Highlights for December 2018 in London

This month is so more than just Christmas, although that also features strongly. Watch world-class horseriding and tennis, and a very famous musician on stage.

December is a busy month, with all the excitement in the build-up to Christmas and the New Year, plus some very entertaining events before that. Join the party!

2—9 December, 2018

The menorah for Chanukah in Trafalgar Square, London, UK
For eight nights, one light on the menorah is lit to signify each new day of the festival of Chanukah. (©Mayor of London office)

A festival that commemorates a 2,500-year-old miracle is marked in Trafalgar Square. Join London’s Jewish community to celebrate Chanukah, the "festival of lights." Every evening at sundown, one branch of a giant menorah – a candelabrum with nine branches – is lit. Expect live music, entertainment and doughnuts.

Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, London, UK
A spruce tree is donated each year by the government of Norway, and stands prominently in Trafalgar Square. (©Mayor of London's office)

6 December, 2018

Norway has donated a huge spruce tree to London every year since 1947 as a thank you for the UK’s support during World War II – it’s one of the most treasured festive traditions in the capital. At the switch-on ceremony in Trafalgar Square, you can listen to carols and join in the countdown just before the tree is lit up by 770 bulbs.

6—9 December, 2018

John McEnroe and Goran Ivanišević are two of the tennis legends competing at the Royal Albert Hall for the season-ending ATP Champions Tour. This year sees the addition of "balldogs" – speedy, attentive pedigrees who sit at the net and fetch the ball when needed, as trained by Tim Henman. 

Paul McCartney, London, UK
The evergreen Paul McCartney performs old favourites and new tracks at The O2. (courtesy Paul McCartney)

16 December, 2018

The music and voice of Paul McCartney, who is now the grand old age of 76, are as fresh as ever. To prove it, he’s bringing his Freshen Up tour to The O2. Expect tunes from his latest album, Egypt Station, together with some old classics, in his first UK tour since 2015. It will be worth the wait.

London Interational Horse Show, London, UK
The skills of La Garde Republicaine Cavalry Regiment dazzle at the Olympia. (©London Interational Horse Show)

17—23 December, 2018

These glorious steeds return to Olympia for the London International Horse Show. Be dazzled by the Dressage Grand Prix featuring international showjumping champions, watch displays of horsemanship from La Garde Républicaine Cavalry Regiment and be charmed by the ever-popular Shetland Pony Grand National.

Boxing Day Sales, London, UK
Shopping frenzy hits the streets of Central London for the Boxing Day sales, which last for severa days. (©IR Stone/iStock)

26 December, 2018

Roll up your sleeves, wear your comfortable shoes and bag some brilliant bargains. Serious shoppers queue early at city-centre shops to ensure they’re first through the doors. Harrods launches its sale often with a celebrity guest and you may get to sample free snacks. Fortnum & Mason, meanwhile, slashes prices on its festive range, some of which will still be in vogue next year. Head to shopping mall Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush in the west, or Stratford in the east, for discounts on high-street and designer names.

31 December, 2018

Celebrate New Year's Eve by watching a spectacular fireworks display from midnight along Victoria Embankment, opposite the South Bank. Buy tickets in advance and gather at 8 pm for the best views – although there will be many thousands keen enough to pick their spot from the late afternoon, so be prepared for a long wait. It’s worth it, though, as this really is one of the world’s most breathtaking New Year’s Eve displays.

To 3 January, 2019 

The highly entertaining Australian all-male troupe Briefs combine their brand of "boylesque" with acrobatics, contemporary dance and some cheeky, camp humour. Head to the Spiegeltent in Leicester Square for their show, Briefs: Close Encounters, a glorious mix of jaw-dropping circus skills and drop-dead gorgeous drag, with a futuristic twist. The sassy MC, Shivannah (aka artistic director Fez Fa’anana) holds the show together—a is a diva in stack heels.

Briefs performance, London, UK
The high-wire skills and camp humour of the all-male troupe Briefs comes to the Spiegeltent. (©Kate Pardey)