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How to Enjoy Christmas in London on a Student Budget

London Christmas Scene

Looking for something festive to do in the run up to Christmas, but feeling conscious of the ol’ student bank balance?

Fear not – we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking for something traditional or a bit quirky, our list of cheap and cheerful Christmas activities will have you feeling festive before you can say Santa!


1. Winterville

Located in the east end’s Victoria Park, Winterville is a less commercial version of its cousin Winter Wonderland. It offers much of the same attractions (Think Ferris Wheels and ice-skating) but you can also expect some less traditional festive entertainment. This includes, “live DJs, comedy, musical bingo, roaming magicians, Mexican wrestling and a family Christmas show on a double decker bus.”

Although you’ll have to pay for certain things, dozens of the events around the festival are free, including a large list of DJs. Entry to the overall festival ranges from £2-£5, depending on the time of the week. And if you really need to watch the pennies – it’s free on a Tuesday!

Winterville London

Image from https://winterville.co.uk/



2. The Great Christmas Pudding Race

The Great Christmas Pudding Race is perfect if you’re looking for something a little wacky this Christmas. It’s the equivalent of an egg and spoon race, but with a slight difference. You guessed it! Instead of eggs, you’ll balance Christmas puddings on a plate. Plus, you’ll have to tackle an obstacle course full of inflatables while dressed in Christmas fancy dress.

The best part it’s all in the name of charity and costs £75 for a team of six to compete. Alternatively, just turn up as a spectator and enjoy a good chuckle for free!

The Great Christmas Pudding Race

Image from https://xmaspuddingrace.org.uk/



3. Last minute theatre shows

Theatre in December feels especially Christmassy. It’s basically the grown-up version of going to a pantomime! However, it can be tricky to get affordable tickets - especially around Christmas.

Luckily, sites like lastminute.com offer heavily discounted prices on theatre tickets throughout the year, including the festive season. While you might not end up with the best seat in town, there are some real bargains to be had if you’re happy to compromise.

Wicked the Musicial

Image from https://www.lastminute.com



4. Ice Skating

Nothing says Christmas like freezing your socks off and falling on your backside! And in London, there are a number of pop-up skating rinks to choose from over the 2018 festive season.

However, the ice rink at Somerset House is just a 20 minute walk away from Student Central. While it might cost a pretty penny over the weekend and in the evenings, if you go at certain times between Monday to Friday, you can get a student ticket for just £8.50. No skipping lectures, mind!

Ice Skating at Somerset House

Image from https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/



5. Christmas Lights Tour

Nothing quite gets you in the mood for Christmas than the bustle of the city and twinkling Christmas lights. If you have friends or family coming to stay but you’re really trying to look after the pennies, a Christmas light tour is a great way to show them the city.

Here are some of the best Christmas light displays in London:

  • Oxford Street
  • Carnaby Street
  • Bond Street
  • Covent Garden
  •  Marylebone High Street
  • Regent Street

Christmas Lights of London


6. Department Stores

While you might think it’s odd to add Department Stores to a ‘Free things to do in London at Christmas’ list, there’s no denying that they’re some of the most Christmassy places to be in the month of December. These stores tend to go to massive efforts when it comes to Christmas decorations, and they’ve also been featured in a huge range of Christmas films (Think Elf, Home Alone!)

So, why not head to some of London’s most iconic department stores this Christmas? We guarantee you’ll get the Christmas feels you’ve been looking for! We’d recommend the likes of Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Hamleys and Selfridges. And, if you’re lucky, you might be able to get some free tasters!

Christmas Department Stores London


7. Volunteering

If you want to do something for others this Christmas, consider volunteering. There are a number of organisations in London that accept volunteers around Christmas.

Being homeless at Christmas is arguably the most difficult time of the year to be living on the streets. By donating your time and energy to help homeless people when they’re most vulnerable, you’ll be doing something both important and rewarding. You can find more information here.

Volunteering at Christmas in London

Image from https://londonist.com



8. The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City

From 8th December, the V&A will be hosting a gingerbread city. That’s right - you read that correctly!

Given its association with the festive season, we thought this gingerbread city would make the perfect day trip this Christmas. It’s also likely to be of particular interest to design, architecture or engineering students. That’s because the micro-city display has been created by people working in - you guessed it - design, architecture or engineering! The aim of the project is to connect the public with the work of such sectors in a unique and tasty way!

Tickets are priced at £6 and it’s just over 20 minutes away on the tube.

Gingerbread Museum at the London V&A

Image from https://www.thegingerbreadcity.com/



9. Christmas Carols at Trafalgar Square

Throughout December, over 40 participating choir groups will be performing Christmas carols next to the massive Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square. 

This is one of our favourite free things to do in London at Christmas. Nothing puts you in the festive spirit more than hearing your favourite carols, right?

Christmas Carols at Trafalgar Square

Image from https://www.london.gov.uk



10. Christmas Markets

There are many Christmas markets to choose from around London. If you’ve got a bit of spare cash lying about, grab yourself a hot chocolate or mulled wine. And if not, just enjoy the festiveness and take a stroll around the stalls!

Leicester Square or the Southbank Centre Wintertime markets offer an impressive array of stands. They sell everything from beverages, tasty treats and Christmas gifts. If you’ve got a little more to spend, there are also a number of shows and activities running.

Christmas markets of London

Image from http://www.christmasinleicestersquare.com



Christmas as Student Central

We will be closed from 21st December and will reopen on 2nd January 2019. Until then, head down and enjoy student-friendly priced food, drinks, merchandise and bar nights. Find out what's going on this December