If you ask most people when they want to visit London, my guess is that the vast majority would not say January. For those of us who call the Northern Hemisphere home, even the word “January” might give you a chill: it’s a time of short days, cold weather, and the possibility of snow for many. Even worse, the holidays are over – nor does it yet hold the promise of spring. I won’t go so far as to say January’s the worst month – but I also won’t judge you if you feel that way!
So is it a terrible idea to visit London in January? No! Aside from deals on flights and hotels due to being a less popular time to visit, there are some amazing things to do in London in January, and plenty of ways to stay warm even when out exploring London’s must-see sights and landmarks.
Whatever brings you to London in January, this guide will help you make the most of it. Below you’ll find a list of the top London events in January 2024, and other ideas for uniquely seasonal experiences you can have by visiting during this time of year. So bundle up, grab your passport, and set out to enjoy all London has to offer in January.
Looking for my advice on the weather and what to pack for London in January? Click here!
7 Great Events in London in January 2024
It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing, there’s always something interesting going on in London. Here are eight fantastic events you can attend in London in January.
London New Year’s Day Parade (January 1)
Photos courtesy of LNYDP
After fireworks at midnight over the Thames, London’s New Year’s Day Parade will fill the streets of the West End to welcome 2024. The parade dates back to 1987 and has won a loyal fanbase throughout the years. In fact, between half a million to a million people attend the event. The parade begins at Piccadilly (right outside The Ritz) at 1pm and ends at about 3:30pm.
Participants vary each year, but you can expect the presence of All the Queen’s Horses, a group of riders recreating a historic pageant, London’s Chinese Community performing a traditional dragon dance, and giant inflatable balloons of all shapes and sizes.
Serpentine New Year’s Day 10k Race (January 1)
Are you planning to set a New Year’s resolution about your health… but also worried your holiday trip to London might throw you off? (Pints in pubs, delicious festive meals, desserts, and more, mmm…) Sign up for the Serpentine New Year’s Day 10k Race in Hyde Park to start the year on an active note! And possibly burn off some of those calories you so deserve to enjoy while visiting London!
The “NYD10k” starts at 11am in Hyde Park and is run on entirely traffic-free paths through Hyde Park, primarily in Kensington Gardens. It’s a scenic run that shows off sights like Kensington Palace, the Italian Gardens, and the Henry Moore statue, as well as the general beauty of Hyde Park.
Not feeling up to starting the new year with sore legs? There’s also a 3k (1.86mi) fun race that is a great way to start the year on a healthy note without pushing yourself to the limit.
London Art Fair (January 17-21)
Photos courtesy of the London Art Fair via Instagram
Now in its 35th year, the London Art Fair is a place where you can explore and buy exceptional Modern and Contemporary Art. You can find the finest works of art, jewelry, and handicrafts. While their galleries mainly focus on British art, they have been expanding their latest collections with international artists, which currently make up 25% of their exhibitors. Besides the artworks, the fair hosts a program of curated talks, panel discussions, and artists’ insights.
London Short Film Festival (January 19-28)
If you’re a cinephile or have any interest in movies, get your tickets for the London Short Film Festival. As the name suggests, this film festival focuses on short films, showcasing the works of over 500 British and international filmmakers.
This ten-day festival has gained recognition for the multiplicity of filmmakers and their eclectic selection of movies. Moreover, movies are screened in gorgeous movie theaters; some are highly iconic, like the Rich Mix and ICA in Piccadilly.
Burns Night (January 25)
Burns Night is the one event you don’t want to miss if you visit London in January. (It’s better in Scotland if you want to add that to your London itinerary.)
Every January 25, Londoners gather to celebrate Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. The celebration is a fabulous way to get in touch with Scotland and its culture, especially if you’re not exploring this beautiful country on your trip. There are multiple events around London to celebrate Burns Nights.
Most people go to pubs and restaurants to enjoy traditional Scottish fare and taste whisky. Those who prefer more cultural events, attend celebrations with poetry readings, bagpipe music, and ceilidh dancing.
Hogwarts in the Snow (through January 14)
Photo credits: big-ashb via Flickr
Visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour is a fantastic plan regardless of the time of the year. However, it gets extra magical during the winter season, when every movie set gets a festive makeover.
Hogwarts in the Snow is an annual event where the staff decorates the Harry Potter studio with a winter and Christmas theme. You’ll get to see Gryffindor’s common room dressed in Christmas garlands and fairy lights, the Forbidden Forest and Diagon Alley covered in snow, and even scenes like the Yule Ball!
Ice Rink Canary Wharf (All Month)
Photo credit (R): Matt Buck via Flickr
Year after year, Canary Wharf opens a huge ice rink in Canada Square Park. The season lasts 18 weeks, longer than any other London ice rink. The venue has a lovely atmosphere and helpful staff. It also sits below a magnificent roof, lit up by the glow of over 1,000 sparkling fairy lights. So, rain or shine, nothing will stop you from gliding around the ice.
As a heads up, Ice Rink Canary Wharf is extremely popular and gets crowded. Consequently, there’s not too much space for speedy skaters.
8 Other Fun Things to Do in London in January
Still have time in your itinerary? Here’s a list of other things to do in London in January that aren’t specific events or tied to certain dates.
- Catch one last Christmas or pantomime show before most end in the first week of January.
- Go to a London art gallery or museum. The Tate Britain is showing the works of British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye all month until February 26.
- Warm up with an afternoon tea at one of London’s fancy hotels.
- Take a wintery walk along the Southbank.
- Grab a pint by the fire in an old British pub. The Grapes (Limehouse) and The Antelope (Sloane Square/Belgravia) a lovely pub in Limehouse with a cozy fireplace. Get your pint, move your chair to the hearth, and warm up while listening to the crackling fire.
- Visit a covered market and indulge in street food; Borough is best, but Spitalfields is also a lovely spot for a snack.
- I hope you’ve got some room left in your suitcase because London’s January sales are hard to resist. January sales typically, start on Boxing Day (26 December) or the day after and are in full swing until the middle of the month. You can venture into popular shopping destinations, like Covent Garden or West End. If you want to splash out, visit London’s iconic department stores, like Harrods or Fortnum & Mason.
- Experience London from above on one of the city’s rooftops; if it’s chilly, SkyGarden is a great option as it’s fully covered.
Have any other questions about how to plan your London trip in January 2024 or what to do during your trip? Let me know in the comments below!