Twelve Days of a London Christmas

Check out what's happening in London this Christmas

If youíre already yawning at the thought of spending the Christmas and New Year break watching repeats of Only Fools and Horses while overdosing on mince pies, then check out whatís happening in London. There are loads of enjoyable and interesting activities to keep you entertained throughout the holidays.

On the first day of Christmas...

Christmas Day provides a unique opportunity to enjoy London without traffic and crowds. Why not take an early morning stroll in Hyde Park? The Peter Pan Cup swimming race in the Serpentine,, starts at 9 am. Although you canít enter on the day (you have to be a member and have taken part in the winter series), itís much more fun to watch others plunging into the icy water!

For the true spirit of Christmas, attend a service at one of Londonís most famous places of worship. There are two special Christmas Day services (11 am and 3.15 pm) at the beautiful St Paulís Cathedral. Westminster Abbey also provides a stunning setting for its Christmas Services (10.30 am and 3.00 pm). Anyone is welcome to join these celebrations which include seasonal music, readings and traditional carols.

If touring a strangely peaceful London takes your fancy, and are offering Thames cruises from Westminster Pier. See Londonís landmarks from the river while enjoying a slap up Christmas lunch. There are also panoramic bus tours with pub stops for a traditional meal. Definitely not one for the fainthearted, a Jack the Ripper tour through the dark streets will fill you with Christmas chill.

On the second day of Christmas...

The average person consumes thousands of extra calories on Christmas Day so Boxing Day is a good time to do some gentle exercise - that doesnít mean watching all that sport on TV!

How about a guided walk, with a Christmas nature theme, through the beautiful Richmond Park? The walk starts at 10 am and lasts for approximately two hours, see for details. If youíre too full and hungover on Boxing Day, try the ĎSurprise in the Winter Wonderlandí guided walk at 10.30 am on 27th December in Greenwich Park.

On the third day of Christmas...

Youíve spent hard earned cash on pressies for the family and have thanked them through gritted teeth for gifts already earmarked for the charity shop/ Ebay/ friend youíre not seeing until after Christmas. Now itís time to treat yourself; the Christmas Sales are the biggest of the year and London is one of the best shopping cities in the world.

Oxford Street, Europeís largest high street, is an obvious choice. You have to fight the crowds but it has a fantastic range of shops. Home to the brilliant Selfridges, the flagship John Lewis store, and the huge and irresistible Top Shop, it also houses all the major department stores and hundreds of smaller chains and boutiques. The gorgeous Liberty in Regent Street and Fenwicks, in Bond Street are just round the corner. Children will love a trip to Hamleys, also in Regent Street.

Other shopping areas not to be missed are Covent Garden, Kings Road, High Street Kensington, Knightsbridge, Camden Market and Portobello Road. If you canít face the crowds, Canary Wharf provides a more relaxing shopping experience and as itís under cover youíll keep warm and dry.
On the fourth day of Christmas

The Wizard of Oz is a Christmas favourite and a beautiful digitally restored version of the lavish 1939 production is now screening at the National Film Theatre on the South Bank. Enjoy Judy Garland and all your favourite characters on the big screen until the 28th of December.

On the fifth day of Christmas...

If you want to do something rewarding over the festive break, why not volunteer for Crisis Open Christmas who run Centres across London for homeless people and people living in hostels? The Centres are open from the 23rd to the 30th of December and provide warmth, food and companionship to thousands of Londoners. 5,500 volunteers staff the event and itís not too late to help out this year, you can download an application form from

On the sixth day of Christmas...

If you yearn for ghosts of Christmas past, at Hampton Court Palace between 27th December and 1st January, you can watch chefs preparing a feast fit for Henry VIII and even taste 15th century recipes. With ghost tours, performances of A Christmas Carol and the famous maze, Hampton Court makes for a great day out. The Tower of London is holding a live Medieval Christmas event on the same dates. King Edward I and his court jesters and musicians will keep you entertained!

Both Hampton Court and the Tower have ice rinks this Christmas so you can skate in a truly regal setting. See for details on events.

On the seventh day of Christmas...

New Yearís Eve - the party of the year! According to the Mayor of Londonís website there are over 6,000 cafes and restaurants and 5,000 pubs and bars in the capital so youíre spoilt for choice. For details of hundreds of great venues check out All In Londonís Clubs and Bars section which includes Special Offers and all the best New Years Eve Parties.

The London Eye and South Bank will provide the setting for a spectacular New Yearís Eve fireworks display on the Thames. Around quarter of a million people are expected to flock to the Embankment to welcome in 2007.

On the eighth day of Christmas...

Half a million people will crawl out of bed for Europeís largest street party, the 21st New Yearís Day Parade. 10,000 musicians, dancers, acrobats and cheerleaders will set off from Parliament Square at noon and make their way through central London to Berkeley Street.

The spectacular American style procession will include participants from 17 London boroughs and 20 countries around the world. The parade is not only fantastic family entertainment, itís also for a good cause; donations will be collected for the Letís Help London Appeal.
On the ninth day of Christmas...

Christmas just wouldnít be Christmas without a pantomime. Previous shows at the Hackney Empire, have received critical acclaim and this yearís magical extravaganza is Cinderella. Other favourite pantomime characters to hit the streets of London include Dick Whittington & his Cat at the Barbican, Sleeping Beauty at the Greenwich Theatre, and Peter Pan at the New Wimbledon Theatre. For a full list of London Pantomimes log on to

Or see All In London's Theatre Section.

On the tenth day of Christmas...

Seasonal outdoor ice rinks can now be found all over the city in a variety of beautiful settings including the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Kew Gardens and Hampstead Heath.

The ice rink at Somerset House on the Strand is located in a beautiful 18th Century courtyard and in the evenings the rink is illuminated by flaming torches. The Natural History Museum boasts a 1000 square metre ice rink and there is also a Christmas Fair in the grounds of one of the most striking buildings in London.

For those who aspire to triple axels rather than skating around on their backsides, lessons are available at most venues! For details of all Londonís rinks log on to

On the eleventh day of Christmas...

If you would rather watch others leaping around, treat yourself to a night at the ballet. Tchaikovskyís Christmas favourites Swan Lake and The Nutcracker are both performed throughout the festive season. Matthew Bourneís fantastic production of Swan Lake is back at Sadlerís Wells, and the enchanting Nutcracker is on at the Royal Opera House.

The acclaimed English National Ballet production of Alice in Wonderland is performed at the Coliseum, and younger children will love the stage version of The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre.

On the twelfth day of Christmas...

So, itís all over for another year but before you hide your unwanted presents at the back of the wardrobe and throw your cards in the bin, remember to do your bit for the environment. Charity shops will be grateful for unwanted Christmas presents and you can help the Woodland Trust reach its target of recycling 90 million Christmas cards by taking them to collection points in WHSmith, Tesco or TKMaxx between the 2nd and 31st of January. Most London boroughs also offer facilities to recycle your Christmas tree.

Happy Christmas and New Year!