december in London 2021

Fab Festive Ways To Spend December

Fab Festive Ways To Spend December

From markets and mulled wine to ice skating and the circus, here’s a round-up of the finest festive events happening in December 2021 in London and Surrey…

Top image: Kingston Christmas Market

Christmas Markets & Fairs in London 2021


The courtyards of Hampton Court Palace will be turned into a foodie’s Christmas wonderland. Enjoy wonderful street food and warm seasonal drinks while soaking up the ambience and spirit of the season with sing-along festive favourites from the East Front Bandstand.

Jam-packed with festive goodies, including winter pop-up bars, street food stalls, and shopping opportunities, Southbank Centre’s Winter Market will keep warm with endless supply of mulled wine, hot toddy and hot chocolate in your hands.

Love Wimbledon’s Christmas Market on The Piazza – 4 – 5 December, 10, 11, 12 December, 17, 18, 19 December

Love Wimbledon’s Local Market on The Piazza, a gastronomic haven, has become known for its delicious street food and tantalising sweets. And it’s festive! Smell the fragrance of freshly made artisan bread and delectable pies, tuck into luscious sweets, olives, and cheese, or sample the hot dishes available.

Wander through over 40 classic wooden cabins to find a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind, handmade gifts. While the youngsters enjoy a trip on the vintage carousel, head to Alpine Village and cosy up next to the fire pit with a bag of roasted chestnuts.

december in London
Credit: Justine Trickett

Ice rinks in London 2021

This will be the last year for the ice rink at the Natural History Museum! It welcomes people of all ages and abilities for a fun day out in a spectacular location. Plus, there’s a 30ft Christmas tree.

This lovely outdoor, open-air ice rink offers you a chance to glide (or waddle) while admiring stunning views of the historic Tudor palace under a star-studded sky. A magical experience.

UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, located in the heart of London’s Hyde Park, for a winter skate. The ice is open everyday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., under a canopy of twinkling lights and built around the historic Victorian bandstand. All ages and abilities are welcome, including wheelchairs. 

Christmas At Kew

Christmas Lights Displays in London 2021

Don’t miss the amazing Christmas at Kew: After dark, a really magical experience with the famous botanic gardens offering a glittering trail of lights, music, and colours.

Families and friends can visit the award-winning WWT London Wetland Centre in Barnes this autumn to see gigantic light sculptures of wetland species interwoven with enchanting works like light tunnels and responsive lily pads.

‘The Spirit of Christmas’ project will return to the capital this year, with the beautiful Spirits soaring over Regent Street and St James’s neighbourhoods.

december in London
Circus 1903 © Manuel Harlan

Theatre Picks (and Circus!) in London 2021

Life-sized elephants built by the puppeteers behind War Horse, acrobats, contortionists, trapeze artists and a death-defying highwire show, all of it wrapped up in a package that has a beautiful vintage feel to it, inspired by the classic circuses of the turn-of-the-century era.

Bring It On: The Musical, based on the film of the same name, takes you on a high-flying, high-energy adventure that explores friendship, jealousy, betrayal, and forgiveness via spectacular choreography and tricks.

The return of Terence Rattigan’s While The Sun Shines – a delectable comedy directed by OT Artistic Director Paul Mille, following a sold-out run in 2019. Seating is socially distanced. 

The famously unChrismassy comedian Mark Thomas tells the story of the radical Christmas ghosts of the past and today. It’s half comedy, part sadness, and all-out celebration.

The story that everyone knows with a twist: a musical that shines a light on the poverty and immorality laid bare on the cold London streets. With music combining pre-WWII Berlin cabaret, anarchic opera, and gypsy tunes, the show doesn’t fail to shock, surprise, and entertain. 

Diane Chorley, Duchess of Canvey, will preside over an evening of fun, frolics, and Christmas cheer. Diane Chorley is a fictional character created by actor David Selley as a love letter to the working class, strong independent women of Essex, and 1980s’ sequin-soaked splendour.

BJÖRN AGAIN was created and launched in Melbourne in 1988 by Australian Director and Musician Rod Stephen as a rocked-up light-hearted satirical ABBA imitation. The show quickly gained cult status around the world, and it is credited as being the catalyst for the ABBA revival. 

See the magic of Christmas unfold in this brand new play for children ages 3 to 8, which includes audience participation, traditional Christmas songs, and, of course, the wonderful presence of Santa Claus himself on stage! 

Five incredible musicians and one non-musical stand-up in an unruly, silly, and surprisingly fulfilling show. There will be humour, music, exuberant dancing, and a lot of mucking around.

december in London
Carols by Candlelight

Concerts & Cinema in London 2021

Enjoy the magnificent surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall for one of the season’s best carol concerts in London.

The annual Christmas concert is a mix of old and new carols as well as traditional favourites. In addition, there is a brass quintet.

This immersive cinema experience will offer its delightful Snow Kingdom where you can wander through a fantastical emporium, and a magic waterfall and into the cinema filled with cosy beanbags, or head to the Winter Garden through an enchanted forest.

The festive season offers two great concerts from London Mozart Players. First up is a fun and informal concert at St Mary’s, Putney, with something for everyone, including traditional carols and yuletide songs. They will then perform at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls with quintessential classics, from The Nutcracker to Sleigh Ride.

The Luna Cinema has returned with its biggest winter season yet! Tune in for holiday classics at two beautiful locations: Kensington Palace and Battersea Arts Centre. This year, they’re taking it to the next level, with more VIP sofas than ever before. So, whether you’re looking for a fun way to conclude a day of Christmas shopping or simply a chance to reconnect with friends and family, The Luna Cinema has you covered. 

Go back in time to the 18th century for a stunning concert of carols and seasonal classics, performed in period costume in an evocative candlelit setting.

december in london

Fun for foodies and gin lovers

Head to the buzzing quarter of London’s King’s Cross to The Great Northern Hotel, which has teamed up with its neighbours in Coal Drops Yard for ‘Creative Christmas’ where guests can enjoy either a Champagne brunch or lunch at the hotel’s Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant, with tickets to a workshop to create personalised gifts under the guidance of skilled artisans.

Join Turks’ famous paddle steamer-style boat The New Southern Belle on this special Christmas Gin Cruise for a guided gin tasting with Hampton Court Gin founder Simon Marjoram. You will have the opportunity to try their deliciously smooth 6 Wives Gin and their new Limited Release Christmas gin Lord of Misrule, as you head past the festively decorated Hampton Court.

To celebrate their 10 year anniversary, Michelin star chef Adam Byatt and his restaurant Bistro Union on Clapham’s Abbeville Road are hosting some special dinners to celebrate the season. The first takes place on 8 December. Expect dishes such as warm semi smoked salmon with a beurre blanc of capers and dill, followed by roast goose breast with glazed roots, cranberries and Brussel tops.

Outdoors and family fun in London 2021

KidZania London is throwing open its doors for children and adults over the festive season, from 1 December 2021 to 9 January 2022 when the immersive city will be dressed for Christmas. New for this year is a Secret Christmas wonderland, with six festive activities including an exclusive, pre-recorded pantomime performance of Cinderella, and a hot drink and sweet treat.

Kempton Park will host one of the great highlights of the Jump racing season, the Ladbrokes Christmas Festival. The biggest names in racing – horse and human – descend on Kempton Park for some of the most significant races in the calendar, including the Grade 1 Boxing Day showpiece, the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase, as well as the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle, and the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase on day two.

Two days of spine-tingling Jump racing action culminating in the Grade 1 Betfair Tingle Creek Chase, one of the most prestigious and exciting races in the calendar. This fixture presents a chance to see some of the best horses and jockeys in the sport in action at a venue that offers superb viewing and a fantastic atmosphere – there is a genuine buzz around Sandown Park throughout both days.

Just days before Christmas, the Howden Christmas Racing Weekend features top-quality Jumps racing, headlined by the Grade One Howden Long Walk Hurdle – one of the most prestigious long-distance hurdle races in Britain.
This year’s event promises to be a memorable one for all, with a theme of Christmas round the world – from American cookie decorating and Canadian ice hockey shootouts, to steel pan carollers and furry mascots from around the globe. The traditional fairground rides and candle-lit carol singing with the Ascot Brass Band remain firmly part of the weekend’s entertainment.

Winter Carriage Rides – Bushy Park and Richmond Park – to 2 January 2022

What is more magical than a horse-drawn carriage ride in beautiful Richmond and Bushy Parks?

Enjoy the sounds of hoofs and bells, revel in the crisp air and watch the wildlife up close while you snuggle under a blanket sipping sloe gin or mulled wine and indulging in festive delicacies.

Swimmers have been taking to the water in Hyde Park since 1864 to race against each other in an icy 100-yard swimming race before going home to tuck into their Christmas dinner. Author J M Barrie became associated with the Christmas Day race in 1903 and continued to present the Peter Pan Cup until 1932.

The race is only open to members of the Serpentine Swimming Club, but members of the public can watch for free.