The best things to do in London this winter 2018

Save on your central heating bill and venture out this season with our pick of the best things to do in London this winter
Winter in London
By Things To Do Editors, Katie McCabe, Liz Tray and Stephanie Hartman |

Put down the cocoa – hiding under a blanket is not an option in winter 2018. So what if temperatures are plummeting? Your social life is heating up with exciting new launches, photography and fashion exhibitions, and great new things to do in London. Sip steaming hot cocktails at the return of Hotboozapalooza, get dab-happy at a new London bingo venue, visit a gingerbread city or sweat it out at a wellness festival. Here’s your guide to making the most of London in December 2018, past Christmas, through the New Year and into January and February 2019. 

RECOMMENDED: More amazing things to do in London

The best things to do in London this winter

Things to do, Quirky events

Dabbers Social Bingo

icon-location-pin Aldgate

The people behind brand new venue Dabbers Social Bingo say their aim is to reinvigorate the classic game while respecting its roots. You’ll still have crowds clutching bingo cards, but think comedians instead of callers and burlesque dancers instead of fruit machines. Each day of the week will bring a new theme: it’ll be cranking up the UV for Disco Bingo Saturdays, poaching eggs for Family Brunch Bingo Sundays and hosting Vintage Bingo Tuesdays. Eyes down, we’re feeling lucky!

Want more? Try our pick of the best bingo haunts in London

Things to do, Ice skating

Canary Wharf Ice Rink

icon-location-pin Canary Wharf Ice Rink, Canary Wharf

Keep honing your skating skills in Canary Wharf. The business district’s soaring towers lend the ice rink an imposing backdrop, and some exciting extras help it to keep up with its extravagant surroundings. The bar will be serving seasonal drinks and visitors who don’t fancy skating can admire those on the ice (or giggle at them trying not to fall over) from the heated outdoor viewing terrace. 

Things to do, Walks and tours

Enchanted Eltham Palace

icon-location-pin Eltham Palace, Eltham

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

Things to do, Exhibitions

Museum of Architecture Gingerbread City

icon-location-pin V&A, Brompton

The Museum of Architecture’s sweet exhibition is back, and this time its delightful dough structures are filling the V&A’s Creative Studio with the scent of Christmas. Architects, designers and engineers have been beavering away, swapping standard building materials for spiced-biscuit walls, icing cement and gumdrop decorations. Working to a brief to imagine a future city in biscuit form, the aim is to connect the public with architecture in a playful way. Expect results that are a hundred times better than that crumby shack you made last year.

Restaurants, Street food

Boxpark Wembley

icon-location-pin Wembley Park

Three is the magic number for Boxpark, the pop-up mall concept whose Shoreditch and Croydon sites are about to be joined by a whopping great location in Wembley. The biggest version to date will open with a weekend of partying on December 8 and 9, featuring a takeover from Rinse FM and a stellar line-up of DJs on the Saturday, followed by a night of fun with Bingo Lingo and Charlie Smith on the Sunday. If food’s what you’re in the market for, you’ll find Ugly Dumpling, Nanny Bills, Smoky Boys and Cut + Grind serving up the good stuff.

Venue says In 2018 we’re heading north – to Wembley – for the launch of Boxpark 3.0!

Things to do, Film events

Pop-Up Screens: Cinema in the Snow

icon-location-pin Hackney Showroom, Shacklewell

Netflix and chill is well and truly over (as a phrase anyway, we’re all still bingeing on ‘Narcos’). If you want a real winter cinema experience, you have to leave the confines of your living room. Peripatetic cinema club Pop Up Screens is about to launch a season of festive films, screened in a snow-filled grotto that you reach through a magic wardrobe. There’ll be up to three screenings a day, including ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ and ‘Love Actually’ (of course). 


Jonny Woo’s All Star Brexit Cabaret

icon-location-pin London Coliseum, Covent Garden

The Glory’s co-owner and all-round East End legend Jonny Woo is heading west for one night only, to bring his ‘Brexit Cabaret’ to central London. Jayde Adams, Le Gateau Chocolat and the Theresa May Choir are part of the sparkling cast who’ll be performing songs such as ‘Referendum-dumb’ ‘Swivel-Eyed Loon’ and ‘The Ballot Box Ballad’ in the spangle-drenched satire which got rave reviews in Edinburgh earlier in the year.

Things to do, Quirky events

Winter Lights at Canary Wharf

icon-location-pin Canary Wharf, Canary Wharf

For the majority of the year Canary Wharf isn’t high on our list of London spots to hit up if you’re looking for cheeriness, but every January a warm, glowy feeling descends on the financial district thanks to this annual spectacular. The area’s towering skyscrapers become the backdrop for Winter Lights, a collection of illuminating artworks, installations and interactive experiences. Think neon graffiti walls, pulsating light tunnels and structures that immerse visitors in a rainbow spectrum of colour. 

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, Cate Blanchett, Stephen Dillane
© Gillian Hyland
Theatre, Drama

‘When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other’

icon-location-pin National Theatre, South Bank

You’ll find queen of the screen Cate Blanchett making her National Theatre debut in Martin Crimp’s new play ‘When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other’ this January. Crimp’s teamed up with avant-garde director Katie Mitchell for the production, inspired in part by Samuel Richardson’s 1740 novel ‘Pamela’. Tickets as you’d imagine are like gold dust and only available via an online ballot or from the box office each morning so you’ll have to trust to luck (or get up very, very early) if you want to see the Aussie star in action.

Club Soda Christmas edition
Things to do, Food and drink events

Mindful Drinking Festival

icon-location-pin The Truman Brewery, Brick Lane

There’s no need to worry about the hangover at this winter edition of the Mindfulness Drinking Festival. This is a booze-free festival for anyone who’s teetotal, sober-curious or on the wagon. It’ll showcase beer, wine, low-sugar craft soft drinks and more. 

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