Tis the season

Two students walk across a bridge on campus at Royal Holloway

Join the festivities this December

In the UK, the Christmas season is the time towards the end of the year when we celebrate Christmas and the New Year. Many other cultures also celebrate during this festive season, including Chanukah and Yuletide. Here are just a few of the ways you can experience the festive celebrations this season.

Head to a Christmas market

The history of the Christmas market originates in Germany, where small markets would pop-up in the weeks before Christmas. Often selling traditional Christmas gifts including nutcrackers and handmade toys, these annual markets are a great place to experience the Christmas atmosphere. With music, lots of stalls and a choice of world foods for sale, you are bound to find unique, one-of-a-kind gifts.

  • Christmas Market at Tate Modern - Opposite Tate Modern a lively Christmas Market emerges for its third year. The traditional market is free to guests and features traditional music, unique gifts and culinary specialities from local creators. The market will be open until 23 December.
  • Southbank Centre Winter Festival - Sparkling entertainment lines the Thames riverbank in London for this annual event. Featuring live performances, a vintage New Year’s Eve party, lots of food and a winter market, there is lots to see and do. Stroll Southbank, grab some food and spot the Gonks! Free to enter with some ticketed events, open to 25 January.
  • Christmas in Leicester Square - A traditional Christmas market and grotto take over at Christmas in Leicester Square. Explore the shops and catch a live programme while snacking on warm food and drink. Entry is free with some ticketed events. The Christmas market will be open until 8 January 2017.

See the lights

Displays of lights line buildings and streets to celebrate the holiday season. Your favourite local shops might even have lights and special displays in the shop windows. London is a great place to experience the festive lights, with large displays in many of the popular shopping areas.

  • Covent Garden - The cobbled markets of Covent Garden twinkle in thousands of lights and mistletoe chandeliers lining the streets and buildings. Be sure to take in all the sights including a Christmas tree, a Lego Santa Express train made with over 700.000 LEGO and magnificent silver reindeer.
  • Christmas Tree at Trafalgar Square - The magnificent, giant Norwegian spruce in Trafalgar Square has been an annual gift to London from the people of Norway since 1947. The 22-metre tree is illuminated with over 770 lights.
  • Menorah at Trafalgar Square - On 24 December, the tree comes down and the giant menorah goes up. On display for Chanukah, the eight day Jewish festival of lights, the menorah will be on display until 1 January 2017.

Enjoy ice skating

Ice skating is a favourite winter past time in the UK. Join the festivities at one of the many ice skating rinks popping up around the city.

  • Ice Skating at Windsor - All levels of skaters are welcome at the annual ice rink in Alexandra Gardens featuring a festive food court and covered ice rink for skating in all weather. Book tickets in advance for the best experience. Open until 2 January 2017.
  • Natural History Museum Ice Rink - For an ice skating adventure in a forest of twinkling lights head to the Natural History Museum to experience their annual rink. Book in advance to secure your spot. Open until 8 January 2017.

The holidays are about spending quality time with the people you care about, so grab some friends and check out the many festive celebrations happening across the city.