There’s so much to do in London that I could spend my whole life here and never feel like I’ve ticked all the boxes. But some things happen every year, so I get a second (and third, and tenth) chance. As such, today I want to share 51 things to do in London in 2018 with you. Or 2019. Or whatever year you get around to doing them.

Things to Do in London in 2018

51 Things to Do in London in 2018

My list goes through the year starting with things to do in January and ending with what can keep you busy in the last days of December. From events and festivals to themed weeks and multi-month extravaganzas, these show London at its best and offer world-class everything to residents and visitors alike.

1. Ice Skate

London has no shortage of amazing ice skating rinks, and most of them stay open into the new year. If you want to beat the January blues and get some exercise while you’re at it, this is a good way to do it.

Ice Skating Rink at the Tower of London

2. Brighten up at the Lumiere London Festival

One of the UK’s brightest festivals, Lumiere London lights up the winter skies as artists’ creations transform the city into a colorful nighttime exhibition.

3. Celebrate Burns Night

He may have been Scottish, but Robert Burns is revered in London, too. The 18th-century poet’s birthday is celebrated every year on January 25th with bagpipes, readings, and lots of haggis. Burns Night celebrations take place across the city, so there’s no shortage of ways to get into the spirit.

4. Cheer on the Snowdrops

My favorite part of any new year is seeing the first signs of spring. In London, that means snowdrops. These delicate blossoms herald warmer days ahead, and can be spotted everywhere from St James’s Park to the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Snowdrops

5. Watch the Pancake Day Races

Every year on Shrove Tuesday, London comes alive with the sound of pancake races. In a fun British tradition, these races liven up the streets and provide a last hurrah before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

6. Celebrate Valentine’s Day on the Thames

London has no shortage of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but one of my favorites is a day on the Thames. My boyfriend surprised me one year with a river cruise and London Eye journey, complete with champagne and roses. It was the perfect way to celebrate in London.

London Sunset from the Thames

7. Get Excited for the Crocuses

After the snowdrops come the crocuses. By February London’s parks and gardens are replete with purple, yellow, and white blooms. They’re the second stage of spring’s awakening, and whether I spot them in Golders Hill Park or Kensington Gardens they get my heart aflutter.

Crocuses in London

8. Go to Trafalgar Square for Chinese New Year

London has some of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia, and it’s worth heading to Trafalgar Square to join the festivities. With parades, performances, and good Chinese food in nearby Chinatown, it’s a perfect winter day out.

Chinese New Year, London

9. Watch the Head of the River Race

Every March the Head of the River Race takes place on the Thames in London. A rowing race from Mortlake to Putney, the day sees over 400 crews of eight participate in what is always an exciting event.

10. Drink a Pint of Guinness for St Patrick’s Day

You don’t have to travel to Northern Ireland to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in the UK. London has its share of festivities, from lively pubs with lots of Guinness to a big parade and performances in Trafalgar Square.

St Patrick's Day in a London Pub

11. Watch the Boat Race

As if the Head of the River Race weren’t enough, London also hosts an annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge universities. Going strong since 1845, this traditional event runs from Putney to Mortlake and is a great spectator event on the Thames.

12. Marvel at the Daffodils

Once the crocuses fade, the daffodils take over. There’s no better place to see them in London than Green Park, and when they’re in full bloom they’re a spectacular sign of spring.

Daffodils in London

13. Remember Easter

Easter always seems to fly under the radar in London. Still, there are events here and there for fans of egg hunts and chocolate bunnies (and who doesn’t love egg hunts and chocolate bunnies?).

14. Watch the London Marathon

If you overdid it on the chocolate bunnies, the London Marathon is a perfect opportunity for redemption. The race takes over the city each year, bringing runners and spectators alike to revel in the excitement.

15. Admire the Tulips

I know, I know. I’m obsessed with London’s spring flowers. But they’re just so pretty. And the tulips are some of the prettiest. I love the ones in Holland Park in particular, and make a pilgrimage there each spring to see them in bloom.

Tulips

16. Get Involved in London Craft Week

Spring is a great time to channel your inner creative and add to the frenzy of new life in London. Craft Week provides lots of hands-on opportunities to do just that, in whatever shape your inner maker wants to form.

17. Go to an Event for Museums at Night

Twice a year London’s museums throw their doors open for several nights of special events, late openings, and general revelry. From guided tours to themed evenings, this is a great time to treat your inner museum lover.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

18. Get Garden Inspiration at the Chelsea Flower Show

The annual Chelsea Flower Show takes place at the beginning of the British summer season and sets off a frenzy of horticultural activity across the country. Whether you go for inspiration or admiration, this multi-day event is the perfect way to get into the summer spirit.

Chelsea Flower Show

19. Wisteria Watch

Another way is to wisteria watch. In May London’s wisteria bursts into bloom, covering facades and framing doors in a riot of purple. Make sure to have your camera ready as you walk around the city.

Wisteria in London

20. Watch the Royal Wedding

Prince Harry is getting married, and the world will be watching as he weds Californian (yay!) Meghan Markle in May. If it’s anything like Will and Kate’s wedding, there will be big screens up in Hyde Park and other London locations for the occasion. Watching is one of the most important things to do in London in 2018, if only because this wedding will only happen once.

21. Witness the State Opening of Parliament

Royal watchers will also be excited to see the traditional State Opening of Parliament in May. This elaborate ceremony will mark the official start of the parliamentary year, and the Queen’s Speech will set out the government agenda for the upcoming session.

Queen Elizabeth II

22. Have a May Bank Holiday Weekend Barbecue

There are two bank holidays in May, which means double the chances for good weather. There’s nothing like a bank holiday barbecue to get the summer started, so fingers crossed for blue skies and bunting.

23. Attend the Household Division’s Beating Retreat

The Household Division’s Beating Retreat takes place at Horse Guards Parade in June. This evening pageant of music and military drills features horses, cannons, and even fireworks.

Horse Guards Parade in London

24. Go to the Trooping the Colour

The Trooping the Colour offers another chance to watch a military spectacle in London in June. Troops from the Household Division mark the Queen’s official birthday in a military parade tradition dating back 200 years.

Guards at Buckingham Palace

25. Participate in Open Garden Squares Weekend

June is the perfect time to be outdoors, and Open Garden Squares Weekend is the ideal way to get into the spirit. Across the city, private gardens unlock their gates and welcome visitors with music, food, and a chance to explore the hidden green spaces of London.

Garden in London

26. Eat Your Way through Taste of London

Another outdoor event worth exploring is Taste of London in Regent’s Park. Every June this culinary spectacular sees London’s famous restaurants and chefs turning out their best dishes for avid foodies and curious visitors alike.

27. Experience the Greenwich + Docklands International Festival

The Greenwich + Docklands International Festival is one of London’s biggest free outdoor arts festivals. Featuring everything from theater to dance, art installations to music, it brings life and summer fun to Greenwich and its environs.

Cutty Sark in Greenwich

28. Develop a Green Thumb at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

If the Chelsea Flower Show doesn’t inspire you enough, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is sure to do the trick. The largest flower show in the world, it features everything from show gardens to floral pavilions, educational talks, and demonstrations. If you love gardening, this is one of the best things to do in London in 2018.

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

29. Get into the Tennis at Wimbledon

Nothing says summer like Wimbledon, and the annual tennis championships always get me in the mood for the season (the strawberries and cream help, too). Whether you’re lucky enough to go in person or just watch on the big screens around the city, it’s always a fun time of year.

Wimbledon Tennis Championships

30. Indulge in Music at British Summer Time

British Summer Time sees musical acts from around the world take over Hyde Park for 10 days. From superstars to rising stars, this concert series is packed with talent and entertainment.

31. Go to the Proms at Royal Albert Hall

In a more traditional vein, the Proms at Royal Albert Hall last from July to September and bring London a variety of musical performances throughout their annual run.

32. Revel in Royalty at the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

Even the Queen needs to get away sometimes, and when she heads to Scotland’s Balmoral, the official Buckingham Palace Summer Opening begins. From mid-July to late September, visitors can tour the palace, see the annual exhibition, and get a glimpse of royal life.

Buckingham Palace Flags

33. See a Film at the Summer Screen at Somerset House

The Summer Screen at Somerset House gives Londoners and visitors the chance to sit down, picnic, and watch a movie on London’s biggest outdoor screen. Set against the backdrop of the beautiful interior courtyard, this is my favorite place to watch films in the warmer months.

34. Swim in the Ponds in Hampstead Heath

If you’re brave and it’s hot outside, August is a great time to swim in the ponds in Hampstead Heath. The park’s famous bathing ponds have been cooling off Londoners for ages, and there’s no prettier place to be on a summer day.

Hampstead Heath

35. Get a Taste of the Caribbean at the Notting Hill Carnival

The August bank holiday weekend means one thing: the annual Notting Hill Carnival. Europe’s largest street party, this colorful carnival has been celebrating all things Caribbean since 1966.

36. Be a Water Baby at Totally Thames

Totally Thames is a month-long celebration of culture, art, performance, and river-related fun along the Thames. Taking place in in September, it has a packed program of events and installations throughout the month.

South Bank London

37. Get Out and Listen at Last Night of the Proms

Last Night of the Proms is Britain’s largest outdoor classical music event and the finale of the Proms at Royal Albert Hall. This event features big names and big screens as Hyde Park comes alive for the traditional Last Night music and sing-along.

38. Learn and Do at the London Design Festival

Design lovers and creative types can beat a path to the many London Design Festival venues in September. Showcasing the latest in design projects in spaces across London, it’s a great time to learn and get inspired.

39. Peek Inside Iconic Buildings at Open House London

Open House London is one of my favorite events of the year. Every September, public buildings and those that are normally closed to the public open their doors to the world. Architecture lovers, photographers, and curious people alike can take in hidden spaces and sweeping views that are only on display once a year.

London Skyline

40. Eat Your Heart Out in October

October is food month in London, and everything from Chocolate Week to the London Restaurant Festival launches in this four-week period. Whether you want to celebrate Seafood Week or Cocktail Week, there’s a theme for every palate.

Restaurant in London

41. Channel Your Inner Art Lover at Frieze

Every autumn, Frieze London and Frieze Masters take over large spaces in Regent’s Park. Important events on the creative calendar, these simultaneous art fairs showcase leading talents of the present and past in a whirlwind of color, shape, and texture.

42. Soak up the Autumn Colors

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year in London, not least because the leaves make the city even more beautiful than it already is. From the biggest parks to the smallest mews, leaves of all shapes and sizes turn London into a seasonal feast for the eyes.

Autumn Colors in London

43. Get Spooky for Halloween

Halloween gets bigger every year in London, and events and parties across the city have stepped up their style significantly in the last decade. If you’re coming from out of town, just make sure your costume is spooky—they don’t do non-scary Halloween costumes here.

44. Watch the Bonfire Night Fireworks

Remember, remember the fifth of November. Every year in early November, Bonfire Night fireworks pop across London. This unique tradition commemorates the foiling of Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605.

Houses of Parliament

45. Line the Parade Route for the Lord Mayor’s Show

Not long after the Bonfire Night fireworks come the Lord Mayor’s Show and its accompanying fireworks. Another unique London tradition, it’s worth lining the streets of the City of London to see the parade and coming back at night for the pyrotechnics.

46. Take a Moment of Silence for Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day takes place on the 11th of November (the date of the end of World War I) and is marked by symbolic red poppies. There are ceremonies across London to pay tribute to the members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty, and a moment of silence at 11am. Given this year marks the 100-year anniversary of the Great War’s end, this is one of the most important things to do in London in 2018.

Poppy Display at the Tower of London

47. Get Inspired at the Magical Lantern Festival

As the days get shorter, the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House and Gardens lights up the night with mystical beings and fanciful creatures. It’s a great way to embrace the coming season and fend off the winter blues.

Magical Lantern Festival, London

48. Wish Your American Friends a Happy Thanksgiving

Okay, so this one might be a bit self-serving, but Thanksgiving is a really big deal for Americans and we get pretty homesick when we’re abroad for it. So spare a thought and send some well-wishes to your American friends if you’re in London on the fourth Thursday in November. There are also plenty of restaurants that offer Thanksgiving meals that day, so feel free to get into the spirit if you’re up for a cultural experience (and a LOT of food).

49. Get in the Seasonal Spirit at London’s Christmas Markets

London’s Christmas Markets get bigger and brighter every year, and there’s no better way to embrace the season than by getting involved. From Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park to the Southbank Winter Festival on the Thames, there’s no shortage of chalets and mulled wine to set you on course for Christmas.

Winter Wonderland in London

50. Watch the The Peter Pan Cup

On Christmas day itself, The Peter Pan Cup is a chilly outdoor swimming competition in Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake. If you’re at a loose end and want some entertainment (or a dip), head over and take in the spectacle.

51. Go to the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show

As the year comes to a close, London goes all-out with its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show. This spectacular display lights up the sky above Westminster and the London Eye, closing out one year and ringing in another.

New Year's Eve Fireworks in London

So there you have it. 51 things to do in London in 2018. Or 2019. But even if you don’t get around to them this year or next, I hope this list inspires you to explore more of the city’s events, neighborhoods, and traditions now and in the future.

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Things to Do in London in 2018

14 comments on “Lady’s 51 Things to Do in London in 2018”

  1. This is such a great list! I’m in the process of putting together my 2018 London Bucket List, aka everything I always say I want to do and then never get around to. I’ll definitely be taking some inspiration from your list 🙂

  2. Great overview of things going on in London this year!
    I’m going to be in London for Lumiere this week – exciting! And have always fancied heading to a museum at night and some of the events at London Craft Week! Am off to check out when those are! 👍 Xx

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