| Victoria Zurakowski
Christmas Things to Do in London 2021
Christmas – it's the most wonderful time of the year. OK, let's forget the last two Christmases, but as the world is beginning to normalise once again, it means that we can embrace the spirit of Christmas once more. There are many things to do during Christmas in London, and 2021 is looking more festive than ever.
There are a plethora of Christmas events in London. From Christmas markets to amazing shopping opportunities to public outdoor skating rinks to some of the best Christmas lights - yes, London has it all! Here are some of our favourite Christmas things to do in London in 2021.
The Best Christmas Lights in London
Undoubtedly, there are many Christmas events in London, but some of the best would have to be the Christmas light displays. If you happen to be in the capital, make sure you make time to see some of the best Christmas lights in London.
You'll be dazzled by the cool immersive illumination experiences and the twinkling lights that brighten up those dark and gloomy London winter nights.
Borealis at Guildhall Yard
Discover the mesmerising colours of the Aurora Borealis in an exceptional light installation that illuminates the night skies of London over Guildhall Yard. Here, you'll be able to lose yourself among one of the most breathtaking immersive sights accompanied by a peaceful soundtrack that creates a multisensory experience for all. Be sure to check out all the nightlife on offer with Guildhall Yard's busy bar and restaurant scene.
Illuminature at the London Wetland Centre
Illuminature at the London Wetland Centre should be at the top of your list. Here, you'll be able to take in spectacular sparkling rainfall lights and a fully immersive water-themed illuminated tunnel. The kids will love walking through the various habitats of wild geese, owls and otters while being dazzled by the larger-than-life illuminations of wetland creatures. Afterwards, why not head to one of the most famous Victorian-era pubs, The Red Lion, to warm up next to the log fire with a festive pint?
Hetain Patel at Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus never disappoints at night, but this popular London attraction is even more impressive during November and December when the busy city hotspot is lit up with art installations. This year's exhibition is headed by artist Hetain Patel who explores the themes of identity and immigration. Foodies will also love the nearby street vendors and restaurants that populate the busy streets of Soho.
Regent Street and St James
Even if you're not a fan of Christmas, it's hard not to get into the spirit on Regent Street. Shopping will always be at the top of the list when it comes to Christmas things to do in London 2021. Enveloped in a canopy of glimmering lights and hanging angels and stars, this is by far one of the best free things to do at Christmas in London.
The Best Places for Christmas Shopping in London
London is, hands down, one of the best places in the world to shop, so it's also no wonder that this global hobby is one of the preferred Christmas things to do in London. Whether you're picking up Christmas gifts for your loved ones or treating yourself, London will deliver.
Covent Garden and Seven Dials
Often described as a kaleidoscope of heritage brands, Seven Dials' cobbled streets are scattered with cute boutiques, cafes, and pop-ups. And even if you don't want to shop, a trip to Seven Dials in Covent Garden is worth it just for the Instagram opportunities of illuminated chandeliers, magical mistletoe, and other dazzling decorations.
Fourteen pedestrianised streets make up Carnaby the perfect shopping destination in London at Christmas time. Being one of London's trendiest hotspots when it comes to shopping, there's always a hive of activity. Here you'll also find some of the best Christmas lights in London, and no two years are the same as the theme changes annually.
Knightsbridge must be on your Christmas things to do in London 2021 list. Here you'll find the world-famous luxury department store Harrods, which is lit up with over 12,000 tiny lights, making it one of London's top Christmas attractions. Make sure you pop into the exclusive Harrods Christmas shop, where you'll be surrounded by posh Christmas decorations and luxury Christmas crackers from famous designers. You can also purchase a Harrods Christmas teddy bear that has a legacy dating back to 1906. Make sure you reserve at least half a day to explore the 300-plus shops, and if this isn't enough, you'll also find the luxury department store Harvey Nichols just a stone's throw away down the road.
A day out shopping in London cannot be complete without visiting the famed borough of Camden. This trendy shopping precinct is where you need to head when looking for something a little quirky and unforgettable. A visit to Turkish De-Light to see the festive lights is also a must.
Ice Skating in London
When you think of outdoor ice skating, images of NYC come to mind, not London. However, ice skating is one of the most fun Christmas things to do in London 2021. The capital is home to some spectacular outdoor rinks that offer the full magical winter experience - music, Christmas lights, and vendors selling roasted chestnuts included. Visiting pop-up rinks is one of the best things to do in London at Christmas.
Grab your skates and head to Winter Wonderland - the UK's largest outdoor rink. You'll love gliding around the ornate Victoria bandstand at Hyde Park under an awning of fairy lights while enjoying the music from the live band. Even if you don't like to skate, it's a sight worth seeing, and the seasonal food on offer is out of this world.
The Natural History Museum
Imagine skating in front of one of London's most emblematic museums. Come Christmas, the museum's impressive grounds are transformed into a magical fantasyland made up of thousands of twinkling lights and a majestic Christmas tree. After showing off your ice-skating skills, why not warm up in the museum's cosy cafe and enjoy a large mug of hot chocolate?
From mid-November to mid-January, you'll be treated to one of the best Christmas events in London - Skate at Somerset House. Here you'll be able to spin your way around the decorated neoclassical courtyard late into the night while listening to DJs playing their sets. For post-skating indulgence, head to the Moët & Chandon Skate Lounge for a cocktail or two.
Christmas Markets in London
Your Christmas things to do in London 2021 list must include at least one visit to a Christmas market. There's something special about Christmas markets, and London's will not disappoint. Whether you want to pick up Christmas stocking fillers or chow down on some fantastic street food, you won't grow bored. Most Christmas markets in London open through to the New Year, meaning you have plenty to visit and re-visit.
Southbank Centre Winter Market
December in London is magical, and one of the best spots to witness this is the South Bank when the riverside is transformed into a mesmerising wonderland. Best described as an artisan Christmas market, the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival is made up of cute traditional wooden chalets that line the banks of the River Thames.
Selfridges Christmas Market
Open until Christmas Eve, Selfridge Christmas Market can be found at Edwards Mews. Known for its fantastic street food, including pie and mash and decadent waffles dripping in chocolate, many visitors go just for this. Young and old love this long-standing Christmas market with its many fairground rides and stalls selling traditional Christmas goodies.
Leicester Square Christmas Market
For some yuletide cheer, Leicester Square is ideal. Centrally located and easy to get to, this London Christmas market has some fabulous Christmas stalls selling a variety of tempting treats and arts and crafts. But what makes this one of the Christmas things to do in London in 2021? As well as being cute and traditional, there is also a daily line-up of cabaret, comedy and magic shows.
Other Christmas Things to Do in London 2021
Al Fresco Igloo Dining
If you're not into big public Christmas events in London and are looking for something a little more intimate. London's foodie hub - Vinegar Yard - has several winter domes that allow al fresco dining. Enjoy your heated igloo experience while taking in the spectacular views overlooking The Shard. And if you love a cocktail, you'll appreciate the Christmas-themed cocktails.
Festive Afternoon Teas
High Tea is synonymous with London, so it only seems fitting to go for a festive afternoon tea. December is an excellent time to while away an afternoon sipping on Tea and Champagne. So why not take a break from your Christmas shopping and head to the Biltmore in Mayfair, where you'll be treated to the classic afternoon tea finger food with a Christmas twist. The roast turkey and cranberry sauce ones are worth the trip alone, as are the warm buttermilk scones smothered with clotted cream and jam.
Retro Pop-Up Christmas Bars
For a Christmas party in London with a difference, grab your friends or colleagues and head to the Miracle Bar in Covent Garden's Henrietta Hotel. Located on the mezzanine floor, this kitsch popup bar is reminiscent of a 1970s retro living room that's decorated with more Christmas decorations than you could imagine. The range of Christmas-themed cocktails like On Dasher and Bad Santa will keep you entertained throughout the night.
If you've exhausted your list of Christmas things to do in London 2021 in terms of food and drink, there are plenty of other activities to get involved in. Several Christmas craft events in London are worth checking out. Petersham nurseries offer Christmas wreath-making workshops where you'll be able to craft a beautiful wreath from foraged foliage, wildflowers and woodland materials.
Another unique Christmas craft workshop in London is a cocktail and candle-making workshop with Seven Dials' Cocktails by Candlelight. This popup in a Christmas grotto will give you the chance to make bespoke eco-friendly coconut wax candles while sipping your mulled wine and listening to Christmas classics.
These are just a few unmissable Christmas things to do in London 2021 - there are plenty more. Christmas in London is always a good idea, so go, have fun, and Merry Christmas from the Sand Dollar team!