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211118 Christmas at Kew
Photograph: Jeff Eden

The best Christmas events in London 2022

Feel like getting festive this season? Here’s our guide to the best Christmas events in London

Rosie Hewitson
Written by
Rosie Hewitson
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Excellent news for all you Christmas enthusiasts: the season to be jolly is right around the corner. And unlike the last couple of unorthodox years, there’s absolutely loads going on this time round. 

That’s right, all the fairy-light festooned Christmas markets? They’re back. ‘Alpine’ private dining pop-ups, increasingly outlandish Christmas sandwiches and OTT light displays – they’re all back in action and ready to dazzle you in 2022. 

Whether you feel like gliding gracefully around one of the city’s winter skating rinks or belting out ‘Hark the Herald’ at a wholesome carol service, there are all sorts to do in London this winter. And because we’re high on merry Christmas spirit, we’ve pulled together some of our top festive picks.

We’ll be updating this page with events for Christmas 2022 as they are announced.

RECOMMENDED: Check out our full guide to Christmas in London

Best Christmas Events in London 2022

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Kew

The mother of all light trails, Christmas at Kew has become a key date in London’s festive calendar as the weird and wonderful foliage in the 300-acre botanic garden is lit up with glistening lights and illuminations. The route will take you past glass houses emblazoned with kaleidoscopic projections, through shimmering tunnels of light and trees drenched in jewel-like colour. 

  • Things to do
  • Concerts
  • St Paul’s

Get yourself feeling ridiculously festive with an evening of carols inside Sir Christopher Wren’s architectural masterpiece, aka The Big Lad aka St Paul’s Cathedral. The legendary London landmark hosts a series of mostly free and unticketed carol concerts each year, alongside a couple of ticketed charity gigs raising money for the likes of Blood Cancer UK and the MS Society. Visit over December for a huge range of concerts, including family-friendly services, a night of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and traditional carols.

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  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • Aldwych

What’s a London Christmas, without Somerset House's iconic ice rink? Skate around the grand neoclassical courtyard on this huge, 900-square-metre outdoor rink, with a 40ft Christmas tree plonked in the middle for maximum Insta-potential. But, the best bit? The legendary weekend Skate Lates are back, bringing banging DJ sets from the city’s best club nights and selectors rinkside. This year slip and slide along to tracks picked an impressive line-up including Pxssy Palace, Girls of Grime and comedian James Acaster.

 

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Shoreditch

The DIY Christmas Art Market is a veritable jamboree of potential gifts – either to give to friends and family, or to treat yourself with. As well as art prints and risograph and screen prints, the market will have t-shirts, patches, comics, tote bags, ceramics, zines and independent publications on its stalls, ready to be wrapped up and put under the tree. 

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  • Things to do
  • Concerts
  • Barbican

Classical music impresario Raymond Gubbay presents his annual handpicked selection of music for the festive season. Highlights include Carols by Candlelight performed in period costume (Dec 19), the film music of Hans Zimmer and John Williams (Dec 27) and the Jingle Bell Christmas with classic tunes and dancers (Dec 29). 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • South Bank

Everyone’s favourite riverside culture hotspot Southbank Centre be aglow again with festive illuminations. Winter Light is a free, open-air exhibition featuring an electric smorgasbord of lightworks (which is what we’re calling these now) from super-talented artists from around the world. All of them make mind-bending use of light, colour and even boundary-pushing film to deal with issues and topics surrounding nature, technology, urban life and spirituality.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Covent Garden

There’s arguably nowhere in London Christmassier than Covent Garden Piazza in December. Alongside the giant baubles and mistletoe-shaped decorations hanging from the marketplace roof, its famous 60ft Christmas tree will also be bathing the cobbles with 30,000 twinkling lights. From December 1, there’ll also be daily flurries of ‘snow’ and live performances from Royal Opera House ballet dancers. Pick up posh foodies bits and stocking fillers at Italian fashion house Dolce&Gabbana’s pop-up Italian food market, take a picture on Santa’s sleigh, watch the cast from ELF the musical have a singsong (Dec 14), join the Mulled Wine or the Christmas sandwich festival or wind your way through the ‘Wonder Wood’ a collection of festive trees decorated by Covent Garden’s horticultural. So. Much. Christmas. 

  • Things to do
  • Spitalfields

This ornate Huguenot house tucked down a backstreet in Spitalfields is a real-life time capsule. Part museum, part art piece, its rooms are decorated to recreate the surroundings of a family home between 1724 and 1914 as if the inhabitants had just left moments before. It gets a seasonal make-over for Christmas with gingerbread figures and figgy pudding mix laid out in the 18th-century kitchen, Christmas trees covered in crimson decorations and a lavish holiday feast set out on the dining room table. 

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Hyde Park

The Grinch would have a real job stealing all the Christmas from Hyde Park’s huge tribute to festive fun. The annual favourite is back for its fifteenth year in 2022. Entry to Winter Wonderland is free during off-peak hours and either £5 or £7.50 during peak times, and you can head along for cheerily lit fairground rides, a child-friendly Santa Land (including Santa’s grotto) and quaint Christmas markets. It’s a real treat for anyone wanting to get into the festive spirit – as long as you’re ready to hear all those songs as you potter around. 

 

  • Things to do
  • Quirky events
  • Hyde Park

One of London’s quirkiest Christmas traditions as well as being one of the oldest, the Peter Pan Cup has been contested on Christmas mornings since 1864. Strictly a spectator event – unless you happen to be a regular, not to mention hardy, member of the Serpentine Swimming Club – the name of the 100-yard swimming race in Hyde Park’s lido derives from the 1904 edition, when author and playwright Sir James Barrie presented the trophy to the winner. The race commences at 9am so head down to watch the brave folk go for it before you start opening your presents.

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  • Things to do
  • Film events
  • Leicester Square

This Christmas, the Prince Charles Cinema said, ‘’Tis the season for a bucketload of films’. Their festive programme this year is filled with the usual suspects, but in typical Prince Charles style there are some curveballs in there, too. Check out ‘Edward Scissor Hands’, and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. The festive season also means the return of the cinema’s famous ‘Muppet Christmas Carol’ singalongs, pyjama parties and movie marathons (think you can manage all three extended versions of Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy?). 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Belgravia

The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City exhibition is back for another popular run in December 2022. The sweetest festive event you’ll find in London, it tasks over 100 leading architects from landscape architects to engineers and designers to use their building know-house to ditch their conventional building materials for dough bricks and sugar paste mortar. This year there’ll be five tiny biscuit cities to see across five different climate zones: Polar, Continental, Temperate, Dry and Tropical, with the pro-builders thinking about how we need to think differently about building around the world. Prepare for a feast for the eyes, but resist the urge to nibble! 

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Richmond Park

Live out all your dark Dickensian dreams on a winter outing that sleighs the competition. Explore Richmond Park or Bushy Park on a traditional carriage ride drawn by a pair of majestic Shire horses from the last working heard in London. Snuggle up in a blanket and clip-clop your way around the park while sipping on sloe gin, eating mince pies and learning about your surroundings from guides and carriage riders that look straight of ‘Great Expectations’, dressed in smock coats and bowler hats. 

  • Things to do
  • City of London

The impressive City of London Victorian shopping arcade bolsters its reputation as being one of the most charming places in London by decking its resplendent halls in festive garlands, mini Christmas trees and twinkling lights for the season. Its glistening transformation begins at 6pm on November 17 when the actual Lord Mayor of London will switch on Leadenhall Market’s Christmas lights, including its giant fir tree at the end. There will be music to sing along to before and after the switch-on too, and the lights will shine on until Twelfth Night.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Olympic Park
The folks behind Two Tribes Brewery have taken over a canalside spot by Hackney Bridge and transformed it into a cosy den with roaring fire pits, festival-style tents, an open-fire kitchen and, of course, a well-stocked bar. The chefs will be cooking up a menu of BBQ dishes from flame-grilled bavette steak to grilled plantain and oyster mushroom tacos. On Sundays, there’ll even be up serving up a special BBQ Sunday roast. To accompany it all, there’s an extensive tap list of ales and lagers and the whole thing will be soundtracked by a rotating roster of emerging London DJs.  
  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Eltham

You may or may not be familiar with Eltham’s lovely Medieval hall and Art Deco mansion, but either way, the former royal residence is having its annual Christmas glow-up. The building is saying, goodbye dark winter nights, and hello to experiencing the past and present of these beautiful grounds and gardens through jazzy illuminations, sound and colour. Wander around the beautiful grounds, including the sunken rose garden and winding moat and set your eyes sparkling. 

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  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • Covent Garden

Dreaming of a kitsch Christmas? New York's famous Miracle on Ninth Street bar is popping up in London for the festive season, bringing ’50s Christmas decorations, nostalgic alpine-themed accessories and creative takes on old school cocktails to Covent Garden. Think of the ’60s stop-motion version of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and you'll have your finger on the vibe of this wistful pop-up. Grab a seat at the bar, described as a ‘chalet living room on Christmas Eve’, and sip on a Snowball Old Fashioned or a Christmapoliton served in vintage, festive glassware. 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Hampstead Heath

Kenwood House is installing a new Christmas light trail at its stately location on Hampstead Heath. Expect a ‘multi-sensory mix of light, fire and sound’, with installations, avenues of glowing trees, laser garden and impressive-looking projections across the grand house’s facade. At the end of the trail, there’ll be hot booze and mince pies. If anywhere in London can make you feel Christmassy, it’s Hampstead Heath.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Brentford

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a dazzling surprise. Syon Park’s 600-year-old woodland garden will be transformed by beautiful illuminations again for Christmas. Follow a glistening trail past luminous sculptures, glowing candles and laser beams around an ornamental lake, alongside the sixteenth-century Syon House, through a historic arboretum to the spectacular Great Conservatory, which will be lit up with tutti-frutti hues. 

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • Greenwich

Fancy whizzing around one of London’s prettiest UNESCO World Heritage sites? South London’s only outdoor ice rink is back in front of Greenwich’s resplendent Queen’s House. Slip and slide on the ice while taking in some sweet views of the historic area’s iconic architecture and the glittering lights of Canary Wharf. Warm up after your icy stint with hot drinks and seasonal snacks at Benugo’s right next to the rink.  

 

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

Pretend you’re on holiday in the Swiss Alps as King Cross’s Granary Square and Coal Drops Yard are transformed into an ‘illuminated alpine festive wonderland’ for winter. Nearly every inch of the glam shopping space will receive an apres ski twist with a huge 35ft Christmas tree popping up in the middle of Coal Drops Yard, glowing winter sculptures along the canal steps, an apres ski bar serving up hot toddies and wintery cocktails and a huge curling rink where you can knock stones across the ice with a drink in hand. Looking for unique and special Christmas presents? They’ve got you covered. Over six weeks, there’ll be a changing line-up of eight markets each with a wealth of gifts from festive street food, fashion, vintage vinyl, arts and crafts and more. 

Fancy something more unusual?

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