Photo credit: Lucy Young
Author: City of London Corporation
Photo credit: Lucy Young
Author: City of London Corporation
Get ready to unwrap the magic of Christmas in the City of London. The “Christmas in the City” guide covers 30 handpicked festive experiences that will transport visitors to a world of holiday cheer. The birthplace of London will come to life with a kaleidoscope of offerings from magical Christmas markets, delectable festive feasts, rich historical experiences, and entertaining family activities – “Christmas in the City” is the ultimate ticket to the festive season.
Wander through charming market areas full of unique gifts and treasures in Leadenhall Market, St Paul’s Cathedral and Paternoster Square, to find stocking fillers for loved ones under twinkling lights and lush garlands. It’s not just about the shopping, as festive food and drink will be on offer to help visitors warm up, with tasty treats and fragrant mulled wine.
When it comes to dining, the City does it best. From a panoramic yuletide afternoon tea at Searcys at The Gherkin, to indulgent festive dinners at Pan Pacific London, and plenty in between. For something extra special, check out Mercer’s winter igloos on the roof terrace, or the Westin London City’s whimsical candy dreamland.
Families too can find a treasure trove of activities in the City. At London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE, children can create their own Roman Saturnalia-inspired mosaic, a crafty adventure for all ages. Explore the Aldgate in Winter Festival, which includes a vibrant lantern parade. For those who love a singalong and the Christmas classics, be sure to check out all the musical events happening at Barbican Centre.
With carol concerts tucked away in beautiful historic churches, canopies of twinkling lights, and family Christmas tree trails, the City of London has something for everyone to enjoy this festive season.
Christmas Markets and Shopping
1. Visit the Christmas tree at Leadenhall Market: Kickstart your Christmas in the City of London on 16 November at the annual Christmas lights switch-on by the Lord Mayor – complete with pyrotechnic firework fountains and Christmas tree unveiling. Ahead of the 6pm switch on, enjoy carols and seasonal songs from 5.15pm by the London Youth Choir. A twinkling light tunnel, complete with smatterings of snow is new for this year, bringing festive cheer to Beehive Passage. Not only can you shop, eat and drink around the market’s cobbled streets, but local experts will also be offering guided walks to tell tales of Leadenhall Market’s past and present.
2. Luxury gifting at The Royal Exchange: Enjoy a luxury shopping experience in the City this Christmas – discover extra-special gifts and jewellery from a wide range of luxury retailers, and traditional Christmas food and drink gifts at the City branches of Fortnum & Mason and Laduree. New for Christmas 2023 – find mulled wine and seasonal goodies at their pop-up Christmas Market, or dine in style on the mezzanine or the outdoor heated terrace.
3. Enjoy the Festive season at One New Change: Find the perfect gift for your loved ones as you shop beneath twinkling Christmas lights and a modern Christmas tree towering up through the main atrium. This year, there’ll also be a giant walk-through present in which to take selfies. Accessorize, Fraser Hart, Hotel Chocolat, The Body Shop, Nespresso and Molton Brown all have plenty of gift ideas. Oliver Bonas is also opening a larger store and Lone Design Club open of their pop-up store. Celebrate the season with friends and family at fabulous restaurants and bars including Madison and Ivy Asia.
4. The gift of giving at Guildhall: Shop for unique, exclusive, and luxury gifts in Guildhall’s Great Hall, all while supporting the British Red Cross. 27 November 5pm – 9.30pm and 28 November 2023 from 10.30am – 7pm. Tickets are available to buy via the Red Cross website.
5. Stocking fillers from Paternoster Square: Take a stroll around beautifully dressed cabins and explore a Christmas market full of arts, crafts, food, drinks, and shopping with the backdrop of London’s unique heritage, from 27 November – 24 December, 11am to 7pm.
6. Charterhouse Christmas Market: Just outside the City boundary, the Charterhouse Christmas Fair is back from 21 November from 11am – 8pm. There will be over 40 stalls of food, fashion, homewares, decorations and much more! Tickets are available online, from £6.
7. Shopping at St Paul’s Christmas Market: Step into festive magic at the brand-new festive market nestled next to an iconic landmark. Decorated cabins will welcome customers into a picture-perfect postcard, with an array of artisan food stalls, bespoke jewellery and knitwear, and sizzling street-food. The market runs from 27 November – 24 December, 11am to 7pm.
Christmas Carols and Concerts:
8. Advent and Christmas carols at St Paul’s Cathedral: St Paul’s Cathedral welcomes everyone to enjoy an array of free Christmas services and family carols starting from 2 December. Due to popularity, tickets will need to be reserved for the 4pm Carol Services on 23 and 24 December.
9. Handel’s Messiah: The world-famous oratorio will be performed on 6 December with the City of London Sinfonia and The Cathedral Choir and Chorus, at St Paul’s Cathedral. Tickets are on sale now.
10. Fleet Street Carols at St Brides: Come All Ye Faithful to two free carol services on Thursday December 21 (12:00pm and 5:00pm), featuring Onyx Brass quintet and the professional St Bride’s Choir.
11. Carol Services at Saint Bartholomew the Great Church: Experience a phenomenal choice of services including Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, and a Dickensian Carol Service with readings from Dickens, together with carols he would have hear and known. Come for the heavenly voices, and stay for mince pies and mulled wine, from 3 – 25 December.
12. Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival at Barbican Centre: From 16 December to 1 January, immerse yourself in the spirit of Christmas with iconic movie soundtracks from John Williams and Hans Zimmer, Christmas Carol singalongs, a ‘Horrible Histories’ family concert, and much more!
13. Aldgate in Winter Festival: Join the community at Aldgate Square on December 8 for a jam-packed festival programme including lantern parades, live performances, and creative workshops.
14. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” Lecture at Gresham College: Discover the magic of a classic Christmas song on Wednesday December 6, with Professor Dominic Broomfield-McHugh, who will use live and recorded samples to explain what gives this song a prayer-like quality.
15. Festive Bingo at Dabbers Social: Whether you’re in charge of organising the office Christmas party, or just planning a night out with friends, have an unforgettable time at this festive bingo show, including live entertainment, charismatic hosts, and delicious cocktails.
16. Fleet Street Quarter’s Snowman Trail: Explore the magical trail, ‘Walking with The Snowman™’ that pays homage to the animation and the original picture book by the late Raymond Briggs. Discover 12 decorated Snowman sculptures, created in partnership with Wild in Art and Penguin Random House Children’s from 20 November.
17. Crafty fun at London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE: Explore your artistic side and create a Roman Saturnalia-inspired mosaic, celebrating the winter solstice. Drop in from Friday December 22 to Sunday January 7 2024.
18. Immersive inflatable snow globe at Fenchurch Street Station: Capture a gorgeous, insta-worthy picture moment in this giant inflatable Winter Wonderland snow globe, from 5-8 December.
19. Museum Late – The Christmas Special: Deck the halls with the Bank of England Museum, who are hosting a free evening event including shredded banknote baubles, Christmas music, and festive refreshments, from 5:00pm to 8:00pm on Thursday 21 December.
More Christmas Trees & Lights
20. Spot beautifully decorated Christmas Trees across the City from East to West. Discover trees in a wide range of historic and modern locations including: a giant real tree in Leadenhall Market (switch-on event 16 November); the Lord Mayor’s tree outside Mansion House; a tree with Victorian decorations inside Guildhall Art Gallery; stunning trees outside St Mary-le-Bow church (switch-on event 15 November); and St Helen’s Bishopsgate church (switch-on event 30 November); a beautifully lit tree near St Paul’s Cathedral and the City Information Centre; and many more.
21. See the City in a new light – with spectacular installations including: a feel-good, walk-in immersive installation “The Happy House” at Citypoint (part of IlluminoCity Light Festival by Brookfield Properties); see your own face on “Be the Tree” at Aviva Piazza (a collaboration between artist Jasper Toeli and Aviva); and find “MOSAIC” outside Pan Pacific London – a unique installation made of mirrored cubes, designed by Arnaud Lapierre.
22. A very Searcys Christmas at the Gherkin: Elevate your winter season to new heights at The Gherkin with indulgent set Christmas menus, Festive afternoon tea at the Helix Restaurant, and special cocktails in the Iris Bar throughout November and December.
23. Winter igloos at Mercer Roof Terrace: Cozy up with a blanket and take in magical views high above the City. Tuck in to modern English cuisine in a warm winter igloo.
24. Winter Candyland at Westin London City: Explore a whimsical candy dreamland from November 4, with activities for the whole family, such as a life-size gingerbread house and advent calendar, a festive Hansel & Gretel afternoon tea with a breath-taking view of the River Thames, and carol singers on Thursdays throughout December.
25. Radiance & Reflection at Pan Pacific London: Experience the warmth of the festive season with scrumptious meals, inspiring cocktails, and glowing celebrations from November through to January 2024.
26. Jingle Bell Break at Apex Hotels: Discover a series of special offers at Apex including a classic Christmas lunch, Buck’s Fizz at breakfast, complimentary late checkouts, delicious chocolates in-room on arrival, plus a hot chocolate or mulled wine.
27. Festive packages at Lost Property Hotel: Christmas Party Packages, starting from just £89, offer a comprehensive festive experience that leaves no detail untouched. Lost Property are also offering a 3 course festive menu curated by Chef Rumel from just £49 (including a glass of bubbly), or an £89 fully tailored package.
28. Christmas at Eataly: Give the gift of Italy this Christmas with unique culinary gifts and bespoke hampers. You can pre-order Eataly unique culinary gifts and their first-ever selection of panettone – Classic, Orange and Chocolate, Pistachio Cream, and Pandoro – each made with the finest ingredients! Book into their City restaurant for delectable meals and wine tastings with loved ones this season.
29. Rosslyn Coffee’s Mork Hot Choc: Have a taste of Michelin-star chocolate at Rosslyn, who have collaborated with Mork Chocolate on this winter favourite. With 50% cocoa from Peru, and 50% coconut blossom sugar from Indonesia, this exceptional cuppa is a sweet taste of luxury.
30. Seasons eatings at Andaz London Liverpool Street: Until 1 January 2024, enjoy exclusive benefits when booking a stay with the code ‘HYVALUE,’ including £50 dining credit valid across five speciality restaurants, as well as complimentary breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and a mini bar on the house! Find scrumptious festive feasts at Eastway Brasserie and Rake’s inside the hotel.
For more information on everything to do in the City of London this Christmas visit www.thecityofldn.com/christmas.
Christmas in the City is part of the City of London Corporation’s Destination City programme, which sets out a vision for the Square Mile to become a world-leading leisure destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.
City of London Corporation Policy Chairman Chris Hayward said:
“The Christmas season is a special time in the City of London for anyone who visits, lives, or works here. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase the incredible breadth of experiences on offer in the Square Mile – from carols in historic venues to dining in atmospheric restaurants.
“Whether with friends, family or colleagues, what better place to enjoy the festive season than the birthplace of London, a destination bursting at the seams with unrivalled history and heritage.”
Chair of the City Corporation’s Culture, Heritage, and Libraries Committee, Munsur Ali, said:
“This is a wonderful opportunity to experience the City’s spellbinding Christmas atmosphere and sample a host of truly world-class attractions.”
The City Corporation is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £130m every year. The City Corporation manages a range of world-class cultural and heritage institutions, including the Barbican Centre, Tower Bridge, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Guildhall Art Gallery, London Metropolitan Archives, and Keats House. It also supports the London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London.