What a great city to visit with kids! And a visit to London at Christmas is all the merrier, (and with the advantage of off-season rates for airfares, too.)
From carolers under lamplights to figgy pudding: much of the way we picture Christmas comes from Victorian England. So go enjoy that Victorian architecture (all decked out for the holidays), imagine you're on Bob Cratchet's street, and have extra fun at London Christmas festivities.
Highlights for Families
• Holiday Lights
All the main landmarks -- including the showy London Eye, by the Thames-- are lit up. See photos; also, see West End Christmas Lights, updated every year at About.com's London Travel site.
• Christmas Windows
Another free activity! London's major department stores -- especially Selfridges-- put on some beautiful Christmas window displays.
• New Year's Day Parade
The biggest event of its kind in the world, this parade has an audience of over a million, and hundreds of dancers and musicians.
There are many venues to hear caroling, but perhaps tops for tourists are the nightly performances by the giant Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square. You can also hear carols in the Royal Albert Hall, and in many historic houses, such as Sutton House. See Londontown.com for details.
• Outdoor skating
There are ice rinks in the grounds of several major attractions, such as Hampton Court Palace. Tower of London has an ice rink in the dry moat outside one of the Castle walls; location is in central London, and right near a tube station. See more about outdoor skating rinks.
Look for classics like Scrooge and the Nutcracker, Wind in the Willows; new productions too. Check our London Travel site for top latest Christmas season productions every year.
In London, Santa appears not in his Workshop but at "grottos", at major stores such as Selfridges, Harrods, famous toy store Hamley, and lots more.
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
Holiday lights, outdoor ice rink, toboggan slide, traditional Christmas market, Ferris wheel, carousel, carol concerts, and more.
• Tower of London - Medieval Christmas
This live event at one of London's most popular attractions takes place on several nights in December; the year is 1284 and the King and Queen must be entertained, with music, jesters, dances, story-telling. (Read tips about visiting the Tower of London.) The Tower of London has ice-skating too.
-in Westminuster Abbey and Southwark Cathedral (and many other churches, of course)
Many More London Christmas Happenings
Harrod's Christmas Parade, a Christmas production at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London's South Bank at Christmas... About.com's London Travel highlights the best Christmas events, with updates every year.
... And take along, for Christmas in London:
- A Christmas Carol - classic book by Charles Dickens
- A Christmas Carol - the classic 1951 movie
- A Christmas Carol - newer version with Patrick Stewart
- more books and movies that make great background for your trip!