Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Louise
January is a great month to visit London. It’s much quieter than other times of they year. It’s can also be cheaper. Despite the colder weather, there are a multitude of fun activities and events to add some sparkle to your winter.
We have listed things to do for every type of budget from free and cheap activities to complete indulgent things to do. There’s also something for every type of visitor, from families to couples to solo travellers. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, discover the winter charm of this magificent city
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Is January a good month to visit London?
Yes! It can be quieter and cheaper than other months of the year which makes it a good time to visit.
On the downside, the weather can be cold, rainy and wet. There is also less daylight with about 8 to 9 hours of daylight a day.
However, London is a city that never stops and there are plenty of activities to do after dark. In January, these include outdoor ice skating, winter light trails and shows and plenty of indoor activities. Museums and art galleries are less crowded then in the summer.
It’s also a good time to make use of the daylight and there are plenty of outdoor activities and events for daylight hours too including amazing winter walks, outdoor winter swimming, the Bankside frost fair, a snowman trail and lots more.
Read on to find the best things to do in London in January 2024.
Celebrate New Year’s Day
If you’re in London on the 1st January, don’t miss the New Year Parade. Starting at 12 noon at Picaddily, it moves to Regents Street St James’s, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall. It’s a specatcle to marvel. See floats, musical bands, singers, performers and lots more. The public line the streets and watch the parade for free.
The 1st January is also your last chance to enjoy the fair and ice skating at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
Illuminate Your January with a Winter Light Trail
Photo Credit: Loco Steve / Wikimedia Commons
Bright up your January with a walk around an illuminated light trail.
Head to the Canary Wharf light trail from Wednesday 17th to Saturday 27th January, daily between 5pm and 10pm. Walk through 12 temporary installations as well as their permanent light artworks. All 27 of the artworks are free to visit and there will be food and drinks stalls lining the route.
Winter lights at the Southbank runs until 7th January. The Southbank is lit up by a series of outdoor artworks by 10 contemporary artists. It’s free to visit everyday between 4pm and 11pm.
Lumiere London sees Kings Cross transformed into a dazzling spectacle of light installations. Running between 18th and 21st January and between the hours of 5.30pm and 10.30pm it’s a great way to lift your spirits.
Christmas at Kew hosts the UK’s original light trail and is runs until 7th January 2024. Walk through 3km of stunning light trails which include kaleidoscopic projections, dancing lakeside projections, himmering tunnels of light and trees drenched in jewel-bright colours.
Battersea Power Station’s free light festival runs from 25th January to 25th February. Explore seven stunning light installations from British and International artists. There will also be family-friendly workshops, live entertainment and music throughout the festival, including live weeknight performances on the ‘Light Piano 2.0’ installation.
Go Ice Skating
Many of the pop up outdoor ice rinks that are part of the festive celebrations stay open into January. Here is quick round up of where to go:
Enjoy a Free Immersive Light Experience at Outernet
Outernet on Charing Cross Rd (at the junction with Tottenham Court Road) is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in the capital. Visitors can enjoy a range of immersive light shows which they can interact with.
One of the most popular is the butterfly trail. Check out the Outernet app before you go to make sure the show you want is showing and the time to get there.
It's a good choice of activity for January as the light experience is indoors so you don't need to worry about the weather.
Take a Buckingham Palace Guided Tour
With the family tour, an expert guide take you and your little ones on a fun filled tour that highlights stories about the Palace and its history.
The adult tour allows you to see the magnificent state rooms when the Palace is not normally open to the public. See the gilded ceilings and glittering chandeliers without the crowds!
Visit a Museum or Art Gallery
January is a great time to visit London museums and art galleries. They are warm and dry – protecting you from the colder (and wetter) January weather. Plus they are often quieter, especially when the kids have returned to school after the Christmas holidays.
Many of London’s exceptional museums and galleries are free. Spend a day at the British Museum, the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Modern (and many more) without spending a penny.
It’s also a great time to visit one of London’s more unusual museums. The Jack the Ripper Museum won a Travellers Choice Award in 2023. There’s also the Old Operating Theatre Museum, the Fan Museum and the Cartoon Museum.
Here is our pick of top events happening at London museums and galleries in January :
The Natural History Museum – It’s your last chance to see the skeleton of the titanasour – the biggest dinosaur to have roamed our planet.
The National Art Gallery – discover the works of Frans Hals, one of the greatest portrait painters in Modern Art. His works are being exhibited at the National Gallery until 21st Jan.
The Science Museum – explore how music shapes our lives at the Power of Music exhibition (running until 6th May -extra charges apply to enter this exhibition).
Shakespeare’s Globe Story and Tour
There are so many amazing events taking place at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in January.
Starting on 15th, visitors can enter a new walk-thorough exhibition space at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Learn about the sights, sounds, and secrets of Shakespeare’s London in this immersive exhibiton.
Enter into the Globe theatre and expert guides will tell you how the original 1599 theatre survived the plague, fire and political oppression and rose again in the 1990s. Book your ticket here.
If you like theatre, why not watch a performance? In January, you can choose between Ghosts or Othello.
The Globe also runs some amazing walking tours. From 18th January, join a guide on a Twighlight Tour. Meet at 5.30pm and learn about Shakespeare’s fascination with the dark.
Alternatively, join a guide at 2.30pm for Shakespeare’s True Crime Walking tour.
Embark on a Historic Walk with the Family
Head out with the kids and learn about the history of London with an historic walk.
The Museum of London is holding two family walks. Choose between a historic Roman walk through the streets of Londonium or the Great Fire of London family walk to discover the fire of 1666. The walks take place on dates between 13th and 27th January.
Get Spooked on a Ghost Tour
Ghost walks are fun at any time of year but they are extra better when it’s dark which makes January a great time to go on one. It gets dark early all month (before 5.30pm) so you can book your tour in the early evening for an eerie evening.
It can get very cold on a January night, so it might be worth checking the weather or wrapping up warm.
There are plenty of ghost walks and tours to choose from. Read our guide on the best ghost tours in London
Catch a Show at the Theatre
With cold and dark days and nights, January is the perfect time to enjoy a trip to the theatre. From musicals to panto – it’s a great time to take the family.
It’s still pantomine season and you can catch Peter Pan at the London Palladium until 14th Jan. Cinderella at the London Hammersmith Theatre and Jack at the Beanstalk at Stratford East are showing until 6th Jan.
In addition you can still see Hansel and Gretel at the Globe Theatre until 7th January. Tickets are available from just £5!
Why not take the opportunity to see one of London’s best musicals including the Lion King, Frozen or Matilda? Also opening at the end of January (on 26th) is Just for one day, the musical about Live Aid which is showing at the Old Vic Theatre.
Other notable productions include the Plaza Suite at the Savoy Theatre. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, the play opens on 15 January . This classic comedy allows you to see behind the doors of the Plaza Hotel’s opulent rooms and step into the intricate lives of long time married couple trying to save their relationship.
Watch a Movie at the London Short Film Festival
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Between 19th and 28th January, you can watch films being showcased at a variety of venues across the capital as part of London’s short film festival.
Between 250 and 500 British and International films are being shown as well as live events, workshops and Q and A sessions.
Brave a Winter Swim
Suprisingly there are many outdoor places you can swim at in London even in the depths of January. For a bracing cold winter swim, head down to one of London’s lidos open during the winter. Lidos that are open include Parliament Hill Lido and London Fields in Hackney.
Die hard winter swimmers can also join the Hampstead Heath winter swimming club to be able to swim in the mixed pond over the winter months.
Read our article on the best cold swimming spots in London for more places to go.
Indulge in an Afternoon Tea
With cold and wet weather inevitable, January is a fantastic month to take a special afternoon tea. With up to 25% off some afternoon teas during the month of January it’s also easier on the wallet too.
Explore Modern Art at the London Art Fair
Marvel at a showcase of contemporary and modern art during the London Art Fair. Taking place between 17th and 21st January the art fair features panel talks, performances and art work displayed in the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.
Art works are exhbited by global galleries which which in the past have included world famous artists including Henry Moore, David Hockney and Bridget Riley. You can even purchase your own art work with prints and editions starting in the hundreds.
Bankside Frost Fair
The Bankside Frost Fair takes place between 26th and 28th January. It’s Inspired by the annual frost fairs which took between 1605 to 1814. During those years the River Thames froze over 24 times bringing trade to a standstill. So, the people of Bankside took to the ice and created markets, food, drink, entertainment and fun.
In 2024, immersive yourself in traditional games, music, dance, market stalls and craft workshops. Play skittles, take part in embroidery classes, watch a Dr Who screening, shop at the artisan market, enjoy a horse and carriage ride and lots more.
Go Back in Time with Disney
Take a Twighlight Tour of the Tower of London
In January you can take a tour of the Tower of London with a Yeoman Warden after dark. See world famous sights such as Traitors Gate and the Bloody Tower (from the outside). Hear gruesome stories of the prisoners and past residents that once inhabited the walls.
The 90 minute outdoor tour takes place on Sundays from 7pm.
Enjoy a Family Day out at the Kingdom of Winter
Running until 7th January at the ExCel, the Kingdom of Winter is ideal for an early January day out. With fairground rides, an ice skating rink, circus shows, food, drink and market stall, it's a fantastic way to start 2024 and banish the January blues.
Take a Winter Walk
When the sun shines in January, it is a lovely time to get outdoors and enjoy a winter walk.
There are plenty of parks and green spaces to enjoy. From Hampstead Heath to one of the Royal Parks there’s plenty of places to choose from. If you’re in central London, why not try some or all of the Princess Diana Memorial Walk. It passes through four of the eight Royal Parks: St. James’s Park, The Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
It’s a great way to blow out the cobwebs, get some fresh air and enjoy exercise to start 2024.
Enjoy 12th Night Celebrations with the Lion’s Part Theatre Company
In what has become an annual event, the Lion's Part Theatre company perform a procession, a play and other festivities to celebrate 12th Night.
Beginning at 2pm on the 7th January at Bankside, near the Shakespeare globe the procession moves to Soap Yard in Borough Yards. The festivities mix ancient midwinter seasonal customs and modern festivities.
On Bankside by Shakespeare’s Globe, led by the BANKSIDE MUMMERS and our London Beadle, the Holly Man will 'bring in the green' and toast or 'WASSAIL' the people, the River Thames and the Globe. (Wassailing is an old tradition to encourage good health).
The MUMMERS then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional 'freestyle' folk combat play dressed in spectacular costumes.
Cakes distributed at the end of the play have a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those from the crowd who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.
Visit the Cute Exhibition at Somerset House
Somerset House is kicking off a year full of fun exhibits with the Cute Exhibition. It's the first exhibition of it's kind to explore the power of cuteness in contemporary culture. Starting on 25th January,Cute runs until 14th April.
What’s the Weather Like in London in January
Like most months, January weather can be variable but generally cold or wet.
Prepare for rain, snow, sleet and frost. Days can be grey and rainy or bright and sunny but very cold. The average temperature is around 5 to 6 degrees.
See a screenshot from a weather forecast in January 2024. There are cold days as well as rainy, warmer days forecast so you never know what you’re going to get!
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