It’s 10 days until the dread day, when most of London shuts down — for Christmas Day, but a few hardy venues will open for the visitors stuck in the centre of town and with nothing else to do.
All public transport is closed, save for the Cycle Hire bikes which are in use on the day, and private taxis.
Experience the empty city
The only day of the year where there’s no public transport, and hardly anyone goes into the centre of town — so what better than to take a trip in and enjoy the eerie emptiness. Only in the very early morning though – before around 10am, as by then bewildered tourists will be wandering around wondering what’s happened.
It’s a remarkable experience though, all that silence and empty streets. If you drive in, drop the car off somewhere and grab a hire bike and pedal around. Do it at least once in your lifetime, it’s a marvellous experience.
Ride a vintage bus
Route 430 — which runs between Roehampton and Putney Bridge will be in operation, staffed by volunteers from a local heritage bus hire firm, and offering free rides throughout the day.
Go on a bus tour
Living in London means you’ve probably never been on an open top bus tour, but on Christmas Day, one bus tour will run to show off the empty sights.
Watch the International Space Station fly over London
If the skies are clear, you can watch the International Space Station fly right over London early in the morning – when it will be visible as a fast-moving star. Or you can tell the children it’s Father Christmas flying home after a busy night delivering presents.
Go to church
Even if you’re not Christian, there’s still something nice about a church service on Christmas Day. It’s also a chance to go into the big cathedrals for one of their services, as naturally, they’re open.
Every Christmas Morning in Hyde Park, from around 9am, members of the Serpentine Swimming Club gather for the Peter Pan Cup — a swimming race in the Serpentine Lake. Observe and cheer on the people brave enough to be wearing just swimming gear on a chilly morning.
A number of swiming pools are open on Christmas Day, although most need prebooking, and will have sold out ages ago.
However, Parliament Hill’s Lido will be open from 7am to 9:30am to just turn up and go for a dip.
Nearby are the Hampstead Heath ponds, which will be open in the morning.
Go ice skating
The only ice-rink in the city that’s open on Christmas Day might not surprise you to learn is in the Jewish cultural centre, JW3 on Finchley Road.
Not all, but many pubs are open on Christmas Day, mainly for pre-booked Christmas Lunch, but as ever fewer of us go to pubs these days, what better day to venture inside one.
Go for a walk
Bit obvious this one, but in our busy lives, it’s hard to find time to just wander around aimlessly for an hour or so — take the opportunity to discover all those side streets around where you live that you’d never usually walk down. And the road traffic will be minimal, so it’s a very peaceful day to go for a walk.
Go sightseeing on the Thames
The big tourist boats that ply the Thames will be operating on Christmas Day, with tours from early morning to mid-afternoon. They also have an onboard Christmas Lunch option for those with deep pockets.