Get stuck into our archives from Christmases past:
Things to do
It’s worth checking venue opening hours before you travel, as lots of places will close early today — and don’t miss your last train home.
ADVENT WINDOWS: The final part of Greenwich’s Advent Windows is revealed today, meaning you can now see them all in one go. 24 shops, schools, homes and pubs around Greenwich have an advent window on display, with a ‘Field of Dreams’ theme running throughout — here’s a map of where to find them. Greenwich town centre, free, just turn up, until 2 January
ICE SKATING: Glide and twirl your way into Christmas at one of London’s many seasonal ice rinks. From Somerset House to Canary Wharf, Tower of London and Natural History Museum, there are several venues to choose from. Many rinks have cafes and bars alongside them, where you can warm up with a mulled wine or hot chocolate afterwards. You’re definitely going to want to book ahead today.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: See London’s Christmas lights without battling through the Oxford Street crowds (and good grief, will there be crowds today). Here’s our guide to seeing as many lights as possible from the comfort (hopefully) of a TfL bus route, all for the price of a bus fare. Swot up on this year’s lights before you go.
PUBS: Just want to kick back with a pint and a packet of nuts and toast the festive season? Take a look at our guide to the best pubs in London and find a decent boozer in your area — or maybe even try a few. Note that opening times may vary today so check before you travel.
WINTER WONDERLAND: Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is business as usual today. The free-entry festival has a Christmas market where you can do your last bits of shopping, food and drink stalls, funfair rides, an ice skating rink and more. Free entry (charge for some events), 10am-10pm (liable to close early though)
CHRISTMAS IN LEICESTER SQUARE: If you find yourself in central London, swing by Christmas in Leicester Square — the Christmas festival/market is home to plenty of stalls where you’ll find last minute gifts (or just a treat or two for yourself). If you’ve got even more time spare, check out which shows are on in the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, free entry, just turn up (book for shows), noon-10pm today (open until 6 January)
SMITHFIELD MEAT AUCTION: A Christmas Eve tradition, the Smithfield meat auction dates back to pre-refrigeration, when the butchers would have to sell off their meat to avoid it rotting during the Christmas closure. Today it’s just Harts of Smithfield that maintains the tradition, throwing open its shutters and selling off meat, to crowds gathered on the pavement. For an idea of what to expect, read IanVisits’ blog post about the 2013 auction, when it was held in its previous home. Harts of Smithfield (Charterhouse Street), free to watch, just turn up, from 10.30am
GO DANCING: Two chances to get your dancing shoes on today. Learn to Swing at a Lindy Hop lesson for complete beginners, then follow up with a social dance, and Jive your way around the ballroom floor. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 12pm (Swing)/ 1pm (Jive)
SINGALONG CAROLS: The Royal Albert Hall has two carol concerts today. Sing along with the Royal Choral Society and National Youth Choir of Great Britain to a mix of traditional carols and modern favourites. Various prices, book in advance, 12pm/4.30pm
GRIMMS TALES: Philip Pullman’s Grimm’s Tales is a foray through nursery favourites like Little Red Riding Hood and some less well-known stories such as Hans My Hedgehog and the Juniper Tree, all brought to life in a family-friendly stage show. Unicorn Theatre (Southwark), £5-£26, book ahead, 1pm today (runs until 6 January)
LIGHT FESTIVALS: There are plenty of light festivals in London at this time of year, with Christmas at London Zoo and Alice in Winterland both open today. Wander through light tunnels, see a Christmas tree made of sledges and watch dancing fountains at London Zoo, or follow a trail through larger than life scenes from Alice in Wonderland, made entirely from lanterns. (Alas, the excellent Christmas at Kew has sold out). Christmas at London Zoo; £19.50 adult/£13.50 child, book ahead, 4.45pm-7.20pm. Alice in Winterland (Southwark Park); £17.50 adult/£11.50 child, book ahead, 3pm-9pm
FLEETWOOD BAC: Fleetwood Mac tribute act Fleetwood Bac — endorsed by Mick Fleetwood himself — play a Christmas Eve gig, performing some of the band’s best-known songs. The Half Moon (Putney), £12, book ahead, 8pm
And if you’re planning ahead for tomorrow, these should help:
Good cause of the day
There are many good causes worthy of support, but one that comes to the fore at this time of year is homelessness. If you’ve got a bit of cash spare, why not donate to a homeless charity to help someone less fortunate this Christmas. Options include sponsoring a room at Centrepoint, providing a hostel welcome package at St Mungo’s, or paying for a meal or a bed at Hackney Winter Night Shelter — just a handful of the many worthy charities and causes out there.