There is always so much going on during the festive season in London it’s hard to fit it all into a weekend visit. As each year passes we always visit as it’s so important to capture the magic of Christmas and create memorable moments that your children will not forget.

Here we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in London with children for Christmas 2021.

1. Christmas Lights

When it comes to Christmas lights and decorations London really does pull out all the stops for a world class display. Starting with Oxford Street where their Christmas lights will be switched on in November – the actual date is still to be confirmed.

Our personal favourite displays are at Regent Street and Covent Garden, they are just fantastic and we love walking down here admiring the elaborate decorations and lights.
This year’s display in Regent Street starts on the 13th November with an incredible display sparkling LED lights.

The lights at Covent Garden get switched on the 9th November for 2021. The girls love having their picture taken by the giant silver reindeer which stand majestically on Christmas gifts. Covent Garden’s iconic 60-foot British grown handpicked Christmas tree is decorated with over 30,000 lights and wrapped up with a picture perfect tag and bow. Covent Garden’s famous Market Building is adorned with 45 mistletoe chandeliers – each ranging from 2.5 to 3.5m in size with 700 glistening berries as ‘Meet Me Under the Mistletoe’ returns to the neighbourhood.

2. Ice Skating

There are many places to experience ice skating in London and we love to test ourselves on the ice during our Christmas visits to London.

Our favourite is the enchanting ice rink at the National History museum set against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful buildings in London and rows of trees dripping in fairy lights. The atmosphere here is really fantastic and gets you in the Christmas spirit especially afterwards with hot chocolate from one of the wooden cabins whilst listening to the Christmas music. Even if you are not skating it’s still worth visiting as it’s a spectacular venue for an ice rink.

Dates and Time: October 22nd to January 16th  2022 from 11AM to 10PM (times vary)
Price Adults from £12.65 Children from £8.80 Family tickets and Museum Member discounts are available. Ticket prices are subject to change. Transaction fees apply.

Another favourite of ours is Skate at Somerset House, with its ice rink set in a grand 19th century courtyard. The courtyard makes for a perfect spot for a skating rink surrounded by gorgeous architecture and one of the most stunning Christmas trees that London has to offer.

Dates and Time: November 17, 2021 to January 16, 2022 from 10AM to 10PM
Price: Adult tickets from £11.00

You are not short of ice skating options in London, with other ice rinks at the London Eye, Hampton Court Palace, Tower of London, Westfield London, Hyde Park, Canary Wharf and at Broadgate.

3. Leicester Square

Leicester Square is once more transformed for Christmas with a Santa’s grotto, a traditional Christmas market and inside the 1920’s inspired spiegeltent you will find a range of Christmas shows including  La Clique and Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass Kids Show!

The traditional Christmas market is also nice to browse with more than 25 stalls filled with handcrafted gifts, festive decorations and food stalls.

Tube station: Leicester Square
Entrance: Free but paid for tickets are required for some activities such as the grotto.

4. Southbank Winter Festival

This is a definite must do if you are visiting London. The Southbank Centre’s much loved Winter Market returns for the first time since 2019 from 4 November! It’s time to eat, drink and be merry alongside the River Thames. The children love the Victorian Carousel and the Christmas market with its pretty wooden chalets selling handmade and often unique Christmas gifts is enchanting.

Dates: From November 4 to December 24 2021
Entrance: Free

5. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

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Hyde Park is a dream come true for most children with the range of rides on offer. It’s one of the biggest fairgrounds we have seen and really well themed and perfect for children which is why the girls always insist on visiting Hyde Park.  New for this year is the world’s tallest transportable Observation Wheel and a new theme ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Magical Ice Kingdom.

Attractions here include a traditional funfair with over 100 rides and games, together with a giant Ferris wheel and Santa Land.  Entry to the Grotto is free but you will need to purchase an entry ticket to get into Winter Wonderland

There is also the winter Wonderland’s ice rink, the biggest outdoor rink in the UK, this surrounds the Victorian bandstand and is illuminated with more than 100,000 lights.

Another favourite of ours is wandering around the 200 Bavarian-style wooden chalets offering unique Christmas gifts.

Dates: From 19th November 2019 to 3rd January 2022 10am until 10pm
Address: Hyde Park
Tube station: Green Park (Piccadilly, Victoria, Jubilee lines)
Entrance: Entry is free during off-peak periods and costs £5 or £7.50 for peak hours. Once you’re in, you can stay as long as you like!

6. Best family-friendly shows

When spending Christmas in London with children, a great way to entertain your whole family is to go watch one of the many world class productions on offer. There are so many family-friendly shows in London that both you and your children will love.

Wicked
Where: Apollo Theatre

Annie
Where: Piccadilly Theatre

Frozen the Musical
Where: Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Matilda The Musical
Where: Cambridge Theatre

The Lion King
Where: Lyceum Theatre

Pantoland at The Palladium
Where: London Palladium

Stickman
Where: Leicester Square Theatre

7. Visiting Santa 

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Storytime with Father Christmas

Santa returns this year to the iconic surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall. The building’s porch is transformed into a magical grotto and when you step inside you’ll be able to meet with Santa and enjoy a Christmas storytime.  At the end of each visit, each child leaves with their own gift and magical memories of their experience.

Dates: Thursday December 2 2021 – Tuesday December 21 2021
Address: Royal Albert Hall , South Kensington

Tube station: South Kensington
Entrance: £17.50
Website: https://tickets.royalalberthall.com/production/74330

Santa’s Grotto at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Christmas at Hyde Park’s is one of the best places in London for festive fun for families. Head over to Santa Land where you will find Santa in his grotto along with fabulous Christmas market stalls.  It is free to enter Santa’s grotto so make sure it’s checked off your list, you could even do it twice.

Santa’s parade is Monday to Wednesdays starting from Santa Land at 5.00pm returning to Santa Land at 6.00pm

Dates: from 19th November – Santa’s grotto is open every day from 10am to 6pm
Address: Hyde Park – Santa Land

Tube station: Hyde Park
Entrance: Entry to the Grotto is free but you will need to purchase an entry ticket to get into Winter Wonderland

Storytelling with Father Christmas at Fortnum & Mason

I like this as it’s different.  Fortnum & Mason is running Storytelling with Father Christmas sessions in its fifth floor boardroom.  Children get to meet Santa and listen to him as he reads you a story before giving him the all important Christmas list and getting a little gift to take away.

£36 per child (age 3-11), book in advance, 3-23 December

Santa’s Grotto at Hamleys

Santa arrives at London’s most famous toy store and it’s one of our favourites as you get a personal experience with Santa in his festive grotto .  One ticket admits a group of three (extra people costing £15 each more).  Kids leave with a Hamley’s goodie bag.

When? From 20th November
Where? Hamley’s, Regent Street

8. The Magic of Christmas at London Zoo

Get ready for stunning seasonal sparkle as Christmas comes to ZSL London Zoo like never before.

Little ones can join in festive crafts before meeting Santa in his magical grotto at the heart of the Zoo and receive a special early Christmas gift to take home.

New for 2021 is the Sensory Sweet Shop where you will find clouds of candy floss, a marshmallow meadow and a forest of candy canes. Explore the fantastical settings and then why not grab a treat from one of the nearby stalls. If you can’t spoil yourself at Christmas, when can you…

Dates: From 2nd December until 17th December.
Address: Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4RY
Tube station: Regents Park

9. Christmas Shopping

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Harrods

Even if you don’t manage to get tickets to see Santa at Harrods it’s still worth a visit to this fantastic department store. The atmosphere is amazing and really gets you in the Christmas mood with its fantastic toy department, Christmas department and food hall. Harrods also has world class window displays which are also part of the Christmas fun.

Address: 87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL, United Kingdom
Tube station: Knightsbridge (Picadilly Line)
Opening Hours: Monday through Saturday 10AM – 9PM. Sunday from 11:30AM to 6PM

John Lewis

John Lewis flagship store in Oxford Street is one of our favourites to visit in the lead up to Christmas.    Along with a great toy and technology department, don’t miss where you can pick your own Quality Street chocolates to fill our own family branded 1.2kg tin.  Don’t like coconut – no problem fill it with purple and gold sweets instead!

Don’t forget to walk through the Christmas forest.

Address: 300 Oxford Street London W1C 1DX
Tube station: Oxford Street
Opening Hours: Monday through Saturday 9.30AM – 8PM. Sunday from 12.00PM to 6PM

Fortnum and Mason

Fortnum and Mason is one of our favourite stores at Christmas. It really gets you into the Christmas spirit as you enter their world class Christmas department and food hall featuring their famous teas, Christmas hampers and gifts.

Address: 181 Piccadilly, London, W1A 1ER
Tube Station: Piccadilly Circus Station (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines)
Opening Hours: Monday through Saturday 10AM – 9PM. Sunday from 11:30PM to 6PM

Hamleys

Explore the kids get ideas for their Christmas lists across the 7 floors of toys and games at one of the world’s most famous toy stores.

Address: Regent St, London W1B 5AH
Tube Station: Regent Street

Liberty

Liberty is another upmarket department store with fantastic Christmas displays and a fabulous Christmas department.

Address: Regent St, London
Tube Station: Oxford Circus Station (Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines)
Opening Hours: Monday through Saturday 10AM – 8PM. Sunday from 12PM to 6PM

Disney Store

I know this is not a department store but it’s a must visit with the girls when we visit London. It’s Disney’s flagship store and the largest Disney store in Europe. Watching the girls faces as we walk through the doors and seeing the 267ft high Princess Castle with an animated clock is just priceless. Inside this store, you’ll find Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck dressed as The Queen’s Guard, a giant Cinderella carriage and a huge range of Disney toys and gifts.

Address: 350-352 Oxford St, Marylebone, London, W1C 1JH
Tube Station: Bond Street
Opening Hours: Monday through Saturday 9AM – 10PM. Sunday from 12PM to 6PM

10. Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens

Kew gardens is really magical at Christmas with the chance to explore the botanical gardens.  Enjoy their annual after-dark festivities with family and friends, and discover sparkling tunnels of light, dancing waterside reflections, and trees drenched in jewel-like colour on your way to the panoramic Palm House light display.

Journey through the mesmerising flickering flames in the Fire Garden, spot larger-than-life illuminations and say hello to Father Christmas along the way.
Dates: Wednesday 17 November 2021 – Sunday 9 January 2022
Tube: Kew Gardens Rail: Kew Bridge
Price: Standard advance adult: Off peak £21.50/ Peak £26.50 Family tickets available Ticket discount for Kew members

 

 

 

6 Comments
  1. This is an absolutely fabulous list, Lauren. You’ve included all our favourites including skating at Somerset House and the Natural History Museum and the must-do Christmas treat of going around the ground floor of Fortnum’s as well as some ideas I really must add to our list this year like the Tate Modern Christmas Market and kew Gardens. Thanks so much for sharing this on #FarawayFiles – it’s the perfect pre-Christmas round up.

    1. Thanks very much Clare for your kind words. I have to agree Somerset House is one of my favourite venues in London especially when it’s all themed for Christmas, it also has my favourite store Fortnum and Mason! Kew Gardens looks fab, if you do manage to visit please let me know what you thought.

  2. Ooh I do so love Fortnums! I hadn’t heard about the Father Christmas storytelling and that sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing. London really does have that magical Christmas vibe. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. Me too Katy, it’s my favourite store. Their Father Christmas storytelling sessions look amazing, but spaces are limited. Thanks very much for taking the time to read, I hope you found it useful?

    1. Thanks Erin, I hope you found the list useful. There is so much for families to do in London over the festive period.

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