The Best FREE Things to do in London in Winter

Winter in London

One thing anyone in London knows is that it can be very expensive. There is a lot to see and do in this beautiful city, but it really can add up quickly if you aren’t watching your budget. Luckily, there are always plenty of things you can do for free in London. Below, I’ve rounded up some of the best free things to do in London this winter, to get you in the Christmas spirit!

FREE Things to do in London this Winter

Christmas Markets

Obviously, the first thing to do in any European city during winter is to visit the Christmas markets! Forget Winter Wonderland (which now charges an entry fee), there are plenty of other markets you can visit that are free to enter. Why not check out the Christmas market at SouthBank Centre, or Christmas by the river at London Bridge City? 

Christmas Lights

During the months of November and December, the entire city is lit up with an abundance of festive lights. Wandering around central London gazing at the beautiful lights is one of the best ways to get into the spirit of Christmas without spending a fortune! Some of the most iconic Christmas lights can be found at the following locations:

  • Regent street
  • Oxford street
  • Bond street
  • Carnaby street
  • Seven Dials
  • Kings Road, Chelsea
  • Mayfair and Belgravia
London Winter Christmas Lights
Image Source: TimeOut

Aurora Borealis

This year, you can head to Greenwich to see the stunning remake of the Aurora Borealis. No need to travel to Iceland or Lapland to see the northern lights this year! The immersive installation will light up the skies of Greenwich this winter. Although the event is ticketed, to manage capacity, the tickets are free! Find out more.

Marvel at the Christmas decorated buildings 

One thing I love about London during the festive period, is how ‘all-out’ some of the buildings go with their decorations. Many of the shops, restaurants and even homes near the city go above and beyond with Christmas cheer. If you’re wandering around the city gazing at the lights anyway, why not add a few of these incredible stops onto your route? 

  • Stella McCartney
  • Fortnum and Mason
  • Annabels
  • Cartier
  • The Churchill Arms pub, Kensington
  • The Ivy, Chelsea Garden
Annabels London in Winter
Image Source: TimeOut

Explore Covent Garden and Seven Dials Market

Arguably one of the best places in London to get all of the Christmas feels, is Covent Garden. Not only do they have a huge Christmas tree, Christmas markets and festivities a plenty, but this year, they are ALSO dusting the square with flurries of snow every day throughout the holiday season.

Head to Sky garden to see views of London twinkling below

Not much can beat a view of London from above. For this reason, there are plenty of rooftop bars and restaurants dotted across the city. But one of the best views is from the Sky Garden, located at the top of the radio building. Not only is it free to visit, but you will get glorious views across the Thames, including Tower Bridge and the Shard. 

See London’s tallest LED Christmas at Winterfest in Wembley Park

After being cancelled in 2020 due to COVID, Winterfest at Wembley Park is back! This free pop up includes a lightwalk, scattered with various light and art installations, and of course, the well loved 25ft LED Christmas tree. 

Explore London’s free museums and galleries

Something that both tourists and locals love about London is its free museums and art galleries. So, if you are looking for a day out in the city on a budget, there are loads of different options! Whether you want to visit the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, the Science museum or the Imperial War Museum, there really is something for everyone. If you’ve got a little bit of a budget to spend, 2021 is the last year that you can Ice skate outside of the Natural History Museum – an ultimate Christmas ‘must-do’ in London! Plus it’s arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. 

Natural history Museum in Winter
Image Source: Londonist

Grab a takeaway coffee and go and spot deer in Richmond park

Everyone knows that London is packed full of parks to explore. Whether you like the small commons or the huge Royal parks, there are plenty to keep you outdoors throughout the year. However, if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of central London, then jump on a short train ride out to Richmond, grab a coffee to go, and head to the stunning Richmond Park to try and spot the deer. 

Wander along Regents canal

The walk along Regents canal from the park right along to Hackney is beautiful year round. But in Autumn / Winter, when the leaves have turned shades of orange, red and brown is truly stunning, and one of my favourite walks in London. The walk along the river is peaceful, and you will pass by plenty of things to see and do. Take a quick wander around Regent’s park, stop off in Coal Drops Yard or Camden Market for a bite to eat, admire the house boats moored up in Hackney Wick. 

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market is a popular must do throughout the year. Located in Bethnal Green, East London, you can catch the tube to Old Street, or the overground to Bethnal Green, Hoxton, or Shoreditch High Street, where it is a short walk away. The popular London market only opens on Sundays, where stalls of colourful flowers and plants takeover and line the streets. If you want something a little more festive, they have ‘Christmas Wednesdays’ running throughout December, where they have carols and a brass quintet. 

Do you know any other great free things to do in London this winter? Share them below!

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