in Kent! It was freezing, rainy, and windy!