Unwrap the Magic: London's Top Family-Friendly Christmas Events

London transforms into a winter wonderland during the festive season, and December 2023 promises to be no exception. The city comes alive with twinkling lights, charming markets, and an array of family-friendly Christmas events. Whether you're local or just visiting, London offers an enchanting holiday experience for everyone. Join us as we share some of the best Christmas events and activities for families to enjoy in the capital.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

The iconic Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a must-visit Christmas event in London. Known as ‘the world’s best destination for festive fun,’ Winter Wonderland offers a variety of attractions, activities, entertainment, food, and more.

From high-adrenaline rides and mythical ice kingdoms to family-friendly performances, circus shows, and Christmas markets, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The excitement of small children meeting Santa, old friends meeting for a mulled wine and couples cosied by fire pit bars under the canopy of dazzling Christmas lights truly makes for the most magical atmosphere.

This year, Winter Wonderland is open from 17th November to 1st January. Entry, attraction, rides and performance tickets are available to book online. Make the most of your visit to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland with an overnight stay at a hotel nearby. Search and book London hotels with Plans Change to get the best deal, and don’t forget to check out our Resale Deals for one-of-a-kind offers.

Christmas at Kew Gardens

Enter a botanical world of seasonal cheer at Kew Gardens. If you're seeking a more relaxed Christmas experience than Winter Wonderland, this is the perfect festive event in London for you!

Kew Gardens, renowned for its breathtaking botanical displays, undergoes a remarkable transformation in December, emerging as an illuminated dreamland where cascading lights and enchanting installations await your discovery at every turn.

The kids will love the interactive displays and larger-than-life illuminations, plus the chance to meet Santa himself in his grotto. As an added delight, indulge your taste buds in delicious festive treats and spiced winter warmers courtesy of some of the city's finest independent street food vendors, elevating your visit to a truly enchanting culinary experience.

Along with a host of new installations for Christmas 2023, this year, Kew is asking visitors for One Small Thing in returnIlluminated illustrations inspired by the natural world will combine evocative messaging, encouraging visitors to make a small change to help protect the environment.

Booking entry tickets online is essential, as only a limited number of people can enter the gardens during each time slot.

Winter Festival at The Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre Winter Festival is a cultural and artistic delight during the festive season. Families can enjoy everything from spellbinding shows and glorious live music to luminous art, festive family fun and a bustling German-style Winter Market, perfect for finding unique gifts, sampling tasty street food and more!

Highlights of the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival programme include ‘Christmas Actually,’ featuring a trove of live performances, poetry and comedy curated by the man behind the romcom, Richard Curtis. Plus, a jazz rendition of the ‘Nutcracker’ and a puppet show based on the award-winning cartoon Bluey, which little kids are guaranteed to love.

Many Winter Festival activities (including the Winter Market) are free at the Southbank Centre, which is great if you’re looking for cheap things to do in London this Christmas.

London Pantomimes and Theatre Shows

London’s West End is famous for its world-class theatre, and during December, many theatres in the city put on special Christmas pantomimes and family-friendly festive shows.

If you’re looking for Christmas pantomimes in London, here’s a flavour of the classics on offer:

  • Peter Pan at The London Palladium (9th December - 14th January)
  • Aladdin at Hackney Empire (18th November - 31st December)
  • Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre Royal Stratford East (18th November - 6th January)
  • Cinderella at Lyric Hammersmith Theatre (18th November - 6th January)
  • Dick Whittington at Richmond Theatre (9th December - 7th January)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Greenwich (23rd November - 7th January)
  • Aladdin at Croydon Theatre (16th December - 7th January)

But if pantomimes aren’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other family-friendly shows taking place over the Christmas period, including:

  • A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic Theatre (11th November - 6th January)
  • Elf The Musical at Bloomsbury Theatre (15h November - 6th January)
  • Finding Santa at Bloomsbury Theatre (7th - 24th December)
  • Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas at Lyric Hammersmith Theatre (22nd November - 30th December)

Book London theatre hotel deals with Plans Change to save on your accommodation and have more to spend on festive treats this Christmas!

Winter By The River

According to The Londonist, ‘Christmas By The River’ has undergone a name change and is now ‘Winter By The River’. However, like its predecessor, it’s set to be one of the best places to soak up the Christmas spirit in London.

Located on the banks of the River Thames, with Tower Bridge, Tower of London and the city skyline providing a stunning backdrop, Winter By The River will offer a range of Christmas festivities, including vibrant stalls selling handmade artisan gifts and street food outlets selling delicious festive delicacies.

And if that wasn’t enough, musical fun awaits at the Pier, with themed karaoke rooms, plus pop-up bars serving a variety of festive and classic beverages.

Entry to Winter By The River is free, and the event is scheduled to run from 14th November to 1st January.

Are you looking for a hotel near London Bridge? Search for hotels in Southwark for easy access to Winter By The River and other top London attractions.

Christmas in London: Hotel booking tips

London in December is a magical place for families, with many festive events and activities to enjoy. From Winter Wonderlands' exhilarating rides to gift shopping at the various Christmas markets, it's the perfect place to soak up the festive spirit and create lasting memories with your loved ones.

But do remember that with so much going on in London, hotels quickly book up. To avoid disappointment, search London hotels for your chosen dates on Plans Change today and check out our Resale Deals for last-minute London hotels at a great price!