With both Christmas and New Year just around the corner, it should come as no surprise that December is one of the most eventful times of the year to visit London. From outdoor ice rinks to seasonal markets and annual Christmas traditions, the festive spirit truly shines across the capital. We take a look at the best events in London in December to seek out during this special time.

Skate at Somerset House

London in December

If there’s an activity this season can be defined by, ice-skating must be the one. Outdoor ice rinks pop up across the capital, of which the ice rink at Somerset House is particularly striking. Set within Somerset House’s resplendent courtyard, this ice rink sparkles amidst twinkling Christmas lights.

Skate at Somerset House
17th November 2016 – 15th January 2017

Christmas in Leicester Square

London in December

This new festival will be set up in Leicester Square during the festive season, transforming the space into a Christmas market and fair. The event will encompass Santa’s Grotto and a whole host of entertainment, including the award-winning show, La Soirée.

Christmas in Leicester Square
From 11th November 2016 – 8th January 2017

Christmas at St Paul’s Cathedral

London in December

There aren’t many venues more atmospheric at this time than St Paul’s Cathedral, with its cavernous ornate interior. Visitors are welcomed in each day to take a tour the ancient site, but for a traditional Christmas, it’s best to come by for one of the Christmas Carol Services featuring the renowned Cathedral Choir.

Christmas at St Paul’s Cathedral
Various dates in December

Christmas Market at Tate Modern

London in December

Set up between Tate Modern and the banks of the River Thames, this traditional Bavarian-style Christmas market specialises in handmade artisanal goods and seasonal fare, including plenty of steaming mulled wine and roast chestnuts. 

Christmas Market at Tate Modern
19th November – 23rd December 2016

The Great Christmas Pudding Race 

London in December

Each year, Covent Garden plays host to this quirky race to raise funds for Cancer Research. The Great Christmas Pudding Race participants compete in festive costume, while onlookers enjoy the event’s seasonal entertainment.

The Great Christmas Pudding Race
3rd December 2016

Christmas at Kew 

London in December

Whatever the season, Kew Gardens provides a place of outdoor open space and natural beauty. Throughout the winter months, this appeal is just as strong, but it’s during the festive period that the gardens become even more captivating, due to the annual installation of Christmas illuminations.

Christmas at Kew
From 23rd November 2016 – 2nd January 2017

Christmas at Trafalgar Square

London in December 

At any time over the festive period, a visit to Trafalgar Square will be rewarded with the sight of the towering Norwegian Christmas tree, which for many years has been at the heart of Christmas tradition in London. But by coinciding a visit with one of the square’s events, visitors can catch carol singing and processions, too.

Christmas at Trafalgar Square
Throughout December 2016

New Year’s Eve Fireworks 

London in December

As the biggest New Year celebration to take place in London, the New Year’s Eve Fireworks attracts an estimated 250,000 people to the banks of the River Thames and surrounding streets. Tickets need to be bought for a chance to be at the heart of the festivities, as the fireworks light up the sky up overhead.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks
31st December 2016

If you’re spending Christmas Day in London, make it one to remember by joining us on a tour of the capital’s greatest sites, spending a day exploring further afield in Britain, or by tucking into a traditional Christmas dinner on a Thames River Cruise.

Image credits: Cover photo of St. Paul’s cathedral at Christmas © iStock / RenA@ Mansi. Skate at Somerset House © Flickr / MikeT. Christmas in Leicester Square © Flickr / sam.romilly. St. Paul’s Cathedral © Flickr / advencap. Christmas at Tate Modern © Flickr / Kevin Gale. The Great Christmas Pudding Race © Flickr / S Pakhrin. Christmas at Kew Gardens © Flickr / Alex Liivet. Christmas at Trafalgar Square © Flickr / Peter Trimming. Fireworks over the New Year in London © Flickr.

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