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Christmas at Kew with kids
Photograph: Christmas at Kew, photo Jeff Eden © RBG Kew

Best London Christmas activities for children

Make the festive season even more magical for your little ones at these great Christmas events for kids

Rosie Hewitson
Written by
Rosie Hewitson
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Christmastime is exciting at any age, but it really is the most wonderful time of the year when you’re smaller than one of Santa’s elves. All year long, (hopefully) your little ones have been on their best behaviour in order to be put on Saint Nick’s nice list, so why not make their festive period even more special by taking them to some of London’s amazing Yuletide events for kids? All across the capital, there’s so much wintry fun to be had, from ice rinks, Santa’s grottos, dazzling Christmas lights and Christmas theatre shows. Here’s our guide to the best festive activities for children in London. 

RECOMMENDED: Find more festive fun with our guide to Christmas in London.

Christmas activities for kids in London

  • Theatre
  • Children's

Help make Christmas even more magical while they’re still gullible with a festive theatre show created especially with small people in mind. Treat them to a pre-Christmas present at one of London’s excellent shows for your young ’uns.

  • Kids

Even the mighty Santa’s plans were affected by lockdown in 2020, so we were robbed of our usual face time with the big guy. No such problem this year, he’ll be very busy flitting from London Zoo to Winter Wonderland to Kew and all over London, ho-ho-hoing and dishing out gifts to the capital’s over-excited children. But now it’s more important than ever to book your kids a slot with ol’ Saint Nick in advance to avoid tears and tantrums. Take a look at our guide to 2021’s Santa’s grottos in London and make a date with the one-and-only Father Christmas. 

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  • Things to do
  • Ice skating

Our skating wings were clipped last year, with even the outdoor rinks having to close prematurely. The good news is, most of London’s best ice-skating rinks are back in full force for the 2021-22 season. Winter Wonderland’s is the biggest; Canary Wharf’s is open for the longest period (18 sweet weeks!); Somerset House’s is the most fabulous; and the Natural History Museum’s will be the most missed when it closes FOR EVER come January. Take your pick, lace up your boots and get swishing.

  • Things to do

Even the most Christmas-averse individual cracks a blissed-out smile at the sight of a magical festive light display. And London is never in short supply of some thoroughly excellent ones. A trip to one of these truly spectacular illuminations lighting up our city will fill anyone’s heart with a surfeit of cheer. From the centre of town, out to some of London’s lesser-known displays, we’ll be adding them all to this handy list as soon as they’re announced.

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  • Theatre
  • Panto

Although the 2020 pantomime season was a washout, we’re fervently hoping that 2021 will be back to normal. Certainly all of London’s favourite Christmas shows are back, from our greatest dame Clive Rowe returning to the Hackney Empire, to Julian Clary and the usual crew taking their traditional places in the London Palladium show. Fingers fervently crossed.

Christmas markets and fairs in London
  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs

Every year, throughout November and December, London fills with the kind of markets that host fairy-light-lined stalls, festive street-food sellers and community tombolas. In fact, whether you’re looking for tasty treats, traditional decorations and cutting-edge arts and crafts or are just shopping for a last-minute present, the capital’s selection of Yuletide stalls are here to help. It seems especially fitting to spend the run-up to Christmas Day picking up presents from markets this year, given what a tough two years it’s been for London’s independent businesses. Plus, you can’t deny that even a trip to the touristy German-style chalet market on the South Bank is an unbeatable way to serve those festive feels.

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  • Things to do

Christmas in London is always memorable. There are dazzling festive lights, Yuletide markets, glistening ice rinks and not forgetting the city’s display of twinkling trees. From glamorous traditional firs to minimalistic art installations, every year brings a variety of trees to visit around the capital this winter. Here are some of hte city’s best 

RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Christmas in London.

  • Music
  • Classical and opera

An evening of proper Christmas carols is an absolute must if you’re interested in getting entirely wrapped up in unalloyed festive cheer. Check out our comprehensive round-up of the jolliest and most moving services in the capital. Indoors and outdoors, cathedrals, churches and secular spaces, we’ll be adding to it constantly, as more events are announced. 

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Christmas pop-up cinema in London
  • Film

What’s your favourite Christmas film? Are you a ‘Home Alone’ fan or more of a ‘Love Actually’ devotee? Do you think vintage classics like ’It’s a Wonderful Life’ conjure up festive feels more than genre fare like ‘Die Hard’ or ‘Gremlins’? Whichever seasonal movie is closest to your heart, it’s bound to be screening in London over the next few weeks. Pop-up cinemas are, er, popping up all over the city and many of our beloved independent picture houses have curated ace Christmas-themed seasons and special events.

Quintessential London Christmas activities
  • Things to do

There’s nothing quite like Christmas in London. From the twinkling lights on Oxford Street to sipping mulled wine at the city’s most festive pub (it’s literally covered in Christmas trees), there are so many quintessential London activities to get you in the festive spirit. Whether you fancy doing some good and volunteering or feel like a bit of wreath-making, London’s got you covered.

Pick a perfect pantomime this Christmas

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