A guide to Christmas London 2023: fairs and concerts

16.11.2023Daria Kizenkova

We continue our seasonal guide to the top attractions in the British capital in the run-up to Christmas. Last week we shared a list of the top ice rinks in London this year - today we're telling you about New Year's Eve fairs, as well as the brightest and most festive theater (and more!) productions in the city.

Fairs Christmas markets

Charming fairgrounds pop up brightly throughout the city, heralding the end of the old year. One of the biggest Christmas markets traditionally runs from the end of November until New Year’s Eve on the promenade by the Southbank Centre. Another incredibly cozy fair works in the Contemporary Garden – there you can find treats and warming drinks for all tastes. Finally, Leidenhall Market can be found in the City – the Victorian interiors of the market stalls are usually a little less crowded than the central fairs at weekends.

More information about Christmas fairs can be found here.

Winter Light Market and light show at Southbank Centre

Traditionally, one of Europe’s largest cultural spaces becomes a destination for thousands of Londoners who want to see the Christmas installations near the Thames. This year Southbank Centre presents a major exhibition of light works by leading contemporary artists from around the world. Most of the works are not just light elements, but are created using the latest innovative technologies. Sculptures that glow brightly in the dark thanks to fluorescent energy-saving lights, more than 1,300 digital compositions displayed for viewing at Royal Festival Hall – and this is just the “tip of the iceberg” that Southbank Centre has prepared.

Where: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Waterloo, SE1 8XX

When: until January 7
More information about Winter Light can be found on the website.

Christmas at Kew gardens

In winter, dozens of blooming greenhouses in west London transform into one of the biggest spaces to celebrate Christmas. Traditionally, visitors will be treated to a fascinating 2.5 kilometer-long route with intricate mazes and tunnels, colorful light decorations, iconic New Year’s songs and favorite treats – all of which can be found at Kew Gardens, which is why tickets are selling out so quickly.

Where: Royal Botanic Gardens, London, TW9 3AB
When: until January 7
You can buy tickets for Christmas at Kew here.

Leicester Square Christmas Fair

Perhaps the main New Year’s Eve fair of the season is back in the familiar Leicester Square. Let’s be brief: here you’ll find all the classic treats without which it’s hard to imagine New Year’s Eve in Britain. And just in case you’re looking for entertainment, the legendary cabaret show La Clique returns to the square!

Where: Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7LU

When: December 1 to January 2
You can read more about the fair here.

New Year fair from Novikov Restaurant&Bar

At the end of November, Arkady Novikov’s restaurant in London traditionally organizes a three-day Christmas market. By the way, in addition to all sorts of goods for decorating the house for the New Year and creating a festive atmosphere, music DJ-sets, workshops and an extensive menu of dishes, this year’s Mayfair Christmas Market promises even a real reindeer.

Where: Mayfair Place, W1, London
When: Nov. 23-25
You can read more about the fair on the official website.


New Year’s Eve at the Royal Albert Hall

London’s premier music venue is celebrating 150 years of Christmas programming this year. As always, in December you can look forward to already classic concerts with leading musical ensembles: “Home Alone” performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Christmas hymn from F. Handel’s Messiah, festive jazz and much more.

Where: Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP
When: Dec. 2-27
You can purchase tickets for the Royal Albert Hall here.

“Hansel and Greta” at the Royal Opera House and Globe Theater.

On New Year’s Eve, almost all London theaters, without exception, add to their repertoire of productions “with the spirit of Christmas” – and the Royal Opera House is no exception. This year on the main stage of the theater will present the opera “Hansel and Greta” based on the beloved German fairy tale, which has become a cult far beyond the borders of Germany. For the production is responsible for the famous British theater director Anthony MacDonald, who made a New Year’s fairy tale with the participation of the San Francisco Opera, so there is no need to worry about the result.

Another iconic theater where you can see Hansel and Greta this year is the famous Shakespeare’s Globe. If you prefer opera to a classic theater production, buy tickets to the premiere performance at the Globe of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

Where: Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London, WC2E 9DD; Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT
When: November 16 to December 7
You can buy tickets for the opera Hansel and Greta here and here.

The Nutcracker ballet from London’s leading theater companies

Typically, in the run-up to Christmas, several London theaters close out the year with the ballet that everyone associates with the holiday atmosphere – TheNutcracker. This year’s production will be performed by the two main dance companies of the British capital – the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House and the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum. It’s even hard to choose between the two productions, as both companies and the work of the directors are world-class.

Where: Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London, WC2E 9DD; London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES
When: December 6 to January 13 (Royal Opera House), December 14 to January 7 (London Coliseum)
You can buy tickets for the ballet here and here.

The Christmas concert at St. John’s is the first of its kind in the United States. Paul’s Cathedral

Each year, St. Paul’s Cathedral hosts free benefit concerts in the run-up to the New Year, featuring Christmas songs performed by top performers. In St. John’s. Paul’s Cathedral offers both traditional church services (such as Handel’s Messiah) and the favorite “carols” without which no Christmas is complete. Two of the most popular concerts are scheduled for December 14 and December 23-24: we recommend that you get to them very early – as they are in great demand among visitors to the capital and Londoners alike.

Where: St Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD
When: December 2 to 24
More information about Christmas concerts can be found here

“Love Actually” on the big screen at Eventim Apollo.

The light romantic comedy from 2003, consisting of short stories about the inhabitants of London before Christmas, became a cult favorite and fell in love with more than one generation. Only once a year will the movie be reviewed with the participation of a symphony orchestra, which will perform musical compositions from “Real Love”, so the spirit of Christmas can not only be caught on the big screen, but also heard – literally.

Where: Eventim Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline Street, London, England W6 9QH
When: Dec. 9
You can buy tickets to Eventim Apollo to see the movie at the website.

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: