Travel to London at Christmas with kids is definitely a wise decision, as they will surely never forget it. The England capital is one of the best cities to spend Christmas in, and on many occasions, children are the stars.
You can imagine how difficult it can be (sometimes) to plan a Christmas trip to a big city like London and want the kids to enjoy themselves to the fullest. London is not only full of wonderful Christmas lights, but there are numerous Christmas markets as well as ice-skating rinks and huts to go and meet Father Christmas…Here is a list of things not to miss if you are planning a trip to London at Christmas with children.
Go to Winter Wonderland
If you are coming to London at Christmas with kids, you must dedicate an afternoon at least to visit Hyde Park Winter Wonderland that takes place in every year. Christmas is magical here, and it’s definitely one of the favourite places to visit with children in London at Christmas. As well as the Christmas markets, there are attractions for children of all ages, with an area for younger children and rides for older children and adults.
There is also one of the most beautiful Christmas ice skating rinks in London, but there is also a circus as well as take-away food stalls and even restaurants in huge wooden huts. You can easily spend half a day visiting Winter Wonderland and you’ll definitely want to come back! I usually recommend going in the afternoon – evening, when all the Christmas lights are on, as the Christmas atmosphere is usually spectacular. If possible, I also recommend going during the week, as the weekend is usually very crowded.
Visit Hamleys, the most famous toy shop
- Location: 188-196 Regent Street., London
- Open: 10 am – 9 pm
Although Hamleys toy shop is open all year round, if you are visiting London at Christmas with kids this toy shop is a must. It is the most famous toy shop in London and the largest in the world. It is located in Regent Street, one of the most important shopping streets in London, and its seven floors full of toys will leave them open-mouthed!
In addition, every day, there are two important events in the shop that you can’t miss:
At 4 p.m. there is a parade with famous characters and animated toys that goes all the way through the shop to the fourth floor with a big surprise at the end.
The famous Hamley Bear – icon of his own shop welcomes the first people to cross the shop every day. If you don’t want to miss this moment, try to be there 5 minutes before opening time. You will be able to witness the countdown to opening time and take pictures with Hamley the bear.
Meet Father Christmas in London
Have you already met Father Christmas? Every year in London there are many Santa’s Grottos, huts where you can meet Father Christmas. He usually spends a few minutes with each child, asking them what they want for Christmas and gives them a present. As a general rule, there is usually one in every shopping centre (for example, Brent Cross, Westfield Shopping Centre), and there is also one in Winter Wonderland, in the Southbank market (next to the London Eye), Harrods, Selfridges, Hamleys toy shop…
In the most famous ones, such as Harrods and Hamleys, you have to book in advance on their website. Something we would recommend you to consider if you are going to visit London at Christmas with kisds.
On board a Thames river cruise
Uber Boats are boats that cruise the Thames, not sightseeing cruises but more like buses that go along the river. Well between 12pm and 5pm on the 3rd and 17th of December, Father Christmas will be riding the Uber Boats, so you might be able to join him!
You don’t need to book a special ticket, just buy a normal ticket to ride an Uber Boat. Father Christmas will be on the following boats:
12:05 and 14:35 – Boat departing from Battersea Power Station to North Greenwich Pier.
13:25 and 15:55 – Boat departing from North Greenwich Pier to Battersea Power Station
At Winter Wonderland
At the magical Winter Wonderland Christmas fair there is an area called Santa Land, a spectacular place for the little ones in the house. Here there are fairground rides for young children, and they can also meet Santa in his cabin. You don’t need to book, but there is usually a queue and on weekends in the afternoon it is almost impossible, so I would recommend going in the morning. Santa will have a little present for every child who comes to see him, and you can have your photo taken with him.
Dates: 17 November – 1 January
Price: Seeing Santa is free, admission to Winter Wonderland varies according to date and time.
Meet Father Christmas in Hamleys
Dates: November – December
For children from 2 to 8 years old.
Meet Father Christmas at none other than London’s most famous toy shop, Hamleys. The children will take a short tour with Santa’s elves, pretending to be elves themselves, until they reach Santa’s hut to meet him. Along the way there will be songs and games. This experience lasts about 40 minutes. It costs £39.99 per child, and for each child two adults are allowed in. It is very important to book in advance on the official website, as tickets sell out quickly!
At the Royal Albert Hall
- Location: Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London
- Price: £17.50 per child. Children only need to buy a ticket, adults get in free.
This year we can take the children to Royal Albert Hall, a spectacular concert hall which opens its doors to all the little ones who want to meet Father Christmas. A 30 minute storytelling session in a Christmas-themed corner of the Royal Albert Hall for the little ones to enjoy the experience to the full. Adults don’t need a ticket, they can get in for free.
Meet Santa at Harrods
Harrods is another of the best places to take the kids to meet Father Christmas, as the decorations and Christmas atmosphere are amazing, but unfortunately this year it is not possible to book, as you can only go by invitation if you are a frequent customer.
At Leicester Christmas market
Christmas markets also often have a Santa’s Grotto where you can meet Father Christmas. One of the most famous is at the Leicester Square flea market. Admission is £11.50 for a half-hour session where you get to tell a story and meet Father Christmas.
Other Santa’s grottoes in London
- National Gallery
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Brent Cross
Ice Skating in London at Christmas with kids
In London at Christmas there are many ice skating rinks scattered all over the city, and it’s amazing how even the little ones learn to skate before the adults do! Most of the ice skating rinks in London at Christmas have a special area for younger children with supports for them to learn how to skate without falling and monitors to help them, so it’s a good option if you’re planning to spend Christmas in London with children.
Go to a Christmas market
This is a must for any city at Christmas – long live the Christmas markets!
It’s not that London doesn’t have just one. In practically every neighbourhood you can find the famous wooden stalls where you can discover the best gifts of the year or buy some London Christmas souvenirs.
The youngest members of the family can also enjoy an afternoon among the stalls and stalls where they can look for the best toys or souvenirs to put next to their cuddly toys.
Go and see a Christmas musical, a pantomime or a play
Welcome to one of the cities with the most theatres and musicals in Europe!
Of course, a good plan for a winter evening to avoid the cold and have a good time is to sit back and enjoy one of the most famous musicals in the city. Shows like The Lion King, Matilda or Wicked will leave the whole family open-mouthed.
In addition to the best musicals in London which are on all year round, during these important dates it is an English tradition to take the children to see a Christmas pantomime, and in practically every town, no matter how small, every Christmas there is a play or pantomime to take the children to see. And London is no exception! During this time of year there are several pantomimes and special Christmas plays to take the children to.
This year’s highlights include The Snowman (for children of all ages) and The Nutcracker Ballet (for ages 5+).
Going to the Circus in London
One of the things to do with the kids this Christmas in London is to take them to the circus. Winter Wonderland has the biggest big top in the UK, and there are two different circus shows.
Circus 1903 is an amazing show that takes us back to the golden years of the circus, and it was spectacular!
New Year’s Eve fireworks
To end the year and following the tradition, the city fills up with fireworks before midnight on the last day of the year. And what better plan for the whole family than to end the year witnessing a spectacle of light and colour under the light of the stars?
There are several locations where you can witness the New Year’s Eve fireworks. We tell you all about it in our post: New Year’s Eve fireworks in London
If you want travel to London with kids, do it at Christmas. London is already a beautiful city, but one of the most enchanting times is at Christmas time with ice skating, carol singing, Christmas markets and street lights. We hope the whole family has a great time and enjoys this great city in the best possible way.
Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments what you liked the most and if we have forgotten to mention anything to enjoy London at Christmas with kids.