While it might feel like autumn has only just arrived, if you want to secure a spot at some of London’s most popular festive attractions for families, it’s time to start planning. They sell out fast.
From snowy visits to meet Father Christmas to magical theatre, immersive shows and spectacular light displays, these are the hottest tickets to snap up now for a December full of festive fun.
SEE The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House
Introduce your children to something cultural this Christmas with tickets for the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Youngsters will love joining prima ballerina Clara and her enchanted Nutcracker on their magical adventure to fight the Mouse King and visit the Sugar Plum Fairy, set to Tchaikovsky’s instantly recognisable score. Plus they can also enjoy feeling terribly grown up and special as they visit this world famous music venue. There are family performances during December suitable for very little ones, and children aged five and over are welcome to attend all of the others if they are accompanied by an adult.
TRY Ice Skating at Somerset House
Ice skating at Somerset House has become a much loved Christmas tradition in the capital. A lovely family day out on a chilly winter day; wrap up, pop your skates on and enjoy the picturesque rink at your own pace. While the night time sessions might be a bit busy for tiny skaters, daytime sessions are ideal. Children are very welcome, but those aged 12 years or under must be accompanied by an adult on the ice and parents must judge whether their children can skate safely. Youngsters aged 6-10 can also take part in special sessions on the rink using skate stabilisers that will give them more confidence as they take their first glide in a safe, friendly environment, with support from the team of experienced ice marshals. There are food and drink stands at the rink and a wonderful festive atmosphere.
VISIT The Anya Hindmarch Grotto
For the most stylish Santa in town head to the Anya Hindmarch Village in Chelsea. This ever-evolving little collection of stores on Pont street was first created by the designer in 2021, and now hosts its very own Grotto. Join the fashionable team for a wonderful expedition with Father Christmas as he guides little visitors through a wonderland of candy cane forests and crunchy snow which ends with a festive story by the fire. The whole experience lasts roughly 30 mins and there is a gift for each child too. Afterwards, pop to the Anya Café for a mince pie – and parents may want to visit one of Anya’s fabulous shops too. After all, it shouldn’t just be kids who get treats at Christmas.
EXPERIENCE Lapland UK
A visit to snowy Lapland is the stuff of dreams for children. It’s such a joy to meet Father Christmas in person and tell him what’s on your wish list, but you don’t have to jet off to arctic climes to get the chance; simply book Lapland UK for a truly magical experience. The annual event is an immersive four-hour theatre experience set in a Hollywood-style filmset at Ascot’s Windsor Great Park. Think faux snow and chocolate box log cabins galore. One of the most popular festive days out, it depicts Santa’s picture-perfect world in which elves and fairies guide you through a winter wonderland to meet Mrs Claus, huskies, reindeer and then of course, the man in red himself. There is ice skating, sweet shops, a lovely restaurant and a special post office that makes deliveries to the North Pole. This is Christmas heaven for families, and all ages will love getting into the spirit with activities like cookie decorating and toy making with the elves.
SEE The Snowman
There could not be a nicer children’s Christmas story than that of the Snowman: Rayond Briggs’ charming tale of the snowy figure who comes to life and takes the little boy who created him on a fabulous flying adventure to the North Pole to dance with Jack Frost and Father Christmas. The stage adaptation of this festive classic is a must-see. Featuring all the characters and the famous soundtrack, little ones will be enthralled by the dancing snowmen in this wonderfully, fun and bright production that is perfectly suited for very young audiences. Now in its 26th year, the show is a firm favourite in the Westend and is sure to leave all who see it ‘walking in the air’.
VISIT Christmas at Kew
Wrap up warm and visit Kew Gardens after dark for a spectacular festive light display. Now in its 10th year, Christmas at Kew is a family-favourite as many of Kew’s 12,000 trees and other botanical treasures are lit up by thousands of twinkling lights. Visitors can wander through sparkling canopies of unique light installations spread all over the 300 acre site in West London. Returning favourites include Kew’s famous Christmas Cathedral: over 300 candles will line the path to Temperate House, the oldest Victorian glasshouse in the world, as flame bulbs create the illusion that this cathedral of glass is glowing from within. Children of all ages are welcome and it’s easy to push a buggy on the paths. Along the route you’ll find plenty of stalls selling delicious food and drink, plus, Kew’s retail outlets are open all evening at Victoria Plaza so you can pick up some treats and presents too.
Brand new for this festive season, Wishmas is an immersive experience for all the family, with actors and storytelling taking you on a special Christmas journey right in the heart of London. Board a special train at the Old Bauble Factory in Waterloo, and travel through a portal to the enchanted World of Wishmas. Explore magical rooms and play your part to make sure no wish is ever forgotten. Discover where your wishes go and why robins are so important to Christmas. You can also meet Father Christmas there too. From the creative team behind Secret Cinema, Wishmas is set to be incredibly popular and is perfect for kids of all ages. At the end of the walk-through experience, there will be a Christmas market with shops and stalls selling tasty treats.
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