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
One of the best 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. In previous years you could attend one of the many Christmas lights switch-on events; however, due to Covid, these may not be running although you can still visit to see the Christmas lights.
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 2022, 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
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
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park between 21st November to 5 January
This year in 2021 you do need to pay to get inside Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, if you spend £20 on rides, attractions or food then this will be covered in your entrance. So although not totally free we have still put it on this list. There are paid events and activities including ice skating, rides but you can just walk around and soak it all in. Weekends get really busy and you may end up queuing for a long time in the cold so if you can, try to visit on a weekday or in the first or last week of opening. You can also visit Santa’s grotto and meet Santa
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
The christmas displays in the big shopping stores are definitely worth seeing; here some of the ones we recommend for 2021.
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 have a Christmas of dreams theme.
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
Christmas Carols at Trafalgar Square
Location: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN
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.
Free Christmas carols at St Paul’s Cathedral
There is a free service which is really popular so you would need to queue early, check out their website here for more details.
Watch the IceSkaters
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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 events in London for kids to add? Please Share and Pin!