London is a hotspot for tourists and visitors in the lead-up to the festive season which means things book up in an instant. To avoid disappointing your little ones by missing out on a trip to Santa’s Grotto or a magical light show, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to keeping the kids entertained over Christmas.
From gingerbread workshops to Harry Potter escapades, here’s where to take the kids this Christmas.
Christmas at Kew
Skip the Kew and grab your tickets now for the most enchanting light installation at Kew Gardens. Christmas at Kew is littered with glittery spiral trees, wow-worthy laser projections and endless tunnels of fun. The kiddies can dive into buckets of moreish churros and hot chocolates while the parents enjoy a glass of mulled wine or two.
Skate at Somerset House
Grab your skates and whizz on over to Somerset House to experience the capital’s most magical Christmassy experience.
Perfect for budding ice skaters or for just making a fool out of yourself, the ice rink is arguably the best in London and is complete with a giant 40ft Christmas tree. You’ll find food and drink offerings waiting for you at the finish line too from the king of pop-ups, Jimmy Garcia, helping to warm you up with comforting favourites.
When: 15.11.2023 – 14.01.2024
Where: Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA
Hogwarts in the Snow
Harry Potter studio is transformed into Hogwarts in the Snow.
Whizz over on your Nimbus 2000 and fall in love with the epic Hogwarts castle model that’s been covered in a dusting of snow, before making your way through the Gryffindor common room and Boys’ dormitory. It’ll be as if Harry and his friends are still living in the space, with original props including handmade Christmas cards on display.
The Yule Ball returns, offering you a chance to step in the footsteps of your favourite character moments. Prepare to be dazzled as you’re greeted with silver decorations, dripping icicles and sparkling snow.
Expect fan-favourite sets to be transformed with red and gold ornaments, as well as snow falls across the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts castle model.
When: 11.11.2023 – 14.01.2024
Where: Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR
Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas
Make sure you head on over to Hammersmith this Christmas to catch Santa and all of his festive antics in a magical retelling of Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas. Follow along Mr C’s adventures as he prepares for his busiest day of the year: Christmas Eve!
The production, co-produced with the Olivier Award-nominated Pins & Needles Productions, returns to the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre – don’t miss out on this family favourite.
When: 22.11.2023 – 30.12.2023
Where: LYRIC HAMMERSMITH THEATRE, LYRIC SQUARE, KING STREET, W6 0QL
Harrods’ Christmas Shop
Is there anywhere more Christmassy in London than Harrods? Bring your kids in tow this festive season and soak up the magic, from spotting the legendary Harrods Christmas bear to finding the perfect decorations to line your trees, stockings and generally just take in the magical essence of the space.
Not forgetting Harrods’ notorious Santa’s Grotto – although it’s almost impossible to get tickets for this one unless you know someone in the know.
When: Across the festive season
Where: Knightsbridge, SW1X
A London Christmas staple, the Nutcracker returns to the London Coliseum for a limited run of performances. See over 100 dancers and musicians perform in front of what’s set to be a sold-out audience.
Expect stunning set design and Tchaikovsky’s score to be performed live as you follow Clara and her Nutcracker’s story unfold. Book your tickets early as the return of the Nutcracker is set to sell like hotcakes.
WHEN: 14.12.2023 – 07.01.2024
WHERE: LONDON COLISEUM, ST MARTIN’S LANE, WC2N 4ES
Get ready to put your ice skating prowess to the test as you glide around Queens.
It’s the perfect place to get your icy kicks and entertain the kids as you whizz or gracefully fall flat on your face around the rink.
Where: 17 Queensway, Bayswater, W2 4QP
The Magic of Christmas, London Zoo
Experience the magic of Christmas through animals this festive period when you book a spot at London Zoo’s The Magic of Christmas. From a family festive trail to a VIP breakfast meet Santa and animal gifting experience, watch as the kiddies’ faces light up at all of the festive fun.
Paddington Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
Let your little kiddies dreams come true at Brigit’s Bakery. The popular bakery-by-bus has just launched their latest tour and it’s centred around everyone’s favourite bear: Paddington.
Their chefs have created a Paddington-inspired afternoon tea, featuring the best marmalade sandwich in London.
Hop on the bus and you’ll be taken around all of the bear’s favourite London spots, from Big Ben to Downing Street. It’s the perfect way to see London’s Christmas lights while staying warm and tucking into a child-friendly afternoon tea.
Departing from: Trafalgar Square
Get lost in the lights through this fun, family-friendly light maze. This thrilling maze will take you on a magical and festive journey with state-of-the-art neon installations and a specially curated soundscape. You do not want to miss out on their show-stopping installation, The Hourglass, which is an audio-visual sculpture designed to deliver stories through animations and audio.
Head on over to Wembley Park to experience this amazing, one-of-a-kind Christmas light maze… and did we mention it’s free.
when: 02.12.2023 – 02.01.2024
WHERE: SAMOVAR SPACE, OLYMPIC WAY, WEMBLEY PARK, WEMBLEY, UK
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Who doesn’t love the heart-warming story of the boy who becomes friends with his snowman? This Christmas sees Raymond Briggs’ winter novel come to life on the big stage. Fall back in love with the festive classic thanks to Bill Alexander’s directorial magic, music and lyrics from Howard Blake, including everyone’s favourite ‘Walking in the Air’, and choreography by Robert North.
Watch the magic unfold through beautiful storytelling, dance and live music. Perfect for children, adults and everyone in between, this is one magical snowy production you won’t want to miss.
Looking for more magical shows? Check out our guide here.
WHEN: 18.11.2023 – 30.12.2023
WHERE: PEACOCK THEATRE, PORTUGAL STREET, WC2A 2HT
London’s Christmas Lights
Twinkling lights, floating spirits and a kaleidoscope of butterflies can only mean one thing. London’s most iconic streets are about to light up for Christmas!
From Oxford Street to Carnaby Street, Marylebone Village to Covent Garden, London at Christmas time is truly magical, and there are endless wonderful spots to look forward to.
Click here to find out what you can expect…
Live out your Antarctic dreams when you book into Aviary’s iconic igloos or enjoy the riverside views at Coppa Club’s cosy igloos hubs this festive season. Igloos are the perfect place to soak up all of the festive spirit, enjoy delicious dining experiences with your loved ones and experience some of the best views in the city.
Need some inspiration for your festive gingerbread creation this Christmas? Look to the Gingerbread City, the annual exhibition that sees architects, designers and engineers build a city out of gingerbread.
Running from 2nd December to 7th January, head down to get inspired by the creations, from the adorable little houses to windmills, and skyscrapers to cars.
WHEN: 02.12.2023 – 07.01.2024
WHERE: 6-7 MOTCOMB STREET, BELGRAVIA, SW1X 8JU
Venture a little further afield and soak up the festive spirit at Lapland UK. Let your little elves fall in love with the magic of Christmas as you wander around, visiting Santa’s little helpers’ workshops, his grotto and the Enchanted Forest.
This books up super quickly so make sure to nab your space in advance.
Where: Whitmoor Forest, Swinley Road, Winkfield Row, Ascot, SL5 8BD
Biscuiteers will be hosting special kid-friendly classes in the run up to Christmas. The class will be begin with a quick five-minute tutorial and it’s up to you how you want to design your Christmas biscuit creations.
Decorate them in-store and enjoy them over the festive period or gift your creations to a loved one.
If your little ones are obsessed with Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man, make their Christmas magical with a trip to the theatre to see the chirpy little tale on the big stage.
Follow the misadventure of Stick Man, as he goes on a rather wild journey to find his family again. From playing fetch with a dog to a swan using him to build a nest, will he ever get back to the family tree?
When: 29.11.2023 – 02.01.2024
Where: Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland returns this Christmas for another round of non-stop entertainment, spectacular shows, food and drink and Santa antics.
Arriving on the scene in November, London’s biggest central park will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Expect ice skating rinks, giant wheels, ice kingdoms, ice sculpting workshops, cirque berserk, fairground rides and more.
Looking for more ice rinks? Check out these brilliant options here.
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When: now – 01.01.2024
Where: Hyde Park
Explore South Bank with The Sea Containers’ new family package
The Sea Containers’ new “Festive Family Package” will take families on a journey throughout the South Bank and beyond, taking in all the sights and twinkling lights. After a day of exploring, families can return to Sea Containers Restaurant to warm up with an extra-large hot chocolate. There, kids can settle down to write their very own letter to Santa before posting them into the hotel’s North Pole Post Box (located in the lobby) for the chance to win an overnight stay, plus a £100 Hamley’s voucher.
when: 10.12.23 – 27.12.23
where: 20 Upper Ground South Bank London
Unwind after festive celebrations at Kimpton Fitzroy London
Fancy being able to explore all the festive surrounds of London, and then retire to the stylish surrounds of Fitz’s bar, or enjoy a relaxing evening watching a Christmas film in one of the iconic suites. Kimpton Fitzroy London’s Christmas offerings London are full of family activities and the Family Moments package will be an experience families won’t forget. Gift vouchers for stays at Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel are available directly from the hotel.
where: 1-8 Russell Sq, London WC1B 5BE
Go wreath-making and gingerbread decorating at The Great Northern Hotel
Immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit and enjoy quality time with the whole family while letting your festive creativity flow, whether that’s decorating gingerbread houses to your heart’s content, or trying your hand at wreath making with classes from expert flower brand Roseur. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, why not head to RAILS Restaurant to feast on its festive menu, with dishes including roast turkey served with all the trimmings and braised ox cheek.
when: Now – 16.12.2023
where: Pancras Rd, London N1C 4TB
Treat yourself to a festive afternoon tea with the kids
Crafted to tell the unique story of St Martins Lane London. Make your way through a playful yet delicious array of sandwiches and pastries at a festive afternoon tea from St Martins Lane London. From a Croque Monsieur resembling the infamous revolving doors to an elderflower and gold dust tea symbolising the entrance to our hidden speakeasy, it has been crafted to tell the unique story of the hotel. The perfect Christmas activity to experience with the whole family.
where: 45 St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4HX
Try out this first-of-a-kind Children’s wellness offering
Pan Pacific London has partnered with luxury children’s brand Bonpoin to create a unique offering for the hotel’s dedicated wellbeing floor “Sensory”, giving children the chance to dip their toes into the world of wellness. Designed for children aged 6-16 years old, a range of unisex skincare treatments and packages provide an opportunity for parents to spend quality time with their little ones, and to treat them to a spot of pampering.
Choose from three signature treatments specially formulated for children’s skin using natural and hypoallergenic ingredients. These include The Fairytale Treatment, developed around a whimsical story featuring a fairy, The Dreamy Treatment, featuring an invitation to daydream and escape reality where parent and child lie side by side, and The Awakening to Care, an educational experience that helps children understand how best to care for and understand their skin.
where: 80 Houndsditch, London EC3A 7AB
Take advantage of the Winter Wonders package at Taj 51
Whether you are visiting loved ones for the holiday season or planning a special family trip to London, the Winter Wonders package at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences and St James Court, a Taj Hotel will allow guests to benefit from incredible experiences. Visitors can take the stress out of Christmas and explore the enchanted hotel.
where: 51 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AF