12 Days of Festivities: A Guide for Students Away from Home

19 December 2023

As the festive season approaches, LFA knows that most of our international students will remain in London during December, with a considerable percentage of our UK-based cohort heading home.  

As the semester concludes, we realise that student accommodation can become quieter and being in a new country, away from home, during the holiday season can present its challenges. Thankfully, London continues to be a vibrant city with plenty of fun, free and festive activities to keep you busy well into the New Year.  

Whether you're eager to get in the Christmas spirit or want to enjoy the cosiness and joy of the season, we have a range of tips and experiences for all. 

Image taken by Jamie Davies, Unsplash

1. Embark on the London Lights Walking Tour 

Take to the streets of London and stroll through central London, with an impressive display of Christmas lights overhead. Play London landmarks bingo as you pass Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, Covent Garden and more.  

Plenty of picture-worthy spots might just serve as cinematic inspiration for any festive film enthusiasts… 

2. Watch a Christmas Film Screening 

What's a list for aspiring filmmakers without a trip to the cinema? This one might require you to wrap up warm, with venues like Granary Square in King's Cross hosting free film nights during the holiday season. 

3. Take in Trafalgar Square’s Christmas Tree 

Head to Trafalgar Square for the spectacle that is the annual Norwegian gift; a majestic Christmas tree.  

This iconic symbol of seasonal joy, adorned with twinkling lights casts its warm glow over the square where a Christmas market, carol singers and more await. 

4. Walking in a Winter Wonderland 

While some activities in Winter Wonderland cost, the entrance to Hyde Park and the festive atmosphere are free during off-peak times. You can wander through the park's Bavarian-inspired village, magical Ice Kingdom, Circus Town and more as you enter the December spirit. 

5. Check Out the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival 

The Southbank Centre hosts its annual Winter Festival with various free events, including concerts, performances and festive markets. Check the schedule for free activities during the Christmas season.  

Plus, you'll find a stroll around the centre's outside, which reveals an array of delicious street food vendors in traditional Alpine-style chalets. Think London's charm and vibrancy meet the cosy ambience of the slopes of La Plagne (likely without the snow). 

6. Explore London's Christmas Markets 

Keeping with the seasonal markets theme, you'll find an array of them scattered across the city, from Greenwich and Camden Market to the Christmas by the River market at London Bridge City.  

While you can certainly shop until you drop, wandering and soaking in the festive atmosphere is entirely free. 

7. Carol Singing Across London 

Warm the vocal cords and join in or simply listen to traditional carol singing in some of London's most historic locations. Whether it's churches, pubs or open spaces there will be a whole host of free carol concerts throughout December to get involved in. 

8. Head to The National Gallery 

While the National Gallery is always free to enter, during the Christmas season, you can also enjoy special events and exhibitions without additional cost. 

9. Experience Museum Lates 

Keeping with the artistic appreciation, some of London's top museums, such as the British Museum, Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, also host special evening events known as "Lates".  

While some Lates may have an entry fee, many are free and offer a unique opportunity to explore exhibits in a festive atmosphere after hours.

10. Sample The Treats of Borough Market 

Roaming through Borough Market's vibrant streets comes at no cost and you're free to soak in the lively atmosphere and festive adornments. Naturally, if you fancy indulging, an array of delicious treats awaits... 

11. Winter Walks Across London 

Explore London's picturesque parks and gardens. We've already mentioned Hyde Park but why not escape the busyness of the city and head to Regents Park and Hampstead Heath? Both are especially beautiful during the winter months.  

Plus, a crisp winter walk, surrounded by bare trees and perhaps a light dusting of snow (if you're lucky) can provide the respite and tranquillity needed after a busy semester. 

12. Discover Battersea Power Station  

Tube over to the iconic Battersea Power Station, with plenty of photo opportunities, riverside walks, art installations and community-driven activities. Take advantage of the Power Station's proximity to the free-to-enter Battersea Park, with green spaces, lakes and cycle paths to help explore. 

However, if you choose to spend this time of year, we know that LFA plays a pivotal role in offering comfort and assistance to those students away from home in December.  

We aim to alleviate any difficulties and homesickness you might feel during this time with 12 days of enjoyable and cost-effective activities. In line with our ongoing commitment to students, LFA remains available throughout the season, extending support and guidance beyond academic pursuits.  

As we embrace the holiday spirit, our dedication to the well-being and fulfilment of our students remains unwavering.