ICE SKATING: From Canary Wharf to Hampton Court Palace, ice rinks pop up on roofs, in parks and at palaces across the capital in winter. Find your nearest with our guide to ice skating — or take on the challenge of trying them all. Plenty have cafes, bars and places for spectators alongside them. Until February 2019
CHRISTMAS MARKETS: Get your seasonal shopping done in one fell swoop at these Christmas markets and fairs popping up round the capital. Find gifts that you won’t see on the high street — or just treat yourself to something festive.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Most of London’s Christmas lights are now illuminated, but instead of trudging round the cold, wet streets to see them, why not hop on a bus and see them from on high? This bus route is your best bet for maximum festivity.
CHRISTMAS FILMS: Whether your a hardcore Elf fan or don’t consider it Christmas until you’ve seen Love Actually, check out all of the Christmas film screenings taking place across London, from swimming pools and floating cinemas to posh hotels and singalong concerts.
CHRISTMAS FESTIVALS: London’s parks and squares have been taken over by Christmas markets, ice rinks, funfair rides, theatre shows and other amusements which make up the city’s Christmas festivals. From Hyde Park to Leicester Square to Clapham Common, take a look at London’s Christmas festivals.
SANTA’S GROTTOS: If the kids have been good (or need reminding as to why they should be good for the rest of the month), take them to meet Father Christmas at one of London’s many Santa’s Grottos. Most need booking, and they’re selling out fast so don’t dawdle.
SEUSSICAL: Ooof, we’re exhausted just thinking about this high-energy, all-singing, all-dancing theatre show, featuring characters from Dr Seuss’s beloved children’s books. It doesn’t mention Christmas though, so if you’re looking for a family day out sans the awkward questions about Santa, here’s your solution. Until 29 December 2018
AFTER DARK AT CHISWICK HOUSE: Serge from Kasabian was drafted in to write the music for this light festival. As well as trippy lasers and illuminated buildings, expect a giant moon and a wish tree. Here’s our video of the event. Until 30 December
CHRISTMAS AT LONDON ZOO: For the first time, London Zoo is illuminated after dark, in a lights festival concocted by the luminary wizards behind Christmas At Kew. Some of the zoo’s many listed buildings have been made into light shows, and animal lanterns are dotted around the place. Here’s what to expect. Until 1 January 2019
CHRISTMAS AT KEW: We’re tempted to say that if you do one thing in London this December, it should be Christmas At Kew. Beg, borrow or steal a ticket (because they’re selling out fast) to this fantastic light festival, consisting of a light tunnel, glowing flotilla of origami boats, fire garden, laser path and more. It’s spectacular — take a look. 22 November 2018-5 January 2019
ALICE IN WINTERLAND: The most family-friendly light festival in London right now is Alice in Winterland, a lantern fest of the characters from Lewis Carroll’s book. Come face to face with giant cheshire cats and mad hatters, larger than life flamingo croquet and a huge chessboard. 28 November-5 January
ALADDIN: London’s not short of a pantomime or two, but Hackney Empire’s is always a belter. For its 20th year, it’s gone with Aladdin, with Eastenders star Tameka Empson playing The Empress and TV actor Clive Rowe playing Widow Twanky. 29 November 2018-6 January 2019
DINNER WITH DICKENS: Dickens Museum’s latest exhibition is all about the infamous dinner parties the author used to throw when he lived in the Bloomsbury townhouse. Find out about the guests he invited, the food he used to serve, the way the table was laid, and other titbits that would have fascinated the people at the time. 28 November 2018-22 April 2019
CARRIAGE RIDES: Take a horse-drawn carriage ride though Richmond Park, and admire the scenery from your vantage point, before taking a behind the scenes tour of a working stables. It’s not cheap, but it is a rather special Christmas treat. Various dates, 1 December-2 January
ROBOT BUILDER: One of our picks for the best new exhibitions this month, this new display at Sir John Soane’s Museum demonstrates a robot that may well replace humans in the building trade. A prototype will be constructing and deconstructing a dome based on John Soane’s own design. 5 December 2018-3 February 2019
TRAFALGAR SQUARE TREE: See the world’s famous Christmas tree lit up, after its journey all the way from Norway. The lighting ceremony includes carol singing and poetry readings, but if you can’t make it that day, it’ll be in situ until early January. From 6 December
SNOW WHITE: For a star-studded pantomime, the London Palladium’s offering is the one for you. Dawn French, Julian Clary, Nigel Havers and Charlie Stemp are just some of the famous faces appearing in Snow White. 8 December 2018-23 January 2019
DOGS OF INSTAGRAM: Just when you thought we’d hit peak 2018, someone brings a meet-up of Insta-famous dogs to London. Over 70 canines made famous on the app (yep, there are that many, apparently) will be present at this meet and greet, with festive food, drink and activities too. 8 December
HUSKY SLEIGH RIDES: Kids can take a ride in a husky sleigh through London Wetland Centre’s woodlands in Barnes, or ride on a donkey. Other activities over this festive weekend include elves workshops and Christmas wildlife watching. 8-9 December
BRAZILIAN CINEMA: A four-day festival of films, dedicated entirely to female directors from Brazil. Eight films are shown throughout the festival, including one telling the tale of an ambiguous father-daughter relationship, and a documentary about eight transvestite artists who revolutionised Brazilian culture. 8-11 December
CLASSIC CARS: The monthly gathering of classic cars returns to Lower Marsh in Waterloo. Apply for a parking spot if you’ve got a motor you want to show off, otherwise just turn up and wander among classic vehicles of yesteryear. 15 December
PETER PAN CUP: London’s livelier than you might think on Christmas Day, but if you do one thing, head to Hyde Park to watch the Peter Pan Cup. A group of hardy swimmers from Serpentine Swimming Club take to the Hyde Park waters. You can’t take part unless you’re a member, but you can watch them from the warmth of dry land. 25 December
NEW YEAR’S EVE: The biggest party night of the year is approaching. Whether you want to go full drinking and dancing, or see in 2019 in a more sedate manner, take a look at our curated list of things to do in London on New Year’s Eve. 31 December
NON-CHRISTMASSY: Fed up of the festivities? Want to dodge Christmas for an hour or two? Take a look at these 6 non-Christmassy things to do in December.
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