The tell-tale chill in the air and frosty dew on the morning grass can only mean one thing; winter is here. Despite the cold, the dark and the gloom, this time of year equals the start of the festive period. It’s time to crack open the mulled wine, breathe in the nostalgic aroma of roasting chestnuts and adorn the tree in tinsel and baubles.

Whether you’re staying in London during Christmas or simply passing through, there are a whole host of things to do. The paradox of choice, conversely, can leave you feeling a little lost on what to do and where to stay. Halt those worries though, as there’s a great selection of affordable London hostels available, and just for you, we’ve put together a list festive activities in London, none of which will break the bank. So, you have no excuses for not getting amongst it in the capital and getting in the spirit of the season. With that in mind then, here are 5 IDEAL festive activities in London this winter.

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

Nothing quite sings Christmas spirit like Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park; it really has it all. From ice sculptures and skating to fairground rides and Christmas markets, all illuminated under sparkling Christmas lights, this is the place to really appreciate the joys of the holiday season. Winter Wonderland and many of the activities there are free to enter, however, some of the most popular attractions do require a paid-for ticket such as the Giant Observation Wheel, Magical Ice Kingdom and The Sooty Christmas Show, so check in advance to avoid disappointment and budget correctly.

Winter Wonderland is open daily from 10am – 10pm and is closed on Christmas Day.

Take A Stroll Along The Southbank

The southern stretch of the Thames, from Waterloo to Blackfriars, is jam-packed with things to do all year round and the festive season is no exception. In fact, everything goes up a fair few notches in the activity stakes come Christmas time. Southbank in Winter pulls out all the stops and is definitely worth taking a stroll through. From Christmas markets to seasonal Christmas shows, there’s plenty on offer. Running alongside the Thames means visitors are exposed to uninterrupted views of some of London’s most iconic landmarks, and at night time these panoramic views are pretty darn spellbinding.

Hogwarts in the Snow

Although the Harry Potter Studio Tour isn’t free to enter, it’s a great, magical experience for all the family and well worth the money. For those of you that wished they were in Gryffindor or Hufflepuff or want to try Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, this is a must!

For the festive season, the Harry Potter studios get a winter makeover with Christmas ornaments scattered around the halls and the ever-present scale model of Hogwarts being treated to a sprinkle of snow and ice effects. For fans of the global Harry Potter phenomenon, this is one not to be missed.

Kingston Christmas Market

A little further away from the hustle and bustle of central London, Kingston Christmas Market has festive charm and cheer in abundance. The traditional wooden chalets situated side-by-side throughout Kingston’s high street shout loud and proud that Christmas is upon us.

Once you’ve meandered through the streets, sit back and relax while sipping mulled wine and eating the global offerings from the many food stalls. Truly a perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit and who knows, you might even see Santa.

Ice Skating at Somerset House

Set in the picturesque 18th-century neoclassical surrounds of Somerset House, Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum and Mason is one of the most iconic ice rinks in London. Skate the day or night away with music from top DJ’s and when you’re finished there are plenty of shops for you to buy festive gifts and treats for friends and family.