Covent Garden Festivities

Not only will Covent Garden be rocking a 60ft tree and enough lights to rival Vegas, but you’ll be able to hear the dulcet tones of the London Gay Men’s Chorus (every Sat until Xmas), hang out with a reindeer (Saturdays until Dec 17), shop in the food market (Thurs 11am-7pm) and watch the opening of a Lego advent calendar (from Dec 1).

From Nov 10, times vary, free
Between St Martin’s Lane and Drury Lane, WC2E 8RF
Tube | Covent Garden; Holborn; Leicester Square


Christmas Astronomy At The Royal Observatory

Get ready for a star-studded night with a difference. At this special Royal Observatory Greenwich festive event, you’ll get the opportunity to watch a screening of the Christmas stars planetarium show.

Look through the gigantic 18-tonne Victorian telescope at the night sky and get the opportunity to ask your burning astronomy-related questions.

Dec 12, 14, 15, 19 5.30pm–6.30pm, 6.50pm–8.50pm, £16
Blackheath Avenue, SE10 8XJ
Station | Cutty Sark

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

For a romantic, evocative Christmas setting, it’s hard to beat the Natural History Museum’s spectacular ice rink.

On one side, huge trees sparkle with lights, on the other, the iconic venue is lit up by floodlights.

There’s a kids rink so sprogs are kept at bay and, for those without the necessary skills, a café serving hot drinks, booze and food overlooks the rink.

Until Jan 6. Mon-Wed, 11am-10pm, Thurs-Fri, 11am-11pm,
Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 10am-10pm, £9
Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD
Tube | South Kensington



Characters in this ‘adult panto’ include Sofonda Cox, Fitz-Nicely and Queen Runt and the performance hooks on whether Alice will get Dick. You get the picture.

Nov 29-Jan 20, times vary
Leicester Sq Theatre, WC2H 7BX, £18.50
Tube | Leicester Square



Geffrye Museum

Explore the period rooms decorated in traditional Christmas garb. Recalling the past 400 years of festivities in middle-class homes. Highlights include a candlelight concert, decoration workshop and festive supper.

Some events are free, others are ticketed.

Nov 27-Jan 6, times vary, free
136 Kingsland Road, E2 8EA
Tube | Hoxton


Tower Ice Rink

Another dramatic setting in which to fall around on the ice, the Tower of London will be open for day and night sessions, set to music, beside the centuries-old gothic castle by the Thames.

Nov 17-Jan 6, 10am-10pm, £11
Tower Bridge, EC3N 4AB
Tube | Tower Hill


Carnaby Street Rolling Stones Decorations

Carnaby is teaming up with The Rolling Stones for this year’s Christmas decorations. Giant gold and silver vinyl records emblazoned with the band’s logo will adorn the street.

Nov 8-Jan 6, free
Carnaby Street, W1F 9PS
Tube | Oxford Circus; Piccadilly Circus

The Nutcracker

Telling the take of a young girl swept away into a magical world on Christmas Eve, this ballet – with its spectacular sets and glorious costumes – is hard not to enjoy, even if ballet isn’t your thing.

On top of that, visiting the Royal Opera House is an experience in its own right; one best enjoyed with a glass of champagne during the interval.

Dec 10-Jan 16, times vary, £5
Bow Street, WC2E 9DD
Tube | Covent Garden


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Ticking all the panto boxes – OTT sets, spangly costumes, singing, dancing and loads of audience participation – Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs promises to be provide full “he’s behind you” satisfaction for those who believe this is a Christmas essential.

Celebs on the bill at the New Wimbledon Theatre include Priscilla Presley, in her pantomime and London stage debut, as the Wicked Queen, actor Warwick Davis as Prof and Kiwi comedian Jarred Christmas as Herman the Henchman.

Dec 7- Jan 13, times vary, £10
93 The Broadway, SW19 1QG
Tube | Wimbledon; South Wimbledon


Tingle Creek Christmas Festival

As well as horse races, there will be pantomime Sleeping Beauty and a Christmas shop selling gifts from around the globe. You will be met at the station by a horse and sleigh and, on your arrival, will be serenaded with carols.

The Friday is National Brownie Day (yes, it exists) and will be celebrated with free samples of said chocolatey cakes. Yum.

Dec 7-8; 11am-3.40pm (last race)
Sandown Park, Esher, KT10 9AJ, £15
Station | Esher


St Paul’s Cathedral Christmas Carols

Religious or not, St Paul’s Cathedral is awe-inspiring. One of the best times to check out the three-centuries-old landmark is at Christmas, when the site of the former Occupy protest comes into its own.

There’s a programme of events that include carol services, choral concerts by the Cathedral Choir and a Christmas Eve service that includes well-known hymns.

Nov 25-Dec 24, times vary, free
St Paul’s Cathedral, EC4M 8AD
Tube | St Paul’s; Mansion House



London Santa Run

Join 2000 other Father Christmases running around Battersea Park.

The Santa Run is organised to raise funds for Disability Snowsport UK, a charity helping people with disabilities to access snowsports.

The annual 6km event is always exuberant and your running prowess becomes irrelevant given the innate ridiculousness of jogging alongside thousands of adults dressed in red and white.

Costumes are provided. Bring your own beard.

Dec 1, 10am, £20
Battersea Park, SW11 
Tube | Battersea Park


Dick Whittington and his Cat

Hackney Empire pantos are voted the best in London and this year’s will continue with the winning formula. Celebs include Joanna Riding and Steve Elias.

Dec 1-Jan 6, times vary, £10
291 Mare Street, E8 1EJ
Tube | Hackney Central; Homerton



Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink

There’s room for 250 skaters on the rink in front of the palace – Henry VIII’s Tudor mansion – illuminated at night. Warm up in the bar before and after you brave the ice.

Dec 1-Jan 13, 10am-10pm, £11+
East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU
Tube | Hampton Court


Camden Lock Night Market

Buy crafts, jewellery, clothes and other gifts as you sip mulled wine and listen to live music. This is as pleasurable as Christmas shopping can get.

Thursdays Nov 22-Dec 20, free
Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AF
Tube | Camden Town; Camden Road


Greenwich xmas craft market

Wander scenic Greenwich Market and shop for handcrafted clothes, toys, art, jewellery and clothes – it’s more Christmassy than ordering gifts online.

Until Dec 24, times vary, free
Greenwich Church St, SE10 9HZ
Tube | Cutty Sark; Greenwich


Great Christmas Pudding Race

This weird but funny event has taken place every year since 1980 and sees participants in Christmas fancy dress racing through an obstacle course set up in the Covent Garden Piazza.

The winning team will be awarded the prestigious Pudding Trophy.

If you want to join in, get a team of six together and find yourselves at least £100 each in sponsorship (proceeds go to Cancer Research UK).

There’s a £25 per person registration fee but it’s free to watch.

Dec 1, 11am, free
Between St Martin’s Lane and Drury Lane, WC2E 8RF
Tube | Covent Garden


Winter Wonderland

Fairground rides, a giant observation wheel, a circus and a slightly Disney-esque Christmas market will keep you busy.

Skate on the UK’s largest ice rink, drink mulled wine and eat market stall delicacies.

New this year is The Magical Ice Kingdom, an exhibition of snow and ice sculptures.

Entry is free, but you’ll have to cough up for rides, skating and shows.

Until Jan 6, 10am-10pm, free
Hyde Park, W2 2UH
Tube | Green Park

Read more: The countdown to Christmas has begun! Celebrate with cool festive activities and must-do events in London

Photos: Jeff Busby; Carl Court; Amber Hunt/;; Getty; Jim Marks