Things to do in London over Christmas 2023
Christmas 2023 is fast approaching and we love how London transforms into its very own Winter Wonderland. Explore shops, take a tour of the best Christmas lights and discover some of our favourite things to do during the holiday season.
Here at The Belgrave, our team have been looking into the very best things for you to do in London, no matter whether you’re here with family, friends, with your partner or alone. There is something for everyone, and we’re pleased to get you prepared for a Christmas in London.
The shopping areas of London are always the best places to be around Christmas time. There are so many shops that have their own Christmas shops and displays. We’ve put together a little selection of our favourites for you.
Taking us back to Victorian London, Choosing Keeping is a traditional stationer and paper supplier. They have an amazing array of Christmas ornaments, from traditional tin style, funny and quirky, to more modern non-traditional food and animals. There are so many different styles you’ll easily find one for each member of the family.
For those who love wrapping gifts and giving beautifully presented presents, then you’ll enjoy looking through all the wrapping paper, ribbons, bows and tags that Choosing Keeping has to offer. Your presents will look so beautiful, the recipients will be loath to open them!
This shop is just an absolute wonder, and there is so much to see and enjoy, you won’t want to leave until your arms are full of shopping bags!
Staying on the theme of Victorian London at Christmas, Pollock’s toy shop is a wonder to behold. They love it when their patron’s eyes widen as they step through the shop door, and they take in all the different toy theatres that they specialise in. When they first opened in 1865, they had a varied clientele of children aspiring to be on the stage and using the toy theatres to spark their imagination, the gentry who wanted to pass on their nostalgic childhood memories to their children and even well-known actors.
The toy shop has evolved over the years and now sells all manner of traditional toys, as well as the toy theatres, they sell shadow boxes, books, teddy bears and plushes. Their toys look amazing and they’ll bring delight to you and the children in your life for many years to come.
The shop is amazing to look around and is perfect for those who want to give toys to small children but don’t want them to have a lot of plastic.
You’ve got some presents, you’ve got some wrapping paper and everyone in the family has picked out one new Christmas decoration, so why not head over to Liberty Christmas Shop? This is where all your Christmas decoration dreams come true. Luxury baubles, tree-toppers and fabulous decorations are all to be found on the Liberty Christmas floor. Depending on your colour scheme, they’ll have the right ornaments and wreaths to match. Their wreaths are stunning and will definitely get the neighbours talking and wondering where you got it from. Their ornaments range from pop culture – Hello Kitty ornaments are some of their best sellers to more traditional ones like their fairy tale characters, Peter Pan, Belle and Snow White, to name a few. If you want to give people a gift that shows you went to Liberty, they have a few ornaments of the building and different London tourist attractions.
Walking around Liberty Christmas Shop is like heading into Santa’s grotto and is not to be missed if you want to get into the Christmas spirit.
It’s no surprise that we mention the Harrods Christmas Shop. It is absolutely iconic and will be one of the places that Christmas lovers will head to, even if it’s only to see the gorgeous tree they have in the lobby. Harrods caters for the whole of December, from luxury advent calendars to decorations, Christmas wreaths and even nutcrackers.
Harrods also does their own workshops, so you can create some chocolate decorations or personalise some gifts you’ve just bought in the shop. You can even do a workshop on gift wrapping your presents so they look absolutely amazing.
We also think that the hampers are our favourite part of the Harrods Christmas shop – they always look beautiful and are so well-presented. They have a range of hampers to fit all types of budgets and they’ll deliver so you can get it to send to relatives who are in the UK.
We love looking at all the pretty window displays and different streets that go all out with lights throughout the holiday season. Here are some of our favourites in London and the dates the lights were turned on. The streets in London will only get busier in December, so plan carefully and maybe plan to fit them in around going for a meal or theatre trip.
- Oxford Street is one of the most popular places to go and see some of the various window displays. They always go all out and often have huge unveilings for the designer shops, it’s definitely worth taking a look. This year, Oxford Street has rows and rows of twinkling stars that make it look like the night sky has come down to take part in the festivities. Oxford Street is one of the earliest to turn their lights on – this year it was the 2nd of November.
- Regent Street has gone for 16 angels that all have a 17-metre wingspan that forms a canopy over the grand street of 300,000 lights! It looks incredible and we’re sure you’ll agree that they look wonderful. These were turned on the 9th of December.
- South Molton Street has gone all out with tall illuminated arches that has been dubbed ‘one of the most eye-catching displays in London.’ These were turned on Thursday 10th of November.
- Carnaby Street has gone for Carnaby Universe for this year’s theme – with a ‘dynamic and vibrant display of neon colour and light waves creating a moving vortex on Carnaby Street.’ There are arches with shimmering discs and neon lights down the side streets too. The light switch on event of the year took place on Wednesday 8th of November.
- Covent Garden has had a lights and decoration upgrade this year. The stunning bells with bows, giant baubles and mirror balls are made from 29 miles of gold leaf and 275 kilos of glitter! The mistletoe of the last few years has gone and a new era of decoration has arrived. The Piazza has also had a lighting update with 140,000 LED lights that add to the 30,000 that are draped over the 60 ft Christmas tree, turned on from the 7th of November.
- Selfridges Christmas window display always gets a crowd and this year was no exception. They’ve gone for a “Showtime!” theme with choirs, divas and stage hands all getting involved, with Santa directing everyone. It looks fantastic and we always love to see what the designers have come up with. Selfridges window display was unveiled on the 2nd November.
You’ve seen the lights, you’ve dragged everyone around the shops and bought all the presents, wrapping paper and decorations and now you’re off to find somewhere to go ice skating! Those little penguins are so good for little ones or those adults who need some extra support, aren’t they? Here are two of the most popular ice skating rinks in London.
Set in the grounds of London’s iconic Power Station, Glide at Battersea Power Station has three rinks that are all connected with lovely views of the Thames and surrounded by lots of lights to make a magical place to go ice skating. They also have a 30 ft Christmas tree and a bar, called The Glass House, where you can watch the skaters. So, even if you’re not skating with your party, you can keep an eye on them and hold all the bags! The views at this ice rink are spectacular, and we think you’ll love hanging out here after a day of Christmas shopping.
If you want a more homely feel, then head down to Somerset House for a Swiss-style skating experience like no other. With its own mini-Christmas Market in the grounds, you can skate, listen to music or try out one of the food and drinks stalls. There are skating lessons or more chilled out skate sessions and the DJ set sessions.
Somerset House is also doing themed sessions inspired by the Swiss regions of Bern, Lucerne and Valais, as well as a pop-up boutique store ‘Shelter Boutique’ that provides a delightful selection of pre-loved vintage, designer and high-street clothing and gifts.
This is one of the most popular places to visit for an afternoon of fun and relaxing with friends and we think it’ll get busy extremely quickly, so book your tickets quickly!
Visiting exhibitions or museums
If a museum is more your scene, then fear not! There are events taking place at a variety of museums across London. Some events will also take place during the time off from school so you can get ideas on how to keep the little ones entertained before and after Santa’s visit.
From the 24th November to the 23rd of December, Santa will be at the London Transport Museum in their very own Winter Wonderland to greet children and provide a little bit of Christmas magic.
They have a Routemaster-inspired sleigh where the children can climb aboard and flash the headlights, ring the bell and decide how to set the Christmas cheer-o-meter. They are also running some great family-friendly activities that take place until the New Year. They have Christmas stories in the den, take part in some holiday crafts and go on a story trail through the galleries. Kids go free and all the activities are included in the price of the adult ticket.
The Southbank Centre is showcasing a Winter Light Festival from the 13th of November right the way through to the 7th of January 2024. Artists are going to be using light and colour in different ways, exploring different topics that are focus points in society at the minute. These include individual and collective identity, the environment and technology.
They have maps available so you can make sure you see every single exhibit or you can wander around at your own pace and discover them all for yourself. Artists include David Batchelor, Marinella Senatore, Maeve Polkinhot and Kendll Geers.
Ideal for an after work visit or with friends on a weekend, this will be a nice understated way to get into the holiday spirit.
To see our guide on Christmas markets, click here to see our previous blog post.
Celebrate Christmas at The Belgrave
With Christmas just around the corner, now is the ideal time to get yourself down to London to get your shopping done and take in some of the fabulous light displays or exhibits. Book a stay at The Belgrave to make sure you have a magical stay in London throughout December.