The Coolest Winter Festivals in London

The wellies and Ray-Bans of the summer festival season are well gone. Dark nights, warm coats and fur-lined boots are here to stay, it’s winter, yay!

I’m always happy when it comes around because it brings a different mood to London. A cosy, warm feeling and a fresh air, so long as the slushy snow and rain stays away. I love seeing the shops put the Christmas decorations up too early and watching everyone moan about it, I love seeing the shoddy Christmas lights on Oxford Street and the new fashions in the windows begging me to buy them.

The winter festivals in London help to make it the coolest place to be when thoughts turn to mulled wine and chestnuts, so let’s take a look at what’s coming up from October to December in the Big Smoke…

October festivals

Frieze Art Fair, 17-20 October

Winter Festivals in London

You’ll find this art festival in Regent’s Park. Some exhibits will charge (from £34.40) and you’ll need to book now, while others will just let you potter about for free. Great little festival that I went to a few years ago and enjoyed, but as we all know, I’m just not that into art.

London Oktoberfest, until 26 October

Who needs to go all that way to Germany when you can just pop to the Bavarian Beerhouse in Old Street or Tower Hill? Tickets are £14.50 and you’ll get a free stein, or go free on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Now in its 10th year you can also enjoy German food such as sausages and pork shanks and the barmaids bring the drinks directly to you.

The Bloomsbury Festival, 15-20 October 

The Bloomsbury Festival is a free creative explosion of performance, art, music and storytelling right in the centre of London.

Halloween, 31 October

There are loads of events in London to celebrate the Halloween festival. From witching hour at the London Eye to the Torture Garden fetish weekend at the Coronet Theatre. Madame Tussauds always has a good event on if you have the money or inclination.

November festivals

Real Street Food Festival, 1-3 November 

Winter festivals

This winter festival takes over the Southbank in the heart of London’s cultural hub to bring you a line-up of over 30 passionate and well-sourced street food traders, with live music, a craft beer bar, a wine bar and a cocktail bar to keep things lubricated. Go forth and eat.

Diwali on the Square, 3 November

Diwali on the Square in Trafalgar Square is celebrated by people of all nationalities, races and religions. It’s a free tribute to the festival of lights in India and attempts to creates a magical world of joy and festivity.

Lord Mayor’s Show and Fireworks, 9 November

This spectacular three-mile-long procession winds its way from Mansion House through the historic streets of the Square Mile to the Royal Courts of Justice – and it has nothing to do with Boris. He’s the mayor of London, and this parade, a tradition dating back to 1215, welcomes into office the new Lord Mayor of the City of London – this year, it’s the turn of the 686th incumbent. Around half a million spectators will watch the procession, which will begin at 11am with an

London Jazz Festival, 15-24 November 

It’s the London Jazz Festival’s 21st birthday this year and they’re celebrating with a 10-day long festival that will take over many of the venues over London. Definitely one worth checking out.

Winter Wonderland, 29 November – 6 January

Hyde Park is transformed into a magical world of rides, stalls and an ice rink at the annual Winter Wonderland Festival. It’s free to get in but can end up costing quite a bit, especially if you’ve got any rugrats in tow. Take your own alcohol in if you want to get round this, although make sure you have a bit of change for a mulled wine, it’s tradition.

Freeze Festival, 27 November to 1 December 

Don’t confuse this snowy offering with the Frieze Art Festival above. This Freeze Festival (note the spelling) is a five-day festival mixing ski and snowboard competition with live music and apres ski. It’s now the UK’s biggest winter sports and music event with 500 tonnes of real snow, a 32-metre high and 100-metre long kicker built for the LG Big Air and Alpine-themed bars and street food vendors.

December Festivals

Spitalfields Winter Festival,  6-17 December

Winter Festivals in London

East London is host to a number of musical events in and around Spitalfields. From opera to big bands to choirs there’s a whole rang of musical fun on offer over the 10 days. You do need to book tickets beforehand though.

Christmas Chocolate Festival, 13-15 December

Now this one will be a great place to pick up some last-minute Christmas presents. You can treat your tastebuds to a delectable array of Christmassy artisan delights and eat yourself sick as you go round.

Christmas, 25 December

All together now…

Click here for a hotel near Southbank, if you want. 

My Favourite Music Venues in London
How to Find the Best Hotels in London

6 Comments

  1. by Stephanie on October 16, 2013  4:04 pm Reply

    Do you have recommendations on New Years Eve festivals or events?

  2. by Vicky on October 24, 2013  7:17 pm Reply

    Hello Stephanie, I will be writing a post about that very shortly. Last year some friends and I had an apartment on the north side of the Thames and could watch the fireworks from the comfort of the roof terrace – it was awesome!

  3. by PurpleTravelKate on October 31, 2013  3:54 pm Reply

    Nyom nyom nyom, give me a food festival any day! :)

    • by Vicky on November 1, 2013  12:55 pm Reply

      Trouble with food festivals is that I get all excited at the first stalls, stuff myself and then can't eat anymore. I guess I just need more practice...

  4. by Zuzana from Hotelchoosing on November 12, 2013  5:56 pm Reply

    I could be there for the Jazz festival, but the winter wonderland seems also amazing...thanks for tips...actually not many bloggers are writing about winter festivals...you can give more tips if you find something interesting :-)

    • by Vicky on November 12, 2013  10:45 pm Reply

      Hello Zuzana, thanks for your comment and it's really good to hear I've inspired you to check out the London festivals. I'm hoping for the jazz festival this weekend, but feeling a bit skint with all my travelling! I'll definitely pop into Winter Wonderland though – bit of a tradition for me...

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