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The Connaught Christmas Tree 2018
© Jamie McGregor Smith The Connaught Christmas Tree 2018

Things to do on Christmas Eve in London

’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the city... there was still plenty of fun to be had

By Time Out London Things To Do
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London doesn’t stop just because Santa’s ready to make his eagerly anticipated annual whizz-round, and neither should you. With so much on offer in the form of twinkling lights, cosy winter pop-ups, and alternative Christmas events for the unconventional, Christmas Eve is the time to take advantage of London’s winter activities before the next day’s festivities find you well-fed and well sleepy in your favourite armchair.

So in anticipation of stuffing yourself from dawn ’til dusk on Xmas day, trade an early night indoors for showing off your moves on the ice, belting out your favourite carols, wandering around Winter Wonderland or finally getting round to that panicked last-minute Christmas gift shop. Make this night before Christmas the best one yet and take a look at our top picks for things to do on Tuesday December 24 2019

We’ll be updating this page with events for Christmas Eve 2019 as they’re announced. 

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to Christmas in London

Spending Christmas Eve 2019 in London?

Sing carols in candlelight

An evening of Christmas carols is a surefire way to get into the festive mood. If by Christmas Eve you're still feeling more like the Grinch than Santa, head to one of London's carol services for candlelight, music and as many Christmas songs as you can handle. There are services at the grandest of venues: try Westminster Abbey, the Royal Albert Hall, St Paul’s, and St Martin-in-the-Fields. 

Ice rink at The Natural History Museum
© Peter Kindersley

Take a spin on the ice

Whether you dance on ice like Christopher Dean or simply scramble around like Bambi, the capital’s outdoor ice rinks are some of the most magical locations you’ll see all season. Book your skating session before the rinks pack up for the year: most of the major ones still open on Christmas Eve. 

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Real Food Christmas Market credit Belinda Lawley (1).jpg
photo: Belinda Lawley

Sip on mulled wine at a market

Perfect for picking up stocking fillers, Christmas markets are also great places to scoff festive foodstuffs. It’s hard to not stuff yourself silly as mulled wine and cider, craft beer, fine cheeses, and mince pies line the stalls at the capital’s best Christmas fairs. Markets at Winter Wonderland, Leicester Square and the Southbank are all still doing a roaring trade on Christmas Eve. 

Santas Grotto (c) Museum of London.jpg
© Museum of London

Make a final trip to see Santa

Father Christmas is making his list and checking it twice so be sure to get your name down in time! Several of London’s grottos still welcome visitors on Christmas Eve, so it’s not too late to share what’s on your wish list.

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Tracey Emin's Christmas Tree at the Connaught
© Mark Arrigo

Check out London’s loveliest Christmas trees

Things to do

London is all dressed up for Christmas, with festive lights hanging on almost every street. But that's not the only thing to gawp at this time of year. Get in the festive spirit by gazing at these lovely firs and pines.

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Selfridges Christmas windows
Selfridges

Squeeze in some last-minute shopping

If you’re not one of the smug shopppers who finished their present-buying back in October, Christmas Eve may well involve a mad dash along Oxford Street. Guiding you in the right direction is our run-down of the capital’s best shops for gifts, stocking fillers and decorations, with Selfridges, Harrods and Liberty are all still open for last-minute business. 

See Kew Gardens all lit up

Wrap up warm and head to Kew Gardens, magically illuminated with fairylights, a fire garden and lasers. That Victorian palm house has never looked so psychadelic. Vintage rides add the fun of the fair, or get toasty with marhsmallows and mulled wine. 

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Aladdin credit Peter Schiazza - Tim Vine, Suzanne Shaw, Graham Hoadly, Gareth Leighton.jpg
© Peter Schiazza

Catch a Christmassy show

If you fancy spending your Christmas Eve screaming ‘he’s behind you’ then boy, have you come to the right place. Tons of silly but seriously entertaining pantos take place across the city, and those still throwing open their doors come Christmas Eve include Theatre Royal Stratford East, Lyric Hammermsith, New Wimbledon Theatre and the Palladium. 

Wander around Winter Wonderland

There’s more Christmas fun at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland than you can shake a foot-long Toblerone at. Santa's grotto, ice skating, mulled wine bars, candy cane stalls and fairy light-lit funfair rides – head here on Christmas Eve and it’ll feel like Christmas has come a day early.

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Looking for things to do in London on Christmas Day?

See our full guide to Christmas in London

Christmas in London

Things to do

There's nothing quite as festive as Christmas in London. Find ideas for fun family outings throughout the Christmas period as well as things to do on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

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