9 Fabulously Festive Ideas For First Dates In London This Christmas

If there is anything that the cheesy (but addictive) Hallmark films have taught us, it’s that Christmas is ripe with romance. While the likelihood of bumping into a plaid-wearing reindeer wrangler with a heart of gold, a sweet curly-haired baker with big dreams or the chiselled-jaw prince of some obscure snowy place called Liedovia is slim, there’s always a way to spin your own fairytale with a festive date right here in the city. We’ve rounded up some ideas for a festive first date where you can soak up the magic of the season and maybe even fall in love while you’re at it.

Image: Phantom Peak

Can’t decide between teaming up for an immersive experience, chatting over food and drink or taking a stroll by the waterside? Well, at Phantom Peak Wintermas you can do all three. This winter, a blanket of snow will fall on the steampunk-meets-western town and transform it into a festive wonderland; a perfect setting to chill by the glittering lake with a steaming hot chocolate, embark on a series of quests to unearth the town’s tangled web of secrets or, if you’re a competitive pair, face off against each other playing carnival games. There’s no shortage of things to do that will break the ice and have you cosying up in no time.

There’s always a bit of extra magic in the air in the festive months and Christmas at Kenwood: A Breathtaking Light Trail definitely delivers on all things spellbinding. If you’re looking for a romantic walk to remember then this experience in Hampstead Heath is the place to go. Just picture it; the two of you, holding hands while the colourful spectrum of lights dance across your faces and giant projections transport you into a magical wonderland. There’s also festive food so there’ll be no complaints of rumbling stomachs and warming cocktails to help soothe any first-date jitters.

3. Explore the many delights of the Christmas Markets

leicester square christmas market

A staple on any fan of the holiday season’s list, exploring the Christmas markets is a buzzing setting to soak up the festive spirit together. You’ll have a great excuse to stick close for warmth while mulled wine and cider stalls are at hand to keep your hands toasty. This is also an opportunity to get to know each other as you peruse the different gifts on offer; are they a chutney-lover? Maybe they can’t resist a grapefruit-infused craft beer or melt over a cute animal coaster…

After a long week of work, wrapping presents with papercut-ravaged fingers and coordinating your Christmas plans with the family, sometimes all you want is to sit back and forget the world for a while. A Christmas Candlelight Concert is your answer. You and your date can relax amid the soft glow of candlelight and listen to enchanting Christmas music played by talented musicians. Can’t resist a heartwarming festive film? Listen to twinking melodies and catchy riffs from films such as Love Actually, Home Alone, Elf and more at Candlelight Christmas.

heated terraces

Pull on your woolly hat, slip into your favourite puffer coat (trust me, you might need the extra padding if you have the balance of Bambi) and prepare for 45-minute whizz around Europe’s first rooftop ice skating rink: Skylight Tobacco Dock. You’ll not only be in a Christmas-drenched setting but the buzz of fellow skaters, views of glittering London and the prime opportunity to grab your date’s hand for balance are sure to get the sparks flying in no time.

If you’re fresh off watching the new series of the Crown and have a fascination with all things royal then you might want to dip your toe in their regal world for the afternoon and drag your date along for the carriage ride. Even better, between now and January 1 (excluding December 25) you can treat yourself to the Winter Wonderland afternoon tea – with the option of bottomless champagne for an extra fee. Stick out those pinkies and get ready to tuck into sandwiches, pastries and even a vanilla and cranberry bauble – edible, of course.

7. Breathe in the fresh air on a stroll around Kew Gardens

the palm house light show at kew's christmas trail, with purple and blue illuminated jets of water lighting up the scene
©Raymond Gubbay Ltd – Richard Haughton

Not a fan of stilted conversation? Why don’t you let the idyllic wilds of nature do the talking and go for a picturesque wander around Kew Gardens? This season you can visit Christmas at Kew to enjoy after-dark activities that will light up the night and prove to be a mesmerising backdrop to your first date. You can expect a wondrous walk under the stars, punctuated by jewel shades illuminating the trees, colourful reflections shimmering on the waters and hypnotic tunnels of light – try and resist digging out your phone for a pic, we dare you.

8. Get lost in a cinematic story

Credit: Luna Cinemas

One thing Christmas always brings – as well as good tidings of course – is the return of festive films. Whether it’s the childlike joy that Elf inspires, the snow-dusted romance of The Holiday or the ho-ho-ho-lly jolly action of Die Hard (accept it, it’s a Christmas film) they have a knack of getting us in the swing of the holidays. Why not whisk your date away to an extra special showing from Luna Cinema at Kensington Palace Pavilion? Taking place from December 10-23, you can cosy up on beanbags in a magical wintery setting (think Christmas trees, festive lights, sprinklings of snow) and catch all your favourite Christmas classics.

9. Sip winter cocktails in style

If your date is a cocktail or mocktail fan, and I mean, who isn’t? Why not get yourselves all dolled up and head on over to Isabel in Mayfair for a tastebud-tantalising experience? Located in a centuries-old building, this restaurant is dripping in shimmering gold decor, with warm retro nods and pinstripe carpets that welcome you in and banish any vestiges of the bitter cold outside. One particular cocktail that is sure to go down as smooth as, well, honey, is the gold-leaf Bee’groni, an ethically sourced bitter honey aperitif that has notes of cinchona bark. This expertly balanced winter drink will be just the thing to get you feeling extra festive.