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Things to do in London on Christmas Day and Boxing Day

There are many sites closed on those two holidays. Any suggestions of places to go those days with my family. We will be in London for the holidays for a week.
Thank you.

Posted by
7186 posts

Good time to cook at home with the family on xmas day for sure and go to movies and church they never close

Posted by
503 posts

Spent Christmas and Boxing Day in London several years ago. We rented an Airbnb so we could do our own meals on Christmas which was a big help. Christmas day - we slept in, had a big breakfast and then set off on a walk - Hyde Park and Oxford street. Passed a few cafes that were open so stopped for coffee/hot chocolate and pastries along the way. Did a tour on Boxing day - depending upon your interests, it's not hard to find activities on those days - you just need to plan ahead! London is wonderful at Christmas!!!

Posted by
10053 posts

Be sure to make a reservation for Christmas Eve and Day dinners. It is not too early!

Posted by
21045 posts

Check carefully on availability of any public transportation you plan to use. I believe it is extremely limited--perhaps nonexistent--on both days, and it may halt earlier than usual on December 24 and also on December 31.

Posted by
11236 posts

As Emma stated, everything on Christmas Day will be shut including public transit. Some restaurants will be open but you will need to make reservations. (Surprisingly, near me on Earls Court Road, the KFC was open.)

Boxing Day is a little better but again not everything will be open.

Posted by
6338 posts

As has already been noted there is no public transport on Christmas Day ( no tube or busses) and a limited Sunday schedule for them on Boxing Day.

Christmas Day is about being with family and loved ones. Hopefully you are staying somewhere with a kitchen so you can prepare meals that day. Make it a board game day ( Monopoly, Clue, Cards, Boogle)

If close to Hyde Park, as Emma noted, you could walk over to watch the short Peter Pan cup race at the Lido in the Serpentine. Basically a group of club members diving in, swimming a few hundred yards and getting out. Its all about the tradition as the race has been occurring since the 1800’s. It’s at 9am.

If weather is good it is rather enjoyable to see all the families out and about in the park. You’ll see new coats, new prams, a puppy or two, new soccer balls, new trikes and bikes, etc. If age appropriate there’s the Princess Diana Memorial Playground near Kensington Palace.

Also near where you are staying look for bikes to rent and take them out as a family on Christmas Day.
Streets will be rather quiet so riding will be less frantic. There are routes for bikes in London’s Royal Parks.

In the afternoon you can watch the Queens Christmas Day message on the Telly. Again tradition.

I’ve done Christmas Day dinners in pubs, stayed in and cooked at AirBnB accommodations or gotten soups to from Marks and Spencer’s or Pret a Managers on Christmas Eve day and them heated them up for lunch on Christmas Day.

I’ll be in London for Christmas again this year. I’ll have attended midnight mass but I’ll still get up early and start walking, exploring with my camera. For me it’s always been a day of exploration.

On Boxing Day there will be sales in the stores. A bit of madness.

Posted by
2658 posts

This tour company has tours on Christmas Day and Boxing Day......premium tours.co.uk

Posted by
759 posts

Turn a negative (everything closed) into a wonderful positive. London streets will be quiet. Crowds gone. Go out and explore. Take time to notice the architectural changes over the centuries (and decades). Go visit unusual out door areas such as St Dunstan-in-the-West and Postman’s Park near St Paul’s. The city will be quiet- enjoy listening to the bells of St Paul. If there is ever a day to walk the streets of London, Christmas Day is it.

Posted by
21045 posts

LondonWalks has some walking tours on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The winter schedule isn't on the website yet, but I have a copy of the schedule for last year and see that there were 2 special tours on Christmas Day and 3 on Boxing Day. What I'm not sure of is whether they also operated their regular Tuesday and Wednesday tours on those days.

I've taken at least six of the LondonWalks tours and all were excellent. You don't sign up in advance; you just show up at the designated location and pay the 10 pounds (discount for children). That means you can wait until you see what the weather is like.

Here's the LondonWalks website: http://www.walks.com/. The current schedule can be downloaded from the link at the upper right. The winter schedule will appear on October 31 or November 1. You can go ahead and contact them to ask whether the regular Wednesday walks will be offered on Christmas Day and the regular Thursday walks on Boxing Day.

Posted by
3303 posts

Curious — How do people who work on Christmas Day get to their jobs and back home without public transportation? Not everybody has a car.

Posted by
21045 posts

I don't know, but I have an American friend living in London who doesn't drive, and he was not pleased about the situation! He was trying to get to a long-anticipated holiday party or some such a couple of years ago and discovered fairly late that the Underground and buses would not be running at all.

Europe simply takes holiday time with the family more seriously than we do.

Posted by
3303 posts

Yup. People still rely on public transport to get to work & home even on Christmas Day including doctors/nurses/staff at hospitals, police, fire fighters, hotel staff, etc. They have families too and still have to commute to/from work.

Posted by
11236 posts

Many places either get hotel rooms for necessary workers or arrange for minicabs.

Posted by
27713 posts

we manage quite well actually.

By the way, in the week between Christmas and New Year trains may not be running or running much less frequently, but magic is happening behind the curtain. Thousands of engineers across the network are making big changes and improving the railway so that when the commuters come back on the 2nd of January their journeys will be improved...

Posted by
335 posts

On Boxing Day head to the London Palladium for the pantomime, another British tradition. Basing itself on old stories it’s a mix of comedy, musical and includes lots of audience participation. It’s geared for kids but adults enjoy it too...who doesn’t love booing the villain? Or shouting advice to the hero/heroine, groaning at bad puns, and cheering the always happy ending.

Posted by
4657 posts

Many places either get hotel rooms for necessary workers or arrange for minicabs.

Do they? I can't speak for private companies but I can assure you that the emergency services and NHS staff are not given such assistance.

Every Christmas day that I worked (many) I, and my colleagues, had to make our own way to work. There was no minicab or hotel stays for us and when you get called out during the middle of the night it's your responsibility to get to where you need to be.

Posted by
6338 posts

I think the key word here is responsible.

The first Christmas I spent in London floored me. I didn’t believe a major European city would shut down like it did. Growing up in California where some markets, pharmacies and restaurants stay open 24 hours everyday of the year, experiencing that was an eye opener....and I rather enjoyed it.

It was surreal and serene. I’ve now spent more than a 1/2 dozen Christmases in London enjoying the quiet.

My point about being responsible is that because people are aware the tube and busses will not be operating and if they have jobs that will necessitate getting to work on that day they simply deal with it.

Posted by
3336 posts

We were in London for Christmas this past season and it was wonderful! You just have to plan ahead so you don't get caught trying to do something that is impossible. There is literally NO public transport available from late Christmas Eve until mid-late morning on the 26th. We went out to dinner on Christmas Eve and barely made the last tube train "home" before the whole system shut down. No buses either. The only option is taxis and Ubers and they are charging surge prices. No need to use them though if you simply plan to do as the locals do...
We shopped for Christmas dinner at Borough Market on the 23rd which was so much fun! Such a festive (if not super crowded) atmosphere. Beautiful mulled drinks and gorgeous fresh ingredients. We took it all home on the tube and on Christmas Day had everything we needed for a day in, drinking wine, watching the Queen's Christmas address, cooking, and just enjoying. We took a walk on Hampstead Heath with loads of other people and their dogs, and watched the obligatory Love Actually - silly but still quite appropriate somehow!
On Boxing Day I really wanted to head north of the city to go on a long walk with a friend but couldn't get there because the trains weren't running early enough in the day. When everything finally starts running it's only on a limited schedule.
If you want an experience, the head down to Oxford Street / Regent Street for the Boxing Day sales. I've never seen crowds like that anywhere, ever. Stores packed with people trying to score deals, and there are definitely deals to be had if you're in the mood. People fly in from all over Europe and the middle east for the sales.
Take the time to walk along as many of the major neighborhood shopping streets as you can to look at the overhead lights...really beautiful.
I was lucky to be able to sit at my computer in order to get tickets for the Westminster Abbey Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols - they sell out within about 3 minutes of going live. Absolutely worth it...free but you need tix.

Posted by
6338 posts

Now that you’ve been advised that there will NO Public Transport on Christmas Day, that Boxing Day sales are chaotic and there is the Peter Pan Cup Race in Hyde Park’s Serpentine I have other things to experience during the week of Christmas.

Ice skating at the rink by the Natural History Museum or Somerset House
A panto. See what’s on at the Wilton’s Music Hall.
The Christmas Lights Of Oxford, Regents, Carnaby and Bond Streets
The window dressings at Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty and Fortum and Mason
SouthBank Wintertime Market
The Stalls along the Thames by Tower Bridge
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park ( free and gorgeous at night)
Christmas at Kew Gardens ( u need tickets )
Christmas Carols at Trafalgar Square
Seeing The Christmas Trees Adorning the exterior of the Churchill Pub in Kensington
See if there’s a Santa Run taking place
The Great Christmas Pudding Race ( check date)
Liberty Department Store
Are just a few ideas.

Posted by
39 posts

I'm planning on going to Edgware Road for the delicious middle eastern food. Not very "Christmasy" but certainly a good time!

Posted by
743 posts

And then, there’s the football ⚽️ from Boxing Day thru New Years. While many European clubs have some time off, the English teams are hard at work entertaining their supporters. Hey, Eddie, did you get your West Ham ticket?

Posted by
108 posts

delicious middle eastern food. Not very "Christmasy"

No sure what is more Christmassy than anything Middle Eastern.

Posted by
3303 posts

What is open is Church on Christmas Day. Perhaps go to Westminster Abby or Saint Paul’s Cathedral for the big Christmas service Your family might enjoy all of the decorations and sing along with everybody else those Christmas carols we all learned in school.

Posted by
27713 posts

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