London events in December

Your guide to the best activities, events and fun stuff happening in London throughout December 2018
Andrea Pucci/ Flickr
By Time Out London Things To Do |
Advertising

Can you hear those sleigh bells jingling? Of course you can. It’s December in London and that means winter has truly arrived and Christmas in London has begun. See the city skies sparkling with glimmering Christmas lights, fill your ears with Christmas songs, swap your lunchtime sushi for an indulgent Christmas sandwich, pig out on even more luxurious menus at London's best restaurants and watch the pubs in London get even buzzier than normal and head one of the festive parties popping up all around town. 

If Christmas is just one big old bore for you, don't worry! There's huge helpings of cosy winter pop-ups and brilliant events without the tinsel trappings to enjoy in London. Plus, there's the epic New Year celebrations to start planning. Read our guide for the lowdown on the events, parties, cultural happenings and things to do taking place in London in December 2018.

RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar

Our December 2018 highlights

Things to do, Food and drink events

Hotboozapalooza

icon-location-pin Night Tales, Hackney
icon-calendar

At Time Out's anti-mulled wine event you can warm up with toasty tipples – including warmed-up twists on the classic cocktails and modern takes on winter punch - from Hendrick’s, Monkey Shoulder, Glenfiddich and Reyka. Down with mulled wine, it's hot cocktail time!

Things to do, Walks and tours

Christmas at Kew Gardens

icon-location-pin Kew Gardens, Kew
icon-calendar

See Kew's incredible gardens get another magnificent seasonal makeover as illuminations light up the botanical gardens and bring the buildings and plants to life. 

Advertising
Things to do, Festivals

Winterville

icon-location-pin Clapham Common, Clapham
icon-calendar

This festive playground is back. Get ready for more dancing, eating, laughing, drinking and skating than you can shake a snow globe at. 

Theatre, Drama

‘A Christmas Carol’

icon-location-pin Old Vic, Southwark
icon-calendar

‘A Christmas Carol’ returns for Christmas 2018 with Stephen Tompkinson as Ebenezer Scrooge. It's is the Coldplay of festive theatre: big, bombastic and happy, and overwhelmingly winsome.

Time Out says
Advertising
Things to do, Ice skating

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

icon-location-pin Natural History Museum, Brompton
icon-calendar

Slip and slide on London’s most enchanting ice rink, thanks to the beautiful backdrop of Alfred Waterhouse's buildings, a row of trees dripping in fairy lights and a majestic Christmas tree in the middle of the ice. 

Things to do, Exhibitions

Hogwarts in the Snow

icon-location-pin Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter, Abbots Langley
icon-calendar

The Harry Potter studio tours get a festive makeover once more this Winter, with Christmas trees and a seasonal feast in the Great Hall, decorations in Gryffindor common room and snow drifts in Diagon Alley.

Time Out says
Advertising
Dick Whittington, Lyric Hammersmith
© Tristram Kenton
Theatre, Panto

‘Dick Whittington’

icon-location-pin Lyric Hammersmith, Hammersmith
icon-calendar

Christmas time means panto time, so why not kick off the season in style with a little Dick Whittington. The show focuses on internet-age jokes and clear storytelling instead of the traditional ‘he's behind you’ stuff. It's the edgiest panto around.

Time Out says
How to Catch a Krampus, Sink the Pink
© Ali Wright
Theatre, Musicals

‘How to Catch a Krampus’

icon-location-pin Pleasance Theatre, Lower Holloway
icon-calendar

Give camp as Christmas a whole new meaning at London drag collective Sink The Pink's ‘How to Catch a Krampus.’ Imagine  ‘Sweeney Todd’ meets ‘The Wicker Man’ plus bucketfuls of glitter.

Time Out says
Advertising
Theatre, Musicals

‘Company’

icon-location-pin Gielgud Theatre, Soho
icon-calendar

In Marianne Elliot's gender-swap production you can expect plenty of thrilling twists, turns and drama that'll have you on the edge of your seats. 

Time Out says
Theatre, Musicals

‘Hadestown’

icon-location-pin National Theatre, South Bank
icon-calendar

Hit up the stage version of Anais Mitchell's hit ‘folk opera’. Go for the wonderfully eccentric casting and sensational songs. 

Time Out says
Advertising
Theatre, Drama

‘Summer and Smoke’

icon-location-pin Duke of York’s Theatre, Covent Garden
icon-calendar

The Almeida's stunning Tennessee Williams revival hits the West End. The real highlight is Patsy Ferran who gives the performance of the year.

Time Out says
Giovanni Bellini, 'The Dead Christ'. Copyright Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz. Photo: Jörg P. Anders.
Art, Painting

‘Mantegna and Bellini’

icon-location-pin National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
icon-calendar

The first exhibition to focus on the links between Andrea Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini, two of the most influential painters of the Italian Renaissance. 

Time Out says
Advertising
Things to do, Ice skating

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

icon-location-pin Natural History Museum, Brompton
icon-calendar

London’s most enchanting ice rink, thanks to the beautiful backdrop of Alfred Waterhouse's buildings, a row of trees dripping in fairy lights and a majestic Christmas tree in the middle of the ice.

Things to do, pop-ups

Sipsmith Gin Shop

icon-location-pin 192 Piccadilly, St James'
icon-calendar

Look lively ginthusiasts. London distillery Sipsmiths has created a festive pop-up shop where you can warm your cockles with a hot G&T, or pick up boozy Christmas gifts. 

Advertising
Macbeth, Shakespeare's Globe
© Johan Persson
Theatre, Shakespeare

‘Macbeth’

icon-location-pin Shakespeare's Globe, South Bank
icon-calendar

See globe boss Michelle Terry and husband Paul Ready in The Scottish Play. It's a fresh - even funny - take on the tragedy. 

Time Out says
GUIDO MANUILO
Things to do, Event spaces

Bumper Cars on Ice

icon-location-pin Castle Square, Elephant Road, Elephant and Castle
icon-calendar

Bring the whole family along to London’s only bumper cars on ice and your kids will be bouncing with joy. Besides bumper cars you can also show off your ice-skating skills on the rink and tuck into festive food and drink. 

Advertising
Chiswick House, After Dark
© James Wicks
Things to do, Late openings

After Dark

icon-location-pin Chiswick House and Gardens, Chiswick
icon-calendar

If you’re looking for an antidote to London’s traditional Christmas lights, head to Chiswick House and Gardens to see this super slick light display responding to the 18th-century grounds.

Things to do, Ice skating

Tower of London Ice Rink

icon-location-pin Tower of London, Tower Hill
icon-calendar

Fancy whizzing around one of London’s most famous landmarks? Located in the dry moat, the Tower of London ice rink offers a grand historical setting for seasonal skating sessions. 

Advertising
Advertising
Things to do, Ice skating

Natural History Museum Ice Rink Acoustic Lates

icon-location-pin Natural History Museum, Brompton
icon-calendar

Glide past the stunning backdrop of one of London’s best-loved landmarks and bop along to live music at their Acoustic Lates, curated by Ticketmaster Artist Services happening every Thursday throughout November, December and January. 

Things to do

Christmas in London

London at Christmas time is pretty darn magical. Discover ideas for fun family outings throughout the Christmas period, plus fun things to do on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day in the capital. 

Advertising
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Southbank Centre Wintertime Market

icon-location-pin Southbank Centre, South Bank
icon-calendar

You’ll find plenty more than baubles and gingerbread to tempt you in the wooden chalets that make up this iconic Christmas market. Stock up on festive food and tipples, unique gifts, stocking fillers and treats.

Things to do, Markets and fairs

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

icon-location-pin Hyde Park, Kensington
icon-calendar

The Grinch would have a real job stealing all the Christmas from Hyde Park's massive tribute to festive fun, which is back with fairground rides, a child-friendly Santa Land, Christmas markets, ice rink, Victorian bandstand and family-friendly Christmas shows. 

Advertising
Things to do

Christmas lights in London

Dazzle your eyes be taking a peek at London's twinkling Christmas lights. The illuminations give London an instant festive makeover. Plan a wintery outing with our guide to all the main lights in London for Christmas 2018. 

Shopping, Markets and fairs

Christmas markets and fairs in London

Swap stressful Christmas shopping in busy department stores for something a little more laid back. We've got you covered with our guide to London’s loveliest Christmas markets and festive fairs. 

Advertising
Things to do, Ice skating

Skate at Somerset House

icon-location-pin Somerset House, Temple
icon-calendar

No matter how unimpressive your skating skills, a trip to this 900-square-metre outdoor rink will be the very definition of festive fun. 

Advertising
© Peanuts
Art

‘Good Grief, Charlie Brown!’

icon-location-pin Somerset House, Temple
icon-calendar

Take a look back in time at the history of ‘Peanuts’ and the art development behind the iconic Charlie Brown and Snoopy characters. It's the largest and most definitive ‘Peanuts’ collection. Good grief!

 

Time Out says
PhotoGeek
Things to do, Concerts

Age UK Love Christmas Carol Concert

icon-location-pin St Paul's Cathedral, St Pauls
icon-calendar

In a real coup for Christmas spirit, Age UK – a charity who are working to help older people combat loneliness – have organised this carol concert at St Paul's Cathedral to raise funds. 

Advertising
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Late Night Shopping at Old Spitalfields Market

icon-location-pin Old Spitalfields Market, Spitalfields
icon-calendar

Dazzling Christmas lights, wreath-making workshops, a gospel choir and a makers’ market will provide the Yuletide feels at the launch of this shopping bonanza. 

Things to do, pop-ups

Tits London Pop-Up Shop

icon-location-pin The Artworks Elephant, Elephant and Castle
icon-calendar

Feel good about splashing your cash at this market that champions women designers and sends 10 percent of the proceeds to the CoppaFeel! breast cancer charity.

Advertising
Things to do, Film events

Rivoli Ballroom Christmas Pop-Up Cinema

icon-location-pin Rivoli Ballroom, Brockley
icon-calendar

Settle down in the beautiful surrounding of the Rivoli Ballroom – one of the last remaining ballrooms round – to watch festive faves ‘Home Alone’ and ‘Elf’.  

Art, Contemporary art

Flo Brooks: ‘Scrubbers’

icon-location-pin Project Native Informant, Smithfield
icon-calendar

See weird-shaped contemporary paintings of cleaners. It's so full of colour, symbols and humour that you'll never want to leave. 

Time Out says
Advertising
Things to do, pop-ups

Curiosity Rooms

icon-location-pin 55 Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus
icon-calendar

Whizz down a colourful slide, check out stalls from local makers and catch brilliant talks, podcast recordings and music events at Google Pixel’s central London pop-up. 

Christmas Canopy Market, King's Cross
John Sturrock
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Christmas Canopy Market at King's Cross

icon-location-pin Canopy Market, King's Cross
icon-calendar

Now it’s mulled wine season we're super grateful for this covered-Christmas market, which means you can get on with browsing handmade gifts, graduate art from UAL, vinyl records and more, without the risk of getting rained on.

Advertising
Things to do, Late openings

Columbia Road Christmas Wednesdays

icon-location-pin Columbia Rd, Bethnal Green
icon-calendar

The road famous for its flower market is fast becoming known for its annual late night Christmas events too. This Wednesday shopping evening sees the street's independent shops stay open until 9pm. 

Things to do, Markets and fairs

Maltby Street Christmas Night Market

icon-location-pin Maltby Street Market, Bermondsey
icon-calendar

Guzzle Christmas dishes from around the globe as the iconic food market’s finest traders set up their stalls after dark beneath Bermondsey’s fairy-light-festooned Victorian railway arches. 

Advertising
© Alex Katz/DACS, London/VAGA, New York. Image courtesy of Timothy Taylor, London/New York
Art

Alex Katz: ‘Coca-Cola Girls’

icon-location-pin Timothy Taylor, London
icon-calendar

See flat, elegant paintings of retro girls by a modern master. Into his nineties, Katz has somehow still got it. 

Time Out says
Things to do, Food and drink events

The Baileys Treat Bar

icon-location-pin 9-11 Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials, Covent Garden
icon-calendar

Nothing says Christmas quite like a glass of Baileys. Lucky for you, the delicious Irish cream liqueur pop-up returns to the Capital with its festive Alpine-themed Treat Bar. 

Advertising
Nick Matthews
Things to do, Food and drink events

Winterland London's Alpine Club

icon-location-pin Neverland London, Parsons Green
icon-calendar

Winterland London is returning to Fulham for the festive season, and will be turning back the clocks with a theme that channels the Alps of the '80s and '90s.

Theatre, Drama

‘White Teeth’

icon-location-pin Kiln Theatre, Kilburn
icon-calendar

See this wildly eccentric staging of Zadie Smith's hit novel. It's full of ludicrous energy. 

Time Out says
Advertising
Things to do, Walks and tours

Enchanted Eltham Palace

icon-location-pin Eltham Palace, Eltham
icon-calendar

See south-east London's glorious art deco mansion Eltham Palace looking all kinds of magical on this torch-lit trail of fairy light tunnels, a light maze and holographic talking birds. Warm up after with a post-walk mince pie.

Things to do, Exhibitions

A Very Dickensian Christmas Eve

icon-location-pin Charles Dickens Museum, Holborn
icon-calendar

Step back in time and relive a Christmas miracle as the Charles Dickens’ Museum comes to life with theatrical scenes from 'A Christmas Carol'. 

Advertising
Things to do, Food and drink events

Miracle

icon-location-pin The Henrietta Hotel, Covent Garden
icon-calendar

New York's famous Miracle on Ninth Street bar is popping up in London with ’50s Christmas decorations, nostalgic alpine-themed accessories and creative takes on old school cocktails to bring you a kitsch Christmas. 

Things to do, Food and drink events

Jimmy Garcia's The Lodge on the River

icon-location-pin The BBQ Club, South Bank
icon-calendar

Jimmy Garcia is bringing his Lodge on the River back to the Southbank for the festive period this year, and it's set to be his most luxurious pop-up yet. The highlight is the return of the snow globe igloos. 

Advertising
Things to do, Quirky events

Peter Pan Cup

icon-location-pin Serpentine Lido, Knightsbridge
icon-calendar

Strictly a spectator event - unless you happen to be a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club - the Peter Pan Cup race through the Serpentine's icy waters takes place each year on Christmas morning.

© Thomas Alexander
Restaurants

London restaurants open on Christmas Day

Looking for a traditional Christmas meal without all the faff? Or perhaps turkey isn’t your thing, but you’d still like to dine out on 25 December? Time Out's Food Editors round up the best places to eat on Christmas Day.

Advertising
Skate at Somerset House, ice rink
© Life After Print Ltd.
Things to do, Ice skating

Ice skating in London

Whether your ice skating skills are jaw-droppingly magnificent or utterly non-existent, you'll still find London's ice rinks as enchanting as ever. 

Things to do

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

icon-location-pin Thames Riverside, South Bank
icon-calendar

The magnificent fireworks display that showers the Thames with light each New Year's Eve is back. See the impressive display featuring more than 12,000 fireworks and Big Ben’s famous bongs, which will sound for the special occasion. 

Advertising
New Year's Eve Fireworks in London, with Big Ben
© Stewart Marsden
Things to do

New Year's Eve and New Year in London

London is one of the best places in the world to be for New Year celebrations. Fact. Never one to miss out on a party, the capital is fully prepared with loads of New Year's Eve parties and events up its sparkly sleeve, as well as the mighty NYE firework display over the Thames. 

Clubs

New Year’s Eve parties in London

New Year's Eve parties are ten to the dozen in London, from quirky fancy dress events to heads-core raving. Our definitive list of events rounds up the many nights taking place, making it easy to track down your perfect NYE bash, whatever you're looking for.

Advertising
MICKEY LEE MEDIAMIXER.CO.UK
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Christmas at Leadenhall Market

icon-location-pin Leadenhall Market, Aldgate
icon-calendar

Christmas returns to the City as Leadenhall Market gets lit up for the festive season with a 20-foot tree taking centre stage. 

Things to do

Christmas by the River

icon-location-pin More London, London Bridge
icon-calendar

The banks of the River Thames are home to this annual winter market again. With views of Tower of London and Tower Bridge, plus an ace combination of homemade gifts and delicious food sold from German-style chalets, it's a festive winner.

Advertising
Ernest Nister 'Mrs Tabitha's Cats Academy' (1892). Image courtesy of the British Library
Museums

Cats on the Page

icon-location-pin British Library, Euston
icon-calendar

Celebrate all your favourite much-loved feline favourites in this eclectic and unexpected exhibition. We're not kitten around it's utter purr-fection (sorry).

Time Out says
Things to do, Walks and tours

Dennis Severs' Annual Christmas Installation

icon-location-pin Dennis Severs’ House, Spitalfields
icon-calendar

Step into Christmas, circa 1724. This frozen-in-time house, tucked away down a Liverpool St sidestreet has been given a festive makeover, complete with freshly wrapped presents, the sound of carollers and the aroma of a Christmas dinner.

Advertising
Things to do, Quirky events

Vampire Yoga

icon-location-pin Lost Boys Pizza, Upper Holloway
icon-calendar

Experience a yoga session with a gothic spin. This vampire fitness class followed by pizza definitely won't suck.

Theatre, West End

‘War Horse’

icon-location-pin National Theatre, South Bank
icon-calendar

Experience the unforgettable journey of National Theatre's famous puppet-powered War Horse. It's back just in time for Christmas.

Time Out says
Advertising
Things to do, Festivals

Southbank Centre Winter Festival

icon-location-pin Southbank Centre, South Bank
icon-calendar

The riverside venue will also be celebrating the coldest season with a fistful of fun pop-ups and activities. Visit the annual Winter Market, watch Glittery Clittery's feminist, festive comedy cabaret and dress up at the Snow Ball. 

Theatre, Children's

‘Huddle’

icon-location-pin Unicorn Theatre, London Bridge
icon-calendar

See everybody's favourite antarctic animal IRL. This lovely kids' show about a single-dad penguin explores what life is like as a bird. 

Time Out says
Advertising
Things to do, Ice skating

Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink

icon-location-pin Hampton Court Palace, London
icon-calendar

Skate around Henry VIII's sixteenth-century pad this festive season. Hampton Court Palace makes a mighty picturesque backdrop for this outdoor rink, especially when lit up after dark. 

Things to do, Exhibitions

Museum of Architecture Gingerbread City

icon-location-pin V&A, Brompton
icon-calendar

The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City is back and this year it's filling the mighty V&A with impressive models made of dough. Look out for gingerbread house making workshops and don’t be tempted to nibble on your creation.

Advertising
Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery New York, Paris and London
Art

Dara Birnbaum

icon-location-pin Marian Goodman Gallery, Soho
icon-calendar

See this show full of influential video art about propaganda and surveillance. It's terrifying and very, very necessary. 

Time Out says
Tobacco Dock. The Dock. Winter Skylight
© Steve Dunlop
Things to do, pop-ups

Winter at Skylight Rooftop

icon-location-pin Skylight London , Wapping
icon-calendar

Take your pirouettes to new heights on Skylight’s rooftop ice rink. Find the frozen stretch sat alongside a cluster of cosy igloos and huts where you can knock back mugs of mulled wine. 

Advertising
Rachel Maclean 'The Queen' (2013) © Rachel Maclean
Art

Rachel Maclean: The Lion and The Unicorn

icon-location-pin National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
icon-calendar

‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ is a whole show that's beautifully costumed, perfectly surreal and ultra-sardonic takedown of the Anglo-Scottish relationship.

Time Out says
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Museums

‘Fashioned from Nature’

icon-location-pin V&A, Brompton
icon-calendar

Delve in to the complex relationship between fashion and nature from 1600 to the present day at this V&A exhibition. Featuring Alexander McQueen’s final complete collection and brands working with ingenious new technologies to make fashion more sustainable. 

Time Out says
Advertising
Photo : Philippe Servent. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London · Paris · Salzburg © Robert Rauschenberg/DACS
Art

Robert Rauschenberg: ‘Spreads 1975-83’

icon-location-pin Thaddaeus Ropac, Mayfair
icon-calendar

This single series of works focuses on just one bit of Rauschenberg's work, whch is a proper treat. Delve into the parallels between tyres and fruit, denim and canvas, human and machine.

Time Out says
Things to do, Exhibitions

Prop Art

icon-location-pin Radisson Blu Edwardian, Hampshire, Leicester Square
icon-calendar

Vendors of rare movie memorabilia, MovieMania, have put together an exhibition brimming with famous movie props and production artefacts. 

Advertising
Theatre, Comedy

‘Don Quixote’

icon-location-pin Garrick Theatre, Covent Garden
icon-calendar

See this hilarious take on a classic. Rufus Hound is a hoot. 

Time Out says
See what's on in January

GYG London Widget

Snap up exclusive discounts in London

Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...

Advertising