Money matters

9 FREE things to do in London at Christmas time for students

Even on a student budget, there’s plenty of things to do around London to get you in the Christmas spirit – and a lot of them aren’t far from many of our Sanctuary Student properties! Take a look below for some fun!
9 FREE things to do in London at Christmas time for students
Published on: 22 Oct 2023

Stroll through magical
Christmas markets

If there’s one thing London knows how to do, it’s finding some of the city’s best creative and crafty locals and have them host a stall at a Christmas market. Each year, there are plenty of markets to visit around London to have a nosey and do some last-minute gift buying.

One of these is Borough Market, which hosts tons of street food vendors. It’s only a convenient 15-minute walk away from Sanctuary Students Manna Ash House – and it takes even less time on the tube.

Stroll through magical Christmas markets

Admire daily snow
showers at Covent Garden

Despite what Christmas movies might tell you, waking up to snow on Christmas Day is a very rare occurrence in the UK. Though we’re not completely averse to some snow now and then, it tends to happen later in the winter season.

So let us put you on to the next best thing. Covent Garden’s Christmas experience includes an hourly snow storm flurry to add a sprinkling of festive spirit to your day and create the white Christmas so many of us crave.

Admire daily snow showers at Covent Garden

Test your Christmas
knowledge at a pub quiz

In London – and really in any village, town or city in the UK – you’re never that far away from a pub. And what do pubs do best? A pub quiz. And it’s even more exciting when it’s a Christmas-themed quiz.

Take a look on Eventbrite or check out your local pub to see what’s on and take part to test your knowledge.

Test your Christmas knowledge at a pub quiz

Spectate the
Peter Pan Cup

If you happen to be staying in halls on Christmas Day, why not do something a little different and visit Serpentine Swimming Club? Every year since 1864, the club has held a Christmas Day race, with the winner being awarded the Peter Pan Cup.

Sadly, you can’t participate in the race unless you’re a club member, but it’s a great opportunity to steep yourself in local history and support this iconic Christmas event – we’re sure you’ll leave with some great stories to tell!

Spectate the Peter Pan Cup

Visit the Frost Fair on
the banks of the River Thames

Another event soaked in history, the Bankside Frost Fair is a nod to the traditional Frost Fair market that ran 24 times between circa 1605 to 1814 on the frozen surface of the River Thames.

That’s right, when temperatures dropped and the river iced over, London locals would bring their trade to the ice. Nowadays, the Frost Fair is held on the banks of the River Thames as a homage to the original fair, with modernisations such as augmented reality installations, plus street art, festive food and drink, and craft workshops.

Jump on a tube from Don Gratton House or The Craft Building and it’ll take only about 25 minutes to get there!

Visit the Frost Fair on the banks of the River Thames

Learn about the Fabulous
World of Dior at Harrods

Harrods, the luxury department store, is well known for its epic Christmas lights displays, which are talked about each year without fail. This year, Dior has taken over and installed a gingerbread-themed exhibition that takes you through classic pieces and the newest designs.

A must for the fashion fiends out there, head to Harrods for a wonderful look behind the scenes of an international brand – and admire some lovely Christmas lights while you’re at it. Plus, it’s completely free! Just make sure to book your slot ahead of time.

Learn about the Fabulous World of Dior at Harrods

Take a walk through
the Ever After Garden

The Ever After Garden in Grosvenor Square is located in the middle of Mayfair and is a beautiful exhibition of illuminated white roses. Visit the garden for a relaxing walk and beautiful scenes – a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

It’s free to enter and you can dedicate a rose to a beloved lost friend or family member online, and donations to the cause are strongly encouraged. All donations go to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and are used to fund The Royal Marsden’s ground-breaking research. End your year on a high and help make a difference!

Take a walk through the Ever After Garden

Run a festive 5K
dressed as Santa

Do you have a lifelong dream to get dressed up like Santa and run through a park with, well, lots of other people dressed up like Santa? Your prayers have been answered! Runna have organised an event on Saturday 18th December where you and your friends can dress up like the secret Santas you are and get those endorphins pumping.

Registration is completely free and it sounds like the best excuse to get together and share some Christmas cheer. We reckon you’ll have well and truly earned a Christmas feast after this one!

Run a festive 5K dressed as Santa

Wander around festive
Christmas light displays

One of the most popular things to do over the festive season is to head to a Christmas lights switch-on event. Though the actual switching on of the lights often happens in November, it means that things are shining brightly, ready for you to visit Christmas light displays through December.

Check out popular areas like Carnaby Street, Oxford Street, Covent Garden and Regent Street – to name but a few. Even better, when heading to a central location from Dinwiddy House or Paul Robeson House, it only takes around 20 minutes to get there on the tube.

Wander around festive Christmas light displays
Looking for 2023/24 student accommodation?

Sanctuary Students has eight student properties around London, conveniently located near some of London’s best sites, major stations like Kings Cross-St. Pancras station and top universities – including Queen Mary University, Kings College London, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and University of Arts London (UAL).

Bookings are now open and you can reserve your room for just £1! Plus, explore our London city guide to learn about getting around, working, shopping, eating out and visiting the best places around London. Enquire today about staying with us and arrange a viewing.