There is nothing quite like the Holidays in London. The city is alive with lights and installations and the feeling of magic is palpable. There’s so much to see, do and taste during the time between late November and early January and today’s post is dedicated to bringing you the best things to see in London during the holidays! I am arriving back to the city this week to see it all festive and I cannot wait.
I’m here to help you take advantage of this magical time of year. Heading to London and looking for bespoke recommendations? Check out London, Perfected! It is the extension of my Paris, Perfected planning business.
What to See in London During Christmas
I truly think one of the best ways to enjoy London during the holidays is just to walk around and see what decorations you’ll happen upon! I personally love visiting Covent Garden, Mayfair, Marylebone, Fitzrovia, Chelsea and Soho for some of the best decorations in the city.
But, if you’d prefer to have an itinerary of sorts, be sure to check out the below items and add them to your list to make the most of your time spending the festive season of Christmas in London.
Regent Street becomes absolutely majestic this time of year as the street is strung with lights and angels that glow above the shops and double decker buses and black cabs. Standing on the street’s median makes for a pretty epic Instagram photo. The lights go off around 11PM so make sure to plan accordingly!
Ralph Lauren & Ralph’s Coffee on Old Bond Street
The Ralph Lauren store always goes all out with its decor and it looks stunning both during the day and night. Browse the store for loads of gift ideas and be sure to warm up at the recently opened Ralphs’ Coffee that’s tucked away just inside the main entrance of the shop.
Pro tip: Skip the hot chocolate at Ralph’s Coffee and stick to caffeine. It was rather undrinkable hot chocolate IMO.
Cartier on Old Bond
The Cartier store on Old Bond gets dressed up every holiday season with baubles and bows and lights and greenery and at night time you can catch a small musical display playing every hour, too! Definitely worth popping by both during the daytime and nighttime to see it all lit up.
Royal Arcade and Burlington Arcade
Both just off of Bond Street, the Burlington Arcade and the Royal Arcade get festive decorations throughout. Take a little stroll in them and pop into any of the shops as you do.
Pop by the courtyard of this restaurant to view their Christmas lights and oversized ornament brought out for the season.
St. James’s Hotel
Oversized nutcrackers salute you at the entrance of this hotel and club tucked away on a little side street near St. James Park.
Fortnum & Mason
This iconic London institution is not only a great place to shop during the holiday season, but the store goes all out with its holiday decorations and windows. Stroll the window displays and then pop inside to pick up gifts of beautifully packaged chocolates, teas and holiday ornaments, too.
Don’t miss the Christmas Shop on one of the upper levels – so many fun gift ideas!
Angels adorn the top of the buildings along Piccadilly Street past Fortnum & Mason and all the way to Piccadilly Circus and then they turn towards and up Regent Street. Pro tip? Ride bus 94 for a small fare heading North on Regent Street. Sit up top of the double decker bus to enjoy the Christmas light display up close.
Take in an epic Christmas tree at London’s famed Trafalgar Square. Every year, since 1947, the people of Norway have given the people of London a Christmas tree that is on display here. This gift is in gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II. You can also visit the holiday market in Trafalgar Square (while I find the items for sale to be nothing special, it’s still a festive ambiance!)
Unless you’re a member, you won’t be able to head into Annabel’s but you can stand outside to admire what they do for Christmas each year. Every season they do a massive installation – 2021’s was making the exterior of the building into a life-size gingerbread house, in 2022 it was a giant carousel and this year it’s a magnificent hot air balloon! Every year is more and more impressive.
They are on the later side for their reveal so you’ll have to wait till the first week of December typically to see their installation unveiled.
Want to do a festive high tea while in London? Look no further than The Berkley. Their lobby and dining room are decorated in a festive manner and you can enjoy their beloved Prêt-à-Portea that features pastries inspired by fashion collections. Order a hot chocolate to really round out the decadent experience and then walk down a few blocks to see Harrod’s all lit up and decorated.
The Churchill Arms
Is there anything more charming than a corner pub adorned with a loads of Christmas trees covered in lights? I think not! While it looks rather rubbish at daytime, it is absolutely magnificent at nighttime this time of year!
The Ritz London
Nestled next to Green Park is The Ritz London which hangs giant wreaths covered in lights and ornaments during Christmastime. Visit for a fancy Christmas drink.
The Ivy Restaurants
The Ivy group of restaurants dotted around London are known for year-round mouth-dropping installations and the holidays is no exception. You can expect really fun entrance way decor but also loads of festive lights and decorations inside each of the restaurants, too. Perfect for a festive brunch, lunch or dinner.
Don’t miss browsing all the Christmas ornaments in the Christmas Shop on the top floor of the famed Department Store just off Regent Street.
This famed hotel adorns its entranceway with Christmas trees and always unveils a themed Christmas tree inside as well. Find out via the hotel’s Instagram for when it will be unveiled!
They also decorate throughout the hotel and their high tea is a personal favorite of mine during the holiday season. There’s nothing better than getting dressed up and going to a fancy hotel during the holiday season for a festive drink or afternoon tea!
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
This Christmas event is a bit more carnival than it is Christmas market, but if you want to eat a variety of foods and ride rides and play games this season, this is for you. Loads of games and rides and stalls get set up in London’s famed Hyde Park and you can purchase tickets for a timed entry.
I didn’t love the carnival vibe but did enjoy drinking mulled wine and seeing all the different games set up. And you can event find an ice skating rink here! This is a great place for young kids!
Oxford Street is another one of London’s grandest streets that gets strung up with loads of Christmas lights. I don’t think the shopping is much good anymore but definitely hit up Selfridge’s which also decorates beautifully.
The Carnaby Street area of London is always worth strolling through and especially during the holidays when they decorate with loads of light installations. Pop by Dishoom for lunch when in the area and also don’t miss shopping at nearby Liberty of London which is great to pick up gifts at in advance of Christmas Day.
This legendary department store takes up an entire city block and is easy to get lost in! But it also does epic decorations outside the store to adorn itself and its windows. Don’t forget to take home the iconic Harrod’s Christmas bear – this year’s fluffy friend is skiing superstar Ethan, keen to cuddle up after a day on the slopes.
Ice Skating at Somerset House
Skate around the neoclassical courtyard of Somerset House (truly a stunning background!) and its giant Christmas tree during the day, or visit at night to enjoy skating to a DJ under the stars. If you plan ahead, try to score a reservation at the Chalet Suisse pop-up restaurant and be transported to Switzerland!
Christmas at Kew
Venture outside the city to Kew Gardens. Every winter this botanical garden is transformed with lights for the Christmas season! Purchase mulled wine or cocoa and wonder the gardens taking in the dazzling light show. Another fun and festive place to bring kids.
Where to Stay in London During the Holidays
London has so many amazing hotels – many of which go all out during the festive season. One hotel I love is The Kensington which is a five star boutique hotel in the heart of Kensington.
If you’re looking for the perfect hotel, book with London, Perfected! It is the extension of my Paris, Perfected planning business and I can help plan the best trip to London – including finding you a hotel that’ll fit all your needs for your trip. Many of my bookings also come with VIP amenities like complimentary breakfast, complimentary upgrades and more.