This year the holiday period in the capital promises to be bigger and better than ever. Whether your festive traditions involve a tour of London’s best Christmas trees, curling up in a cosy alpine bar or winter terrace, tucking into a seasonal afternoon tea or handmaking gifts at workshops and masterclasses, here’s our guide to the best Christmas events in London this year.
Winter Guided Tours at Buckingham Palace, Westminster
As part of an expanded programme of exclusive tours, the Buckingham Palace State Rooms will open its doors every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (including Christmas Eve) on select dates throughout December. Evening tours will offer a behind-the-ropes experience through the State Apartments at Buckingham Palace, ending with a glass of English Sparkling Wine while taking in the magic of the Palace once the doors have closed for the day.
Gift of Giving at The Dorchester, Mayfair
The Dorchester will transform into a winter wonderland courtesy of in-house floral designer Philip Hammond from 18 November, embracing a Gift of Giving theme throughout the hotel. For the first time ever, The Dorchester will host a special Christmas concert with esteemed composer, pianist and producer, Chloe Flower, with proceeds of ticket sales donated to charity partner, Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice. Taking place in the Artists’ Bar and The Promenade on 22 November, Flower will play an array of festive songs on the hotel’s glittering Liberace piano. Tickets are priced at £165 per person, including a three-course dinner and welcome cocktail, with tables available for up to six guests.
53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA, visit dorchestercollection.com
Deck The Halls at Pergola Paddington, Paddington
From 9 November, Pergola Paddington is pulling out all the stops to create an unforgettable party atmosphere this festive season. The upper deck will take the shape of a winter forest, while downstairs will be an over-the-top Alpine Hall bursting with festive decorations, both serving mulled wine, hot toddies, Pravha premium pilsner, spiced Aspall Cyder and boozy hot chocolates. Don’t forget to sample the mouthwatering Alpine winter warmers menu too, featuring cheese fondue, bratwurst rolls, tarte flambée and pigs in blankets. Visit on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night to dance the night away to lively brass bands and late-night DJs.
5 Kingdom Street, W2 6PY, visit pergolapaddington.com
Winter Wonderland at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
This Christmas, the Royal Opera House is opening up a world of festivities aiming to get people of all ages in the holiday spirit. From a Christmas Cracker Family Sunday to classic performances of The Nutcracker and an accessible opera for all the family, there's something fore everyone to enjoy this winter season at Covent Garden. The Songs for Ukraine Chorus will celebrate the festive season with a spectacular concert in the Royal Opera House’s Paul Hamlyn Hall on 17 December, reuniting Ukrainian singers impacted by the war with the Royal Opera Chorus.
The Royal Ballet’s magnificent production of The Nutcracker makes a welcome return this Christmas, with performances running from 6 December to 13 January 2024. This year will also stage the first relaxed performance of The Nutcracker, designed to create a better environment for neurodiverse people and others with access requirements. Elsewhere, a special Christmas Cracker Family Sunday will take place on 10 December, full of activities for the whole family, including ballet barre and opera workshops based on Hansel and Gretel, as well as pointe shoe-making demonstrations and gingerbread decorating with Cook School.
Bow Street, WC2E 9DD, visit roh.org.uk
Festive Baking at Fortnum and Mason, St James’s
This festive season, the Food and Drink Studio at Fortnum and Mason will play host to a wide range of events ranging from baking workshops to masterclasses taking place every Sunday from 26 November in the lead-up to Christmas. First up is Stir Up Sunday with TV presenter and author Juliet Sear – who’s whipped up cakes for everyone from fashion royalty Kate Moss to literal royalty Prince Harry – will lead a Christmas cake-making masterclass, where guests will be given everything they need to make and decorate their own bake. Other highlights include German bakes with Great British Bake Off semi-finalist Jürgen Krauss, festive pies with former executive chef of Holborn Dining Room, Calum Franklin, and gluten-free festive bakes with Becky Excell.
181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER, visit fortnumandmason.com
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
The Marmite of festive events, Winter Wonderland will be popping up in Hyde Park from 17 November, bringing with it all manner of seasonal fun. As well as its ever-popular ice rink, this year’s theme will see the addition of a 45m ice slide, a Magical Ice Kingdom complete with a life-size unicorn, and Bar Ice – a frozen wonderland where drinks are served at 10 degrees below. There will also be ice sculpting workshops, as well as the usual slew of fairground rides, street food, festive performances and visits to Santa.
Hyde Park, W2 4RU, visit hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
Christmas shopping at Ham Yard Village, Soho
If the thought of Oxford Street in December feels too daunting, set your Citymapper a little further south and head to Soho’s Ham Yard Village, which will be hosting a special shopping evening on 6 December. The cast of Les Misérables will be performing carols in the twinkling courtyard, where guests can enjoy festive treats like Hot Porchetta and mulled wine from Ham Yard Restaurant and special offers throughout the shops. Treat yourself to a post-carolling shopping spree at Ham Yard Village too, home to 13 individual boutiques including Kit Kemp Design Studio, Dinosaur Designs and My Cup Of Tea, which will be staying open late for the occasion.
1 Ham Yard, W1D 7DT, visit firmdalehotels.com
Christmas in Chelsea
Being home to the brilliant boutiques of the King’s Road, as well as gorgeous restaurants and luxurious hotels, Chelsea is the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit. This year, events in the neighbourhood kick off on 18 November, when Santa will be turning on the Christmas lights during a day that promises to be full of festive entertainment. Enjoy live performances and cocktails on the Sloane Square Winter Terrace, peruse the stalls of the Fine Food Market on Duke of York Square and shop the area’s luxury boutiques at leisure.
Christmas at Alexandra Palace
Looking for a festive day out that has something for everyone? From darts and ice skating to musicals and a Santa’s grotto, Alexandra Palace quite literally has it all. Its Christmas extravaganza runs from 24 November 2023 to 7 January 2024 with highlights including the Cazoo World Darts championships, performances at the Palace’s Victorian Theatre and even a pantomime on ice. Add to this carol signing, meet and greet with Saint Nick and a whole host of seasonal drinking and dining options and you’ve got a day to remember.
Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY, visit alexandrapalace.com