Things to do in London over the Holidays: Tips for travelling in winter

When the weather starts to turn cold for the winter, one way that will definitely lift your spirits is going to the city and seeing all the decorations around. I absolutely love going to London around the Christmas period as it’s always so bright and festive, no matter what the weather is like outside!

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If you’re not a local to London or haven’t been before during the holiday season, it can be a little hard trying to find out what’s on, where to go, and also how close everything is to each other. Knowing what the price ranges are for everything and how much to budget is always a good shout, especially if you’re using part of the trip to go present shopping too!

I’ve created this list of different things to do in London over winter, as well as what to expect temperature wise and how to pack, so hopefully you find some inspiration for next time you go!

My top things to do in London in the winter time

Winter Wonderland

If you’re planning to go to London between November and January, don’t miss out on going to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park! This amazing festive theme park is a great place to spend the winter evenings as it’s filled with lights and places to get a bite to eat.

There is so much to do here, as there are tonnes of rollercoasters, Christmas markets, shows, and even an ice rink. Each activity does cost, so make sure you have a decent budget and try to book them with your ticket so you have an idea of the cost! If you spend £25 on activities (attractions, rides, food) then your admission is free, so worth considering.

Prices: Admission – Free (Off-Peak), £5 (Standard), £7.50 (Peak), Attractions – £12-£15 (Adult), £10 (Child), Rides – £5-£7 (Adult), £4-£5 (Child)

Dates: November 17th 2023 – January 1st 2024, 10am – 10pm Monday – Sunday

Where: Hyde Park

Closest Tube Station – Green Park, Victoria, Paddington

New Years Eve Fireworks

If you’ve grown up in the UK, you’ll remember every year being able to watch the tv broadcast of the London New Years fireworks. Being able to go see the fireworks in person is a great way to bring in the new year, especially if you’re with friends and/or family!

Going to see the fireworks in person is (surprisingly) a lot cheaper than you’d expect! At only £15 each, it won’t break the budget, so you don’t have to worry about entering the new year with a hole in your wallet.

Make sure you wrap up super warm as you’ll be out in the cold for a couple of hours, and I would suggest brining maybe a flask of a hot drink to keep you warm, as well as some snacks too!

Make sure you check out the official page for the tickets here, as they have all the information on different ticket locations and how to get there, as well as being able to sign up to see if more tickets get released (if sold out)

Prices: £15

Dates: December 31st – 8pm till January 1st – 12:30am

Where: Multiple different locations, depending on which ticket you purchase. Some are north side of the river Thames, some are south of the river

Closest Tube Station: Dependant on your ticket and their area

Christmas at Kew

Each year The Royal Botanical Gardens host an after dark winter trail filled with magical lights at Kew Gardens, which is a must see if you have a spare evening in London!

The trail is about 2.6km and takes around 75 minutes to walk around – as it’ll be dark when you get there, make sure you wrap up warm and have good footwear as it might be wet and slippy! There is also a few places to get some food on the trail, so make sure to take this into account if you want to eat there.

Make sure you book this as soon as you can, because tickets sell out well before it’s even November!

Prices: Off-peak – £22.50 (Adult), £15 (Child – 4-15), Peak – £29 (Adult), £19 (Child)

Dates: Selected dates between November 15th 2023 till January 7th 2024, 4:20pm till 10pm (last entry 8pm)

Where: Kew Gardens

Closest Tube Station: Kew Gardens

Christmas lights

A trip to London over the festive season wouldn’t be complete without going through the different streets to see the famous Christmas lights. Each year the streets have different lights on show, though some may be reused from previous years as well.

Oxford Street one of the more famous streets, as this is one of London’s large shopping streets, so you wouldn’t be able to miss it!

Carnaby Street is definitely one not to miss, as this one has has all sorts of different themes over the years – one of my favourites is the Bohemian Rhapsody lights they did in 2018!

Regent Street is another more famous one, as these usually have huge angel lights hung up all along the street.

There are many other streets with their own unique lights, such as Marylebone Village and Bond Street.

Here’s a good idea if you want to combine a vintage bus trip with seeing the lights!

Prices: Free

Dates: Oxford Street – November 2nd, Carnaby Street – November 8th, Regent Street – November 9th

Where: Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, Regent Street, Marylebone, Bond Street

Closest Tube Station: Oxford Circus (Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, and Regent Street), Bond Street (Oxford Circus, Bond Street and Marylebone Village)

Christmas markets

To go with all the Christmas lights around the city, the many Christmas markets are a must see wherever you are, just be kind to your wallet! It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with all the exciting and festive treats about, but they don’t come cheap – which is good to consider if you’re thinking of going to multiple markets.

There are many different markets in London, so it’s easy to see one or two wherever you are! Some of the markets include: Leicester Square Market, Southbank Winter Market, Borough Market, Covent Garden, Greenwich Market, and Canopy Christmas Market at Kings Cross.

Prices: Vary, but usually free to enter and walk around

Dates: Leicester Square – November 8th, Southbank – November 2nd, Borough Market – November 28th, Covent Garden – November 7th, Kings Cross – November 23rd to December 23rd

Ice Skating at Somerset House

Going ice skating is one of those things that everyone thinks of when they think of winter aesthetics. There are loads of different places to go ice skating in London, but one of the more popular places is Somerset House, which is in the Strand near Temple.

You used to be able to go ice skating at the Natural History Museum, which was one of the other popular sites to go to, but they’ve decided to repurpose the land they use for the rink into an urban wildlife hub!

You’ll have to book in advance to go skating, so keep that in mind before you go if you definitely want to go! Make sure you arrive in plenty of time before your session (20 minutes is advised), and each session is around 45 minutes long.

Prices: £10-£25 (Adult), £8-£13 (Child – 12 years and under)

Dates: November 15th 2023 – January 14th 2024, 9:30am till 9:30pm

Where: Somerset House

Closest Tube Station: Temple

St Paul’s Cathedral Christmas Service

For many people, going to church on Christmas Eve is a tradition that really brings out their Christmas spirit, regardless of if they’re religious or not. I really love going to Christmas carol services in different countries/cities as it can make you feel a little more at home, especially if you’re away from loved ones too.

All of the Advent and Christmas services are free of charge and you don’t need to book tickets to go either, which means it’s kind on your budget around the festive season too. Some of the other events at the Cathedral you do need to book, but are usually still free to go to.

Prices: Free

Dates: December 23rd and 24th, 4pm – 5pm

Where: St Paul’s Cathedral

Closest Tube Station: St Paul’s

Hogwarts In The Snow

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then taking a trip to see some of the wizarding sites is a must (I have a whole post about the London filming locations too if you wanted to check that out!). Although it’s a little outside of the city itself, if you have a day to spare then I would definitely suggest making the trip to the Harry Potter Studios!

Going to the studios in winter is one of my favourite things, as they cover all the sets in snow, as well as bringing out the Yule Ball costumes and set pieces, adding Christmas decorations to some of the indoor sets, and the Hogwarts Castle model is also covered in snow!

I would suggest taking out a whole day for this, as the average visit takes around 3 1/2 hours, but you can take as long as you like to explore!

Make sure you book your tickets in advance if you really want to see the snowy sets as they do tend to sell out quickly! The website does usually have tickets available to book for the next year, which is good if you want to get them extra early!

Alternatively check out some combined bus and entrance tickets – a good way to get there from London easily.

Prices: £53.50 (Adult – 16+), £43 (Child 5-15, under 4s free), £172 (Family)

Dates: November 11th 2023 – January 14th 2024

Where: Warner Bros Studio Tour, Watford

How to get there: Train from London Euston to Watford Junction, then take the shuttle bus from the train to the studio (the shuttle bus is free with your entry ticket) OR you can get there by car

Covent Garden

If you love going to see super large Christmas trees, make sure you head to Covent Garden for some real festive magic!

Not only do they have loads of sparkling Christmas lights decorated around their pedestrianised Piazza, but they also have daily showers of snow in the square, Christmas markets, and of course their 60ft tall Christmas Tree!

This is definitely a must see for feeling extra festive over winter! I absolutely love going to see the giant Christmas tree and wandering around their market stalls, as well as seeing the Royal Opera House – and Covent Garden is right next to a few of the other locations such as Somerset House and Leicester Square!

Prices: Free

Dates: November 7th 2023 – December 7th 2024

Where: Covent Garden

Closest Tube Station: Covent Garden

Temperature guide and Packing list

When coming to London, or anywhere in the UK, in the winter time, you want to make sure you wrap up warm! A lot of the time it rains in the capital, and there’s nothing worse than to be shivering and cold because you didn’t wrap up or bring enough layers!

Below I’ve added in the average temperatures for London over winter and how often it rains too!

Month:Temperature °C:Rain:
NovemberH – 12°, L – 7°10 days
DecemberH – 9°, L – 5°10 days
JanuaryH – 9°, L – 4°12 days
FebruaryH – 9°, L – 5°9 days

When it comes to packing for a city trip, especially during the winter, you want to make sure you bring the right sort of stuff! You can also check out my low waste travel essentials if you’re looking to lessen your impact during your trip too.

I’ve listed below some of my essentials when it comes to winter travel, so make sure you have a look before you head to the city!

  • Reusable coffee cup – perfect for warming up on cold days!
  • Hat, scarf, and gloves
  • Warm winter coat!
  • Thermal base layers – having multiple layers is great for those especially bitter cold days
  • Power bank – cold weather can drain your phone battery quicker, so making sure you have charge to get around is essential!
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Comfortable shoes! – You’ll probably be on your feet most of your trip, so make sure they’re comfortable, and either waterproof or can dry quickly if they get wet!
  • Umbrella and a raincoat – I really like small packable ones, as these take up little space in your bag but do great at keeping you dry

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