Christmas Events and Attractions in London
There's never a dull moment in London town, and this Christmas there are plenty of weird and wonderful activities to keep you entertained. So, here's our guide to some of the best festive events worth braving the chilly outdoors for.
Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AB | Tube: Kew Gardens Station
26th November - 3rd January 2015
A mile-long illuminated trail transforms Kew into an enchanted winter wonderland.
This Christmas, for the very first time, Kew Gardens opens its doors after dark entrancing visitors a mile-long illuminated trail through an enchanted winter landscape. On your way you will encounter light, sound, performance and interactive installations for all ages to 'play' in the garden. In addition, the whole of the beautiful botanic gardens are transformed into a Christmas wonderland with the Christmas village offering family entertainment in the form of festive nibbles, Christmas shopping, nightly live Christmas carols, a Victorian carousel and fairground rides as well as Santa's woodland grotto. On illuminated trail evenings there's a Boutique Christmas market, from 4.30pm until 10pm, selling an assortment of gifts and tempting food treats.
Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3DT | Tube: Old Street Station
28th November - 21st December 2014
A different themed event for each night of the week.
New for 2014, Grotto Outre is a unique and welcome addition to London's festive calendar. Centred on a Christmas experience with an adult twist, it presents a themed event for each night of the week. Weekdays are relatively muted, with a movie night, festive bingo and a quiz, while at the weekend things are taken up a gear; Friday sees the Ice Queen, Elf King and Mad Professor present Thank F*ck It's Christmas, bringing in the weekend in style with the UK's freshest DJs; and Saturday presents Swap-a-HoHo, where guests must remove one item of clothing and swap it for something festive from the washing line every time the jingle bells chime.
Dennis Severs' House, 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6BX | Tube: Liverpool Street Station
30th November - 5th January 2015
Take a candle-lit trip back to the 18th Century at Dennis Severs' historic home.
The atmospheric Silent Night candle-lit tours of Dennis Severs' House are particularly fun at this time of year. The house was created by Dennis Severs to give an insight into family life in the 18th century and he lived here up until 1999 much as they would have done, without electricity. Through a series of special 'Silent Night' Christmas openings you can experience this spectacularly original 'living theatre' in London's East End by torch or candle light. You'll follow a guide through the house, in silence, seeing signs of their presence - the smell of baking, a half-eaten apple, or similar - but never actually quite catching them. It'll make you want to drink mulled wine and sit by an open fire wrapped in a shawl. There is now an option to enjoy an exclusive visit to the house, for those that want to delve a little deeper into the past. An unusual but entirely appropriate outing for Christmas. Booking essential for evening tours.
East Village, Victory Park Celebration Avenue, London, E20 1DB | Tube: Stratford Station
30th November - 2nd January 2015
A forest of 14 giant 'Frozen Trees' made out of IKEA plastic bag dispensers.
A forest of 14 giant 'Frozen Trees' made out of 1,296 reusable and recyclable IKEA plastic bag dispensers is illuminated from early morning to late evening creating a forest of light on dark and wintry nights. Planted in the southern end of Victory Park in the former Olympic Athletes' Village, Portuguese designers LIKE Architects have created the installation, putting a twist on the usual Christmas lights.
Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL | Tube: South Kensington Station
4th December - 11th January 2015
Solve clues set by an evil queen to find the magic mirror.
Following Scrooge's Cryptic Christmas Trail in 2013, HiddenCity are once again offering a festive scavenger hunt this year. The Enchanted Mirror is a fairytale adventure that asks teams to solve clues received by text from an evil queen in order to find the hidden magical mirror and be rewarded. The trail will take participants down cobbled streets, through galleries and to tucked-away taverns, providing the chance to enjoy a rejuvenating beverage, or three, along the way. The trail typically takes three to four hours and no local knowledge is required.
Saturday 5th December 2015
Get down to Covent Garden to watch 150 Christmas puddings tackle a festive obstacle course.
You're familiar with the egg and spoon race. Well how about the Christmas Pudding Race? Covent Garden Piazza swells with spectators as about 150 contestants in teams of six don fancy dress and race around a course strewn with flour-filled balloons, foam jets and other obstacles - all while trying to balance a Christmas pudding on a flimsy plate! The race has been going on every year since 1980 and it raises money for Cancer Research. At this time of year Covent Garden is a great place to be, with shops full of Christmas decorations and street entertainers putting on some diverting shows before and after the main event. The perfect way to break up a day of Christmas shopping in Covent Garden's collection of stylish stores.
6th December 2014
Hundreds of mad Santas run wild on the streets of London.
Santacon, previously known as Santathon, is a bizarrely brilliant custom involving a gang of Santas running around town, singing customised carols, giving out gifts, and encouraging strangers to sit on their laps. What exactly is the point of all this?...we hear you ask. Well, these guys just want to celebrate Christmas and spread a whole lot of festive cheer. The rules for participating Santas are threefold a) be jolly b) wear a Santa suit, and c) don't get arrested. The meeting point and route is top secret and won't be announced until the day before, so keep an eye on the website for a full guide on how and where to get Santa-fied.
6th - 13th December 2014
An enchanting immersive journey through the Vaults.
The Hackney Colliery and Familia De La Noche have teamed up to present The Dance Before Christmas, an enchanting journey through The Vaults which culminates in one big Christmassy knees up. Upon arrival guests are treated to a complimentary mulled toffee apple before being led through the tunnels, where each room will gradually unfold to reveal new experiences and immersive theatre. Once the journey comes to an end, it will be time to dance the night away to Balkan beats, electro swing and pop favourites, as well as live music and roaming cabaret performances.
Studio 338, 338 Boord Street, Greenwich, London, SE10 0PF | Tube: North Greenwich Station
6th - 13th December 2014
London's biggest nightclub creates a grotto for grown-ups.
London's biggest club, Studio 338, hosts the UK's first-ever clubbing snow installation this Christmas. The Studio 338 Christmas Special features more than 30 metres of custom-made giant baubles and 25 metres of custom made snowflakes hung from the roof. Add to that 10,000 fairy lights, a real smoking chimney, a luminous reindeer and sleigh, and four snow machines and you've got yourself a grotto for grown-ups. Two Christmas specials will take place at the winter wonderland, with headliners including Dinky, Thomas Melchior, T. Williams and Edu Imbernon.
Town Hall Hotel, 8 Patriot Square, London, E2 9NF | Tube: Bethnal Green Station
9th - 11th December 2014
An immersive, booze-fuelled celebration of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
Presented by the Robin Collective, A Patron Christmas Carol is an immersive, booze-fuelled celebration of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Taking place at Bethnal Green's Town Hall, it leads guests on a tequila-inspired journey meeting The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and The Ghost of Christmas Future along the way. There will be a 1980s-themed Christmas bar, a room full of presents, futuristic light installations, an inhalable cocktail machine and complimentary Patrón cocktails. The office Christmas party sure has some competition.
17th December - 5th January 2015
This award-winning theatrical sensation will leave you knee deep in snow.
The multi-award winning sensation, Slava's Snowshow has delighted audiences in over 80 cities around the world including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Hong Kong and Moscow. And now this visual masterpiece returns to London for a fourth year for another 3-week season at the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre this Christmas. Loved by children and adults alike, Slava's Snowshow is a combination of theatrical clowning and stunning spectacle performed by the internationally renowned company of clowns lead by Slava Polunin. Experience a unique dream-like world which culminates in a breathtaking blizzard leaving you (literally) knee deep in snow! The Independent was moved to describe it as "simply thrilling - an unmissable comedy masterpiece." Recommended for ages 8 and above, this is definitely one not to miss.
Serpentine Boating Lake, The Boat House, Serpentine Road, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH | Tube: Knightsbridge Station
25th December 2014
This brave (and crazy) bunch love nothing more than an icy dip in the Serpentine.
This lot are a hardy bunch but tradition is tradition and members of the Serpentine Swimming Club have been plunging themselves into the Serpentine lake's icy waters every Christmas Day since 1864. At temperatures of below four degrees Celsius in winter, the swimmers will want to get a wiggle on so it's lucky that they are all in hot pursuit of the prestigious Peter Pan Cup. The name of the 100-yard race dates back to 1904 when J.M Barrie, the creator of the boy who refused to grow up, presented the first cup. While most of us are still tucked up in bed or delving into our stocking the competitors line up (and pretend not to shiver) for their 9am start, a jolly crowd gathers to witness the spectacle. It's a great way to get some fresh air on Christmas morning and you'll feel like you've earned your post-lunch snooze. Behind you, Hyde Park offers a wonderful wintry landscape and, if you want to continue the Peter Pan theme, why not nip across to see the famous statue in Kensington Gardens. It was so cold and snowy in 2010 that the race had to be cancelled - although some intrepid souls still broke holes in the ice in order to have a quick dip.
1st August 2015
In this article
- Christmas at Kew Gardens
- Grotto Outre
- Silent Night tours at Dennis Severs' House
- Frozen Trees by LIKE Architects
- HiddenCity: The Enchanted Mirror
- Great Christmas Pudding Race
- The Dance Before Christmas
- The Studio 338 Christmas Special
- A Patron Christmas Carol
- Slava's Snowshow (Over 8s)
- Peter Pan Cup Swimming Race
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