Hi there Readers?
Wondering what to do in London in winter? Today we’ll share 6 awesome things to do in and around London in December, January and February, and a great place to stay right in town!
1) Ice Skating
You know it’s almost Christmas in London when ice-skating rinks start popping up. Every winter there are new openings all through the city, and spending an afternoon skating at an ice rink is something you simply cannot miss when visiting London in winter.
You can take your pick between rinks located near London’s most famous landmarks, in parks or in the ‘Winter Villages’ like Winterville or Winter Wonderland. Our favourite London ice rinks are the Somerset House, National History Museum and Tower of London ones – prices usually range between £10 and £15, and rinks normally remain open from late November until early January. If you’re afraid of catching a cold, why not head to the ice rink in Canary Wharf, the only covered rink in the city, open until late February.
2) Winter at Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens is another wonderful place to visit at Christmas time. You may be thinking why, since plants don’t usually show their best in winter – but the clever folks at Kew Gardens decided to make up for the lack of flowers with some truly spectacular lighting displays.
Think tunnels with a million twinkling fairy lights, light displays over the greenhouses, and light and sound installations over the trees and lakes, turning the garden into a true winter wonderland. In 2017 there was also a Christmas tree decorated with wooden sledges, and in 2018 there were huge dandelions covered in fairy lights – I wonder what Christmas 2019 will bring?
London in January/February
3) Lumiere Festival
If you’re visiting London around the end of January, you’re in for a treat! The last two years, there’s been a brand-new winter festival – Lumiere London, a series of light installations by contemporary artists all over the city.
This year, the festival took place in six locations – King’s Cross, where there was a stunning water-themed installation by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, nearby Fitzrovia, the West End, Mayfair,
Westminster and Waterloo. The displays are visible from about 5.30 pm until late night – don’t miss them, if you happen to be visiting at the right time! Try to time your January visit to London to catch this!
4) Chinese New Year
The dates of Chinese New Year celebrations vary between late January and early/mid February, depending on the year. If you find yourself in London around the same time, don’t miss visiting – London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest outside Asia!
The heart of celebrations is Chinatown near Soho, especially Gerrard Street, the main drag. On New Year’s Day there’s usually a huge street parade with drum performances, lion and dragon dances, and lots of street food stalls. If you miss New Year’s Day, fear not – 15 days later the Lantern Festival takes place, and at night the streets are illuminated by hundreds of red lanterns.
You have to go if you’re in London between January and February – in 2019, Chinese New Year will fall on February 5th, and in 2020 it will be on Jan 25th.
5) Visit a Pop-Up Winter Bar, Café or Restaurant
Londoners have a real knack for making the most of winter, with pop-up bars and restaurants opening up all over the city, from the riverbank to the rooftops. Every winter there are new places to choose from, so this list will never be an exhaustive one – here are some of our favourite locations from winter 2017/18, who knows, maybe they’ll be around next year as well?
- Coppa – bubble-shaped ‘igloos’ on the riverbank with views over Tower Bridge, perfect for afternoon tea (and for the wow effect, of course)
- Hot Gin Roof at Ham Yard Hotel – hot gin on a Piccadilly rooftop. Need I say more?
- Queen of Hoxton – every winter there’s a new pop up on this Shoreditch rooftop. 2018/2019’s theme was Bohemian Winter!
- The Candlelight Club – this 1920’s speakeasy-themed supper club hosts candlelit events all over London year round… but the idea of a candlelit dinner is just so wintery, isn’t it?
6) Visit a Rooftop Garden
Yes, I can hear you – walking in the cold is not fun. I accept that. So, if you find yourself in London in winter looking for nature in December, January or February but don’t want to deal with freezing temperatures, I have the perfect solution for you – the Sky Garden!
Sky Garden is a rooftop garden located on the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, the city skyscraper also known as the Walkie Talkie. Access to the gardens is free with prior reservation, and you’ll get to enjoy amazing London views as an added bonus!
Try to book at least a week in advance if you want to be sure to visit Sky Garden – if you can’t find an available slot you can always opt for plan B, and book a table at one of Sky Garden’s restaurants and bars!