20 brilliant things to do in London this winter

Make it a winter to remember

Chloe Best

The days may be getting shorter and weather getting colder, but there is still so much to look forward to throughout the winter! As well as the countdown to Christmas and exploring pop-up attractions like Winter Wonderland London and Winterville, there is so much to see and do. We’ve rounded up 19 brilliant things to do in London for winter 2018 – start pencilling these in your diary…

1. See the Christmas window displays

You could spend hours window shopping across London in the lead up to Christmas. The city's shops and department stores are transformed with magical and elaborate displays from the beginning of November, and are a sight to behold.

2. Visit a Christmas market


Get in the festive spirit with a trip to a Christmas market. There are countless to choose from across London, but the Southbank Centre Christmas Market, located right next to the River Thames, is a good place to start for a Christmassy day out.

3. Meet Santa Claus

Got little ones? A visit to a Santa's Grotto is a must. While Harrods' famous grotto is no longer open to members of the public, you'll find dozens of other magical grottos at attractions including the Royal Albert Hall and Winter Wonderland.

RELATED: 11 of the best Santa's Grottos in the UK

4. Go on the rides at Winter Wonderland London


You'll want to visit the rides on Winter Wonderland while you're there. Based in Hyde Park, this attraction gets bigger and better every year, with an ice skating rink, countless rides, stalls, bars and food vendors. Fun for all the family.

5. Buy a real Christmas tree

If it's good enough for Prince Harry and Meghan… go and buy a real Christmas tree to decorate once December arrives. The royal couple picked up their own tree from Pines and Needles in Battersea Park to celebrate their first Christmas together in 2016, something they may well continue for their first as a married couple two years on.

6. Go ice skating at one of London's outdoor ice rinks


Ice skating is synonymous with wintertime, and there's nowhere better to do it than one of London's many ice rinks. Whether you hit the rink in front of the Natural History Museum or Somerset House, or opt for a more unusual setting such as the rooftop of John Lewis, you're spoiled for choice.

MORE: Best places to ice skate in London this winter

7. Enjoy a festive afternoon tea

Take a break from Christmas shopping to treat yourself to a festive afternoon tea at the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park. The hotel is set to reopen its restaurants, spa and public areas from 4 December, with a festive afternoon tea for grown-ups and Harrods Teddy Bear Tea for children.

8. Go to watch a pantomime

Enjoy a fun family outing at the pantomime. Dawn French will be gracing the stage in Snow White at London Palladium from 8 December, while former Strictly star Tameka Empson is joining the cast of Aladdin at Hackney Empire from 24 November.

9. Watch an immersive film at Backyard Cinema

What could be more festive than seeing The Snowman brought to life in an immersive experience? To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the classic film, Backyard Cinema is launching a cinematic, walk-through experience at Winter Wonderland, which fans young and old will love.

10. Wrap up warm for a wintry walk in one of London's parks


Get some fresh air on a wintry walk through one of London's beautiful parks, like Greenwich Park, Richmond Park or Hampstead Heath.

MORE: 23 things to do in London when it rains

11. See Kew Gardens lit up with more than one million sparkling lights

Kew Gardens will also be transformed in the countdown to Christmas, with more than one million sparkling lights on a beautiful festive trail. Christmas at Kew will captivate visitors after dark throughout winter from 22 November to 5 January 2019.

12. Spend an evening in front of a fire at a cosy London pub

Cosy up in front of a fire at a traditional London pub and catch up with friends and family over a mulled wine or two. These pubs are even more inviting in wintertime and are a relaxing place to while away a late afternoon and evening.

13. Ring in the New Year by watching the fireworks display


See in 2019 in style by watching the annual fireworks display in the centre of London. Tickets are selling fast for access to the Thames Riverside display, so book soon to ensure you don't miss out.

14. Hit the January sales on Oxford Street

After the chaos of Christmas shopping, you'll be able to snap up some bargains in the sales at high street stores across London.

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15. Sample some of London's best vegan food for Veganuary

Giving Veganuary a go in 2019? You're spoiled for choice of delicious vegan fare at a growing number of restaurants and cafés across London, making it easier than ever to go meat and dairy free.

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See Buckingham Palace in the snow

16. Browse more than 125 galleries and high-end works at the London Art Fair

Art lovers won't want to miss the opportunity to explore and buy an array of exceptional modern and contemporary art at the London Art Fair. The 2019 fair will be hosted at London's Business Design Centre from 16-20 January.

17. Join the Chinese New Year celebrations in London


London's Chinatown, West End and Trafalgar Square will host a huge Chinese New Year parade on 10 February, and you won't want to miss out on the colourful celebrations.

18. Venture out of the city to see Hogwarts in the Snow

Hop on a train and venture to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, for the chance to see the iconic Harry Potter film sets, including the Hogwarts castle transformed for winter with snow, and the Great Hall set up ready for a Christmas banquet.

19. Treat a loved one to game of tennis

Why not take a friend who loves tennis to the Champions Tennis this year. The sporting event is returning to The Royal Albert Hall on the 6th-9th December, with legends of the game including John McEnroe, Tim Henman, Jamie Murray and Tommy Haas set to take centre court.


20. Escape the city for a stay at one of Meghan Markle's favourite hotels

Enjoy a respite from busy London life with a visit to Cliveden House, the luxury hotel where Meghan Markle famously spent the night before the royal wedding in May 2018. This grand stately home has plenty to offer guests, including the Cliveden Spa and the award-winning Cliveden Dining Room or Astor Grill. You could also take a leisurely boat trip along the Thames or enjoy an afternoon tea in the opulent surroundings of The Great Hall. What more could you want?

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