Though London is a good choice any time of year, the winter months are when the city truly shines. Whether you visit one of London’s many Christmas markets, view its iconic landmarks decked out in holiday finery, or participate in an outdoor activity like ice skating, the city is alive with festive cheer well into the new year. Whether you are in town for Christmas or are looking for activities after the holidays are over, this list of the top 10 things to do in London in the winter, is sure to help you plan your visit. Read on to find out more.
1. Visit the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park is a huge holiday event that’s full of family-friendly activities! It has two Christmas markets to explore. The Angels Christmas Market has 150 chalets where you can buy arts and crafts, jewelry, and decorations. The German Christmas Market evokes the feeling of traditional European Christmas markets, and with over 200 shopping stalls, it is one of the largest Christmas markets in the city. Besides shopping, there are lots of other things to do at the Winter Wonderland festival. Skate on the United Kingdom’s largest outdoor ice rink, or watch professional skaters perform Peter Pan on Ice. Explore the ice sculptures of the Magical Ice Kingdom’s Secret Forest, or even make your own at the Ice Sculpting workshops! From games to rides, to food and drink, the list of opportunities at the Winter Wonderland goes on and on.
Address: Hyde Park, London, UK
Date: November 23, 2018 - January 6, 2019, 10 am to 10 pm
Website: Winter Wonderland
2. Check out London's Christmas markets
There are few places that get as excited for the Christmas season as London. With all of the festive events and activities, it can be overwhelming to plan to see them on your own. On the Viator Christmas Lights and Markets Tour, you can explore all the holiday-themed spots in the city with a tour guide who will treat you like a real local. This evening tour departs from Covent Garden and winds through historic streets to Leicester and Trafalgar squares, which have world-famous holiday lights displays. Stop by one of Charles Dickens’ favorite pubs for a drink and to learn about A Christmas Carol. The tour ends at the River Side Christmas Market, where you can shop or sample delicious foods while enjoying performances.
3. A date with Alice in Winterland
This winter, be one of the first to experience the brand new Alice in Winterland Lantern Festival! Opening in late November, this enchanting attraction is one of a kind. It consists of a trail with over 160 large lanterns, alongside that, it tells the stories of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and 'Through the Looking Glass’. There are also 29 interactive scenes where you can join the Mad Hatter’s tea party, cheer on an animal in the caucus race, or hop on the giant chessboard. You’ll also find things to eat and drink, and even Santa in his grotto.
Alice in Winterland
Address: Southwark Park, Paradise Road, Jamaica Gate, London
Dates: November 28, 2018 - January 5, 2019
Website: Alice in Winterland
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4. Huddle inside a Winter Igloo
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
For a city that isn’t known for having lots of snow, London sure has a lot of igloos in the winter. These aren’t your typical igloos made of packed snow and ice: they are chic and luxurious glass enclosures that are the epitome of coziness. Inside, most igloos feature comfy seating, blankets, heat, and twinkly lights. They are the perfect spot for having some drinks or food with a few friends or family members. With their glass walls, they are also ideal for looking out on the Christmas decorations and beautiful London sights. You’ll find these igloos at several different places around the city: at Coppa Club, where the igloos originated, located along the Thames; on the roof decks at Tobacco Dock and the Montcalm Royal London Hotel; and along the river at Jimmy’s Lodge on South Bank.
Address: Can be found around London
Website: Winter Igloos in London
5. Plan trip to the parks
While some people prefer to be warm and cozy indoors, all winter, after a while, you might find yourself longing for fresh air. London has many parks where you can escape on a wintry day to stretch your legs. Right in the middle of the city is Kensington Gardens, which has several memorials that look lovely covered in snow, like the Albert Memorial and Kensington Palace. For a spacious park with lots to explore, try Waterlow Park. This spot features three ponds and hills, perfect for sledding. Another iconic spot is Kew Gardens. In addition to its Christmas festivities, you’ll find quiet places to walk past lakes and through woods, and you can even duck into the greenhouses if you need to warm up for a bit.
Address: Can be found around London
Website: Parks and Green Spaces of London
6. Turn up at the London New Year's Day parade
If you haven’t had enough celebrations on New Year’s Eve, bring yourself out to London’s biggest celebration the next day: the London New Year’s Day Parade! This festive parade is full of marching bands and dancers as well as roller skaters and motorcycle stunt performers. The route lines some of London’s most iconic roads, beginning at Piccadilly Circus and traveling through Trafalgar Square to end at Whitehall. If you plan to view the parade along Waterloo Place, treat yourself to a meal at the LNYDP Street Food Village which will have treats from around the world.
London New Year's Day Parade
Date: January 1, 2019, 12 pm
Website: London New Year’s Day Parade
Few things are more British than afternoon tea, except, perhaps, afternoon tea at one of London’s most iconic locations: Westminster Abbey. The Christmas Special tour through Viator includes tea at Westminster Abbey plus a bus tour of the Christmas lights of London! Your afternoon will start at the Cellarium Café and Terrace, where you’ll enjoy a private tea with traditional English delicacies like tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts including caramelized honey and pear tart and mince pie. After tea, board a luxurious coach with panoramic windows to tour London’s finest Christmas lights displays on Regent Street, Oxford Street, and Trafalgar Square.
Christmas Afternoon Tea at Westminster Abbey and Lights Tour
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
Set in an impressive building with ornate Victorian architecture, the Natural History Museum in London is the perfect backdrop for an ice-skating rink! By booking through Viator, you’ll guarantee your opportunity to experience this popular London attraction. Be sure to arrive 40 minutes before your scheduled time to allow for skate fittings. Then you’ll be all set to skate this beautiful ice rink, which has a huge Christmas tree in the center. There is also a café where you can warm up with a hot drink or bite to eat.
Natural History Museum Ice Rink
Duration: 50 minutes
Though Christmas is the star holiday of a London winter, don’t forget about the other holiday one week later; New Year’s Eve! A unique and exciting way to ring in 2019 would be the New Year’s Eve Dinner and Firework Cruise on the Aurora Clipper. This Viator tour starts at Café Rouge for a delicious three-course dinner, which includes half a bottle of wine per person and a glass of sparkling wine too. After dinner, board the Aurora Clipper for a three-hour cruise that brings you past all of London’s lit-up landmarks. You’ll also be able to see a breathtaking fireworks display over the London Eye.
New Year's Eve Dinner and Firework Cruise on the Aurora Clipper
In a city as rich in history as London is, after learning all about the royalty and castles, you might find yourself wanting to travel back in time. Try out the next best option at the Half-Day London’s Medieval Banquet Christmas Midday Feast! This immersive theatrical production follows a story set in medieval times with gorgeous scenery and costumes. While you watch, you’ll enjoy a five-course meal with traditional English dishes like Christmas pudding and mince pies. To get even more involved in the performances, you can even rent costumes when you arrive!
Half-Day London's Medieval Banquet Christmas Midday Feast
A wonderful winter visit to London
Your first thought, if planning a trip to London in the winter, is that you’ll be limited to staying inside at museums and shops. While you should still include London’s many cultural attractions on your itinerary, use this list to plan some fun events and activities that are unique to the winter months! The things on this list will start disappearing as soon as the weather warms up, so start planning your trip to London today.
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