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Things to Do in December 2021
Photograph: Steve Beech / Shutterstock

London events in December

Your guide to the best activities, events and fun stuff happening in London throughout December 2021

Rosie Hewitson
Written by
Rosie Hewitson
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Can you hear those sleigh bells jingling? Yes, it’s December, and Christmas in London has begun in earnest. See the city skies sparkling with glimmering Christmas lights, fill your ears with Christmas songs, scoff down an indulgent Christmas sandwich, get luxurious festive treats delivered from London restaurants putting together DIY meal kits and liven up a winter walk with a trip to a heated pub garden.

Read our guide for the lowdown on the events, parties, cultural happenings, and things to do taking place in London in December 2021.

NOTE: Plans are changing rapidly at the moment. The information on this page was correct at time of publication, but please check with venues directly before you head out.

RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar

Our December 2021 highlights

  • Restaurants

It is cold, so cold. Head to the nearest cosy outdoor space in London immediately. Luckily, some of our favourite bars and restaurants have been thinking on their frozen feet. So wrap up warm and check out these new outdoor terraces for drinking and dining decked out in wintry decor and adorned with roaring fire pits, patio heaters and enough faux fur to make you think you got stuck in the wardrobe on your way into Narnia. 

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Waterloo

James Graham last three London plays – that’s ‘Quiz’, ‘Labour of Love’ and ‘Ink’ – all hit the West End, so it’s something of a coup for the Young Vic to bag his latest. ‘Best of Enemies’, then, is inspired by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon’s 2015 documentary about the nightly 1969 US TV debates between right and left-leaning intellectuals William F Buckley Jr and Gore Vidal. If it sounds a spot obscure: well yes, it probably is to Brits, but the duo’s snarky clashes were not only magnificently entertaining but also set a template for the combative nature of the US television news of the future.

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  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • King’s Cross

This winter the sport of curling - the one you watch on telly during the Olympics and find curiously engaging - is coming to London, all over London actually, but Coal Drops has a rinks all over its quarteres, more than you could sweep a stick at. It's open every day of the week from noon until 8pm, but booking is encouraged or you might find yourself waiting for a lane to open up. Everyone who has played 'chess on ice' as it's known, leaves with an extra bit of love for it.

  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • Wapping

Want to spend your festive season gazing on London’s sparkling skyscrapers but don’t want to deal with the city’s chilly winter weather? This Christmas at Skylight Tobacco Dock you’ll be able to experience the best of both worlds. The venue boasts skyline views while its rooftop space will be transformed into seasonally appropriate seating with igloo-shaped pods and heated, covered tables keeping that wintry nip at bay. Want to get active while getting into the festive spirit? An ice rink will be returning to the rooftop for the first time since 2019, so you can glide around as London twinkles in the background. Don’t forget to check out the cocktail Christmas cinema, secret speakeasy and après ski lodge too. 

Other cosy pop-ups in London this Christmas.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • South Bank

The National Theatre’s first big musical of the pandemic era is ‘Hex’, an all-singing adaptation of the Sleeping Beauty myth that has raised a few eyebrows for being written by NT artistic director Rufus Norris (on lyrics) and his wife Tanya Ronder (book) alongside Jim Fortune (music), with Norris directing.  There’s a terrific cast, headed by Rosalie Craig, Tamsin Carroll, Kat Ronney and Michael Elcock.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Seven Dials

Provocative Welsh playwright Tim Price adapts Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund acclaimed 2014 black comedy ‘Force Majeure’ (‘Turist’ in the original Swedish) about a husband who – on holiday in the Alps – runs away from an apparent avalanche, leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves. It’s a false alarm – but his actions have repercussions. Donmar boss Michael Longhurst directs a cast headed by the marvellous Rory Kinnear as the hapless Tomas, in a production rescheduled from 2020 thanks to the pandemic.  

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  • Kids

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?

  • Things to do

New Year’s Eve in London means you’re faced with some choices. Sometimes there’s so much choice, in fact, that you end up spending the night indoors with a few loved ones and plenty of booze. We’ve all been there, but London boasts loads of great New Year’s Eve events that should coax even the most reluctant NYE fan out of the house this year. 

 

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Charing Cross

Kander & Ebb’s first great musical masterpiece ‘Cabaret’ has been a familiar-ish sight around London in recent years thanks to Rufus Norris’s hugely successful 2006 revival, which begat numerous UK tours and a second big West End stint in 2012. This brand-spanking new production promises to be a truly distinctive version.

  • 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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  • Art
  • Mayfair

Rachel Jones's huge, sprawling, semi-abstract paintings are one of the highlights of the Hayward's amazing 'Mixing It Up' exhibition (on until December 12), and now we get a whole exhibition of them. For her debut show at Mayfair's Thaddaeus Ropac, you can expect giant canvases of clashing colours, hiding what must be full sets of teeth if you look closely enough.

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