There’s nowhere quite as magical as London at Christmas. And, if you’re on the hunt for things to book and plan this festive season with the little ones, look no further, as we’ve compiled 14 of the best things to do at Christmas with kids.
Go Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum
Ice skating is one of the best ways to feel festive with the kids this Christmas and London has a multitude of options for families of all ages. One of our favourite picks is the beautiful Natural History Museum – 2021 will be the last year it hosts an ice rink – with its massive Christmas tree and penguin aids for little ones, with hot chocolate and mulled wine on offer to warm up afterwards. Plus, take your toddler skating before 2pm on a weekday and you’ll both get free hot chocolate! Family ice skating at Somerset House is another excellent option or Hampton Court just south of London is a great choice for skating with a dose of history.
When: 22 October 2021-16 January 2022
Visit Santa at Hamley’s
The most wonderful time of the year isn’t quite complete without meeting Santa and his elves at the North Pole in Santa’s Grotto at Hamley’s. As well as meeting Santa and joining in with festive activities with the elves, children will also receive a gift to take home. This is a wonderfully iconic Christmas tradition and the perfect prelude to exploring Hamley’s seven floors of festive cheer and toys. Booking ahead is essential!
When: 20 November-24 December
Walk Kew Gardens’ Winter Trail
Perfect for kids of all ages, Christmas at Kew is one of London’s most famous festive experiences for families. Dazzling light trails glow among the spectacular botanical gardens with tunnels of light, jewel-wrapped trees, illuminations and fire gardens – and you and your little ones can stay warm with winter-spiced drinks and hot food stalls. There may even be an appearance from Santa Claus! Book tickets ASAP, as they sell out every year.
When: 17 November 2021-9 January 2022
Watch The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum
The Nutcracker has long been known as the ultimate Christmas ballet, and 2021 sees the return of the English National Ballet and their enchanting performance set to Tchaikovsky’s famous score at the iconic London Coliseum. Alternatively, Birmingham Royal Ballet also bring the festive favourite to the Royal Albert Hall stage. Either are a wonderful Christmas treat for all the family.
When: 16 December 2021-8 January 2022
Spend the Day at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland
Have a holly jolly Christmas with the ultimate festive experience – a day or evening at Winter Wonderland. With a huge ice rink, festive food stalls and funfair rides, plus endless experiences for children like the Magical Ice Kingdom, Christmas Circus and Ice Sculpting Workshop, kids of all ages will delight at what is often quipped as the centre of London’s family Christmas celebrations.
When: 19 November 2021-3 January 2022
See a Christmas Panto
See in the start of December with one of the best things to do at Christmas with kids in London. The quintessential Christmas treat for all the family, a panto is a delight for all – and our top pick is family favourite Aladdin at Hammersmith Lyric Theatre. Children are sure to delight at the performance of Cinderella at Richmond Theatre, too, while everyone’s favourite pink character is appearing at Theatre Royal Haymarket in Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever, where kids of all ages – including babies – are welcome. For something a little different, Alexandra Palace are putting on a dazzling display of The Nutcracker on Ice throughout December.
When: 19th November 2021-2nd January 2022
The Magic of Christmas at London Zoo
This is the ultimate festive treat for any child who loves animals. London Zoo this year are offering a fun festive trail for a jam-packed family day out, where you and your little elves will head across the zoo, gathering information to help Santa research what the zoo’s 20,000 animals would like for Christmas. You’ll then report back to Mrs Claus in the polar post room and send off a card to Santa! Kids will also love the Sensory Sweet Shop – perfect for you to grab a few stocking fillers, from candy floss and marshmallows to candy canes.
When: 27 November 2021-3 January 2022
Experience the Magic of LEGO
This one is a little further out of London, in Windsor, but well worth making the journey. From twinkling fairy lights to snowy pine trees and seasonal activities, with over 25 rides, live shows and attractions, including a DUPLO Puppet pantomime and Holiday Harbour lightshow, experience LEGOLAND in a whole new light as your kids meet Father Christmas in his log cabin and receive a special LEGO gift. Or, stay put in London and head to the world’s largest LEGO store in Leicester Square for some festive family fun.
When: 27th November 2021-3rd January 2022
Secret Christmas at KidZania London
Believe in the magic of Christmas this year with a visit to new-for-2021 ‘indoor city’ KidZania London. With six incredible festive activities for kids and adults, this Chrimbo, KidZania is being transformed into a Secret Christmas wonderland. Enter with a special password from the elves before really getting into the spirit of Christmas with everything from exploring Mrs Claus’ office and pantomime performances of Cinderella to designing a toy at Elf School and decorating the winter city with glitter and snow.
When: December 4th-December 31st
Palace of Stardust at Hampton Court Palace
Have a Christmas that’s merry and bright at Hampton Court Palace’s world of planets and stars on their enchanting new light trail. As darkness falls, illuminated lights and glowing lanterns in the form of clocks, moons and planets – inspired by the the ticking Tudor clock of Hampton Court, installed by command of Henry VIII – wind through the cobbled courtyards and gardens as you and the family indulge in seasonal food and drinks along the way.
When: 8 December 2021-3 January 2022
Christmas at the London Transport Museum
‘Tis the season to be jolly – and a visit to the London Transport Museum this Christmas is both educational and festive to delight all the family. Expect festive stories, activities like fixing Santa’s sleigh, meeting the man himself and his elves on a festive trail, special stories in the winter garden and a Christmas poster parade as you learn more of London’s fascinating transport history.
When: 4 December 2021-2 Jan 2022
Meet Father Christmas at Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall turns into a wonderland of festive experiences every Christmas, and every morning at 9.30am and 10.15am for two weeks of December, Father Christmas will once again return to his secret London headquarters at the hall. A magical festive experience awaits as you step inside the enchanting winter grotto – open to children of any age – where the little ones will be greeted by Santa himself, as well as his merry head elf Crumpet, for a charming Christmas Storytime session and their very own gift!
When: 2nd December-21 December
Seven Dials Winter Festival 2021
Buzzing Seven Dials in central London is hosting its first-ever Winter Festival this year at the end of November, perfect to see in the start of the festivities and the London lights switch on. Expect everything from live music and on-street entertainment to creative workshops and festive treats. Plus, your kids will love the pop-up pantomime while you indulge in mulled wine and s’mores, all lit up by a festive light installation.
When: 19 November-21 November
Richmond’s Magical Father Christmas Experience
Inspired by the rich Tudor history of Richmond Park, be transported back in time to experience the magical traditions and customs of an Elizabethan Christmas Festival, hosted at the Old Deer Park Sports Ground in Richmond. Walk among the cosy, warmly-lit teepees as you and the kids meet Tudor Christmas characters, join in with Christmas carols, create festive decorations and meet a jolly Tudor Father Christmas.
When: 18 December-23 December