This lot are a hardy bunch but tradition is tradition and members of the Serpentine Swimming Club have been plunging themselves into the Serpentine lake's icy waters every Christmas Day since 1864. At temperatures of below four degrees Celsius in winter, the swimmers will want to get a wiggle on so it's lucky that they are all in hot pursuit of the prestigious Peter Pan Cup. The name of the 100-yard race dates back to 1904 when J.M Barrie, the creator of the boy who refused to grow up, presented the first cup. While most of us are still tucked up in bed or delving into our stocking the competitors line up (and pretend not to shiver) for their 9am start, a jolly crowd gathers to witness the spectacle. It's a great way to get some fresh air on Christmas morning and you'll feel like you've earned your post-lunch snooze. Behind you, Hyde Park offers a wonderful wintry landscape and, if you want to continue the Peter Pan theme, why not nip across to see the famous statue in Kensington Gardens. It was so cold and snowy in 2010 that the race had to be cancelled - although some intrepid souls still broke holes in the ice in order to have a quick dip.
Christmas Events and Attractions
This brave (and crazy) bunch love nothing more than an icy dip in the Serpentine.
Serpentine Boating Lake, The Boat House, Serpentine Road, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
Tube: Knightsbridge Station
Dates: 25th December 2013
Get down to Covent Garden to watch 150 Christmas puddings tackle a festive obstacle course.
Covent Garden Piazza, Covent Garden, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
Dates: Saturday 6th December 2014
You're familiar with the egg and spoon race. Well how about the Christmas Pudding Race? Covent Garden Piazza swells with spectators as about 150 contestants in teams of six don fancy dress and race around a course strewn with flour-filled balloons, foam jets and other obstacles - all while trying to balance a Christmas pudding on a flimsy plate! The race has been going on every year since 1980 and it raises money for Cancer Research. At this time of year Covent Garden is a great place to be, with shops full of Christmas decorations and street entertainers putting on some diverting shows before and after the main event. The perfect way to break up a day of Christmas shopping in Covent Garden's collection of stylish stores.
A mile-long illuminated trail transforms Kew into an enchanted winter wonderland.
Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AB
Tube: Kew Gardens Station
Dates: 28th November - 04th January 2014
This Christmas, for the very first time, Kew Gardens opens its doors after dark entrancing visitors a mile-long illuminated trail through an enchanted winter landscape. On your way you will encounter light, sound, performance and interactive installations for all ages to 'play' in the garden. In addition, the whole of the beautiful botanic gardens are transformed into a Christmas wonderland with the Christmas village offering family entertainment in the form of festive nibbles, Christmas shopping, nightly live Christmas carols, a Victorian carousel and fairground rides as well as Santa's woodland grotto. On illuminated trail evenings there's a Boutique Christmas market, from 4.30pm until 10pm, selling an assortment of gifts and tempting food treats.
Take a candle-lit trip back to the 18th Century at Dennis Severs' historic home.
Dennis Severs' House, 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6BX
Tube: Liverpool Street Station
Dates: 01st December - 03rd January 2014
The atmospheric Silent Night candle-lit tours of Dennis Severs' House are particularly fun at this time of year. The house was created by Dennis Severs to give an insight into family life in the 18th century and he lived here up until 1999 much as they would have done, without electricity. Through a series of special 'Silent Night' Christmas openings you can experience this spectacularly original 'living theatre' in London's East End by torch or candle light. You'll follow a guide through the house, in silence, seeing signs of their presence - the smell of baking, a half-eaten apple, or similar - but never actually quite catching them. It'll make you want to drink mulled wine and sit by an open fire wrapped in a shawl. There is now an option to enjoy an exclusive visit to the house, for those that want to delve a little deeper into the past. An unusual but entirely appropriate outing for Christmas. Booking essential for evening tours.
This award-winning theatrical sensation will leave you knee deep in snow.
Southbank Centre: Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX
Dates: 17th December - 07th January 2014
The multi-award winning sensation, Slava's Snowshow has delighted audiences in over 80 cities around the world including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Hong Kong and Moscow. And now this visual masterpiece returns to London after a popular run this time last year for another 3-week season at the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre this Christmas. Loved by children and adults alike, Slava's Snowshow is a combination of theatrical clowning and stunning spectacle performed by the internationally renowned company of clowns lead by Slava Polunin. Experience a unique dream-like world which culminates in a breathtaking blizzard leaving you (literally) knee deep in snow! The Independent was moved to describe it as "simply thrilling - an unmissable comedy masterpiece." Recommended for ages 8 and above, this is definitely one not to miss.
Hundreds of mad Santas run wild on the streets of London.
Secret Location, , Westminster, London, XX1 0LL
Dates: Saturday 6th December 2014
Santacon, previously known as Santathon, is a bizarrely brilliant custom involving a gang of Santas running around town, singing customised carols, giving out gifts, and encouraging strangers to sit on their laps. What exactly is the point of all this?...we hear you ask. Well, these guys just want to celebrate Christmas and spread a whole lot of festive cheer. The rules for participating Santas are threefold a) be jolly b) wear a Santa suit, and c) don't get arrested. The meeting point and route is top secret and won't be announced until the day before, so keep an eye on the website for a full guide on how and where to get Santa-fied.
Prove you have Christmas spirit with this festive hunt.
Various Venues London, , London, W1J 9LN
Tube: North Greenwich Station
Dates: 05th December - 05th January 2014
Test your Christmas spirit this festive period with the HiddenCity Scrooge's Cryptic Christmas Trail. Fearing that London has lost its Christmas spirit, Ebenezer Scrooge has risen from his grave to reward those who still keep it alive. Based around the concept of a treasure hunt, HiddenCity offers a unique way to explore London. With a trail of curious clues sent via text message, teams are guided from famous institutions to hidden pubs and bars. For this special festive edition, participants who prove they have Christmas spirit within will be rewarded with festive treats along the way. However, if you fail, expect retribution.
23rd September 2014
IN THIS ARTICLE
Peter Pan Cup Swimming Race
Great Christmas Pudding Race
Christmas at Kew Gardens
Silent Night tours at Dennis Severs' House
HiddenCity - Scrooge's Cryptic Christmas Trail
Christmas in London
Christmas Lights in London
London Ice Skating
London Christmas Markets and Fairs
Christmas Shopping in London
London Christmas Carols
Christmas Grottos in London
Christmas Trees in London
London Christmas Shows, Pantos & Attractions
Christmas and Boxing Day in London
New Year's Eve in London
Christmas Restaurant Booking in London
Christmas Hotels in London
- Christmas Lights in London
From cheap budget places to stay to luxury 5 star hotels see our deals for hotels, including Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street from 61% off.