A Pre-Christmas Trip to London

Today is the 1st November. For me today marks the turning point between ‘It’s far too early to think about Christmas’ to ‘Oh gosh, how can it be November already? Time’s ticking’… so let’s officially kick off the season and start the Christmas cheer… NOW. Time to get all presents sorted and cookies baked. So let me tell you about London at Christmas time. In case you are planning a pre Christmas trip to London this year.

Needless to say (but I will say it anyway) London is a travel destination all year round, but visiting London in the run up to Christmas feels extra special and an experience plenty of people seek every year.

To help you make the most of your pre Christmas trip to London, here a little collection of things to do and see to get your Christmas spirits up.

See the Christmas lights

Go and see the Christmas lights in Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, Piccadilly and Covent Garden.

Whilst the lights are going up as we speak (or are already up, Oxford Street this year managed to put them up early in October), the official switch on usually is around beginning / middle of November and most of them will stay until beginning of January.

Especially Carnaby Street is known for their unusual and different display each year.

The Oxford Street Christmas lights switch on this year is on 7th November.

Visit the Christmas markets

Whilst Christmas markets are not traditionally English, us Brits love all things Christmas and shamelessly adopted the Christmas market tradition from Germany. So all over England you will find German Christmas markets, including two in London. In Hyde Park is the large Winter Wonderland, part fun fair, part traditional Christmas market.

Along Southbank is the Cologne Christmas market, which feels a little more like a traditional German Christmas market.

And around City Hall you’ll find ‘Christmas by the River’. Currently my favourite London Christmas market.

They all will offer Christmas market staples such as Mulled Wine and bratwurst. But be prepared to pay top dollar, the London Christmas markets don’t come cheap.

Visit the Christmas departments and see the Christmas windows

When planning your pre Christmas trip to London, this one needs to go on your bucket list. Go and see the stunning Christmas windows on display at Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty and Fortnum & Mason. Every year they compete against each other for the most stunning and memorable decorations.

In addition they all offer their own Christmas department, where you can pick up Christmas presents and plenty of decorations for your own house and Christmas tree.

Pick up one of the Harrods Christmas baubles as a keepsake (a Christmas tradition for my god daughter and me for years now).

Go ice skating

Not just for Christmas, but certainly very wintery and always one to get you into the Christmas spirit. Go and visit one of the ice rinks popping up all over London. For the prettiest setting head to the ice rink in Somerset House or in front of the Natural History Museum.

See the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House

Every year the Royal Opera House shows the Nutcracker, so if you are lucky enough to get tickets, go and make a night of it. Tickets start at as little as £15 (restricted view, first class seats obviously sell for a lot more), so no excuse not to go…. But be quick, the tickets do sell fast (and tickets are usually avaible from July onwards).

Pre Christmas Trip to London - Christmas Markets, Nutcracker, Ice Skating - Travel for a Living

Walk the festive trail of light in Kew Gardens

From December until early January Kew Gardens sets out a light trail, leading a 1.5 to 2 hour walk through the gardens in the dark. Experience the scenery in a rather unusual setting. But ensure you bring sensible shoes, as the walk can be a little slippery.

What brings you into the Christmas Spirit? What would you include on a pre Christmas trip to London?

Leave a Reply


  1. Laura

    As someone from the U.K, I love reading what people suggest to do in London. There’s always something in there I haven’t thought to do. I didn’t know they had a Christmas trail at Kew! Adding to on things to do when we head back home at Christmas time. Thanks.

  2. outsidethissmalltown

    I love the fact that you’re geared up for Christmas already! I’m the same way. And I would loveeee to see the nutcracker in that beautiful opera house. One day maybe!

  3. katie@creativetravelguide.com

    I am originally from London but now live in China. We head back home for Christmas every year and there really is something beautiful and magical about the city at Christmas! In recent years, Leicester Square have a christmas market and it is really nice because it’s not too big! Winter Wonderland can be a bit overwhelming! Anyway, thank you for getitng me exctied for Christmas!

  4. thatanxioustraveller

    I love Christmas in London; it’s just one of those cities that lends itself well to it! Though Winter Wonderland gets so busy!! It’s definitely a good idea to get there early.

  5. Chelsea

    This year will be my first Christmas in London, and I can’t wait to do all of these holiday activities! I’ve already told my husband to keep his December weekends free so we can spend them under the lights and at the London Christmas markets 🙂

    • Travel for a living

      Good plan. Go and make the most of it. London is quite special in the run up to Christmas. Unfortunately it also gets a little crowded, particularly on the weekends.

  6. Anisa

    I do love the lights in London, looking forward to seeing what is on Carnaby street this year and hopefully I can make it to winter wonderland!

    • Travel for a living

      Carnaby Street lighting is always very stunning and unusual. I have yet to go and see the illuminated ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ lyrics that form part of this year’s Christmas lights.