What to Do in London In January
This post lists the many things to do in January in London, updated for 2018, including family-friendly, free and night activities and attractions. January means cold weather, but smaller crowds. Be sure to check out our extensive list of Things to Do in London or our guides for December and February, if you are coming at the start or end of the month.
If you are considering visiting many top attractions, then you should consider a tourist discount card or a bus tour combo ticket. These tickets and bundles could save you some serious money, but it depends on several factors. Read our post to help you understand if a tourist discount pass is for you.
Below are our top 6 things to do in London that only take place in January or are winter seasonal. Of course, there are many things to do in January (warm things) that can be experienced at other times of the year, such as visiting a museum, take in the views of London for free at the Sky Garden or a bit higher (and with a cost) at the Shard, visit London’s 2 most famous cathedrals, St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. Be sure to also read our other sections in this post for more ideas.
London New Year’s Day Parade January 1, 2018, at 12 pm
The annual London New Year’s Day Parade begins at noon near Piccadilly Circus and then continues on toward Trafalgar Square before concluding at Big Ben. With more than 10,000 participants and 500,000 spectators, the LNYDP is one of the greatest New Years celebrations in the world. Expect many road closures so be sure to research the best route to get to the parade ahead of time and read our tips on using an Oyster card. Here’s a short video with parade highlights.
Hogwarts in the Snow November 18, 2017 – Sunday 28th, 2018
Christmas has come to Hogwarts! For the first time ever, the Great Hall will be decorated for the holidays, the Gryffindor common room will be dressed for the season, and snow will cover the Hogwarts castle model. Tickets are very limited so be sure to book ahead. Want to learn even more about Harry Potter? Join us on our Harry Potter Tour of London.
London Art Fair January 17-21, 2018
The London Art Fair showcases an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art at the Business Design Centre. Additionally, the Fair also features next-generation artists and collectives through their spaces Projects and Photo50. Advanced tickets start at £9 per person and can be purchased here. If you can’t make it to the London Art Fair, then be sure to check out one of the many great art museums around the city or join us on our name-your-own-price Street Art Tour.
London A Capella Festival January 24-27, 2018
The annual London A Capella Festival brings together some of the very best names in acapella from around the world. This 3-day festival also showcases a range of talks, interactive pop-ups, and kids activities. You can choose to either buy individual tickets to each event or workshop that you wish to attend or purchase a festival pass which will give you full access to everything that’s on.
Canary Wharf Ice Rink November 4, 2017 – February 10, 2018
The Canary Wharf Ice Rink stretches 80 meters and showcases more than 8,000 LED lights, making for a fun and youthful spin on classic ice skating. For those that prefer to spend their time off the ice, there is a bar that serves seasonal drinks and food. Most other ice rinks close down shortly after New Years, so this one is a great option if you’re visiting after the holidays. Learn more in our post on the best ice places to ice skate in London.
Burns Night January 25th
Commemorating the Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns, Burns Night is celebrated on the anniversary of his birth: 25th January 1759. Many London restaurants will be holding poetry readings, Scottish themed parties, and of course many drinks of whiskey! To get a rundown of where to celebrate TimeOut helpfully has this page.
Here are just a few of the many free things that you can do in London. Check out our comprehensive guide to visiting London on a budget for more money saving tips, as well as our post on free things to do with children. Finally, be sure to consider purchasing a London sightseeing pass to help you save on many of the tourist attractions and tours available in the city.
Take a Tour of the Old City of London
Join us on one of our original name-your-own-price tours of the Old City of London. Learn about St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and many other popular sites and attractions. While it’s possible to visit the City of London on your own, recommend taking a guided tour to really make the most of your time and fully appreciate the history of the area.
Join the Twelfth Night Celebrations
Bringing a somewhat surreal event into the end of the Christmas season, the Twelfth Night celebrations are a totally FREE experience. Holly Man emerging from the River, cakes handed out, toasts made and the crowning of a King and Queen followed by a street procession, dancing, and storytelling! Plan your evening here.
Lumiere London January 18-22, 2018
If you’re feeling down about missing all the holiday lights around the city, then consider checking out Lumiere London in mid-January. This completely free 4-day event is put on by more than 40 different artists who install impressive light installations along the north and south side of the River Thames. Make the most of your time by taking a self-guided tour on the river banks.
Visit a Free Museum
There are several fantastic free museums in London including the National Gallery. Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, and many others. Each of these is great to visit during the month of January as they offer a warm oasis away from the cold. For a comprehensive list, check out our guide to free museums in London.
Window shopping at Harrod’s
Though the products sold in Harrod’s are far from free, simply strolling through this luxury department store won’t cost you a thing. Opened in 1834, Harrod’s is a London institution worth visiting if only to witness its incredible grandeur. If you’re in London during the first few days of the month, then you might even be able to catch a glimpse of the impressive Christmas window displays and lights.
There’s no use in pretending it’s not cold in London in January – it’s actually the coldest month of the year. Average temperatures are between 5 – 6 degrees, although it has been noted to drop to 0 quite regularly. The beginning of the month tends to be rainy and on average it rains 19 days every January! Snow is not unheard of and sunshine is scarce – an average of about 3 hours of sunshine on any given day. Learn more about the weather in London in January here.
Though the month of January is quieter than many others in London, there is still plenty to do… even at night! Below are a few of our favorite evening activities. For a full list, check out our post Things to Do at Night in London.
Jack the Ripper Tour
Join us on one of our most popular tours as we follow in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper! Though it might seem impractical to take a night tour in January, we find that the chilly temperature often adds to the ambiance with this particular tour. Like all of our other tours, it is name your own price. Reservations are required, so be sure to book ahead of time to reserve your spot! Click here for a full list and comparison of all the best night tours in London.
Go to a Show in the West End
There’s no shortage of fantastic theatre shows in London, especially in the West End! Every night of the week you can find a range of performances for every age and interest. With discount tickets easily available and a selection of shows as varied as it is impressive, there’s always a way to enjoy the West End on your trip to London. (See our Discount Theatre Tickets guide on how to secure a good price!)
Enjoy the View from the Sky Garden
There are many great places to see the London city skyline, but one of our absolute favorites is from the Sky Garden in the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building! Though it features a restaurant, bistro, and a bar, the atrium also includes a free public garden that stays open until late. It is completely FREE to visit, but you must make a reservation beforehand. Learn more about how to reserve your free spot at the Sky Garden. Alternatively, you could visit the observation deck of the Shard as well some great free views of London, some of which you can enjoy at night.
There are several different family-friendly activities available in London throughout the month of January. Though many of the holiday events finish the first of the month, there are still many other opportunities to make the most of London with your kids.
Visit the Science Museum
One of our favorite museums in the city, the Science Museum offers many different interactive exhibits and imaginative activities. One of our favorites is the Wonderlab, which promises to bring to life the beauty of science and math. The museum is completely FREE to visit, though donations are welcome. Open from 10:00am-6:00pm daily.
Natural History Museum
Our other favorite museum to visit with kids is the Natural History Museum! What better way to escape the winter cold than by learning about dinosaurs and playing with insects. This museum is also free, though some of the special exhibits or events may require a ticket. ‘
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea doesn’t have to be just for the grown-ups! The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at the One Aldwych was the 2017 winner of the Best Afternoon Tea in London. You will be served chocolate eggs, cotton candy, and many other tasty treats all created to reflect Roald Dahl’s classic tale.
The Ghost Bus
Go for a ride on the Ghost Bus! This entertaining tour brings you around London to some of the greatest haunts in the city. But don’t expect to be frightened! This tour is mostly comedic and works well with families with children of all ages. Learn more and watch the promo video. Also, check out our review and comparison post on London ghost tours, which includes our own pay-what-you-like ghost tour.
Hamley’s Toy Store
One of the most famous toy stores’s in the world, Hamley’s is a two-centuries-old shop with several locations in London, including one on Regent’s Street and one at St. Pancras International. Even if you’re just doing a bit of window shopping, there’s a lot of fun things to see and do in the ‘world’s finest toy shop!’