15 Best things to do in London this winter 2024: Ultimate Guide

 In Europe, London, Places To Visit, Things to do, Travel

Winter in London is a magical time. The city lights up with festive decorations, and there’s a special charm in the air. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there are plenty of best things to do in London this winter. From ice skating at iconic locations to exploring Christmas markets, London offers a winter experience like no other. Start your winter adventure activities in London by visiting Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. It’s a festive paradise with rides, games, and a huge ice rink. Take the chance to warm up with some mulled wine or hot chocolate as you stroll through the market stalls filled with unique gifts and delicious treats. If you love skating, head to the Natural History Museum or Somerset House. Both places transform into beautiful ice rinks, surrounded by stunning architecture and twinkling lights. It’s a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.  It is one of the must places to visit in London. For a cultural experience, visit one of London’s famous theatres in the West End. Catch a classic Christmas show or a new production, and enjoy a night of fantastic entertainment. Alternatively, explore the city’s museums and galleries, many of which have special winter exhibitions.

A winter trip to London would only be complete with seeing the city’s Christmas lights. Take a walk down Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Covent Garden to see the dazzling displays. It’s a sight that will surely get you in the festive mood. So If you are planning a day trip to London, make sure to make bookings. Finally, cozy up in one of London’s many pubs or cafes. Enjoy a hearty meal or a warm drink by the fire, and soak in the welcoming atmosphere. Winter in London is truly a season to remember and you can enjoy it with our Europe Tour Packages!

15 best Things to do in London this Winter

  • Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
  • Christmas at Kew
  • Southbank Centre Christmas Market
  • Experience Hogwarts in the snow
  • Winter Lights Festival
  • Visit the Natural History Museum
  • Meet Santa at Hamleys
  • See the Christmas lights 
  • See West End show
  • See New Year’s Eve fireworks
  • Snuggle up in an Igloo 
  • Take a bus tour
  • Go Ice Skating
  • Watch the Peter Pan cup
  • Attend London’s short film festivals

1. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland


Winter Wonderland is a Christmas festival that has run every year in London for the last 15 years. It takes up the whole of Hyde Park and is an absolute must-visit if you are staying in London over the holidays. Go ice skating, play fairground games, visit the ice bar, warm up next to the fire in a teepee, visit the carousel bar, ride a rollercoaster, dance along to the live band, visit an ice bar, the list goes on and on. Winter Wonderland has something for everyone and you will not be disappointed. It is one of the best things to do in London this winter.  The festival itself is so large that we really would recommend setting aside a whole day to explore it so you don’t miss out. You might see a lot of people complaining about the extortionate prices of the rides and food options at the park but there are some ways to do it on the cheap. Some of the traditional resorts & hotels in London are surrounded here. Have a look at the park map and buy your tickets for attractions there before you go along with your ticket and you will find it works out quite a bit cheaper. We would recommend buying a ride pass for three rides and either the ice bar or ice skating before you get there as you’ll save on money and queuing time. 

2. Christmas at Kew


Kew Gardens is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site, home to over 50,000 living plants, and is only a train ride away from central London. It is by far one of the best things to do in London this winter As it starts in November, it’s an epic start to the festive period and makes a great evening out. The botanical gardens are lit up throughout with twinkling lights and there is a trail mapped out throughout for you to wander around including huge light displays that reflect in the lake, through tunnels of lights, and beneath the sparkling trees. They have a few street food vendors open in the evenings so it’s a great opportunity to warm up with a mulled wine and taste the best local food in London while walking around.  It is one of the top photography spots In London.

This is a great option for the best things to do in London this winter as a family as children absolutely love the lights and there’s even an opportunity to spot Father Christmas along the way! This one does book up fast so make sure you book your tickets in advance to be sure you don’t miss out.

Suggested Read: Travel Tips for London 2024

3. Southbank Centre Christmas Market


The Winter Market in Southbank is a really popular Christmas market in London for many reasons but mainly for its accessibility. Being so central and only a stone’s throw away from Waterloo train station, it’s an ideal stop to pick up a festive bite after work. It’s not the largest of London’s Christmas markets but it has a lot of charm with its alpine-style chalets for stalls, selling everything from festive street food to homemade gifts and souvenirs!  It is one of the best things to do in London this winter.

Southbank itself makes a beautiful festive walk on a cold evening so why not pick up some mulled wine and a Christmas burger and take a walk along the river bank?

4. Experience Hogwarts in the Snow


Warner Brothers’ Studio Tour The Making of Harry Potter is one of the best things to do in London this winter and if you are at all a fan of the movies, We highly recommend you visit! However, in winter, they put on their incredible Hogwarts in the Snow, which in our opinion is the best time to go. They fully decry out the whole tour in the festive spirit with the grand hall decorated in gold lights as the main attraction. 

Popular sets like The Forbidden Forest and Diagon Alley are also covered in a blanket of snow as well as the model of Hogwarts Castle. They run a few extra demonstrations that aren’t on during the rest of the year like non-burning fire and non-melting ice that were used in the making of the Harry Potter movies.  Some of the popular Airbnbs in London are situated in this area. 

5. Winter Lights Festival


Every year you can find various winter lights festivals scattered around the city, livening up those dark evenings.  2023 was the first year of the Battersea Winter Lights Festival and due to its popularity, We bet it will make an annual appearance from now on. The festival featured eight incredible installations curated by the Light Art Collection inside the power station and around the grounds. All of them had signs next to them detailing the artist, the installation, and the message behind the art which were interesting to read. One of the most memorable is the giant plug surrounded by water, bringing light to how much water is wasted in the UK every year. 

The lights festival is completely free to enter as is entry to Battersea Power Station and is one of the best things to do in London this Winter. During the festival, a lot of the food vendors and restaurants in London nearby have special deals so be sure to stay for some of the amazing food nearby.

6. Visit the Natural History Museum


Unfortunately, the weather in London during winter can be pretty grim so you might be looking for some indoor activities to escape the rain and cold during your visit. One of our all-time favourites though is The Natural History Museum. It is located in South Kensington, a beautiful area in London that is also home to both the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum so if you give yourself enough time, you can do all three in one day.  It is one of the renowned Historic places in London.

The Natural History Museum is set in a stunning museum and it only gets more impressive on the inside. The dinosaur gallery is a fan favorite featuring the first T Rex skeleton discovered while the Mammal gallery has life-sized models of mammoths, hippos, and whales. The museum is free to enter, but if you are visiting on a weekend or during the school holidays, you might want to book your ticket online to ensure your entry. You can also take a break from exploring these historic sites in London by hanging out in the vast variety of cafes in London.

7. Meet Santa at Hamleys


If you are heading for a winter vacation in London with kids, they will love Hamley’s. Hamleys is a famous toy store with a few locations across the UK but their store on Regent Street is by far the best. It spans over seven floors, has every toy you could probably ever think of, and has heaps of interactive activities and demonstrations. 

If you are visiting London over the festival period and want to treat your kids to an extra special experience, we would highly recommend booking a meeting with Santa. Their Santa’s grotto setup is a magical experience, personalized for your children from the moment you enter! You will be greeted by the elves and taken over to meet Santa Claus himself and receive a gift to take home.  Suggesting some of the best treks in London for your next visit.

8. See the Christmas lights


One of the best things to do in London this Winter is experience how stunning it looks at night when the whole city is lit up with Christmas lights!  The best streets have to be the main shopping in London ones of Oxford Street and Regent Street but we think that the lights around Carnaby Street and Soho are by far the most impressive! 

You can explore most of London’s Christmas lights on foot, but be warned, around this time the best streets get crazy busy with tourists and shoppers so you might have to fight through the crowds for some good photos! To get the best views of the lights, book an open-top bus Christmas lights tour that will take you around all the best displays on a famous London-style bus. You go past all the iconic spots like Harrods, and Selfridges and straight down Oxford Street where, thanks to the traffic, you’ll have plenty of time to soak up the views. Taking a tour is the best way to see all of the lights without having to battle the crowds and navigate your way through the city. 

9. See the West End Show


For a rainy evening in London, there is nothing better than spending a few hours inside watching some of the best theatre performances in the world. A few of London’s most famous theatres make up the West End, so you will have a good few shows to take your pick from.

We have never seen a show we haven’t enjoyed so unless there is one you want to see in particular, why not check TodayTix during your visit to find the best deals at short notice? If you are looking to see some of the more famous shows like The Lion King, Matilda, Harry Potter, and the Cursed Child, or Hamilton, book up quickly, especially in January time as they are popular Christmas gifts, so you may need to book further in advance. It is one of the best things to do in London this winter.

10. See New Year’s Eve fireworks


Every year, the city puts on a huge world-famous fireworks display next to the London Eye and the Tower Bridge. Since 2014, you need to pre-purchase a ticket to get the best views of the display by watching on Southbank and the nearby bridges. If you do want to visit for free though, We highly recommend grabbing some drinks and heading to somewhere like Primrose Hill where you will be able to watch the fireworks over the city from a distance, just be sure to get there early to snag a good spot! 

For a more fancy evening, why not take a dinner cruise and see the New Year’s fireworks from the River Thames, or grab a ticket to one of London’s many lavish party places in London that occur annually?

11. Snuggle up in an Igloo

Image Source : Timeout

Igloo pods seem to be all the rage nowadays and you will find them scattered all over the city in the winter months. For some reason in London, we love eating, drinking, and socializing outside, come rain or shine, so the invention of plastic igloos is a dream.

They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and levels of bougie-ness but some of my favorites have to be in the pop-up bars along Southbank! You get all the fun of watching the boats go down the river without losing your fingers and toes to frostbite. You can’t pre-book so you might have to wait a little while to snag one but they are way worth it! Most of them have blankets inside and a great winter menu to match, serving things like mulled cider and cheese fondues. 

12. Take a Bus Tour


An activity that is ideal no matter the weather in London, is to take a bus tour. If you are only visiting London for a few days over the winter period, you might want to see as much as possible and as quickly as possible and a bus tour is an ideal way to do that. If the weather is looking unpleasant, a walking tour in your rain might not be very appetizing, so why not hop on a bus and have a guide point out all of the top attractions in the city? These tours will also allow you to hop off and explore whenever you please.

13. Go Ice Skating


In the winter months, ice rinks seem to pop up all over the city and they are a very popular date idea or the best things to do in London this winter with family.

  • The Natural History Museum: It is by far one of the most beautiful ice rinks in London, every year Natural History hosts a huge ice rink and it’s open to visitors in the winter months. Complete with a huge Christmas tree, food stalls, and a cafe bar, it’s the perfect winter activity.
  • Somerset House: The ice rink at Somerset House is one of the best things to do in London this Winter! Open every year from November until January, the ice rink is in a beautiful setting and welcomes first-timers with their skate lessons during the day and party-goers with their light show and DJ sets at night!

14. Watch the Peter Pan Cup


The Peter Pan Cup is an exclusive race that’s only 100 yards long, but it takes place on Christmas Day, and participants dive in at 9 am. This tradition has been running since 1864, and it’s worth mentioning that the cup was presented by author J.M. Barrie, which is how it got its name. Only members of the Serpentine Swimming Club can participate, people cannot just turn up on the day and swim, though spectators are welcome.

15. Attend London’s Short film festivals


Watch screenings of the best short films from around the world and attend talks at the London Short Film Festival.

What outdoor activities are popular in London during the winter?

Popular outdoor activities in London are exploring Christmas markets, Ice skating, winter wonderland, and taking walking tours. 

Which parks and gardens should I visit in London this winter?

You must visit Hyde Park, Kew Gardens, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, and St James Park. 

Are there any rooftop bars or restaurants with a great view in London?

There are several rooftop bars and restaurants with a great view in London like Sky Garden, Aqua Shard, Radio Rooftop, and Duck&waffle.

How can I best navigate the city and get around to various attractions during the busy winter season?

The best way to navigate and explore the city during winter is by public transport, walking, cycling, Taxis, and lastly, using apps and maps for real-time navigation. 

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