Museums, art galleries, ice skating rinks outside famous landmarks, Winter wonderland festivals, and London shining with millions of beautiful little lights. Grab your scarf and explore a slightly quieter London.
It's not really that cold
Although you will hear the Brits talk A LOT about the weather, particularly if it’s a little on the cold side (see our 20 quirky British winter phrases blog post for more on this) London’s climate is quite mild and can be visited easily at any time of year. Average temperature in London in the winter is between 4 - 9°C, and it’s nothing the winter British fashion can’t handle. Just bring a warm coat or buy one while you’re here.
The city sparkles
Christmas lights adorn London’s streets from November, especially in famous Oxford Street, Regent Street and Covent Garden (our school is in Covent Garden!). London also has spectacular fireworks displays for Bonfire Night (05 November) and New Year celebrations.
Magical winter markets
Winter markets spring up all around the city, with food stalls, music, warm drinks (mulled wine, a warm spiced wine is very popular but there are also delicious hot chocolates and Christmas coffees to try), fairground rides, and craft stalls to buy unique gifts.
Ice skate outside famous locations (like you’re in a movie)
Ice skating beside famous landmarks is a feature of winter in London and only available in the colder months. Ice skate next to Somerset House, the Natural History Museum, Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Hyde Park, and Canary Wharf.
So much culture: museums, art galleries and theatres
There are 230 professional theatres in London, over 200 museums and 1,500 art galleries – so many indoor cultural places to visit. Most National museums and art galleries in the UK are free, and only ask for an optional donation.
Within a short walk of IH London, you’ll find famous West End theatres, the Royal Opera House (home to the Royal Ballet, as well as the Royal Opera), the British Museum (voted one of the top ten museums in the world by National Geographic) and The National Gallery (the story of European art, masterpiece by masterpiece).
The traditional Sunday roast
There are so many cosy retreats in the capital, with an absolutely huge selection of cafés, pubs and restaurants. London is a melting pot of people from all over the world, so you can get any cuisine you like, but the traditional winter British food to try is a Sunday roast.
The Sunday Roast is roasted meat (usually beef, lamb, or turkey) or a vegetarian option (usually a dish called a nut roast), served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding (savoury dish made from batter), vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, and brussels sprouts (all usually also roasted!) and gravy. Served in historical pubs with big arm chairs and log fires – you will be very full after one of these!
London attractions without the summer queues
All of London’s famous attractions and experiences are open all year: London Eye, Madame Tussauds, Tower of London, view from The Shard, Kensington Palace, London Dungeons, changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and more – London doesn’t stop for winter! Visit in the quieter winter months for shorter queues, so you can fit more into your trip.
Shopping for gifts (for others and for you)
There are thousands of shops in London, from high-end luxury labels to high street brands – and they all have their flagship stores in London. There are also many boutique independent stores, as well as legendary markets such as Camden Lock Market, Borough Market and Portobello Road Market.
If you are here in January, you can experience the legendary New Year sales on Oxford Street – be prepared for that winter activity to be crowded!
Special London winter events
05 November: Bonfire Night is celebrated across the UK and London as the capital puts on a spectacular display
16 - 25 November: London Jazz Festival is taking place across the city in both big concert halls and small intimate venues.
17 November - 27 January: Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
22 November – 05 January: Christmas at the Royal Botanical Gardens is a mile-long trail through the famous botanic gardens, lit up with more than 1 million lights.
22 November – 06 January: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park features ice skating, fairground rides, Christmas market and shows.
08 December to 06 January: Southbank Centre Wintertime Festival sees the art centre transform into a winter wonderland on the banks of the river Thames.
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