The next few weeks sees a host of Christmas events in London that promise to transform the capital into a winter wonderland. Aside from the glittering light trails and most magical of ice rinks, there are pop-up events, limited-run shows, carol concerts and more, all designed to get you in a thoroughly Christmassy mood. Here’s our edit of the best Christmas events in London to bring festive cheer.
A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic
Until 7 January 2023
Nothing says Christmas quite like this Charles Dickens classic, and the Old Vic’s annual staging of the moving tale has become one of the capital’s must-see shows. Every year a new actor takes on the role of Scrooge, with Owen Teale, who you’ll recognise from roles in Game of Thrones and Line of Duty, stepping into the miser’s shoes for 2022. The joyous production – adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne – fully immerses the audience in the action, with mince pies, music and merriment galore. This year, the Old Vic will also be raising money in aid of food charity City Harvest during the show’s run, with donations taken at the end of every performance.
The Cut, Southwark, London SE1 8NB
Carols at the Royal Albert Hall
17 – 24 December 2022
If you’re looking for a hearty Christmas singalong in one of London’s most spectacular venues, look no further. Over the years, Carols at the Royal Albert Hall has come to be known as one of the most festive tickets in town, and with good reason. Presented by Greg Beardsell, this year the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Choral Society and the British Imperial Military Band will be on hand to perform some of our best-loved carols. Come to sing along with the 5,000-strong audience and experience a taste of pure Christmas magic.
Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP
Christmas at Battersea Power Station
Until early January 2023
As if you needed an excuse to visit one of the most exciting new developments in London but Battersea Power Station is celebrating the festive season in style. This isn’t one event but rather a series of activities guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit. Huge golden Art Deco decorations set the scene in the turbine halls while a larger-than-life bauble installation and a 40ft tree outside provide the perfect festive backdrop – and don’t miss the interactive candy cane trail.
There are riverside pop-up food stalls (fondue, hog roast, waffles, crepes…) and festive workshops, as well as storytelling, carols and live jazz – and the Jo Malone Glide ice rink is incredibly atmospheric with its private igloos and glasshouse bar. On 21 December, the power station’s iconic chimneys will be illuminated green to show support for the NSPCC’s Be here for children campaign during the Christmas season.
Circus Road, Battersea, London SW8 5BN
Nordoff Robbins Carol Service
Tuesday 13 December 2022
This star-studded carol service has long been one of the highlights of the festive season, and this year it’s being headlined by none other than Nile Rodgers and Chic. Nile and the band will be entertaining the audience with some of their greatest hits, before being joined by a series of musicians and celebrities to belt out some carols – previously Rod Stewart, Alfie Boe and Andrew Scott have all taken part, and this year Richie Sambora and Josette Simon OBE have signed up. It’s all for a good cause, with proceeds from the concert going to the UK’s largest musical therapy charity.
St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, London SW3 6NH
Christmas at Dennis Severs’ House
Until 8 January 2023
Hidden down a backstreet in Spitalfields sits Dennis Severs’ House, an ornate real-life time capsule offering a fascinating insight into life in 18th and 19th century London. The Grade II-listed terrace was rescued from dereliction in 1979 by antiques lover Dennis Severs, who set about reconfiguring the house to tell the story of an imaginary Huguenot family, packing each room full of historical detail and drama.
Though Severs passed away in 2000, the house remains open for guided tours with numbers limited to six at a time making it wonderfully atmospheric. At Christmas the house gets a seasonal makeover; expect trees covered in vintage decorations, figgy pudding mix laid out in the kitchen and a lavish feast on the dining table. Sign up for the Silent Night candlelight tour for added magic.
18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6BX
Carols by Candlelight at Union Chapel
18 December 2022
Union Chapel in Islington has many faces: it’s a working church, a popular entertainment venue (everyone from Amy Winehouse to Adele has performed here) and a charity drop-in centre for the homeless and vulnerable in N1. Not to mention its striking Gothic Victorian architecture. On 18 December it is laying on a free, candlelight carol service – arrive early to avoid disappointment for exquisite music from Union Chapel Voices and Quarter and guest musicians. On 14 December, for the first time ever, the Chapel is also hosting Blue Christmas, a free event in recognition of the fact that Christmas isn’t always a joyful time for everyone, with quiet reflection, remembrance and peace.
19b Compton Terrace, Islington, London N1 2UN
Chelsea Christmas Grotto
Until 24 December 2022
Who doesn’t love a grotto? Cadogan have partnered with innovative events organisers Underbelly to create a winter wonderland in Chelsea’s Sloane Square. Follow the fir tree-lined pathway, bedecked with fairy lights, to the traditional grotto – a twinkling magical space that’s scented by Diptyque candles. While children will love meeting Father Christmas and receiving a gift from one of his elves, adults will appreciate the offer of mulled wine or hot chocolate. Afterwards, try your hand at one of the world’s oldest winter sports at the Bavarian curling rink.
Sloane Square, Chelsea, London SW1
Carols with Gareth Malone
11 & 18 December 2022
The Ned, the storied 250-room hotel and members’ club in the heart of The City, welcomes Gareth Malone this Christmas. Taking place on 11 and 18 December, there are various tiers of tickets for this sing-a-along with the country’s most recognisable choirmaster. While you could go for the standing option, why not opt for the Cecconi’s seated ticket which includes a three-course set menu featuring such delights as beef tartare with quail’s egg and black truffle, lobster linguine and panettone bread-and-butter pudding. Or go for the more informal Nickel bar option, where you’ll be feasting on the likes of dirty vegan burgers and mac n cheese – best eaten with a chilled glass of Champagne.
27 Poultry, The City, London EC2R 8AJ
Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol
8 December 2022 - 8 January 2023
Dolly Parton and Charles Dickens may not seem like obvious bedfellows, but this festive season the Queen of Country is taking on the most famous Christmas story of all time and giving it a Tennessee twist. The Southbank Centre’s all-new musical – which has a soundtrack written by Parton herself – is set during the 1930s in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, with Scrooge reimagined as the owner of a mining company town. There’ll be singing, dancing and plenty of Southern charm in this one-off production, offering up a truly novel version of this much-loved festive favourite.
Belvedere Road, Southbank, London SE1 8XX
Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival at the Barbican
8 December 2022 – 1 January 2023
Every year, British classical music impresario Raymond Gubbay presents his hand-picked selection of music for Christmas. This festive season, he’s bringing his magic to the Barbican, with a packed line-up of yuletide treats throughout December. Kicking off with a screening of cult Christmas rom-com The Holiday with a live orchestra on Thursday 8 December, highlights include a night with the world-renowned Choir of King’s College on Wednesday 21 December and Carols by Candlelight performed in period costume on Thursday 22 December.
Silk Street, The City, London EC2Y 8DS