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There are plenty of 2021 Christmas events in London this year to enjoy, from annual classics like Christmas lights on Oxford Street and Regent Street and the return of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, to brand new, festive fun like illuminations at Kenwood House and Crystal Palace.
Whilst not all the festive favourites are happening this year in London, there is still much to see and do in London in the build-up to the most wonderful time of the year. We’ve been out and about photographing London’s Christmas lights and events so here is our guide to spending Christmas 2021 in London:
Christmas events in London 2021
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Likely London’s most popular annual Christmas event and easily the biggest Christmas market in London, the festive Winter Wonderland returns to Hyde Park in 2021 / 22 after a break last year due to COVID-19. The main difference this year compared to 2019 is that the event is now ticketed and only a handful of early, off-peak sessions are free.
Tickets for admission start from £5 although there are package deals online where you get free admission if you pre-book a £20 food and drink voucher – per person.
Skate at Somerset House – ice skating
We hope we aren’t on thin ice by saying this, but in previous years, there have been waaaay too many ice skating venues in London, of varying quality, all charging top dollar. However, Skate at Somerset House is always one of the best and most picturesque skating rinks (this and the skating rink at the Natural History Museum are always the top two contenders).
Family friendly and set in the charming Christmas courtyard, this year’s skating sessions run until January 16th 2022 (adult tickets start from £11 plus booking fees).
If you aren’t into skating, Somerset House at Christmas is still worth a visit as the historic rooms that surround the courtyard are transformed into Christmas shops and stores with beautiful Christmas lights and traditional decorations.
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Covent Garden Christmas village, tree and lights 2021
Fact – Christmas in London isn’t Christmas without a visit to the Covent Garden Christmas tree, set in the middle of the pretty piazza.
Covent Garden Market decorations also boast huge mirror balls and massive mistletoes hanging from the ceiling (presumably this is so you dance THEN kiss?!). The Covent Garden Christmas tree in 2021 is already switched on (a truly magical site) and lights up nightly. For the best views of the Covent Garden Christmas tree, grab a pint of beer (or glass of mulled wine) from the Punch and Judy pub and take a seat (and blanket) on the outdoor balcony (wrap up warm).
New for 2021, there is a small Covent Garden Christmas Village Market (in front of Sushi Samba) with eight festive themed pop-up food stalls, an Instagrammable festive light tunnel and a Christmas bar. There is also a Ramsbury Forest pop-up with luxury dining domes / igloos serving a festive menu paired with Ramsbury Single Estate Spirits.
Oxford Street Christmas lights 2021
The grand-daddy of Christmas lights in London 2021 and possibly the best known anywhere in the world, Christmas continues on Oxford Street and the festive light displays are already up and in full force this year.
Running the full length of Oxford Street, the 2021 Christmas lights are a return to form with a very classical Christmas display – white fairy lights and red stairs adorn London’s premier shopping street. This year, Oxford Street’s lights were switched on in unison with 20 other neighbouring streets making it the biggest Christmas light switch on in the world – nice!
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Regent Street Christmas lights 2021
Hark the herald angel sing! Regent Street’s Christmas lights in London this year again feature a gamut of glorious angels from upon high. To get the best views, take your photos from the central reservation by the pedestrian crossings (try not to get hit by a taxi) or jump on one of the numerous red London buses that run along Regent Street and try to bag a front row spot on the top deck.
Crystal Palace Lightopia
Brand new for 2021 / 22 after an attempt at Chiswick House was curtailed last year due to Covid, South London’s newest illuminated Christmas festival is Lightopia at Crystal Palace. We visited Lightopia in Crystal Palace on the opening night and were blown away by the immersive and illuminated installations – from giant musical walkways to enchanted forests with festive fish (really – our descriptions won’t do it justice), this is a magical and fun family night out.
Best of all, for fans of the historic Crystal Palace dinosaurs, the organisers have also lit up the park area with around the lakes, but also created an area full of animatronic dinosaurs, meaning you could easily confuse Crystal Palace park for Jurassic park.
Open now until January 2nd 2022, Lightopia is packed with lush lanterns, Christmas scenes and festive food stalls, plus a nice touch is a projected light show installation that brings back the historic Crystal Palace from the ruins, with a visit from Santa and his reindeer; ‘yule’ love it. Other Lightopia events also take place across the UK including at Alton Towers and in Manchester.
Carnaby Street Christmas lights 2021
Love London? Love Christmas Lights? Then the Carnaby Streets Christmas Lights for 2021 (pictured below, taken in November 2021) as this year’s Carnaby Street installation is in collaboration with the Choose Love charity, raising funds for refugees around the world (donations appreciated).
Described as an ‘…immersive kaleidoscope of shimmering neon butterflies’, over 500 fluttering butterflies will be flying alongside the traditional and iconic ‘Love Carnaby Street’ sequinned arches and rainbows, a mainstay of the area. And with over 100 shops, bars and restaurants dotted in and around Carnaby Street (we’d particularly like Cahoots in Kingly Court), you can easily spend the whole evening here.
The Choose Love decorations fill the full length of Carnaby Street and are best photographed from the area near to Liberty’s.
Liberty’s Christmas Display 2021
Central London’s best known luxury shopping destination has a beautiful, old black and white Tudor style exterior, which was founded in 1875. Liberty’s also has (in our humble opinion) the best Christmas shop in the whole of London. The range of Christmas tree decorations is legendary (some nice, some tacky) but if you want a Black London Cab or Buckingham Palace bauble hanging on your Christmas tree in 2021, you know where to go.
Leicester Square Christmas Market 2021
Leicester Square as a London destination is often quite divisive (awful tourist trap vs the bustling heart of London’s theatreland) but we can all hopefully agree that the Leicester Square Christmas Market is a welcome addition (apart from the price of their mulled wine). Open now and running until January 9th 2022, expect live shows such as La Clique, gift stalls, German bratwurst, cider lodges and all manner of festivities.
You can also check out the Leicester Square Scenes from the Square film statues all year round including a Harry Potter statue and a cute Paddington Bear being the latest addition.
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Trafalgar Square Christmas tree and Christmas market 2021
Every year since 1947, the good people of Norway have donated a tree-mendous festive fir tree to the people of London, as a thank you for our assistance in WWII. Lighting up on the 2nd December 2021, the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is free to visit and is adorned with hundreds of lit bulbs (plus the occasional pigeon). It is also a prime spot to see London’s Christmas lights sparkle in the nearby side streets.
In 2021 Trafalgar Square also has a charming Christmas market that runs until the 4th January.
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South Bank Christmas Market
The walk along the River Thames and South Bank is always one of London’s best free attractions with stunning views of the city and a variety of bars and restaurants to choose from. At Christmas, the area is bedecked with Christmas lights and Christmas wooden huts selling festive gifts and street food kiosks plus more hot alcoholic beverage stalls than is probably good for you – but hey, it is Christmas so wine not?
A Christmas caveat – we visited Southbank Winter Market just after it opened and compared to previous years, it was more woeful than wonderful. Comprising of just a handful of stalls – 3 of which are gift stalls, and the rest are non-festive street food stalls. The area is dimly lit and stuck underneath Hungerford bridge with next to no decorations, save for one measly string of fairy lights. Southbank Winter Market 2021 is definitely not worth a special trip but worth visiting if you happen to be around the South Bank.
South Bank Christmas Market runs from now until 24th December 2021.
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Christmas at Kenwood / Kenwood House Christmas lights
Christmas at Kenwood, one of London’s premier visitor attractions, perched high on the hill in north London runs from November 26th 2021 to January 9th 2022. The grounds of the house become an illuminated and immersive winter wonderland, with light and sound installations all around. 2021 sees a new light trail on the edge of Hampstead Heath accompanied by a Christmas market and festive street food stalls.
Harrods window display
Stay classy, Kensington. No Christmas shopping trip to London is complete without a visit to Harrods department store, possibly the capital’s best known luxury shopping destination. Each year, the opulent exterior of the Harrods building is bedecked with Christmas lights and the window displays are something to behold. They also have a dedicated Christmas department on the first floor which is always a joy to explore.
Winter Garden at Flat Iron Square
This popular street food market in London Bridge is turning into a festive wonderland with a winter garden / aprés ski lodge set up that features pine trees, lights, ‘stable’ booths, a winter drinks menu and a series of Christmas events running from 16th November to 23rd December 2021.
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Christmas at Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens Christmas lights and Christmas market return this year and they are thankfully not a casualty of Covid. Running daily from 4pm until 10pm until Sunday 9th January 2022, old favourite light displays will be joined by new installations (who doesn’t love a Christmas light tunnel?) plus the Temperate House will be festooned with winter colours.
Jimmy’s Lodge, South Bank
Jimmy’s jovial snow globes, festive hot cocktails and street food pop-ups return for 2021, once again setting up shop along the banks of the River Thames on the South Bank. The snow globes are available for private hire for groups of 6 to 10 and booking in advance is highly recommended.
2021 highlights at Jimmy’s snow globes include shareable hot stone steak sizzlers (make sure you don’t burn your crackers!) and cheesy Swiss fondue fit for a King (or Queen). Note the minimum spend is £600 per globe so maybe one to add to your Christmas list for Santa?
Make a day of it and follow our ‘Walk along the South Bank‘ guide before joining Jimmy and his band of festive helpers.
Neverland’s Winterland 2021
A little bit of alpine awesomeness hidden away on the banks of the Thames between Fulham and Chelsea, London party stalwarts Neverland pack up their summer beach this Christmas and transform it into a snowy scene – with (jingle) bells on it.
Visit the Alpine Lodge, feast on fondue cheese, indulge in mulled wine or prosecco, keep warm around a festive fire pit and basically try not to fall into the Thames.
Christmas Pantomime at the London Palladium
Pantoland at the Palladium will be taking place at this historic London theatre this Christmas, from December 4th 2021 – January 9th 2022. Starring Julian Clary, Donny Osmond and Nigel Havers, expect festive fun and games for all the family, which will be a welcome relief after the recent London lockdown.
Hamleys window display on Regent Street
2021’s Hamleys Christmas window display on Regent’s Street is this year based around several themes including one dedicated to Harry Potter, the wonderful wizard himself, plus another given over to Jurassic Park movie merchandise and games.
Whilst the window displays this year at Hamleys are so-so, inside you’ll discover one of London’s biggest toy collections spread over seven floors plus lots of instore displays with toy and magic trick demonstration so why not spend a few Quid(itch) on your Christmas gifts and toys inside. Combine this with a trip to see the angelic Regent Street Christmas lights.
Churchill Arms, Kensington High Street
One of our favourite London pubs, the Churchill Arms, a Fuller’s pub near Notting Hill Gate and Kensington High Street goes the extra mile at Christmas and bedecks the outside of the pub with tens of Christmas trees (and they also serve beer inside – bonus!). If you are planning to grab a Thai meal here (delicious), make sure you book in advance and try not to be one of those Instagrammers who almost gets knocked over by a bus as you stand in the centre of the road taking pictures of the pub…
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