It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and here at KidRated, we like to make sure that everyone makes the most of the holiday season. So, we’ve compiled a list of the funnest festivities in and around London this year to help keep everyone entertained throughout this festive season.
So get your skates on and start planning. Scroll down for the best Festivals & Markets, Christmas Shows, Pantomimes, Santas & Animals to meet, Carol Concerts, Shops, Museums, Ice rinks, and Classic Christmas Movies.
Oh and if you need some help hacking Christmas…click here!
A brand new Christmas attraction this year right in the centre of London. There are plenty of activities to choose from. You can visit Santa in his grotto, explore the vintage Spiegeltent – a tent with a full programme of special shows brought to you from the Underbelly team. There’s also a Christmas market with festive food and drink.
Winter Wonderland returns to Hyde Park for it’s 10th anniversary with some special additions to celebrate. ‘The Nutcracker on Ice’ is new this year. Explore the Magical Ice Kingdom in search of the Palace of the Polar Bears. If these don’t get you feeling festive, check out the market, ice rink, Zippo’s Circus or the fairground. Santa will even be there!
The Southbank is awash with festivities this year. Why not start off by skating under the gaze of the London Eye then heading to one of the many seasonal shows on offer. From a brand new musical featuring songs from Elvis and Johnny Cash, to a circus accompanied by a live band. There’s also a market with plenty of food and drink and special Christmas gifts.
See Legoland like you’ve never seen it before. Visit Father Christmas in his grotto where everyone will receive a gift, build lego models, take part in a scavenger hunt and help Santa’s elves. Have a go on all the rides and see the amazing Christmas themed Lego structures. Make sure to check the website for tickets and the varying dates.
Full of festive music, a carousel and lots of stalls with beautifully hand crafted wooden toys, unique jewellery, intricate decorations, homemade festive food and plenty more at the Tate Modern this Christmas.
*You must book in advance as there are limited tickets*
Head to Dulwich for this magical Christmas grotto experience. Elves will entertain you with music and fun as you snuggle up in Santa’s sleigh, help the elves in the toy workshop, visit Santa’s classroom and learn to decorate gingerbread christmas trees. Proceeds go to the Whippersnappers Charity which delivers disabled activities to disabled children.
Christmas is a great time to go to the theatre. Here are KidRated’s top suggestions. Book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Everyone’s favourite Disney film is now on ice for a Christmas special at the O2. Be whisked away to wintry Arendelle as you sing and dance along with Anna and Elsa and everyones favourite snowman, Olaf. There are also special appearances by beloved Disney Princesses and characters from some classic Disney/Pixar films.
A lovely, touching story about a tiny baby penguin trying to find her feet in the world. There’s a special family gala performance where you get a chance to meet the puppets and explore backstage on the 20th December. Relaxed performances for those with an Autistic Spectrum condition, sensory or communication needs, or a learning disability take place on the 10th January and 21st January. Online booking is not available for these.
The Unicorn Theatre has plays for kids of all years throughout the Christmas period. ‘Who Can Sleep On Christmas Eve‘ is a piece of dance theatre capturing the excitement of two boys waiting for Father Christmas to arrive. If this doesn’t tickle your tinsel, then ‘Baddies’ is back in town. It’s about all your favourite fairytale villains.There are also workshops associated with ‘Baddies’ and a magical midnight mischief sleepover on the 10th and 16th of December.
Perfect for under 6s. A family favourite full of live music, songs and playful puppetry. Watch as Father Christmas prepares for the busiest night of the year. At one of the nicest theatres in West London, the Lyric.
The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum 14th December – 7th January
A classic, perfect for sugarplum fairies of all ages.
The Snowman at The Peacock Theatre 23rd November – 1st January
Now in it’s 19th consecutive year at The Peacock, this show is a family favourite where enchanting penguins dance and magical snowmen come to life.
The Railway Children at King’s Cross
Performed on a purpose built stage complete with working railway line. All aboard!
Peter Pan A New Adventure, Greenwich Theatre 18th November – 8th January
This year’s pantomime at Greenwich Theatre, full of pirates, fairies and family fun.
A Very Hungry Caterpillar, Ambassadors Theatre 2nd December – 7th January
This timeless classic has made it’s way to the stage. Come along and watch a menagerie of 75 lovable puppets faithfully adapting four Eric Carle stories. Suitable for children aged 2-7.
Sleeping Beauty at the Hackney Empire 26th November – 8th January
A spellbinding family spectacular packed with comedy, dance routines, music, magic and sparkle! The perfect festive, family fairytale to get you in the Christmas spirit.
Cinderella at the London Palladium, 10th December – 15th January
The most famous rags to riches story with an all star cast. This year’s pantomime at the London Palladium is bound to be a hit. With magnificent scenery, fabulous costumes, songs, dances and laughs you don’t want to miss out.
Potted Panto at the Garrick Theatre 10th December – 8th January
The Garrick Theatre present another sensationally silly potted production this Christmas brought to you by CBBC presenters Dan and Jeff. The double act cram seven of the nation’s favourite pantomimes into this fantastically fun 80 minute show. The show is suitable for ages 6 and upwards and is guaranteed to have the whole family grinning.
Aladdin also returns for the Lyric’s traditional panto this Christmas. The show is full of live music, guaranteed laughs, flying carpets, colourful characters and of course, the magical genie. Recommended for ages 6 and upwards.
Sleeping Beauty at Richmond Theatre, 5th Dec – 11th Jan
Fun for all the family with this timeless tale of Princess Beauty. Access performances available.
Peter Pan at Churchill Theatre, Bromley, 19th December – 7th January
Starring Strictly’s meanest judge; Craig Revel Horwood is bound to make a fantastic villain. Make sure to get tickets early for this pantomime, guaranteed to be full of laughs, stunning sets, fabulous costumes and magic.
Dick Whittington at the New Wimbledon Theatre, 9th December – 15th January
Another classic pantomime at the renowned New Wimbledon Theatre. Join Dick and his feline friend Tommy on a fun filled adventure. With a variety of different access performances this is a great option for all the family.
For more Pantos in London, click here
This Christmas, Santa has swapped his sleigh for a boat! Kids can meet him onboard a City Cruises boat. Plus they will receive a small gift and milk and cookies. Parents can enjoy some mulled wine too!
Wild animals and Father Christmas are a match made in heaven. Meet Santa and Dancer and Prancer the reindeers in Elfville. There are plenty of activities for kids as well.
Guaranteed to be a wonderful weekend, head down to the London Wetland Centre to take a sleigh ride with some huggable huskies. As well as this you can take a festive donkey ride through the Christmas finery or help Santa’s elves prepare for the big day in the Elves Workshop.
Kew Gardens is spectacular all year round but especially at Christmas. All the trees, temples and glasshouses are aglow and the giant Christmas trees are festooned with ribbon. Follow the winter trail to the Christmas Juke Box and have a sing song. Also, especially for kids White Peaks has a Victorian carousel, helter skelter and other family rides as well as Santa and his elves at the North Pole village.
Running each weekend from the 26th November, the Tudor manor house in Hackney will be host to a Christmas fair with carol performances, film previews, local theatre productions and more. Sutton House will be transformed into a winter wonderland with each room portraying a different pantomime from Snow White, to The Wizard of Oz. And of course, Santa will be there!
A new festival for 2016 transforming the centre of London. Head to Leicester square to the winter wonderland and meet Santa in his grotto.
Winter Wonderland returns to Hyde Park for it’s 10th anniversary. Explore the land of Santa, see his workshop, meet the elves and ride in Santa’s sleigh. Full of rides, games, food and Christmas magic.
Go to Westfield London to explore Santa’s Grotto with Kung Fu Panda this Christmas. There are tons of interactive games and fun animations to experience on your adventure to the North Pole. There’s also a 4D sleigh ride and a visit to Santa’s workshop. Booking in advance is recommended and ticket prices vary. Open from 19th November – 24th December.
Go on an adventure around the gardens following clues that will lead you to Father Christmas in his grotto where you’ll receive a traditional Christmas gift. There’s also festive storytelling and art workshops to keep you entertained. Open on weekends from the 5th December, tickets are £3.50 per child.
Visit Father Christmas at this wonderful farm. Hop on the Santa Express to his magical haybarn workshop where everyone will receive a wrapped present. As well as this you can feed and explore a variety of animals and the playgrounds. 24th November – 24th December.
For one night only the Royal Albert Hall presents a whole heavenly host of different carols for you to clap your hands and sing along to. Bring all the family and raise the roof of the Royal Albert Hall. Hosted by Jonathan Cohen with special guest, west-end star Louise Dearman. It’s the perfect way to get into the festivities. Book now to avoid disappointment.
A fantastic way to make the most of the Christmas celebrations in the stunning surroundings of Eltham Palace.
Children are especially welcome to this family service of carols at St.Paul’s Cathedral. The service lasts 45 minutes with special puppeteer Simon Buckley.
Harrods – Go now!
Santa’s grotto is sadly sold out for this year already but the legendary department store is still worth the visit. Harrods takes Christmas very seriously.
Meet Father Christmas at Hamleys – December
Almost fully booked, you still have the chance to meet Father Christmas at Hamleys. The toy shop is also perfect for Christmas presents for very good children
Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros Studio Tour, 19th November – 29th January
The Harry Potter films are full of Christmas magic and once again, the Warner Brother Studio Tour has decked the great hall and dusted Hogwarts in snow so you can experience the wizarding world’s festive season. It’s definitely not to be missed- even if you’ve been without the snow!
Christmas Past at the Geffrye Museum 22nd November – 8th January
400 years of seasonal traditions in English homes. Walk through the Geffrye’s 11 period living rooms and see how Christmas was been celebrated in the past. If your kids have ever wondered where odd Christmas traditions come from, this is the place to find the answer.
Christmas Past at the Old Royal Naval College**** NO DETAILS YET
20th Dec 13:00 – 16:00
The mesmerising Painted Hall with be awash with Christmas cheer as children of all ages can learn about Christmases of the past and make their own decorations to take home. It costs £2 per child, but no booking is required.
3rd December – 6th January
Discover the magic of a traditional Victorian Christmas with free interactive drop-in workshops and even carols.
One of London’s most beautiful ice rinks in the stunning Edmond J. Safra Fountain courtyard. There’s also Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade for you to explore before or after your skating. Open 17th November – 15th January.
Open from the 27th October till the 8th January, visit one of the most magical places to be this winter. With the beautiful backdrop of Hintze Hall and hundreds of fairy lights dusting the frost covered trees, this is the place to skate this year. Book in advance.
From the 4th November till the 25th February, Canada Square Park in Canary Wharf will be brightened up by their colourful ice rink. With more than 16 million different colours every session, skaters will be surrounded by magical light to make your skating experience all the more enchanting.
Located just two minutes from Liverpool Street and Spitalfields Market is Broadgate ice rink. If you don’t fancy skating, there’ll be plenty more for you to do in and around the area. From 16th November – 25th February.
Enjoy ice skating next to one of London’s most iconic stadiums. The sparkling ice rink is open to all, and they’re super close to Wembley Park Tube. There’s plenty of other things to do from shopping to watching a movie. Open 18th November – 2nd January.
Home to so many Christmas attractions, Winter Wonderland also has an ice rink. So after a visit to Santa, why not get your skates on. From 18th November – 2nd January.
Have a whirl on the Tower of London’s ice rink. This glistening ice rink is surrounded by the famous dry moat and the walls of the 1,000-year-old London landmark. If you go for an evening skating session, the walls are decorated with hundreds of snowflake lights. Open 16 Nov-3 Jan.
Is Christmas really Christmas without watching a few classic Christmas films? Here’s the lowdown on some of the best cinemas to catch our Christmas favourites.
The Muppets Christmas Carol (Sing Along): 3rd – 24th December
ELF (Quote Along): 3rd – 23rd December
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 7th December (Mulled wine and a mince pie with every ticket)
A Christmas Story 8th December (Mulled wine and a mince pie with every ticket)
It’s A Wonderful Life 9th – 25th December (Mulled wine and a mince pie with every ticket)
Home Alone 10th – 24th December (Mulled wine and a mince pie with every ticket)
Home Alone + Home Alone 2 13th December
Meet Me In St Louis 12th – 22nd December
Nightmare Before Christmas 17th December (Pre-film craft session included in ticket price)
The Muppets Christmas Carol 18th December (Pre-film craft session included in ticket price)
Home Alone 10th December
Let’s face it, who isn’t desperately excited for 2017?
All kinds of performers from all around London, and all around the world will congregate for the 29th New Year’s Day Parade. The parade starts at the Ritz and ends in Parliament Square.