December is here. For most of us that’s a month of food hoarding, twinkling lights and going out slightly too often. Our top picks for this month include a wallet-friendly grab bag of all three. Here’s our favourite things to do in London this December 2019.

On the lookout for something specifically Chistmassy? Be sure to check out our roundup of the top London Christmas markets and winter festivals. It has all the best markets, festivals and events to get you in the mood for carol singing and mulled wine!

Njinga Santa Cycle

Photo by Njinga Santa Cycle used under CC

If you love cycling, Santa and charity, then this is the event for you. All rolled up into one festive and feel-good event, you can join a casual cycle of 18km dressed as everyone’s favorite Christmas gift-bringer and deliver presents to the children at Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice. You have to register to participate but it’s free—and you must wear a Santa suit and come with an unwrapped gift for a child if you’re joining in.

Chanukah in Trafalgar Square

chanukah london trafalgar square
Celebrating Hanukkah in London. | Photo by Garry Knight used under CC

Celebrate the Jewish festival of lights with a visit to the giant Menorah in Trafalgar Square. There’ll be a main lighting ceremony on December 22nd. Expect live music, dancing and good cheer all around. The menorah will remain in place for the the full 8 days of Chanukah.

The St John’s Hospice Christmas Fayre

At the St John’s Fayre you can enjoy browsing through stalls run by locals, kids can ride reindeer and visit Santa’s grotto and know you’re helping out a charity too. This annual event raises money for the local hospice while providing everything you need for a festive day out as well as kicking off (or adding the finishing touches to) your present stockpile.

Recommended London Accommodation

E17 Designer’s Christmas Markets

E17 markets
Photo by E17

Another great spot for your Christmas shopping, this market focuses on crafters and creators from around E17. The show runs in two different locations over several weeks, so make sure you’re heading for the right venue before you set out. You can enjoy mulled wine, cocktails and cakes while browsing unique, handmade gifts in a wide range of media. Better still—you’ll meet the artists, so you might even get a backstory out of it.

Gingerbread City

Somerset House Gingerbread

The mammoth gingerbread city is only growing in size in creativity with each passing year. Gaze in a mixture of wonder and jealousy at the structures created by a whole host of architects and engineers in a display that would knock Mary, Prue and Paul off their showstopper round feet. Created by the Museum of Architecture, the display was designed by a city-planning company and is an intricate creative scene well worth exploring.

Christmas Carols in Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square December 2019
Photo by iStock.com/mikeinlondon

If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to feel festive for free, head over to Trafalgar Square any evening between the 9th and 24th of December. With more than 40 carol groups serenading the square to raise money for charity, you’ll see it on most lists of things to do in London this December.

Peter Pan Cup

serpentine club swimmers
Photo by Serpentine Swimming Club used under CC

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to swim in open water on Christmas day in the UK, then look no further. The Peter Pan cup is a questionable tradition of the hardy members of the Serpentine Swimmers Club, who dive into the chilly water from the south bank of Hyde Park every Christmas morning.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

London New Year's Eve Fireworks
Photo by iStock.com/chalffy

A chance to get tickets for the grand annual fireworks display—the second batch of £10.00 tickets were released on November 30th. Don’t panic of you don’t get tickets though, there are plenty of free places you can watch the show from!

New Year’s Eve parties

London New Year's Eve Party
Photo by istock.com/Oversnap

Almost everywhere in the city charges an entry fee on NYE—probably even your local pub. And while tickets can be a pricy affair, we’ve put together a list of fun, affordable options.

Chords of Light

Paddington Centre’s first foray into the winter lights phenomenon doesn’t disappoint. If you’re short on festive things to do in London this December, head to Paddington and see the giant, interactive lights for yourself.

Ally Pally Christmas Carnival

Not a location to let a celebration pass it by, Alexandra Palace is back with its winter carnival taking place over three weekeends. As well as festive treats like Streatlife food, craft beer, the main attraction this year is a Santa’s grotto—making it a solid option

Last Chance Events

Siders—roof East
Photo by Roof East

Columbia Road Christmas Wednesdays | Until December 19th | Bethnal Green

Sliders Curling On Roof East | Until December 22nd | Stratford

Ongoing Events

Winter Markets and Festivals

Somerset Skating
Photo by iStock.com/anatoleya

Christmas by the River | Until Jan 5th | London Bridge

Hackney Christmas Market | Until Dec 15th | Hackney

Winterfest at Wembley | Until Jan 3rd | Wembley

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland | Until Jan 5th | Wesminster

Christmas at Kew | Until Jan 5th | Kew

Leicester Square Christmas Market | Until Jan 5th | Leicester Square

Winter Festival at South Bank | Until Jan 5th | South Bank

Ice Skating

Tower of London Ice Skating | Until Jan 5th | Tower Hill

Hampton Court Palace Ice Skating | Until Jan 5th | Richmond

Ice Skating at Somerset House | Until Jan 12th | Aldwych

Natural History Museum Ice Skating | Until Jan 12th | South Kensington

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