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Sunday, December 10, 2023

The perfect issues to do at Christmas in London with youngsters

It’s starting to really feel rather a lot like Christmas… And from sparkly lights to markets, festive occasions and ice rinks, there are some magical issues to do for Christmas in London with youngsters. Up to date for 2023

Tower bridge seen through an arch of baubles at Christmas on the River on the south bank of the Thames in London - the best things to do at Christmas in London with kids
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After the restrictions of current years, Christmas 2023 is pulling out the stops to get everybody feeling festive, from gentle trails to Christmas markets and midwinter sights in London.

There’s are Christmas exhibits and conventional pantomimes, some free issues to do in London at Christmas, and loads of locations to make unforgettable recollections – for those who’re questioning ho ho how to decide on, try my decide of the very best this Christmas in London with youngsters.

With some occasions nonetheless to be introduced, I’ll even be updating this put up so hold a watch out for brand new Christmas occasions too

Giant bauble and mistletoe decoration suspended in the roof of Covent Garden market in London - the best things to do for Christmas in London with kids

See the London Christmas lights

London’s festive lights begin showing across the metropolis throughout November, so that you’re nearly assured to identify some twinkling decorations wherever you go.

Verify the switch-on dates for a few of the largest and finest right here

Earlier years have seen every thing from peacock feathers in Bond Avenue to butterflies over Carnaby Avenue, in addition to angels in Regent Avenue, so that you’re assured some beautiful shows to see.

A number of the department shops get in on the motion too, with festive facelifts for retailers like Fortnum & Mason, which has reworked itself into an enormous creation calendar, or this eagerly awaited window shows at Selfridges to see what’s going to change final 12 months’s Season’s Feastings.

And for those who don’t fancy wandering aimlessly to identify the very best, there are some nice Christmas excursions too – one of the crucial festively enjoyable needs to be the Christmas Silent Disco stroll.

The tour begins close to Marble Arch and Hyde Park earlier than taking you previous a few of the metropolis’s Christmas lights, with a playlist of Christmas classics, enjoyable commentary and different hits – dancing technically non-compulsory, however let’s face it, who can resist?

Or save your toes and go for a bus tour as an alternative. The Christmas lights tour from Tootbus lasts 45 minutes, and begins from November 17, or you’ll be able to hop aboard this longer open-top doubledecker tour as properly.

There’s 10% off grownup and baby tickets for the Tootbus London Christmas lights bus tour for those who guide earlier than November 30 utilizing the code JINGLEBELLS

A family walks through the illuminated tunnel at Christmas at Kew, one of the best London festive lights with kids

Comply with a lightweight path

You’ll discover extra lights than simply these over London’s procuring streets, with an entire string of festive gentle trails, some operating into the New 12 months.

Try my decide of the very best illuminated trails in London with youngsters for extra particulars

One of many latest gentle trails within the capital is again once more for 2023, with a redesigned route deliberate for Christmas at Kenwood Home in Hampstead from December 1, plus the ever-popular Christmas at Kew Backyard from November 15.

Or in south-east London, the Enchanted Eltham Palace occasion normally lights up the gardens of the fantastic Artwork Deco mansion for Christmas too.

Some outdated favourites are nonetheless to be confirmed, together with Enchanted Woodland at Syon Home in west London (normally from round November 11), together with the substitute for Palace of Mild at Hampton Court docket Palace. Lightopia at Crystal Palace Park is unlikely to return nonetheless.

At no cost occasions, hold a watch out for 2024 dates for Winter Lights at Canary Wharf, which frequently runs in January reasonably than at Christmas.

Part of the carousel at the Christmas market on the South Bank in London with a Union Jack flag and giant candy cane against the blue sky - what makes a good Christmas market?

Go to a Christmas market

Whether or not you’re searching for conventional presents, Santa’s grotto, workshops or rides, there’s a string of nice Christmas markets in London with youngsters to select from – most have their very own twist reasonably than the kind of conventional Christmas market you’ll discover in Europe, nevertheless it additionally means you’ll be able to go to a number of with out becoming bored.

A few of my very own favourites are on the banks of the Thames, together with the beautiful Southbank Centre Christmas market and winter competition, with some fabulous pop-up meals stalls, illuminations on the Queen’s Stroll and a standard carousel.

For extra issues to do on the South Financial institution with youngsters, in addition to the Southbank Centre winter market, try my suggestions

Additional east, there’s Christmas by the River close to London Bridge; quieter and smaller than a few of the different markets, there are sometimes workshops in addition to stalls.

On the different finish of the dimensions, the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a blaze of color, enjoyable and noise: there are rides for all ages, together with an ice slide, Santa’s grotto, an ice rink, circus and many extra possibilities to spent your cash, together with at wood chalets promoting meals and presents.

Again from November 17, entry is ticketed as soon as once more so it’s not free to enter, though for those who guide £25 price of sights, your entry price is included

Or within the coronary heart of London, you’ll be able to normally discover a conventional Bavarian-style market at Leicester Sq. Christmas market, with over 30 stalls and meals, though there are not any plans for a Santa’s Grotto and different family-friendly occasions this 12 months.

For extra issues to do round Leicester Sq. with youngsters, try my prime picks

And also you’ll additionally discover a small market in Trafalgar Sq. with round 20 stalls promoting presents, Christmas ornaments, jewelry and meals.

Or for extra Christmas markets, together with Greenwich, Battersea Energy Station and Kingston, try my put up on the finest Christmas markets in London with youngsters for extra particulars.

My daughter chats to Santa in front of one of the old trains at the London Transport Museum

See Santa

If you wish to see Santa in London, it’s worthwhile to transfer early, particularly for a few of the large identify occasions like Hamleys as many get booked up quick.

However that’s not the one place to seek out Santa’s Grotto in London: lots of the Christmas markets have an opportunity to satisfy the person in pink (scroll up for extra recommendations) though keep in mind it’s possible you’ll want a separate timed ticket for some.

Santa additionally makes an look at a number of of London’s museums and galleries too. We noticed him on the London Transport Museum, which is a stunning relaxed occasion for teenagers who may get shy or overwhelmed, and he’s anticipated to be again once more for 2023.

You’ll be able to even discover Santa at London Zoo in December, in addition to a Santa with a definite distinction at Shrek’s Journey Christmas Grotto, the place the large inexperienced ogre will get a festive makeover – enterprise inside Shrek’s Christmas cabin between December 1 and 24, and luxuriate in a deal with from the elves in addition to the same old enjoyable of Far Far Away.

For different locations to satisfy Father Christmas, hold a watch out for on the Museum of London Docklands, whereas he’s usually on board a speedboat on the river too, with the Jingle Bell Blast from Thames Rockets. There’s usually an opportunity to say hello to Santa on the Nationwide Gallery though there was a particular Christmas efficiency as an alternative in 2022.

For extra locations to see Santa in London with youngsters, try my prime picks

Close-up of the Christmas tree with bus baubles outside the London Transport Museum

Board the Santa Steam Specific

Discover Santa taking a day without work from the sleigh, aboard the Steam Desires Santa Steam Specific trains – on account of return for the third 12 months in 2023, it’s London’s solely Santa steam practice.

Departing from Victoria on December 15, 18 and 21, there are 4 trains per day chuffing out of town on a 75-minute journey round London, with Santa and his merry helpers additionally boarding the festively adorned Seventies carriages.

There’s a drink and a candy deal with for teenagers (plus a heat drink and mince pie for grown-ups), plus a present from Father Christmas as he passes by way of the practice – you’ll be able to improve to First Class as properly for mulled wine (adults solely!) and extra spacious seats, for those who fancy giving your self an early Christmas current.

Try our evaluate of a visit on the Santa Steam Specific

Image showing a graphic of the London Eye on the Essential Guide to London with kids ebook cover, and the words 'click to buy my 33-page guide to London. Itineraries, tips and all you need to know before a visit to London with kids' linking to my the London with kids shop page

Take a Christmas strolling tour

Are you aware why turkeys wore boots on their method to market? Or who invented the Christmas card? There are some nice Christmas strolling excursions of London to reply the questions – this two-hour Christmas stroll is led by an expert information.

This two-hour family-friendly Christmas tour additionally takes in a few of the metropolis’s Christmas lights in addition to promising some festive anecdotes.

Or be a part of a Dickensian Christmas stroll – this non-public tour is themed round A Christmas Carol. Operating for 2 to 3 hours, it’s higher with older youngsters, though tailor-made to your group, and can present you town that Ebeneezer Scrooge might need recognised.

Go ice skating

The looks of London’s pop-up ice skating rinks all the time alerts the beginning of Christmas for me – set in a few of the metropolis’s most iconic places, it’s all the time tempting to drag on some skates earlier than warming up with scorching chocolate and mulled wine.

This 12 months, there’s a model new rink coming to Kensington Gardens – Ice at Kensington Palace would be the UK’s largest

And Skate at Somerset Home can be again from November, with the courtyard remodeling for winter, in addition to the ice rink at Hampton Court docket Palace from November 17 to January 7, with the grand facade of the palace lit up within the background.

People silhouetted against setting sun on a pop-up Christmas ice rink in London at Hampton Court Palace - best places to ice skate in London with kids

You’ll additionally discover an ice rink at Winter Wonderland from November 17-January, for those who’re visiting the Christmas market there.

In fairly Greenwich, one of many latest London ice rinks sits subsequent to the Queen’s Home, with skating anticipated to beginning up once more in November.

Don’t make plans to go to the rink on the Pure Historical past Museum – 2021 was the ultimate time you possibly can mix skating and dinosaurs – whereas the rink within the Tower of London moat has additionally been completely closed.

For extra particulars and concepts of the place to ice skate in London with youngsters, together with year-round choices, try my prime picks

See a pantomime or Christmas theatre

It’s not Christmas with no pantomime (oh no, it’s not!) plus you too can discover some fantastic London theatre exhibits together with conventional Christmas productions and different family-friendly performances.

For my full record of the finest Christmas theatre in London with youngsters, try this put up

It’s price checking what ages are allowed earlier than you guide: regardless of being aimed toward households, some theatres received’t settle for youngsters below 5 (take a passport or some type of ID in case your youngsters are 5 plus however look youthful than their age).

If you happen to’re undecided the place to start out, Seatplan has this nice round-up of Christmas exhibits in London (plus the prospect to examine seat view images from fellow theatregoers).

This 12 months’s choice contains Peter Pan on the London Palladium and Cinderella on the Lyric Hammersmith, plus Aladdin on the Hackney Empire and Elf the Musical on the Dominion Theatre.

Look out for classics too together with the Nutcracker, on on the London Coliseum in addition to the Snowman on the Peacock Theatre. Or head to the Outdated Vic to see A Christmas Carol, additionally aimed toward age 8+.

And whereas Frozen isn’t a Christmas present, what higher story for midwinter than a go to snowy Arendelle – the present on the Theatre Royal Drury Lane is strictly for age 4+.

Older youngsters will love The Witches, a musical model of Roald Dahl’s story, aimed toward age 8+, enjoying on the Nationwide Theatre? In the meantime there’s one other witch and a basic story with Hansel and Gretel on the Globe Theatre – aimed toward age 5+, it runs from December 8-January 7, 2024.

And the youngest theatre-goers will love seeing Stick Man, on on the Leicester Sq. Theatre from October 21.

For a Christmas present with a distinction, try Peter Pan on Ice at Alexandra Palace this December.

For now, there’s no phrase on whether or not the favored turn-of-the-century Circus 1903 can be again in London celebrating the Golden Age of Circus, with puppetry in addition to the same old circus thrills.

Night view of Trafalgar square at Christmas including the tree - listening to carols is one of the best things to do at Christmas in London with kids

Hear some carols

One among my favourites components of Christmas in London with youngsters is listening to carols sung whilst you’re out and about – however to ensure a rendition of some favourites, there are some organised occasions to take a look at too.

Trafalgar Sq. has carol teams fundraising for various charities within the weeks operating as much as Christmas, singing by the large Christmas tree – a present from Norway yearly since 1947.

Or there are carol performances among the many sell-out occasions for Christmas on the Royal Albert Corridor.

It’s also possible to hear carols at St Paul’s Cathedral which normally has a sequence of free occasions throughout December – unsurprisingly well-liked, be ready to get there early and queue to get a seat.

Head to Kingdom of Winter

New for 2023, Kingdom of Winter is packing London’s Excel Centre with festive enjoyable from December 8-January 7.

There’s ice skating and an ice expedition path, fairground rides, a circus and loads of locations to select up Christmas presents and stocking fillers.

Add in food and drinks galore – plus it’s indoors, if the climate is feeling lower than festive. Tickets price from £5.50 for entry (with various charges of tremendous off-peak, off-peak and commonplace, in addition to early fowl reductions) with extra prices for various sights. There are restricted tickets for the ice skating, ice expedition and circus.

The White Tower at the Tower of London after dark, lit up against a deep blue nighttime sky - my review of seeing the ceremony of the keys with kids

Go to the Tower of London

One among my favorite locations to go to in London with youngsters, the Tower of London normally will get dressed up for Christmas as properly.

This 12 months, there’s a particular gentle and sound present, Crown and Coronation, operating from November 17-25 (prebooking important) – not particularly festive however an effective way to brighten up the darkish nights.

There’s no affirmation of another Christmas occasions for now, however final 12 months, the historic fortress had shows of decorations on its historic stone partitions. The Tower grounds had been additionally reworked to deliver the 12 Days of Christmas to life, with a particular path to trace down the varied sights together with your true loves, together with a Christmas tree for every of Henry VIII’s wives and 9 rowdy ravens.

Preserve a watch out for animal statues dotted round throughout a winter go to too – the polar bear ought to really feel proper at dwelling! The one query is whether or not any 2023 occasions will outsparkle the Crown Jewels…

Evens are included in admission (free for members) – there’s a reduction for those who purchase by way of tiqets utilizing my low cost code ‘MUMMYTRAVELS6‘ utilizing this hyperlink.

Uncover Christmas previous on the Museum of the House

If you happen to’re trying to learn how Christmas has been celebrated over the centuries – to not point out winter festivals from different cultures and religions, head to the Museum of the House.

The properties from Winter Previous rework the rooms by way of time shows with a makeover to indicate varied festive scenes from by way of historical past (and reasonably much less festive scenes within the case of a Puritan Christmas) – final 12 months this ran from late November to early January.

Free to enter, you too can uncover how Boxing Day bought its identify, plus there are celebrations of different winter festivals together with Diwali and Hanukkah, in addition to gentle installations and workshops with occasions operating by way of to January 2024.

Three of the statues from the Walking with the Snowman trail in London - one of the fun things to do in London at Christmas with kids

Comply with the Snowman Path

Head to the Fleet Avenue Quarter for a enjoyable little festive path this winter – Strolling with the Snowman may have 12 completely different adorned recreations of The Snowman to seek out.

Impressed by The Twelve Days of Christmas, and designed by varied artists, eagle-eyed guests may recognise them from the earlier path alongside the Thames round London Bridge Metropolis.

Free to go to, the artwork path is because of run from November 21 till January 2024 (exact dates tbc), with figures to be present in places together with Chancery Lane, New Avenue Sq., Ludgate Hill and Fleet Avenue itself.

See the primary Christmas card on the Postal Museum

See the world’s first Christmas card on show with the same old winter makeover on the Postal Museum, which features a show of magical letters exchanged between youngsters and Santa since 1964 (and a few of his replies).

The Mail Rail – the underground practice as soon as used for transporting put up – may even be getting its personal festive makeover, with the very first King’s Speech as a part of the audio performed through the trip.

Plus there may even be a string of different household actions happening, together with interactive storytelling for youthful youngsters, with the prospect to make a particular festive cookery guide, plus festive tunnel walks for these aged 12+, exploring a route not usually visited by the usual tunnel walks.

Occasions run from November 1 to January 2, included in your ticket (tunnel walks have to be prebooked individually).

Lit up model of Hogwarts at Harry Potter Studio Tour: Hogwarts in the Snow is one of the most magical things to do at Christmas in London with kids

Add some magic at Hogwarts within the snow

A go to to the Warner Bros Studio Tour is enchanting at any time of 12 months for Harry Potter followers, however head there within the winter and also you get the added magic of Hogwarts within the snow.

The units from the flicks get a festive transformation – count on snow within the Forbidden Forest once more, in addition to on the cobbled stones of Diagon Alley, over Hagrid’s Hut and on the Hogwarts Fortress Mannequin.

This 12 months the Nice Corridor can be bedecked within the gold decorations from the primary movie, plus a blanket of filmmaking snow over the Forbidden Forest and Diagon Alley.

Earlier winter touches have included wreaths and garlands within the Nice Corridor – and a tree topped with witches on miniature broomsticks – whereas the desk is prepared for the Christmas feast, together with flaming Christmas puddings and prop meals.

December dates get booked in a short time so it’s one to snap up early. It’s also possible to guide tickets together with transport from central London on the tiqets web site – there’s a reduction utilizing my code MUMMYTRAVELS6 for those who guide utilizing my hyperlink. Hogwarts within the Snow runs from November 11 to January 14, 2024.

For extra Harry Potter places in London, try my prime picks for followers

Drink scorching chocolate

When there’s a nip within the air, particularly for those who’re out on ice rinks or wandering round Christmas markets, you’ve bought the proper excuse for warm chocolate (although I’m first within the queue as quickly as autumn rolls round).

And overlook the bizarre on a regular basis scorching chocolate, as a result of London specialises in some indulgently extravagant drinks to attempt.

For traditional variations with added deal with issue, head to conventional favourites like Venchi in addition to Lodge Chocolat, which each have branches throughout town together with in Covent Backyard.

Look out for Rabot 1745 at Borough Market as properly, named for the St Lucia plantation the place Lodge Chocolat’s cocoa is grown.

For extra of the very best scorching chocolate in London with youngsters, try my picks

Mug of hot chocolate with heart chocolates, star biscuit and pine cone - a chilli version is one of the top things to do in Devon in winter

Rococo has a string of bizarre flavours so as to add to its top quality chocolate – suppose white chocolate and cardamom, for instance, in addition to ultra-dark chocolate and child-friendly milk chocolate.

Or Knoops guarantees a selection of twenty-two completely different ranges, from creamy white proper as much as 100% darkish chocolate. Began in Rye, the place it’s a favorite of ours, there are six branches in London now too.

Chin Chin Labs is best identified for its ice cream, however when temperatures drop, they swap to scorching chocolate with charred marshmallow fluff on prime.

Ruby Violet in Kings Cross, one other favorite cease for ice cream, additionally has some fabulously wealthy scorching chocolate: served in a small gold cup, it’s all of the indulgent sugar hit you want.

Copperhouse Chocolate in Islington’s Chapel Market helps you to select completely different origin cocoa for those who’re severe about your scorching chocolate tasting expertise, plus it’s vegan too.

And for those who’re in east London – or completely satisfied to journey for the last word scorching chocolate – head to Darkish Sugars on Brick Lane or Nelson Street in Greenwich, which additionally has some incredible flavours and chocolate shavings galore to prime your drink.

Discover the Gingerbread Metropolis on the Museum of Structure

If you happen to’ve ever made a gingerbread home for Christmas together with your youngsters, it pales by comparability to the astonishing Gingerbread Metropolis on the Museum of Structure, on account of return for 2023 (signal as much as the e-newsletter to be the primary to listen to).

Fairly than a number of bits of biscuit glued along with icing and splodged with Smarties, this annual exhibition sees architects, designers and engineers create an intricate and inventive show, with an entire metropolis of gingerbread.

If you happen to’re feeling impressed, there are normally gingerbread-making workshops for households on the Museum in Belgravia too – not included with tickets to the exhibition, you must guide these individually and should be prebooked.

Watch the snow

You’re unlikely to discover a white Christmas in London so for the previous few years Covent Backyard have stepped in to the breach, with some assured snow as a part of its festive celebrations.

2022 noticed flurries each hour between midday and 7pm across the Christmas tree, with the snow falling till December 27 as a part of the Covent Backyard Christmas celebrations.

There’s no assure the faux flakes can be again for 2023, though the normal sleigh can be again within the piazza. However in any other case, the closest you’ll come is for those who go to Hogwarts within the Snow (scroll up for extra) or on one of many London ice rinks!

Ham House Christmas tree with ribbon and dried oranges: National Trust winter trails are one of the best things to do for Christmas in London with kids

Festive enjoyable with the Nationwide Belief

There are many festive touches on the Nationwide Belief properties in London, together with an opportunity to satisfy Santa.

At Ham Home, which additionally has its personal fantastic conventional Christmas tree, you’ll be able to step into Santa’s Grotto on the primary two weekends in December, then day by day from December 16-23 (prebooking extremely really useful, and also you want a ticket to Ham Home for those who’re not a Nationwide Belief member).

The person in pink can be coming to Morden Corridor Park – write your letter within the Stableyard first, then head to the grotto to satisfy Santa and his elves. Appropriate for teenagers aged 8 and below, tickets should be prebooked – Santa can be visiting on the primary three weekends in December.

If all of the crowds and over-indulgence are catching up with you, there are sometimes particular winter trails to tempt everybody open air on the London Nationwide Belief websites too.

With a pure play space within the woodland at Osterley Home in west London, plus the positioning’s gardens and grounds to discover, it’s not laborious to seek out some enjoyable methods burn off these mince pies.

Secret Christmas Wonderland at Kidzania

There’s a normally festive makeover at KidZania London – earlier years have seen new actions for Secret Christmas Wonderland in addition to the prospect to go to Elf College.

Visits in December have included a path by way of town with Christmassy clues which allow you to get a particular password to enter Elf College, with six actions to attempt within the VIP space.

Children also can discover the remainder of the immersive metropolis’s experiences as regular, usually with a number of additional festive touches. Geared toward youngsters aged 4 to 14.

Plus, in case your baby is aged eight or above, you’re allowed to drop them off when you’ve booked them in, and head off to get on with the remainder of your Christmas record in Westfield Purchasing Centre.

Included in entrance, you will get a reduction on entry for those who guide utilizing my hyperlink and code MUMMYTRAVELS6 on tiqets.

Rejoice Fishmas on the SeaLife Aquarium

Head to SeaLife London this winter to assist Father Christmas save ‘fish-mas’ by discovering all of the lacking presents Santa has misplaced across the aquarium.

In addition to exploring all of the completely different zones from the world’s oceans – and studying concerning the creatures who dwell there – you’ll be able to meet the colony of Gentoo Penguins at Penguin Level, discover a Christmas Starfish on the hands-on Rockpool and extra.

When you’ve tracked down all of the presents scattered round, you’ll be able to reveal a secret message for an opportunity to win a particular prize. Included in commonplace entry for those who guide tickets on-line to go to on dates in December.

For extra issues to do in London with youngsters, together with uncommon issues to do with youngsters in London and the very best locations to remain in London with youngsters, try a few of my different posts


Best things to do at Christmas in London with kids - from Christmas markets to ice rinks, Christmas lights, the best hot chocolate, family activities and attractions, and snow in London at Christmas

Disclosure: This put up comprises paid promotion and affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I could obtain a small fee

Kew at Christmas: Jeff Eden/RBG Kew; Trafalgar Sq./scorching chocolate pictures courtesy of Depositphotos; Snowman statues courtesy Fleet Avenue Quarter; all others copyright MummyTravels


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