There are many great free Christmas attractions in London for your to enjoy with your kids. These are just a few of our favorites.
Christmas Day is a national holiday in the UK, and most London families will spend the day at home opening gifts and enjoying a meal with their loved ones. Many businesses and restaurants are also closed on that day, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do for Christmas in London.
There are a variety of holiday events throughout London leading up to and following Christmas Day. You can even spend some time in the city’s public parks and at select restaurants if you want to venture out on that day.
This quick guide will give you some ideas to start planning your Christmas vacation in London. We’re focusing on free Christmas attractions because all families deserve a price break during the holidays.
A Quick Note About Dates and Times
Holiday hours, free Christmas attractions in London and festivities can change from year to year, so always check with the venues mentioned in this guide before adding them to your itinerary. You may also want to check for new festivities happening around the city for the year that you want to visit. There’s always something new popping up in this vibrant UK city!
Christmas Caroling at Trafalgar Square
See the big Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square and listen to a free caroling show every night throughout December. Varying groups stand by the tree and deliver one hour of carols for locals and visitors alike. It’s a great time to sing and dance with your family while enjoying the lights displayed throughout the square.
Christmas Pudding Race at Covent Garden
Put teams of festively dressed Londoners on an elaborate obstacles course and make them hold pudding while racing to the finish line. If that sounds like pure silliness, you’re starting to see why the Christmas Pudding Race is one of the most hilarious free Christmas attractions in London each year. Teams enter the race for the fun of it and to contribute to charity, but you can watch the fun free of charge.
Covent Garden is another holiday destination that puts up an attractive Christmas lights display and rolls out the food vendors for lots of holiday cheer, starting in late November. It’s a great place to take a family stroll even if you don’t want to see the great pudding races unfold.
Greenwich Christmas Market
London’s Greenwich Market is one of the lesser-known options for family fun at Christmas, but it does offer a nice sized Christmas market in December. Stop by to browse a variety of handmade goods and perhaps pick up a small gift or two. There is no charge to browse, and you’ll get in the festive mood with a lot of lights and decorations that never cost a dime for spectators.
Harrods Window Displays
Harrods is one of the most elaborate shopping destinations in London, but you don’t have to buy anything to get a bit of Christmas cheer. Look at the building lit up from the outside and walk through the aisles while browsing the beautiful window displays all decked out for the holidays.
If you have small children who may want to buy everything in the store rather than browse, give them the task of creating a Christmas wish list. Allow them to write down the names of items they would for Christmas, building their gift list while browsing those windows for free.
Leicester Square & Trafalgar Square Christmas Markets
Head to Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square from early November to early January to experience the charm of a traditional Christmas marketplacem which is one of the favorite free Christmas attractions in London for many families. Stroll between stalls to view handmade goods and taste test a variety of goodies. It’s free to browse, but you may want to reserve a little cash for a sweet treat to keep the little ones happy. This is a great place to buy Christmas gifts or souvenirs to take back home.
The exact dates for the Christmas Market may change year to year. Watch the Christmas in Leicester Square website and the Christmas in Trafalgar Square website for dates and times relevant to your trip. You may see other free Christmas attractions listed on the website as it gets closer to the next holiday season.
Hyde Park Winder Wonderland
Hyde Park lights up every holiday season with a holiday market, rides, frozen sculptures, food vendors, live shows, and even an ice skating rink. While the event is free to enter, you do need to pay to enjoy many of the attractions or to buy food and items in the marketplace. There are entertaining shows that come with an entry fee as well.
If you can resist paying for the activities, this is a free London Christmas attraction that you can enjoy with the family. Consider going for dinner and sitting to enjoy the lights and sounds of the holidays.
South Bank Winter Festival
The South Bank offers an annual Winter Festival complete with a holiday market and carousel. While it isn’t as large as some other free Christmas attractions in London, it is a hit with families looking for free Christmas attractions.
St. Paul’s Cathedral Christmas Service
St. Paul’s Cathedral offers a free Christmas service each year, but the line builds fast and you need to arrive very early to have even a slight chance of getting in the doors.
Dates and times of operation can vary year to year. Some activities and rides may require payment.
Tour the Christmas Lights for Free
We mentioned taking walks around London to see Christmas lights free of charge, but where exactly should you go to see the best displays. We suggest the following streets to get you started:
London Holiday Lights Walking Tour
This isn’t a completely free option, but it’s so affordable that we wanted to slip it on the list. If you don’t want to walk the streets of London in search of holiday lights alone, you can join a group tour that visits many of the light destinations on the list above.
Free Tours by Foot offers the London Holiday Lights Tour, allowing each participant to pay whatever they think is fair or whatever they find affordable. You can take your family on the tour and give a small donation to compensate the guide for his or her time. That slight cost makes it almost as good as a free Christmas attraction in London.
You may see other holiday light tours pop up when you’re in London. Most will come with an expense, but the cost is often unexpectedly small. Tours are a great way to see the best lights while sharing the experience with other travelers and perhaps a local or two.
London City Visitor Tour
One more way to see the lights of London on foot: the City Visitor Tour! This tour is available all year long, but it’s particularly valuable when the holidays roll around as one of the free Christmas attractions in London. You can pick up a paper map of the self-guided tour at the City Information Centre, but it’s easier to download the app as directed on the City Visitor Tour website.
The app will guide you through London, stopping at some of the biggest attractions and points of interest while providing some historical information and fun bits of information. You can use it as a holiday light tour that you enjoy at your own pace.
Now that you have some free Christmas attractions in London up your sleeve, are you looking forward to your upcoming vacation? We have a lot of tips for traveling London with kids throughout this website. We’re excited to help you plan a trip that you never want to forget.