London bus

Visiting London during Christmas is certainly special and magical, but it can also be an expensive experience if you want to spend Christmas in London with kids. We all know how expensive the Christmas period can be during Christmas time, and spending Christmas in one of the most expensive cities in the world will put a dent in your expenditure.

However, London is one of the best places to spend your Christmas, and there are many free Christmas events in London and things to do in London with kids at Christmas. Pin this for future travel to London with kids as we explore and show you all the best and free things to do in London with kids during the Christmas winter period. From spectacular Christmas lights to strolling along the River Thames and soaking in the Christmas markets.

Free Things to do in London with kids during Christmas

See the Christmas lights in London

Covent Garden
Covent Garden at Christmas time

One of the best free things to do in London at Christmas is to see the Christmas lights when London City becomes alive with dazzling lights during the festive Christmas season. The Christmas lights in London turn on around mid-november, creating a magical display of lights.

There are many Christmas lights displayed in Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, Seven Dials, Savile Row, Covent Garden, Chelsea and Leicester Square. If you are early enough make sure to attend the many Christmas lights switch-on events which usually take place around mid November.

Some of the best places to see these lights are;

Regent Street Christmas Lights
You can see the Regent Street Christmas lights between November 13th and January 2nd 2023, nearest London underground station Piccadilly Station. This Christmas light display is known as ‘The Spirits of Christmas’, with dazzling and sparkly angels which are brightly lit along the famous shoppers street and St James.

Covent Garden Christmas Lights
Where: Cranbourn Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 7AR
When: November 9th (dates may change)
This beautiful piazza is sparkling during the festive season with London’s tallest Christmas tree with over 30,000 glowing lights. Convent Garden is also bustling during this time of the year with free events going on.

Hop on a London Bus to see the Christmas Lights

photo of bus passing on city with lights

Children under 11 can travel for free on the London buses; so you just need to buy an adult ticket which is £1.55. There are a few different bus routes you can take to view the festive Christmas lights in London. These buses will also be festively decorated so as to easily spot them:

  • Bus Route 193 between Golders Green Station and Waterloo Station passes through Baker Street, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Selfridges.
  • Bus Route 22 between Putney Common and Oxford Circus, passes through Knightsbridge Station, Hyde Park Corner and Green Park.
  • Bus Route 453 from Deptford Station passes through Regent’s Park.
  • Bus Route 390 passes by Camden, Kings Cross, the British Library, Marble Arch and Buckingham Palace Road.
  • Bus Route 94 between Acton Green passes through Shepherd’s Bush, John Lewis near Oxford Circus, as well as Hamleys Toy Store.

Visit a Christmas Market in London

You can end up spending a lot at the Christmas Market but if you just want to get into the festive spirit take a walk along one of the markets. You can visit the Christmas Market in Leicester square with cute wooden chalets and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. There are also Christmas markets in Southbank and Greenwich Christmas market.

Don’t miss South Bank Winter Festival between November 4th and December 24th, you can take a beautiful walk alongside the River Thames with beautifully illuminated trees on Queen’s Walk

Where: The Queen’s Walk, South Bank, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX

Spot all the amazing Christmas trees in London

Just Heading out in London and spotting all the beautiful Christmas Trees, you could start by Convent Gardens that has one of the tallest Christmas trees at 60ft . Then check out Trafalgar Square and Leadenhall Market. Also check out London’s quirkiest Christmas tree at St Pancras international Station which has an enchanting staircase with books all around.

people walking on sidewalk near cars and buildings during night time
Harrods During Christmas period

Livat Hammersmith Free Festive Event 2023

Location – King Street, Hammersmith, W6 9HW, London. Underground Piccadilly line.

With the holiday season around the corner, Livat Hammersmith is running a series of free festive events over the festive period, for families to come together and enjoy from Saturday, December 2nd, to Saturday, December 23rd.

Activities include:

  • Meet Santa at the Livat Grotta
  • Santa Lucia Celebration with a choir parade and Scandinavian treats
  • Gospel Choir Concert by ‘Gold’
  • Gift Wrapping Station
  • Christmas Jumper Swap
  • Clothes and Food Bank Donation Stations

Visit Hamleys Toy Shop

Ok so this is a risky one especially because you may just come out buying something but if you just want to be surrounded by some great displays and have a walk in one of London’s most popular toy shops then take a stop here. They always have lots of fun displays for families during Christmas.

Christmas Window Shop Displays

green and red christmas tree on gray concrete floor

Another wonderful free thing to do in London at Christmas that you must add to your list is to check out the beautiful christmas displays in the big shopping stores and london’s luxury department stores are definitely worth seeing; here some of the ones we recommend for 2023.

Fortnum & Masons have a theme of animals dreaming about Christmas which will be a hit with the kids.

Harrods usually have iconic window displays plus their building is usually all lit up in the evening so definitely not one to miss.

Selfridges will be celebrating stagecraft and artistry.

Harvey Nichols with its beautiful luxury fairground.

The Ivy Chelsea, count all the Christmas Baubles they have?

You may also want to check out Cartier, Ralf Lauren and Tiffany & Co on New Bond Street

Listen to Christmas Carols

One of the best free things to do in London at Christmas is to listen to Christmas carols and festive songs; carol groups get together to sing and raise money for charities and volunteer groups. If you want to see the Christmas lights being switched on, then head to Trafalgar Square on December 5th, (date may change depending on the year and weather).

Christmas Carols at Trafalgar Square
Location: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN
When: December

Free Christmas carols at St Paul’s Cathedral
Throughout December there are free carol concerts which are really popular so you would need to queue early, check out their website here for more details.

Catch T-Rex in a giant Christmas Jumper at the Natural History Museum

Ever wondered what t-Rex would like in a Christmas jumper? Well you don’t need to imagine it just head to the Natural History Museum.

Watch the IceSkaters

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

Not a free event but if, like me, you are just content in watching people skating, then there are many places you can do this, including at the (free) Natural History Museum in London.

London Museum Docklands

Free Museum perfect to visit with kids
Where: London Museum Docklands, West India Quay, Hertsmere Road, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4AL

Do you have any more free things to do in London at Christmas with kids to add? Please Share and Pin!

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  1. I have only been to London during the summer but all these things to do makes me want to go and visit now!

  2. Kayleigh Caton says:

    Some great ideas, I’ll need to save these as my sister-in-law lives in London now and I have my first baby due next month, so we’ll likely be travelling to London for the weekend next year! I just know the baby will love all the light displays!

  3. I love a Christmas market!
    This is a great list as sometimes you forget how beautiful and magical the simple things like Christmas lights and window displays can be.

    1. We love visiting Christmas markets too :)) just the atmosphere gets me excited. And you are right there are some amazing Christmas displays to see.

    2. Oh yes!! Christmas markets are the best, you can find some less busy ones which have a more cosy feel to them too.

  4. Some great ideas here. London can be so expensive, it’s nice to have some options that don’t cost the earth!

  5. Lots of great ideas here. I often think I have to spend £££s at this time of year on seeing Santa and light shows etc but you have reminded me that there is so much to do that doesn’t cost a penny

    1. Thank you for your comment Nicola, so happy you found our article useful. Christmas can be an expensive time of the year so it is nice to have some free things to do 🙂

    2. Thank you so much, I find just walking around London seeing the lights and markets is so much fun during Christmas time.

  6. Eek this post has made me feel so festive! Need to get myself to a Christmas market like now! London at Christmas is so special 🙂

  7. These are some great ideas! We moved away from London in February and the main thing I miss is the Christmas lights in London, they are iconic and not quite the same anywhere else

  8. Ahh these ideas are fab! I have been looking at visiting London with my children now they are a bit older and more manageable, so this gives me some great places to try.

  9. Ahh I love this post, I am always looking for free/budget friendly things to do with the kids. We did the Winter Wonderland a few years back and can definitely recommend it

  10. This is such a helpful list as London is so expensive, especially when you’re not used to it! I love London at Christmastime but haven’t been for years at this time of year – hopefully next year! xx

  11. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to take the kids to London for Christmas, but what fun if we did! Thanks for this helpful article.

  12. Great suggestions here and the fact that they’re free will mean the world to families! Times are increasingly tough this year, so finding anything fun to do for free is bound to be difficult. Especially in London!

  13. This is such a lovely, comprehensive list of activities. Everything seems so charming and festive! I’ve tucked this away for my first visit to London.

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