London 2021: What to do between Christmas and the New Year

London 2021: What to do between Christmas and the New Year

The time between Christmas and the New Year is always a bit odd. If we were as Norwegian as the tree in Trafalgar Square, then we would call this period ‘Romjul’. Whatever you call it, when the festivities are over, there’s a strange limbo between Christmas and the New Year. There’s plenty of time off work before having to return to the office. Bellies are full and the Christmas TV specials have been watched. This year, rather than lolling around, why not take a trip to London?

London is fun at any time of year. But it has lots to offer to fill the gap between Christmas and the New Year. With many of the locals fleeing the city to friends and family in more rural settings, you’ll have London all to yourself. Just don’t think the entertainment will leave with them. Whether you are a couple looking to spend some quality time together over the festive period, or a family just itching to get out of the house, London has something for everyone.

Here’s our round-up of the top things to do in London between Christmas and the New Year.

Ice Skating

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Ice skating has the benefit of being a great winter activity without feeling too much like you’re still trying to dine out on festivities. In London, you will be spoilt for choice with rinks to choose from, which all run through December and into January. The top picks include:

Natural History Museum – It has a massive Christmas tree in the middle and is set on the grounds of one of London’s best museums. The rink is being retired, so this is the last year you will be able to skate on it. It’s our top pick as you can double it up with the Museum afterwards to warm up with dinosaurs without all the usual crowds. What could be more festive?

Somerset House – Possibly the most iconic setting, Somerset House is on the Strand in the heart of London. This former Navy Office has also hosted various Royal Academies and Societies over the years. Put simply, it’s one of the most quintessentially beautiful buildings in London and the perfect place to skate as the sun goes down. This year the event is sponsored by Moet and Chandon, so skaters can expect the champagne to be flowing in the after-skate bar.

Skylight Tobacco Dock – A little different from the others, this rink is set on a rooftop that provides fantastic panoramic views of London’s skyline. They also have a bar, their own restaurant, and a selection of outdoor igloos to consume both in. Unlike the rest, there’s no advanced booking with this one, you simply turn up and pay.

Richmond Park Horse Ride

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Forget your beachside donkey rides, these horse rides are a world apart. Inside your own horse-drawn carriage with accompanying footman, you can see the park in all its winter beauty. The 75-minute tour is led by 2 shire horses, where you can watch the local wildlife as you snuggle up with your family to the sound of horse hooves and bells. A magical winter experience that’s sure to be remembered. Tickets can be booked direct and also include a tour of the horse stables and refreshments.

Theatre

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Surprisingly, most theatres are running shows over the Christmas period…and it’s not just pantos. With many of the tourists returning home, and the locals staying home with their families, this time of year can be a great opportunity to snap up a theatrical bargain. So whether you want to watch Wicked  or Mamma Mia, Back to the Future or The Book of Mormon, there’s something for everyone at London’s West End. Tickets are available through multiple online retailers. For anyone willing to chance it with an “on the day bargain”, Tckts London offers last minute tickets for anything left unpurchased. It’s a great way to see a high-quality West End show on a budget.

New Year’s Day Parade

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OK, so this one technically is after the New Year but deserves an honourable mention regardless. If you’ve been partying the night before, then the Parade may come as an unwelcome rude awakening. This 30-year strong tradition features floats and performers making their way through the centre of London. Visitors can expect marching bands, live musicians, dancers, daredevil motorsports and much more. This year (unlike previous years) the event is ticketed. Though if you’ve overdone it the night before, but still need your fix of big brass band noise, then the event is being live-streamed for free.

Shopping

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While the Boxing Day sales mostly seem to happen online nowadays, Oxford Street is still the shopping mecca for high-end bargain hunters. While most shops will closely guard the details of their sales very tightly, if previous years are to go by then you can forget the news footage of a 6am start. Most shops will be well-stocked throughout the late December period and you can still snap up a great discount without the cut-throat nature of having to sharpen your elbows against a fellow shopper. If your interests are more unique, then Carnaby Street is a great option with plenty of lesser-known designers and fashion wear.

Settle in at a cosy pub

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From Oliver Twist to Christmas Carol, there is something uniquely Dickensian about a good London pub. It makes a perfect match for this time of year. Think roaring fire, traditional food, and wood-panelled walls, as you settle in to while away the hours. One of the better central London pubs that fits the bill is ‘Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese’ (145 Fleet St, EC4A 2BU). Rebuilt after The Great Fire of London, the pub is one of the capital’s oldest pubs – and it feels that way (in a good way!). For people wanting something more upmarket, then a short tube ride out to Hampstead will reveal ‘The Spaniards Inn’ (Spaniards Road, Hampstead, NW3 7JJ) which has been serving since 1585.

Although the time between Christmas and the New Year can seem a little flat, don’t let it go to waste. Resist the urge to binge on Netflix and leftover chocolates and take the opportunity to visit the capital instead with a Berry’s coach trip.

As with all activities, do make sure you give enough time for any potential travel delays. Passengers should be back at Hammersmith Bus Station (Stop D) at least 15 minutes prior to the pre-booked departure time. Unfortunately, the coach is not able to wait if you are running late.

London transport costs vary. The London Underground will be a lower-cost alternative to a taxi or Uber. Remember walking is free!

All information was correct at the time of writing. However, please always check venues prior to travel in case of any changes due to COVID-19 or otherwise.