Are you planning to visit the Christmas Markets in London this year? Christmas in London is truly magical, with events happening all across the city that are absolutely worth experiencing.
Begin your festive journey with the traditional Christmas Markets next to the iconic London Eye, in Hyde Park, and in Covent Garden. The wooden stalls adorned with a variety of Christmas presents and a delightful display of gastronomy from around the world are sure to captivate anyone, especially those experiencing them for the first time.
As the streets in the city center light up and shopping centers boast exquisite window displays, every stroll becomes a memorable and enchanting moment.
To make your Christmas in London even more special, I recommend taking a night bus your to witness the dazzling city lights or enjoying a music show in the heart of Covent Garden.
As you can tell, there’s an abundance of festive delights to explore and experience during Christmas in London.
So, be sure to read this article carefully until the end to make the most of your holiday season in the capital.
Winter Wonderland, the Christmas Market in Hyde Park
Top of our list of Christmas Markets to visit in London is the world-famous Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
This vast winter world brings the spirit of Christmas to life with its ice rinks, carousels and stalls selling crafts, food and drinks.
While you’re there, don’t forget to enjoy the mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, and take the family as Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is the ideal destination for a fun family outing.
Dates and opening hours: from November 17, 2023 to January 1, 2024, every day from 10:00 to 22:00, except on December 25, which is closed.
Location: Hyde Park, Serpentine Rd, London W2 2UH, United Kingdom
Ticket prices: there are 3 types of tickets: Off-Peak (free), Standard (£5.00) and Peak (£7.50), with the type of ticket depending on the day and time of visit. For example, entry on opening day on November 17th between 12pm and 2pm is free, but if you enter from 2pm the ticket costs £5.00. In addition, tourist attractions such as the ice rink, the ferris wheel, Cirque Berserk and Zippos Circus are paid separately.
Check the website to confirm ticket conditions.
Covent Garden Christmas Market
The streets of Covent Garden come alive with the joy of Christmas, adorned with festive illuminations. However, it’s inside this century-old market that the heart of the Christmas market beats.
I had the pleasure of attending this Christmas market on the day they lit up the lights this year, and it was just as magical as the previous year!
Covent Garden’s renowned Christmas lights brightened up on November 7, 2023. This year, the interior of the market building is adorned with an additional 40 giant bells with bows, 12 giant balls, and 8 rotating mirror balls.
Inside the market, you’ll find Santa’s traditional sleigh, and don’t miss the iconic Christmas tree standing at over 18 meters high, adorned with 30,000 twinkling lights, illuminating even the coldest London nights in Covent Garden Square.
For those unfamiliar, Covent Garden Christmas Market is celebrated for its unique and exclusive gifts, ranging from handmade jewelry to vintage fashion. While these treasures may not come cheap, a stroll through the stalls in Covent Garden might just surprise you.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Winter Warmer Festival, happening from November 7th to 26th, 2023, and the Christmas Sandwich Festival from December 7th to 17th, 2023, both hosted in Covent Garden.
Opening dates: November 7, 2023, to January 1, 2024.
Location: Covent Garden, The Management Office 41 The Market Building, London WC2E 8RF, United Kingdom.
Ticket price: Free.
Southbank Centre Winter Market near London Eye (Between The Bridges)
The Southbank Christmas market takes place on the banks of the River Thames not far from the London Eye and, for me, it wasn’t so much the craft stalls that caught my attention, but rather the food and drink stalls.
In fact, the weather was so cold that I was grateful for the quantity and variety of hot drinks in the market.
From tea to hot chocolate with marshmallows, to traditional mulled wine, each stall specializes in a different type of drink.
Honestly, it was very pleasant to stroll along the River Thames under twinkling lights with a steaming glass in hand, while browsing the street food in the stalls that looked like traditional alpine-style chalets.
In terms of food, you can count on some surprises such as truffle burgers, duck wraps, Thai street food, but also Lebanese-Mediterranean cuisine.
For a sweet touch, my suggestion is Dutch pancakes, as well as fruit skewers with chocolate coating.
Dates and opening hours: from 2 November to 26 December 2023, Sunday to Thursday from 11:00 to 22:00, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 to 23:00. Except for December 24th (from 10:00 to 16:00), December 25th (closed) and December 26th (from 11:00 to 15:00).
Location: The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 8XX, United Kingdom
Ticket price: free.
Other Christmas Markets in London
As mentioned earlier, despite my usual visits to London during this festive season, I haven’t had the chance to explore all the Christmas markets the UK capital has to offer. However, let the lack of personal experience not deter you from immersing yourself in the magical Christmas spirit of London!
Below, you’ll find a list of Christmas markets scheduled to take place in London, along with their locations and dates. Dive into the holiday cheer!
- Leicester Square: November 8, 2023, to January 7, 2024
- Tower Bridge (Winter by the River): November 14, 2023, to January 1, 2024
- Christmas at Kew (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew): November 15, 2023, to January 7, 2024
- Greenwich: November 15, 2023, to January 1, 2024
- Kingston: November 16 to December 31, 2023
Enjoy exploring the festive wonders these markets have to offer!
When do the Christmas Markets start in London?
So, what dates do Christmas markets start in London? The Christmas markets in London kick off in November and extend through January.
The Southbank Centre Winter Market, situated near the London Eye, was the first to welcome visitors this year, opening its doors on November 2, 2023.
When is the official date for the Christmas lights switch-on in London for the year 2023?
The Christmas lights in London will be switched on at various locations, ensuring you don’t miss the enchanting moments of the festive season.
Here’s a list of the dates when the Christmas lights will illuminate the city of London for the first time this year:
- Oxford Street – November 2
- Seven Dials – November 7
- Trafalgar Square – November 7
- Carnaby Street – November 9
- Marylebone Village Lights – November 9
- New Gardens – November 15
- Mayfair – November 16
- Chelsea – November 18
Best Things To Do in London in 3 Days at Christmas
If you have three days to visit London at Christmas, then know that there is a lot to see and do in London this Christmas season.
And I would like to take this opportunity to leave you with the challenge of upgrading your trip and choosing some incredible activities that you can only do in London at Christmas.
You are curious? So continue reading!
First time in London? See 39 iconic places to include in your London itinerary
Visit the Christmas-themed Harry Potter Studios
Now here’s a very special suggestion, Hogwarts in the Snow is only available from November 11, 2023 to January 14, 2024.
In other words, it’s a unique opportunity to experience the magic of Hogwarts while in London at Christmas.
The Warner Bros Studio Tour Harry Potter includes transport from central London to the studios and 4 free hours to explore the Harry Potter world at your leisure.
Then you will have your transport back to London, meaning you don’t need to worry about getting around.
See London’s Christmas lights from a double-decker bus
Imagine traveling through the iconic streets of London on board a double-decker bus and seeing the Christmas lights up close… is that something that interests you?
Then take a look at this night tour to see the Christmas lights, which lasts 1:30 and has two possible departures: at the London Eye or Victoria.
Dinner aboard a Thames cruise, overlooking the Christmas lights
It’s true that you can take a cruise on the Thames all year round, but believe me, at Christmas time it’s more rewarding.
There’s something romantic about the reflection of Christmas lights on the waters of the Thames that simply doesn’t exist at any other time.
So, if your idea is to have a different and special Christmas experience in London, accept my suggestion of having dinner on board a boat.
This Thames cruise and dinner tour is very complete as it includes a 4-course meal, sparkling wine welcome drink, live music and lasts approximately 3 hours.
Experience a free immersive show at Outernet London
Outernet London combines the latest immersive technology to create unique experiences related to music and art, resulting in different shows in four spaces that change over time.
At the time I visited the space, there was an immersive butterfly exhibition that was well worth it.
And, as a delightful bonus for the Christmas season, Outernet London offers free light and music shows with a festive twist! No need for thank me, just enjoy the magic.
Location: Denmark St, Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0LA, UK.
Hotels near Christmas Markets in London
Choosing the right location for your stay is crucial to maximize your experience at the Christmas Markets in London.
While the metro system is efficient, the goal is to minimize the number of metro trips needed to explore the markets. Therefore, I recommend selecting a hotel near one of the main Christmas Markets in London.
During my visit, I opted for The Wedgewood Hotel (2 stars), a straightforward yet convenient choice in the Hyde Park area. It’s perfect for those planning to explore London’s popular Christmas Market, Winter Wonderland.
Alternatively, if you prefer the comfort of an apartment, consider NOX Waterloo, just a 15-minute journey from the Christmas Markets near the London Eye.
For those eyeing the Covent Garden area, The Z Hotel Covent Garden is a solid choice!
If none of these options suits your preferences, you can always explore the map for available hotels and Airbnb accommodations in London.
Everything you need to know about the Christmas Markets in London
What is the most famous Christmas market in London?
The most popular Christmas Market in London is Winter Wonderland, in Hyde Park, and it’s interesting because it has a paid entry in some occasions.
I believe this market has so many fans because of its size, as it is the biggest Christmas market in London, it is central and has good access, both by tube and bus.
In addition, there are carousels and other entertainment attractions, in addition to the traditional crafts, food and drink stalls.
Are Christmas Markets in London safe?
Absolutely. In my opinion, London Christmas Markets are safe, and here’s why:
Firstly, there is regular policing both on the streets where the markets are located and within the premises.
Secondly, the central streets of London are equipped with surveillance cameras, serving as a deterrent to potential incidents.
Regardless, it’s important not to overlook basic safety rules and common sense when traveling.
This includes avoiding less crowded areas after hours and being mindful of displaying valuable possessions
Is ATM payment available at the Christmas Markets, or should I withdraw pounds?
In London, cash payments have become increasingly rare, with most establishments, including street stalls, accepting ATM payments.
In my recent experiences, I haven’t found the need to withdraw pounds at an ATM as transportation, restaurants, and entertainment venues readily accept card payments.
The same holds true for the Christmas markets I’ve visited. I’ve exclusively used card payments for all transactions. In essence, if you have a credit or debit card, there’s no necessity to carry pounds to the Christmas markets.
Personally, I use the Revolut card for transactions abroad.
This not only simplifies the process but also helps me save on commissions, and I’ve had seamless experiences with it
What is the weather like at Christmas in London?
December in London typically brings cold days, with average temperatures ranging between 4-9°C.
It might be surprising that darkness falls around 4 pm or even earlier.
Frequently overcast skies and occasional rain characterize the weather, but if luck is on your side, you may witness the enchanting sight of snowfall in London – a rare occurrence that adds a special touch to the holiday season.
Final Tips for Getting the Most Out of London’s Christmas Markets
To ensure you make the most of your visits to the Christmas markets in London, consider these helpful tips:
- Confirm the days and opening times of the Christmas markets in London.
- Opt for weekdays over weekends and public holidays to avoid larger crowds, as these are peak times for Londoners.
- Arrive early to enjoy the markets at a more relaxed pace and dodge the crowds.
- Check for free entry days and times at Winter Wonderland.
- Indulge in seasonal delights such as nut pie, gingerbread cookies, and hot chocolate.
- Dress warmly with comfortable, waterproof footwear, and bring a raincoat (umbrellas are mainly for tourists in London).
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