London has officially turned into a festive wonderland this December. As Christmas lights illuminate the streets, ice rinks pop up around the city and the best restaurants and bars delight with their winter-warming menus, we've never been more excited to embrace the winter chill.
There's no place like London at Christmas time, from atmospheric outdoor markets filled with alpine chalets to Santa's grottos and festive walks under the city's glittering lights. Our HELLO! writers have put together the ultimate guide of things to do in the city in December - so get ready to fill your social calendar.
Scroll on to discover the very best things to do in the city this December…
Best festive things to do in London in December
Take to the ice at Glide
Battersea Power Station has unveiled its whimsical festive ice rink, illuminated by the stunning Battersea chimneys and a Jo Malone London 30ft Christmas tree. And for after your skating session? You can now book private igloos located next to the rink. With capacity for up to eight people for only £15 per person, each booking includes a welcome drink (wine, beer or soft drink) and private igloo hire for 90 minutes. These twinkling and cosy igloos offer an exclusive, warm, seated space that is perfect for a festive treat for friends and family or corporate Christmas events.
Bookings are available for all sessions throughout the day and evening and can be booked via the official ticket website. Visit, www.glidebatterseapowerstation.co.uk
Stop by St Pancras' twinkling Christmas tree
St Pancras International has unveiled its much-loved Christmas Tree, in partnership with The Prince's Trust. The finished design this year takes inspiration from the London skyline of which the station has been part of since its opening in 1868. As a Grade 1 listed building, it is the architecture, features, lines and shapes of places like St. Pancras which make London one of the most recognisable cities in the world. The attention to detail throughout is as breathtaking as the overall structure itself, which stands tall at an impressive 33ft so that the crowning details of the tree can be taken in by those on The Grand Terrace. In a nod to Twelve Days of Christmas, look out for Maids a-milking, French hens and plenty of Lords a-leaping!
Get into the festive spirit at Christmas by the river
Christmas has officially arrived in London Bridge City! Christmas by the River is one of the capital's best places to soak up the festive spirit and indulge in the magic this season. From 16 November, this is the perfect place to wrap up warm and stroll with your loved ones, this free festive market features everything from indulgent crepes doused in Nutella, to hearty bratwurst and festive treats, all washed down with a comforting cup of mulled wine. Delight in a mix of homeware gifts selling London souvenirs, market stalls offering handmade Christmas decorations, outdoor festive film screenings - and much more.
And for the ultimate post-work festive pick-me-up, The Riverside Lodge bar will also have alpine-themed lodges which are fully heated and can be pre-booked in advance to entertain you and your friends. Kick back and watch Christmas-themed films or dance the night away to live DJs throughout the week.
Don your skates at Skate at Somerset House
Perhaps the most famous outdoor ice rink in London, Skate at Somerset House opened its doors to visitors earlier this month. With panoramic views of the beautiful, neoclassical courtyard and the glorious 40 ft Christmas tree, this magnificent skating experience will put you in the festive mood in no time. You can guarantee pumping tunes at every session, but for extra special music, book the Skate Lates with UNIQLO.
Those who aren't tempted by the ice can sip on champagne and cocktails at the Skate Lounge by Moët & Chandon, or tuck into gourmet food at Jimmy Garcia's pop-up Alpine restaurant, Chalet Barragiste. Warm up with a hot chocolate at Hotel Chocolat's pop-up truck, browse their gifting selection in the West Wing or take part in the children's and adults' chocolate workshops.
To book ice skating tickets, visit somersethouse.org.uk
Best alternative things to do in London
David Attenborough fans will love this exhibition in Earl's Court
If you love watching Planet Earth, you need to visit the BBC Earth Experience - a ground-breaking new attraction offering visitors the chance to experience the extraordinary diversity of our seven unique continents, on the most epic scale featuring bespoke narration from David Attenborough.
This new exhibition will open in March 2023, but tickets are now on sale, so don't miss out! It will showcase footage and music from the BBC Studios Natural History Unit television series Seven Worlds, One Planet, projected on multiple multi-angle screens using the very latest digital screen technology. This new London attraction which spans 1608m2 offers a truly transformative experience that will allow audiences of every age to feel like they’ve stepped into the natural world, losing themselves in boundless wonder as they travel to far-flung places. And the best bit? No passport required!
To book, visit www.bbcearthexperience.com
Enter the magical world of Avora
Discover the newly opened gateway and enter the magical world of Avora. Set amongst a lush natural environment, Avora is a new-world theatrical cocktail experience where guests forage for their cocktails and decide whether to join an underground resistance to protect Avora or mine this new wonder of its beauty for financial gain. Illuminated by the planet’s nearby moons and the Avorian flora, guests will be taken on a short trip to the ‘Tree of Spirits’, a giant 9ft willow-like tree.
To book visit here: www.avora-experience.co.uk
Check out Lush's free pop-up for self care with complimentary gifting
This festive period, Lush have launched an immersive space, featuring mood-based galleries, massages and complimentary gifting in Westfield London, White City. The Lush Lounge will offer an inviting space removed from the Christmas chaos where busy shoppers can sit down, press pause and reset.
Open until 20th December, Westfield London, White City
Visit Peaky Blinders: The Rise
This fully immersive 360 degree experience promises to transport guests into the world of Thomas Shelby and the Peaky Blinders, PEAKY BLINDERS: THE RISE follows the rise in the fortunes of the Shelby family with unfolding storylines, secrets and subplots that give players the opportunity to use their guile, craftiness and cunning to determine the success of the Peaky Blinders. How the evening goes is down to the movements and decisions of those attending, with three possible narrative outcomes, all decisions have consequences.
To book, visit here
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Get a red-carpet-worthy glow at Elenique Skin Clinic
With the festive season well underway, I know I'm not the only one struggling with the effects of stress on my skin. As work deadlines approach and social schedules fill up ahead of Christmas, I was desperate to find a solution to my angry, stress-induced acne breakout. Introducing Elena Cudworth's Elenique Skin Clinic on Fulham Road!
I booked in for a HydraFacial, the only facial treatment that combines detox, cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, hydration and antioxidant protection simultaneously, for immediate, radiant results. Elena's expert skin knowledge and attention to detail left no blocked pore unturned, and I left the clinic with a dewy, enviable glow that's sure to last me well into the new year. Perfect for a pre-Christmas pick-me-up, or even as a gift for a loved one, you can't go wrong with a HydraFacial - especially if it's performed here.
To book, visit Elenique Skin Clinic
Sparkle into Christmas with a festive manicure at Townhouse Covent Garden
Townhouse Covent Garden has officially launched, and within just a few minutes’ walk from Covent Garden tube station, it’s the perfect place to sit back and relax midway through a shopping spree! Be sure to check out their new Festive Collection - three enchanting nail art designs specifically for the holiday season!
To book, visit here
Enjoy manicures and martinis
Iris Avenue in central London takes the term nail bar literally, offering incredible cocktails alongside your manicure. We opted for a Taste of the Clouds, which is a lilac-hued medley of prosecco, lavender and violet liqueur, topped with a cloud of candy floss. While we sipped our cocktail, our nail tech got to work creating a work of art on our nails – whatever you dream, they can do. We opted for a red glitter-tipped french manicure, perfect for the festive season.
Book in at IrisAvenue.com
Get into the festive spirit at The Londoner
Festive season has arrived at The Londoner, with the luxury hotel arranging a full schedule of joyous festivities to get you into the Christmas spirit! From Christmas Wreath Making on Saturday 10th December, to Christmas Carol’oke on Wednesday 7th December - there really is something for everyone! Fancy making a weekend of it? The Londoner’s overnight packages have everything to make sure you can have the ultimate festive getaway in the city.
To find out the full schedule of events and for more information, visit here
Treat yourself to a festive manicure
Not feeling festive yet? Book in for a Christmassy manicure at Connaught Village's super-chic Lacquered + Stripped eco-conscious salon to get yourself into the spirit. Whether you opt for all-out seasonal sparkle, or a subtle take on festive fingernails, you'll be blessed with a beautiful long-lasting manicure that will make you smile every time you see it.
Lacquered + Stripped focuses on sustainability, using exclusively vegan products as well as embracing low-energy lighting, energy and water-saving technologies, a renewable energy supplier, and recyclable towels.
Get Christmas party ready at Cloud Twelve, Notting Hill
We're all about getting that A-lister glow here at HELLO!, and luckily, just in time for the Christmas party season, Cloud Twelve in Notting Hill has launched the ultimate festive beauty package that's sure to leave you feeling thoroughly spoiled. As part of their pre-Christmas pamper package, experience a 90-minute Softmesology session, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles and improves cell renewal, collagen production and overall firmness of the skin - without the use of needles. Enjoy a 60-minute soothing Aromatherapy Massage followed by a complimentary Comfort Zone advent calendar including a range of skincare treats, worth £85. Available until 24 December only.
To book, visit www.cloudtwelve.co.uk/event/pre-christmas-pamper-package
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Experience a taste of Argentina December in London
London is about as far away from Argentina as you can get, but for a hit of South American flavour during the coldest month, visit Casa Malevo. The rustic restaurant is in London's Connaught Village (which is a heaven of festive frivolity right now, with the best alternative Christmas tree we've seen in 2022), and is one of the cosiest, most romantic spots we've been to in the capital.
With opulent décor, and amazing Argentinian food, this is the perfect spot for dinner after a day of Christmas shopping. The traditional empanadas are a must; we tried the black pudding one and it was incredible, plus the burger was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. Whether you're looking for an intimate date spot, or somewhere to celebrate with your friends this Christmas, Casa Malevo is a must.
To book, visit casamalevo.com
Rails Restaurant & Little Bar
For a delicious dinner with all of the trimmings, just a stone’s throw from your commute, the Rails Restaurant & Little Bar at the Great Northern Hotel is an absolute must-visit. The beautiful, spacious restaurant has a lovely, classic feel to it - and the food - from baked St Marcellin with truffle honey to the delectable chateaubriand, this is definitely one for a special date or anniversary. And for a Christmas flair, they have all sorts of festive cocktails from the Ginger Sleigh to the Rockefeller Crush.
To book, visit railslondon.com
Piano Works' Christmas Party
There's no experience quite like a night out at Piano Works - and if you're after some unforgettable singing and dancing, live music and a Christmas meal to boot, then you're in the right place. Piano Works is known for its music - two grand pianos, expertly played by talented singers with an unlimited song request list make for a wonderfully different and interactive night out with friends or colleagues.
But while it's not known for its food, the Christmas Menu is surprisingly delish and when the tables get put away and the live band joins the pianists, the party really gets going. Fun for all ages, we defy you not to hit the dance floor for an ultimate evening of festive singalongs.
To book, visit pianoworks.bar/venues/tpw-west-end/
Tuck into pizza in Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf might not be the first place you think of when it comes to festive vibes, but the finance hub has pulled out all the stops this year, with vibrant trees and charming lights evoking all the festive feels. After you've checked out the colourful installations, head over to Zia Lucia's latest restaurant. It's their eighth opening (following branches in Hammersmith, Islington and Wandsworth), and offers mouth-watering pizzas, delicious cocktails and a fun, buzzy atmosphere.
Our favourite thing about Zia Lucia? They go heavy on the toppings, meaning every mouthful of the sourdough pizzas is bursting with flavour. The cocktails should be mentioned too – we had a Hugo (or three), with all the classic offerings that a cocktail aficionado could wish for.
To book, vist zialucia.com
Go for the ultimate decadent brunch
Celebrate the weekend in style with brunch in Nobu Restaurant Shoreditch, with menus designed by new Executive Chef Sandi Richmond and priced from £75 per person. It has everything you need for a lively start to the weekend, with your choice of a main dish (we recommend the black cod!) plus unlimited access to the brunch and dessert bar for £75 per person. Or, for those looking to start the celebrations earlier, diners can add on free-flowing drinks for two hours for only £35 extra at £110 per person, with a choice of Prosecco, Beer or Lychee Elderflower Coolers. The Brunch buffet – located on the sushi counter in view of the full theatre of the kitchen - serves up a selection of salads, assorted sushi, sashimi and ceviche, and unlimited indulgent desserts to finish, including Sake Baba with pineapple, Nobu Cheesecake and Tropical Pavlova. Whether it's a special occasion or just a Saturday, it's definitely worth a visit!
Celebrate Christmas and New Year at Ayllu
Nestled along the canal in Paddington Basin, this bustling restaurant will be leaving its doors open to families and party-goers alike on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day for those who would like to spend the holiday in style. With theatrical elements added to the presentation of the menu, diners can watch as their plates appear throughout the fog, creating a truly mesmerising dining experience for all. From the expertly-prepared A la Carte Menu to the 7-course Christmas tasting menu, book now to avoid disappointment!
To book visit here
Enjoy a hedonistic gathering in Mayfair
Decadent brunch has arrived in Mayfair with the launch of Shanghai Brunch at Park Chinois, London's most opulent Asian restaurant. As the season changes and the nights draw in, head to Club Chinois, a sumptuous underground hideaway downstairs at Park Chinois, to enjoy a hedonistic gathering of weekend celebrants. Guests will indulge in a selection of the restaurant's most delectable dishes, a flow of Veuve Clicquot Champagne and high-energy modern cabaret performances. Shanghai Brunch will offer true glitz and glamour, making this the ultimate destination brunch. Guests will be offered an exclusive three-course menu (including half a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne per person) for £125 alongside a newly curated, highly dynamic show of exceptional live performances from world-class dancers, singers and cabaret performers - transporting guests to underground Shanghai.
To book, visit parkchinois.com
Get festive at Junsei
If you’re looking for the perfect dining spot over the festive period, then look no further than Marylebone’s favourite yakitori restaurant, Junsei. Whether it’s a limited-edition festive Sando, an extra special fried chicken party bucket or a special NYE omakase tasting menu experience like no other, Junsei is guaranteed to ignite your Christmas spirit this December. And, with the arrival of Junsei’s new delivery arm – Tamashi by Junsei – some of the treats are available for home delivery within a 2-mile radius of the restaurant, from Belgravia to Belsize Park.
To book, visit here
Dinner with a view
Aqua Shard has unviled its 2022 Christmas tree, supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity's (GOSH Charity) Christmas Appeal. The show-stopping tree, designed by McQueens Flowers and standing at 7 metres tall, features an abundance of adornments that pay homage to the world-renowned children's hospital. As per tradition, the talented team at Aqua Shard have created Christmas specials for guests to enjoy throughout the festive period. The Christmas Bauble dessert features spiced cream mousse, pear compote, gingerbread biscuit, pear gel, chocolate crumble and chocolate animals. For each special sold, Aqua Shard will make a donation to GOSH Charity’s Christmas Appeal, which is dedicated to giving seriously ill children the best chance of being home with their families.
To book, visit aquashard.co.uk
Japanese fine dining in unique chic surroundings
A luxurious, fine-dining experience of Japanese fusion cuisine and exciting cocktails, there is no better home than the heart of the melting pot that is Notting Hill, perfectly representing the rich cultural diversity that Rika Moon aims to encapsulate. Set against the backdrop of chic design and decadent interiors, the Omakase menu, designed for sharing, includes delicious dishes such as Rock Shrimp Tempura with kimchee garlic sauce and Chilean Seabass with garlic, ginger dashi and sea vegetables, as well as a delicious Sashimi platter with fresh wasabi.
Mirroring the eclectic food menu, Rika Moon offers a unique selection of cocktails including the Peach Highball with toki, akashi tai, umeboshi vinegar and peach soda - yum!
To book, visit rikamoon.com
Pre-theatre dining and flamboyantly festive drinks at NoMad London
NoMad Restaurant has just launched its first pre-theatre menu. At £45 for two courses and located directly opposite the Royal Opera House right in the heart of Covent Garden, NoMad London is perfect for a pre-theatre treat. The swanky hotel boasts the most beautiful dining room with high ceilings, intimate lighting and elegant décor that will help set the mood for the rest of the night.
The starters were wonderfully fresh; sea bream cured with melon, cucumber and horseradish went down a storm alongside an aubergine, figs and pine nuts salad. For the mains, we tried the suckling pig, confit with strawberries and served with mustard greens, plus a deliciously salty hash brown side – an unusual yet delightful flavour combo, as well as a hearty Rigatoni with courgette ragu with tomato and parmesan.
If you fancy a post-show tipple, head over to NoMad’s Common Decency bar. The lighting is low, the mood is jolly and the vibe is kitsch – and wow, the cocktails! The new bar is hosting its inaugural festive pop-up Holiday Spectacular complete with a playful menu of retro-inspired Christmas cocktails with delightfully camp names like Not The Buttons and Candy Cane Colada. Ours came served in a gnome! You’ll also be treated to naughty but nice surprises by London drag queen, Maxi More.
To make a reservation, visit thenomadhotel.com
An Italian feast at the new Battersea Power Station
South Londoners are feeling spoilt as Battersea Power Station is now officially open to the public and with it comes a whole host of amazing new shops and restaurants. Not least Tozi, which is already known as one of the best Italians in the capital. Located on the ground floor of art'otel, the new all-day cafe and restaurant is inspired by Europe’s famous grand cafes and offers the most delicious food, from the signature lobster linguine to sharing cicchetti, such as beef carpaccio, pickled mushrooms and parmesan and baked scallop with nduja. All paired with delicious wine and cocktails, this is one not to miss.
To book visit: tozigrandcafe.co.uk
The ultimate roast dinner
If you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, we’d recommend checking out The Mutton in Hazeley Heath to enjoy a hearty Christmas feast over December. The perfect location to refuel after a country walk, with an open fire and a festive menu of comforting classics, a visit here is a must. We’d highly recommend starting your visit with a Spirit Free Appletini, a fruity mocktail that really packs a punch. Your taste buds will be tingling as you admire the cosy interiors. The topside of beef was cooked to perfection, with crispy duck fat potatoes and a selection of seasonal vegetables - this roast really is something special. But be sure to save room to try the dark chocolate mousse, perfectly balanced with a pineapple sorbet and black pepper crumb. I simply adore a dessert, but this mousse was the best dessert I have ever tasted - fact! Their menu combines creative seasonal dishes with more traditional pub favourites; all made using the very best of British ingredients, meaning there is something for everyone. The staff couldn't have been more welcoming and were extremely friendly and knowledgable. Add The Mutton to your list!
To book, visit here
Enjoy a cosy Sharing Roast paired with bottomless red wine
With the cold, dark winter nights closing in, Smith's Bar and Grill is easing the post-summer blues with a hearty sharing roast and bottomless red wine perfect for a crisp Sunday afternoon by the waterside. Placed conveniently next to Paddington Station, this quintessential British eatery provides a relaxing and warming setting to hunker down around the table and enjoy precious time with family and friends. With quality at the core of the restaurant, the expertly-prepared sharing roast, available from £34 offers a selection of premium cooked meats and poultry accompanied by crispy roast potatoes cooked in duck fat, fluffy homemade Yorkshire puddings, and tender and flavoursome vegetables.
To book visit: smithsbarandgrill.co.uk
Feast at the Alpine Chalet at Number One Park Lane
The Alpine Chalet at Number One Park Lane, in partnership with Moët & Chandon, has launched for the festive season. The terrace restaurant at the InterContinental London Park Lane has been transformed into a Swiss-inspired winter chalet, and just minutes away from Winter Wonderland it's perfect for cosy Christmas al fresco dinner and drinks. The food menu showcases warming Alpine-inspired dishes, including Raclette, new potatoes, and pickled gherkins; Tartiflette with potato, bacon and Reblochon; Alpine truffled macaroni cheese with Gruyère, caramelised onion, apple sauce and shaved truffle; and Champagne fondue with Comté, Beaufort, Reblochon, sourdough and new potatoes. One to check out!
To find out more, visit parklane.intercontinental.com
Patagonian Winter Terrace, Gaucho Piccadilly
Marvel in the magic of the Patagonian mountains as Gaucho Piccadilly transforms into an alpine-inspired al-fresco winter terrace in collaboration with Argentinean winery, Terrazas. Cosy up under the twinkling Christmas lights and enjoy a glass of Terrazas white or red or sip away on a warm serving of mulled Malbec – the perfect way to warm up and unwind this winter.
To book, visit here
Sunday Roast with an Asian Twist
Delight in Singaporean-inspired Asian flavours in a relaxed setting as Straits Kitchen transforms into the famous party scene from The Nutcracker for its unique Sunday Roast with a twist. Available every Sunday in December, enjoy a delicious roast where Asian meats take centre stage. The set menu includes a half bottle of prosecco per person and offers a choice of starters including shrimp tempura and clear chestnut broth with rice noodles. The main event is a selection of succulent Asian roasting meats served in front of guests at carving stations. Choose from Roasted soya chicken, roast Peking duck, crisp pork belly, or a vegan nut roast, alongside sides of glutinous rice with oriental sausage, Pak Choi, or Thai salad. Rounding off the celebrations is a generous dessert buffet, definitely not one to miss.
To book visit: panpacificlondon.com
Check out Bar + Block’s new festive menu
It’s nearly Christmas, so what better way to get in the festive spirit then head to Bar + Block and try their new drool-worthy festive menus. With a Festive Burgerand a Sirloin Wellington on the menu, there are some seriously tasty festive options. For those wanting a more traditional Christmas roast ahead of the big day, there is the ultimate Festive Turkey Feast, complete with stuffing, beef dripping roasties, pigs in blankets, a golden yorkie and lashings of gravy, with a plant-based alternative also available.
To book, visit here
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