Updated ideas for you and your family for what to do in London at Christmas, 2022!
There is no place in the world like London at Christmas! And there is so much you could possibly do, as always, it’s so exciting. There’s certain personal things I like to tick off during December. How about you? Mine are: have I eaten enough sweet mince pies? Stuffed my face enough with German stollen or Lebkuchen (both a bit tricky now I’m gluten free though!) Drank some mulled wine? Seen enough Christmas lights? Christmas in London with kids (or without them!) is a big question and something I absolutely delight in planning. I thereby thought it would be useful to get some tips down on what I see as some core Christmas in London suggestions!
So in the below, I’ll be offering a round up of ideas to get inspired by if you are planning a Christmas in London with kids, and wondering what to do in London at Christmas. Look no further! I’ve kept it to 9 key ideas, with a mixture of things you can pay for, or do for free! Hurrah!
- Child friendly Christmas themed ballets (paid). The first thing I always recommend to anyone, is to see a ballet. One Christmas ritual I have is to attend a Matthew Bourne ballet at the Sadlers Wells theatre in Barbican. It’s just a quick trot from Angel station. I have seen “The Red Shoes”, “Cinderella” and in 2018, an all male cast for “Swan Lake”, and each one has been breath taking. Bourne’s impressively thought out modern adaptations make these ballets accessible for all, so I really recommend these as an “entry point” for ballet if like me, you’re not a seasoned ballet connoisseur. Seats are released early in the year, from as little as £15 which also helps with access to these ballets. This year they are showing “Sleeping Beauty” and we’ve got tickets for our monthly “date night” ready. Can’t wait! The recommended age range is from 5+, and under 16’s need to go with an adult. I do think it would be a lot for a 5 year old to manage personally, a bit older would be better. Website: https://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/matthew-bournes-sleeping-beauty-new-adventures/ Do also check out the gorgeous London Colliseum near Trafalger Square. It routinely shows The Nutcracker performances every year, with tickets also starting from a very reasonable price and children over 5 are allowed which is another huge win, but again, check out the length of performance and of course whether you think a smaller child could manage it. Website: https://londoncoliseum.org/whats-on/nutcracker2022/
- Child friendly theatre (paid). I also either like to attend a pantomime or a play, and I’ve been lucky to see Dickens “A Christmas Carol” a few times at the Old Vic in Waterloo. I’ll also be there this year! Children are allowed from 8+. Again, the seats are released super early during the year and again, I recommend looking then for the best pricing and seating range you can afford or want to go for. There are still tickets available now however! Honestly, it is an always absolutely beautiful and enchanting production. The theatre also typically give away free mini mince pies and clementine’s which adds to the glorious Christmassy atmosphere, and sell mulled wine (of course) amongst other things at the bar. This would be a delightful one for you as well as a slightly older child, a perfect activity for Christmas in London with kids. Website: https://www.oldvictheatre.com/stage/event/a-christmas-carol-1
- Christmas Lights (free)
I mean, of course right? You can’t include a “What to do in London” or a “Christmas in London with kids” guide, and not include the lights! Some of these photos are of years past, rather than this year, as the lights are still unveiling right now.
If you’re in the City Centre, Covent Garden, Seven Dials, Oxford Street, Regents Street, Carnaby Street, Trafalgar Square and the Strand are some of the most beautiful walks you can do and bonus, you can also easily walk between all of these in one afternoon (you can also take buses inbetween all of them for smaller legs, and sit on the top deck with a hot chocolate taking in the sights!) My favourite photo from the above is just of the phone box with some twinkly lights in the background, that was taken in Angel, so everywhere surprises you. London shops, hotels, historic buildings are of course all lit up and looking extra shiny and wonderful at this time of year.
Here’s a summary of some key lights that have either already turned on, or will be turning on shortly:
Oxford Street: opened on the 2nd November.
Southbank: 3rd November 2022.
Carnaby Street: 8th November 2022.
Covent Garden: 8th November 2022.
Regent’s Street: 9th November 2022.
Bond Street: 17th November 2022.
4. Family friendly ice-skating (paid)
I think if I had to recommend one main iconic London building for Christmas festivities such as ice-skating, I’d choose Somerset House. From the 16th November 2022 to the 15th January 2023, the ice-rink is open! It gets of course a little busy (no: make that very busy, but where doesn’t in London?) but it has lots of ticks: a huge beautiful tree, the ice rink of course, and a mulled wine and Baileys bar too! It’s the perfect place to take the family, and it’s a stones throw from Covent Garden where you can enjoy the markets, cobbled streets and find a restaurant in afterwards! Christmas in London with kids: nailed! Website: https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/press/skate-somerset-house-mo%C3%ABt-chandon-0
5. Christmas Tree hunting! (free)
Pretty much all of London’s beautiful and exclusive hotels don the most exquisite Christmas trees, and you could definitely complete a loop to view them with older children on a Christmas tree hunt, whilst you take in the Christmas lights! Definitely prioritise Claridges! Claridge’s offering always knocks your socks off! It’s one of your key London hotels that you should factor in for a visit anytime of the year, but especially at Christmas. It’s just behind Bond Street tube station, off Oxford Street, and the building is a real wow factor moment, when you see it for the first time, all lit up.It is unveiling its Christmas Tree, “The Diamond” by Sandra Choi for Jimmy Choo, on the morning of the 23rd November 2022, see here for more details! Website: https://www.claridges.co.uk/christmas/christmas-tree/
In 2019, their tree was called the “Tree of Love” was designed by artist Diane Von Furstenberg. It was the first time I had visited, and seen their tree, and I of course loved it! I was totally enthralled by the elegantly dressed husband and wives and families who were obviously in London on a very special break, enjoying their stays. My friend Sanjay and I were happy enough for photos in the lobby for this one, and equally loved the “Celestial Snow Globe” from 2021 on the right below!
I’ve also visited the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone in early December. It’s another one of the classic London hotels which offer super service, gorgeous rooms and exquisite afternoon teas. I absolutely loved the mix of their palm tree and Christmas tree combo in the main dining area!
6. Child friendly Christmas Carols (paid)
There are lots of lovely places you can consider for you and your small ones, but one thing I’ve decided to do, for Sonny being a toddler who isn’t going to sit still and watch other people singing for too long, is the super fun and more interactive (kids can get up and run about, and indeed shake their stuff!) “Baby Knees up” Christmas event, by the Baby Broadway Team. Whilst not strictly a carol service, it’ll include lots of Christmas songs for a younger audience, which will be lovely. An adult pays £13.69, and can take up to 3 children for free, which is an absolute bargain! Sonny and I have done their standard Baby Broadway show, and the Baby Gospel, and Sonny LOVED both. As I say, taking him to sit quietly in a church type setting isn’t something that’s going to work with his age right now, Christmas in London with kids this age can be hard, so I am so happy that this is a win win for us both and mummy also gets to participate in a bit of a London knees up style Christmas celebration! Website: https://babybroadway.co.uk/tag/baby-knees-up/
7. Christmas Light Trails (paid)
“Christmas at Kew” is a magical light trail, that lights up Kew’s already stunning botanical gardens, with seasonal music and the chance to buy food and drinks en-route, and the kids can even spot Father Christmas along the way! It’s a fair route for an under 5, so depending upon the time of day definitely bring a pram, but safe for older ones to run slightly on ahead as they marvel at everything! It’s a really cosy, lovely event to take in with a special friend too. Below I was about 12 or 13 weeks pregnant with Sonny, so, happy memories! Website: https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/whats-on/christmas
Another lovely one for small ones, and much smaller in route length but not in charm or Christmas cheer, is the very cute “Illuminature” at the London Wetlands Centre, which we were invited to last year. Sonny had the perfect time running about here (bit tricky to get a static photo of him!) and we were all amazed by the gift shop afterwards: it is incredible! Website: https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/london/
8. Santas Grottos (free and paid)
Yes don’t panic, you’ve still got time!! Here are 3 reasonably Grottos to consider!
- The Victorian Santa’s Grotto at the Museum of London (Docklands). It’s for under 5’s, you get 15 minutes with Santa, a small toy, and each child is £12.50. We had a lovely time at the Barbican one last year! Website: https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/event-detail?id=23608&s=true&day=1671148800
- On Thursday 10th November, Marylebone Village has its “Merry Marylebone Christmas Season” event, which runs from 3-8pm. They will have a FREE Santa’s Grotto, but advice is to get there early to ensure you’re seen! Website: https://www.marylebonevillage.com/whats-on-and-features/item/1253-merry-marylebone-christmas-2022
- Santas Grotto and the Magic Tree at John Lewis. This sounds a bit more than your standard “meet Santa” experience and would be well worth checking out! It’s £20 per child, with the opportunity to buy a photo with Santa too!.Website: https://www.bookfatherchristmas.co.uk/johnlewisoxfordstreet
9. Christmas decorations on iconic London buildings (free)
Such a lovely and natural way to also take in the lights at the same time of course. Some iconic London staples include the infamous:
Annabels on Berkley Square:
Tiffany’s on New Bond Street
And the early 19th century “Burlington Arcade”, with its strip of charming shops and beadles dressed in traditional attire. Just gorgeous at any time but especially Christmas!
Christmas in London with kids, and what to do in London at Christmas , solved! Hopefully I’ve given you lots of ideas or inspiration to take away now!
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