A Local’s Guide to London in December [2023]

London in December is a tapestry of festive charm woven into its bustling streets. From enchanting Christmas markets to dazzling light displays, the city becomes an exciting hub of holiday cheer. December in London offers a myriad of seasonal delights to captivate both locals and visitors alike.

Planning a Trip to London in December

Weather in London in December

December in London…

  • Daytime temperatures average 7-9°c (high 40’s°f).
  • However, mornings and evenings can drop as low as 3-5°c (40°f).
  • 12-15 days of the month may experience some rain or drizzle.
  • Days tend to be short, with the shortest day of the year falling on December 22nd.
  • The sun rises around 8am and sets around 3:50pm.

What to Pack For London in December

December is a cold and wet month in London. So if you’re traveling during this time, make sure to pack layers, a waterproof jacket, and an umbrella.

Some other items you’ll want to pack:

  • Comfortable water-resistant shoes for walking around the city.
  • A nice outfit and shoes for any formal events, dinners, or nights out. Many places in London have a dress code.
  • A good day bag is necessary to keep your possessions safe and easily accessible while you are out exploring the city.
  • Your best Christmas jumper, of course!

Best Things to Do in London in December

Watch a Festive Pantomime

Nothing reminds me more of childhood Christmases than attending a pantomime. And being the UK’s theater capital, London has no shortage of fun festive pantos for kids and adults of all ages!

Best London pantomimes of 2023:

Enjoy a Classic Sunday Roast

It’s officially peak roast dinner season in the UK. There’s no better way to spend a rainy winters days in London than cosied up by the fire in a traditional British pub enjoying a hearty roast dinner and a glass of red wine.

Check out my full post on where to find the best Sunday roasts in London. There’s no shortage of fantastic options!

Head to a London Christmas Market

London’s Christmas markets are a true festive delight, alive with twinkling lights and the scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts in the air.

There’s certainly no shortage of fantastic Christmas markets in London, but here are a few of my favourites:

  • Winter Wonderland Hyde Park
  • South Bank Centre Winter Market
  • Leicester Square Christmas Market
  • Trafalgar Square Christmas Market
  • Covent Garden Christmas Market
  • Kings Cross Christmas Market

Admire the London Christmas Lights

London’s magical Christmas lights are truly unlike anywhere else you’ll find in the world.

Each neighbourhood competes to have the most dazzling displays, illuminating the city’s wintry nights with radiant colors and festive cheer.

You don’t need to go out of your way to see London’s many lights. But for a fun festive experience, check out this London Christmas Lights Cycling Tour with Golden Tours.

See more: the best Christmas light displays in London.

Best Events in London in December [2023]

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree Light Switch On (7th Dec)

The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree is one of London’s most iconic festive decorations, standing tall at the heart of the large central square.

The Norweigan Spruce has been gifted to London by Norway every Christmas since 1947 as a token of gratitude for British support during World War II.

On the first Thursday in December each year, a large ceremony marks the turning on of the lights on the 20-meter-high tree.

Head to Trafalgar Square to browse the festive market stalls, grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine, and be ready for the switch on at 6pm sharp!

Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, London in December

Christmas Candlelight Concerts (Various Dates)

Get into the festive mood this December with Candlelight Concerts‘ Christmassy specials.

Bask in the atmosphere of one of London’s most iconic venues bathed in candlelight while listening to some of your favorite Christmas classics.

“Candlelight Jazz: Christmas Classics” takes place on the 19th December and “Candlelight: Christmas Classics at Southwark Cathedral” on the 22nd December.

The Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden will also host their own “Carols by Candlelight” and several special “Candlelight Concerts” this December. Check out their full schedule here.

The Peter Pan Cup (25th Dec)

If you happen to be in central London on Christmas Day and want to witness a rather unique London tradition, head to the Serpentine in Hyde Park at 9am to see the members of The Serpentine Swimming Club race across the freezing lake.

The unusual tradition dates back to 1864 and gained its name from the fact the trophy was donated by writer J.M. Barrie when his play Peter Pan made its London theatre debut in 1904.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), only members of the club can join in the race. But you can still wrap up warm and cheer on the members from the edge of the lake.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations (31st Dec)

Is there any better way to bring in the new year than in one of the most exciting cities in the world!?

Each December 31st, the iconic London Eye fireworks display draws thousands of spectators to see the colourful pyrotechnics illuminate the sky over the River Thames and central London.

Plus pubs, clubs, restaurants, and hotels all across the city host grand NYE parties and celebrations that last well into the early hours.

Read more: Top Hotels in London for a Spectacular New Year’s Eve Celebration.

Best hotels in London for New Year's Eve, fireworks over the London Eye

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