Wonderful wintertime

Christmas lights in Central London during winter

It’s that wintry time of year again when we swap our jumpers for coats, brogues for boots and dig out dusty decoration boxes. 🎄

While it might be tempting to curl up on the couch with a blanket, there’s no need to hibernate! 🐻

On a winter day there’s plenty of fun to be had – from big events like Hyde Park Winter Wonderland to local gems at Pexmas Festive Market. Here’s our top picks of unexpected and affordable things to see and do in London this winter. ❄️

Ride a Santander Cycle for free


Image of a man riding a Santander Cycle in Christmas clothing

From 1 December, we’re giving everyone free access to Santander Cycles for 24 hours – including all 30-minute journeys. 🚴🚴🚴

Just enter the code SCXMAS19 when purchasing a 24 hour access period through the app or at the terminal (one per person). You’ve got until 31 December to use your code and don’t forget, you can still use Santander Cycles on Christmas day. 🎅

See the lights, enjoy the sights

Christmas festive light displays London

Dazzle your Instagram followers with your luminous selfies and shimmering snaps taken all around the city. 🤳

Expect to be impressed by light installations at Regent Street, Oxford Street, Carnaby, Seven Dials and more in Central London. 💡

A little further afield are spectacular hubs not to be missed like Christmas at Kew and Syon Park’s Enchanted Woodland. ✨

The glittering fun doesn’t stop when Father Christmas finishes his round trip – mark Canary Wharf’s Winter Lights in your diary for January! 📅

Christmas markets

Christmas markets London apple market

No need to hop on a plane to enjoy world famous Christmas markets – satisfy your bauble and trinket needs right at your doorstep. 🛍️

Borough Market, Apple Market, Southbank Centre Winter Market and Leicester Square are all great central and highly instagrammable options. 📸

Once you’ve ticked them all off your list, branch out to other amazing festive hubs around Winterland in Fulham, Kingston Christmas Market, and Ally Pally Christmas Carnival.

Remember to also check in with your local council to find out what’s happening in your borough. 👍

Winter wonderland

Ice skating London winter activities

With so many options to enjoy the outdoors there’s no excuse to hide inside!

Strap on some skates and carve up the ice rink amidst breath-taking backdrops like Hampton Court Palace, Somerset House, and Natural History Museum. 🦖

Ice-skating isn’t just for the festive season – enjoy year-round ice skating at Alexandra Palace, Lee Valley Ice Centre and Streatham Ice Centre. ⛸️

Once you’ve got your adrenaline rush, take a wintry stroll in one of London’s many picturesque parks like Richmond, Hampstead Heath, Kensington Gardens and Greenwich Park. Snow angels, anyone? ⛄

Jingle bells

Christmas carols London

Warm those vocal chords and join in the festive cheer at one of many incredible Christmas carol performances. 🔔

Join us and our friends in the transport industry for Festival of Carols at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square on Wednesday 11 December! Doors open at 18:15 with the service starting at 19:00 and admission is by a £5 souvenir purchase at the door. ✨

We also love carols at Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey – and you never know what free performances you might encounter at Covent Garden. 🎶

Giving and sharing

Hamleys toy shop London

If you ever needed an excuse to spoil someone special – yourself included – Christmas is the time of giving and sharing. 🎁

Enjoy a spot of window shopping and pick up a bauble from department stores like Harrods, Liberty, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason. 🎀

Expect nostalgic Christmas morning feels at Hamleys and Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop, plus you could get this year’s Christmas jumper design from the London Transport Museum! 🦌

Stretch your retail fix into January sales well beyond Boxing day! 🛍️

Magic in the air

Hogwarts in the snow magic experience

Looking to shake things up? Put that snow globe down and get amongst the alternative Christmas antics this winter! 😁

Wrap up warm and prepare to chuckle at the Peter Pan Cup 🏊 at Serpentine Lido or the Great Christmas Pudding Race in support of Cancer Research UK. 🏃

Step back in time circa 1724 and check out Dennis Severs’ House annual Christmas installation, or immerse yourself in a magical experience at Hogwarts in the Snow. 🎄

Fabulous festivities

New year's eve London eye South Bank

Welcome the New Year in London with a spectacular fireworks show at Thames Riverside and take part in the New Year’s Day Parade. 🎉

London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest outside Asia! Enjoy a day of colourful parades, performances and displays in and around Chinatown and London’s West End. 🧨

Before you know it, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner in mid-February. No matter your relationship status, there’s a day for you – celebrate Galentine’s Day with your girlfriends on 13 February or Singles Awareness Day on 15 February. 🙌

When the rain comes, remember to take advantage of London’s incredible year-round and free museum collections. Be sure to check out special exhibitions like the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year or what’s on at the London Transport Museum. 🏛️

Need more inspiration?
Explore more than 500 museums, galleries, street art and more, all within a short walk or bus ride from each Underground station with our interactive Cultural Maps.

Plus, with our Hopper fare, you can take unlimited bus or tram journeys anytime, anywhere for £1.50 within one hour of touching in!

Go and discover London off-peak this Winter at Time Out.

TfL TimeOut off-peak winter activities badge


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