Well it’s December and nearly time for our winter holidays, it was so lovely to see you all Winter Wonderland thanks to the kindness of Abbey and the team at Winter Wishes a big thank you too for everyone who took part in our little film we are so looking forward to sharing it with you soon.
We will be running our usual provision but if you are looking for some extra winter fun we have collected some great free ideas for you to try out.
London Bus Tour
Mayfair, Friday 15th December
We are looking forward to our bus tour on the 15th of December with Toot bus, we will be visiting and enjoying key sights in London to explore and learn about the cities rich history. We can’t wait to share our experiences with you. If a bus tour of the key Christmas lights is of interest to you why not get in touch as we still have limited availability .Alternatively you could always go on a visit yourself to enjoy the scenery this time of year.
Number 139 Bus
This festive bus route starts off at Bond Street, where you can discover Christmas at Selfridges. Join the famous store for extraordinary festive experiences, from a feel-good Christmas market to magical moments with Santa himself!
Hop on the number 139 bus towards Waterloo and head down Oxford Street then Regent Street to admire the spectacular Christmas lights displays. The oldest light display in London, first decorated in 1954, the Regent Street light display is one of the largest in London. ✨
But the fun doesn’t stop there! Hop off outside Hamley’s and step into an enchanting world filled with fun for all the family. Pick up a special toy for loved ones, and if you’re lucky, you might even meet Santa himself!
Catch the next 139 bus to The Strand for Covent Garden. Kick off a very merry Christmas in the famous piazza, home to London’s biggest hand-picked Christmas tree, which is a huge 55 feet tall! The Apple Market lights are also not to be missed, pick up a festive drink and take a wander around all of the market stalls and stores, perfect for picking up a little something for under your own tree. 🎄
Number 22 Bus
Start your journey at Duke of York Square where you can admire their Christmas lights to take a festive ‘elfie with the angel wing lights hanging from the wall next to Castore.
Next, hop on the number 22 bus heading towards Oxford Circus where you’ll reach Knightsbridge, hop off and take a short walk to see Harrods, a London icon all lit up for the festive season. Hop off for a spot of Christmas shopping! 🛍
Continue on the number 22 to Hyde Park and embrace the Christmas spirit at Winter Wonderland.
Number 453 Bus
For this festive bus route, you’ll be starting your journey in Marylebone Village. Admire the Christmas lights, enjoy Christmas shopping with extended store opening hours, and pay a visit to Santa’s grotto.
The number 453 will then take you down Regent Street, where you can admire some of the most festive light displays in London. ✨ Hop off outside Hamley’s and head to Carnaby Street.
Continue your journey on the number 453 bus towards Deptford Bridge, which will take you towards Trafalgar Square where you’ll have a tree-mendous time. Every year, since 1947, the people of Norway have given the people of London a Christmas tree. This gift is in gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II. This year, you’ll also be able to enjoy carol singers throughout the festive period! 🎶 But wait, there’s myrrh. 😉 Head to Westminster, where you’ll be able to take in all things Christmas at Westminster Abbey. You might even be able to catch one of their Christmas shows. 🎶
Lastly, hop back on the 453 and head to County Hall for South Bank, where you’ll find their fabulous winter festival. This year, you’ll also be treated to cosy festive igloos popping up along the river, where you can enjoy alpine street food
Number 390 Bus
Start your journey at King’s Cross and head towards Coal Drops Yard to admire their festive display.
Once you’ve shopped ‘til you’ve dropped, hop on the number 390 bus towards Victoria Bus Station. Get off at Tottenham Court Road and head to So Ho Ho to admire the festive lights.
Once you’ve explored Soho, jump on the number 390 and cruise down Oxford Street to admire one of the best light displays in London. You can then stop at Selfridges for a spot of festive shopping!
The 390 will then take you past the Dorchester Hotel. Hop off here to admire their Christmas decorations and a spot of Christmas afternoon tea. Their Christmas tree alone is worthy of a festive snap!
Lastly, head to Hyde Park Corner and alight for Winter Wonderland. With ice skating, Christmas market stalls as far as the eye can see and circus performances, yule be sorry if you miss it!
Number 94 Bus
Hop on the number 94 bus, starting at Marble Arch towards Piccadilly Circus which will take you down Oxford Street where you can marvel at the Christmas lights ✨ or you can hop off to enjoy a spot of gift shopping!
The number 94 will then take you down Regent Street where you can admire the famous angel lights. Known as ‘The Spirits of Christmas’, Regent Street’s Christmas lights display is the largest one in the country.
When you’re all shopped out, hop back on the bus to head towards Piccadilly Circus. Take a short walk to Fortnum & Mason to pick up a festive snack or ornament for your tree before heading to Leicester Square to enjoy their famous Christmas market.
Winter Festival Queen’s Park Gardens
Queens Park Gardens, Ilbert Street W10, 12 noon – 4 pm, Saturday, 9th December
It’s finally that time of the year again- Queen’s Park Winter Festival is just around the corner! Join in for all the usual festivities including, Wreath making, Smores, Snow Ball Shy, Santa’s Grotto, Donkey Rides, Christmas Carols and much more! There will also be the lovely Community Lunch at St. Jude’s Hall, so make sure you gather round the piano for hot soups and festive pies!
QPCC Winter Social
Thursday 21 December, 2023 | 1 pm – 3 pm, Beethoven Centre, Third Avenue W10 4JL
Queen’s Park Community Council and A2 Dominion invites residents to a very special Winter Social! Come along for a fun filled afternoon of games, crafts, music, dance, a delicious lunch and most importantly to meet with other residents across our wonderful community! All Queens’ Park, Westminster residents are invited! Register online or give us a call to reserve a spot (space are limited!)
Santa Truck Visits
Don’t forget to all look out for Santa’s truck, which will be passing by on the 5th and 6th December, from 4pm – 6pm, collecting hamper items and donations for local people in need!
Hyde Park-Marble Arch
Entry to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is free on certain days
Since the introduction of entry fees to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in 2021 the huge festive funfair isn't as easy to do for free as it used to be. That said, if you can go off-peak (an early weekday morning in November or early December, or anytime on 1 January), entry costs nothing, though you still need to book in advance.
Once you get inside Winter Wonderland, there are many, many ways to part with your money (especially if you've got kids in tow), from funfair rides and theatre shows to food and drink, and Christmas market stalls. Wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere, though? That's free, off-peak.
Top tip for parents: Santa Land within Winter Wonderland is home to the only free Santa's Grotto that we know of in London. The flip side is that there's no booking, so be prepared to queue.
Free, off-peak entry tickets are available selected times until 7 December 2023, and on 1 January 2024.
Paddington Academy Students’ Production
12/13TH December 2 pm Paddington Academy
Nothing signifies the approach of Christmas like the glow of seasonal street lights and we can’t wait to hear about your seasonal outings, to help give you some ideas on where you might explore, here’s a brilliant guide by Laura Reynolds to when London's 2023 festive illuminations are switched on (and the accompanying parties) in some of the capital's biggest shopping destinations — including Oxford Street, Regent Street, Covent Garden and Carnaby street. Take pictures of your trip and we can all enjoy them here in the New Year. We will allocate 5 hours per trail and provide coordinators with codes for them so you can claim them as WCU hours online straight away.
Oxford Street Christmas lights 2023 — from 2 November
Star-themed Christmas lights dangling above Oxford Street for Christmas 2023
Oxford Street is usually the first London district to switch on its Christmas lights, illuminating the world-famous shopping street — and in 2023 the magic happens on Thursday 2 November.
The stars are coming out again this year, as 300,000 of them return, blanketing the sky, with a focus on sustainability. That means reduced operating hours and LED lights combining to use two-thirds less energy than previous years.
Anyone can sponsor a star in the installation, as part of Oxford Street's partnership with children’s charity Starlight — you can do so online from 2 November, or via QR codes on the street.
Carnaby Christmas lights 2023 — from 8 November
Carnaby has a new theme for its festive decorations every year, from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody to sub-aqua scenes, and for 2023, its Carnaby Universe. We're promised a 'dynamic and vibrant display of neon colour and light waves creating a moving vortex on Carnaby Street' along with arches 'adorned with shimmering discs and neon lights' on the side streets. The season begins with a switch-on party and shopping event on Thursday 2 November 2023. UPDATE: due to a severe weather warning, the switch on will now take place on Wednesday 8 November
Covent Garden Christmas lights 2023 — from 7 November
It's all change at Covent Garden this year, as it's getting brand new Christmas decorations, including 40 gigantic bells with bows, 12 giant baubles and eight spinning mirror balls, all made from over 29 miles of gold leaf and 275 kilos of glitter. Sounds like we've seen the last of the giant mistletoe that's adorned the Market Hall for the last few festive seasons.
We're also promised more of a glow-up in the Piazza than ever before — over 140,000 LED lights — in addition to the 30,000 adorning the 60ft Christmas tree, all illuminated from Tuesday 7 November.
Regent Street and St James's Christmas lights 2023 — from 9 November
London Christmas lights 2023: 'Spirit of Christmas ' angels glowing above Regent Street, with pedestrians and traffic beneath
Regent Street switches its own lights on, from Thursday 9 November. The neighbouring district of St James's gets lit the same night too, and those 50+ 'Spirit of Christmas' angels are back, glistening above Regent Street, Regent Street St James's, Piccadilly and Jermyn Street. For the first time, Glasshouse Street, Heddon Street, Quadrant Arcade, St James’s Market and Swallow Street will have their own Christmas lights this year, and though we don't know exactly what they'll look like yet, we're told they'll 'enhance the existing scheme'.
300,000 lights are used in the display, all low-energy LEDs which operate on a timer, so that they're only on for a few key hours each evening. Unfortunately, as with the last few years there's no big Regent Street Christmas light switch-on event — they'll be illuminated without any fanfare from 9 November.
Marylebone Village Christmas lights 2023 — from 9 November
London Christmas lights 2023: 'Marylebone Village' illuminated sign, surrounded by illuminated leaves. Marylebone Village has new Christmas lights for 2023. Marylebone — the annual festive event in Marylebone Village culminating in a big Christmas light-up — takes place on Thursday 9 November 2023. There'll be snow machines, a Santa's grotto, and food, drink and gift stalls — as well as discounts and special offers in the local shops, restaurants and bars.
As for the lights themselves: it's a brand new, sustainable display for 2023. That means lights made 100% out of plastic recycled bottles, with an energy-saving LED system that uses 95% less energy than conventional lighting. There will be reduced operation hours this year too, expected to save 58.2% of energy that would be used if they were on the usual street lighting schedules.
St Christopher's Place Christmas lights 2023 — from 14 November
St Christopher's Place transforms into St Christmas Place from Tuesday 14 November 2023, when vividly coloured discs will illuminate the pedestrianised shopping area just off Oxford Street. The central tree in the main square and others lining James Street will also be lit up, and there are free festive performances every Thursday from 5.30pm and every Saturday from 1.30pm in the run-up to Christmas.
Belgravia Christmas lights 2023 — from 15 November
Belgravia's Christmas lights are switched on from mid-November
Motcomb Street, Elizabeth Street, Pimlico Road, Eccleston Yards and Halkin Arcade will be illuminated with the Belgravia Aglow scheme of Christmas lights. The launch event, on Wednesday 15 November 2023, has a roaming concert from the London Gay Men's Chorus, appearances from Santa Claus, a pop-up Christmas market in Eccleston Yards and festive offers at various businesses around the Belgravia area.
On the same day, Belgravia’s Christmas Trail of Cheer launches — it's a series of glowing window displays from renowned florists and stores in the area, with the public able to vote for their favourite online in December.
Chelsea Christmas lights 2023 — from 18 November
Christmas lights in the trees at Sloane Square
The Chelsea Christmas light switch-on involves a whole day of festive fun on Saturday 18 November 2023. King's Road is part-pedestrianised from Sloane Square down to Walpole Street with a Christmas market, live entertainment, and a chance to meet Santa's reindeer. Father Christmas himself has the honour of switching the lights on, illuminating King's Road, Sloane Square and surrounding areas, accompanied by a fireworks display, light show and sprinkling of snow.
Trafalgar Square Christmas tree 2023 — from 7 December
London Christmas lights 2023: The Trafalgar Square fountain illuminated at light, with the Christmas tree illuminated next to the Mayor of Westminster, Norwegian Ambassador and governing Mayor of Oslo usually switch on the lights on the Trafalgar Square tree on the first Thursday in December — that's 7 December 2023. The tree is a gift from Norway every year.
Bond Street Christmas lights 2023 — date TBC
London Christmas lights 2023: a glowing golden crown suspended above Bond Street at night
Last year saw festive changes on Bond Street, as the peacock decorations were ousted in favour of regally-themed illuminations featuring more than 90,000 LED lights. They were inspired by the Crown Jewels, as well as the many high-end jewellery stores which have set up shop on Bond Street over the centuries. A tiara-like gateway at each end of Bond Street welcomed shoppers to the area, with 'necklaces' strung across Old and New Bond Street at regular intervals — and we're hoping to see them back for 2023... watch this space.
Leadenhall Market Christmas lights 2023 — date TBC
London Christmas lights 2023: a Christmas tree decorated with red and gold baubles and lights, inside Leadenhall Market
Traditionally, the Lord Mayor of London does the honours of switching on the Leadenhall Market Christmas lights, which usually consist of a large central Christmas tree, colour-changing LED lights, and fir tree garlands throughout the Market. We'll bring you 2023 details as soon as we have them.
Connaught Village Christmas lights 2023
There's usually a whole afternoon and evening of Christmas activities as Connaught Village near Marble Arch, culminating in the Christmas light switch-on. 2023 details coming soon.
A display of festive arches adorned with lights and decorations inside Hay's Galleria - part of the
Winter by the River is free entry.
December can be an expensive time of year, especially in London. So if you're looking for ways to save cash and do this festive season on a budget, indulge in these free and festive things to do in London for Christmas 2023. You won't have to spend a penny, though of course there are plenty of chances to get rid of your cash if you're so inclined.
Wander around London's Christmas markets
There are several Christmas markets and fairs to visit in London, and many have free admission —Top of the list is Southbank Centre's Winter Market (until 26 December 2023), a cute collection of wooden chalets decked in sparkling lights, right next to the river. It's free to stroll along, soaking up the festive atmosphere, though it gets very busy at weekends. If you're in central London, Christmas in Leicester Square (which also spreads to Trafalgar Square) is also a good bet (free entry, until 7 January 2024).
Visit a free light trail
London's packed with light trails and festivals this time of year, but some are pricey to get into. Not so with Winter Light at Southbank Centre (until 7 January 2024), which is free to admire, and consists of a series of outdoor artworks by 10 artists, colourfully illuminated at night. You could combine it with a visit to the Southbank Centre Winter Market (above).
Also free to visit are The Luminaze at Wembley Park (2 December 2023-2 January 2024) and Sparkle in the Park, in Greenwich's Avery Hill Park (30 November-3 December 2023).
This winter, a brand-new light-based interactive maze is heading to Wembley Park to wow visitors of all ages. From 2nd December 2023 to 2nd January 2024, The Luminaze will take revellers on a magical festive journey with cutting-edge neon installations and a specially curated soundscape.
The star of the show, in the middle of The Luminaze features Emergency Exit Arts (EEA) and light wizards, Illuminos' stunning 4 metre installation, The Hourglass - an audio-visual sculpture is designed to deliver stories through animations and audio. For Wembley Park, brand-new bespoke artwork will bring The Hourglass to life, with local champions and artists.
Seek out the Christmas Nightlights in Greenwich
Free, available 4pm-10pm weekdays and 10am-10pm on weekends, 1 December 2023-1 January 2024. Full info available online from 1 December.
Explore Greenwich on the Christmas Nightlights trail.
The usual Greenwich Advent Windows trail isn't happening this year, but instead, there's a smaller free interactive trail across 12 windows in the Greenwich area. The Christmas Nightlights trail features books on display in certain windows. Once you've found one, answer the online question corresponding to that window. Get it right and the book lights up.
Go in search of 12 The Snowman sculptures Until 5 January 2024.
12 sculptures of Raymond Briggs's The Snowman have been dotted around the Fleet Street area, in the capital's latest free art trail. Each is decorated by a different artist, representing a day from the song 12 Days of Christmas. You can download a map to help you track them down, or simply wander around Chancery Lane, Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street and surrounding areas looking out for them — each one is 1.6m tall, so you shouldn't miss them.
Winter by the River offers free choir performances. Until 1 January 2024.
Seasonal festival Winter by the River pops up at London Bridge City (the south bank of the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge) once again. It's free entry, though, as is the way with these things, there are plenty of ways to spend money if you're keen to do so (market stalls, pop-up bars, karaoke rooms). For a free day/night out though, time your visit to coincide with one of these free choir performances in Hay's Galleria, and enjoy the live music followed by a stroll along the river surrounded by twinkly lights.
Admire the Ever After Garden in Grosvenor Square
Open 3pm-9pm daily until 19 December 2023.
Over 25,000 glowing roses light up Grosvenor Square again this winter, as the Ever After Garden returns to Mayfair. It provides somewhere for Londoners to remember absent loved ones in the run-up to Christmas, and there's the option to dedicate a rose, for a minimum donation of £10 to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
Sing your heart out at a carol concert
Carol concerts in London: Union Chapel packed with people each holding a candle, with a Christmas tree to one side.
If you wanted to, you could go to a carol concert every evening in December, and still barely scratch the surface of London's carol services. They're not all free, but many are for charity, so that's understandable — but why not see what's on at your local church?
Watch the Peter Pan Cup on Christmas Day
What'll you be doing at 9am on Christmas Day? One hardy group of swimmers takes to the frigid waters of the Serpentine in Hyde Park for the Peter Pan Cup, a traditional race dating back to 1903. The race itself isn't open to the general public — so you're off the hook for a chilly festive dip — but it is free to watch, with spectators welcome around the lake's edge. Just remember there's no public transport in London on Christmas Day to get you there.
We hope you all have a super break and a fantastic new year!