Situated in the heart of London, Trafalgar Square is a bustling public space known for its historic monuments and the iconic National Gallery.
During Christmas, the square hosts a unique market that adds a festive layer to this already popular tourist spot.
In this guide, I’ll cover all the essentials you’ll need to explore Trafalgar Square Christmas Market, such as 2023 dates, opening times, and details around the lighting of the famous Christmas tree.
A highlight of Trafalgar Square at Christmas is the lighting of the Norwegian Christmas tree, an annual gift from Norway to the UK.
This iconic tree serves as a thank-you gift from Norway to the UK for the support provided during World War II and has done so since 1947.
The lighting takes place in Trafalgar Square and symbolises the enduring friendship between the two nations.
The towering Norwegian spruce is affectionately referred to as ‘the queen of the forest’ by Norwegian foresters.
This tree is over 20 metres high and aged between 50 and 60 years. It’s selected with great care months or even years in advance from the forests surrounding Oslo.
The ceremonial felling of the tree involves the participation of British and Norwegian dignitaries, and it’s transported to the UK by sea and lorry.
Once in place, a specialist rigging team erects the tree using a hydraulic crane, and it’s adorned in traditional Norwegian fashion with vertical strings of energy-efficient light bulbs.
It remains in Trafalgar Square until just before the Twelfth Night of Christmas, after which it is recycled into mulch.
Trafalgar Square Christmas Market 2023
At the Christmas market in Trafalgar Square, you’ll encounter wooden chalets stocked with a variety of goods.
For those interested in indulging their senses, hot chocolate and mulled wine are available to keep you warm.
Adding to the festive mood, carol singers perform in December, enriching the atmosphere with music.
Dates and Location
Trafalgar Square Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 10th November 2023 to 2nd January 2024.
Location: Trafalgar Square.
Opening hours: 11am to 9pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 7th December 2023.
Ice skating: No. There is ice skating at Somerset House (11 min walk from Trafalgar Square).
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Recommended tour: Westminster tour and changing of the guard.
Reason to visit: The lighting of the historic Norwegian Christmas tree.
Where to stay: Haymarket Hotel is a popular hotel, located 3 minutes from the Christmas market.
Hotels near Trafalgar Square Christmas Market
Staying near Trafalgar Square provides easy access to the Christmas market and nearby attractions like the National Gallery and Covent Garden. The West End, known for its theatres and dining options, is also within walking distance.
For convenience and quality, I recommend the Haymarket Hotel near the Christmas market and other central London attractions.
Location of Trafalgar Square Christmas Market
Recommended Walking and Food Tours
A city tour of London provides an excellent opportunity to explore the city’s diverse history and culture.
The capital is brimming with iconic landmarks, world-renowned museums, and vibrant neighbourhoods, making it a must-visit at any time of the year.
This Westminster tour and changing of the guard is a great place to start.
For something different, try this Secret Old London walking tour.
If you’re interested in the culinary aspect of London, a food tour is a compelling alternative. This is a hugely popular London food tour.
These tours are gaining in popularity and provide an informative and delicious way to understand local culture and flavours.
For a more festive market experience this winter, read my London Christmas Market 2023 guide where you’ll find larger and more diverse Christmas markets.
To explore other seasonal events like this around the country, I recommend taking a look at my Best Christmas Markets UK guide, where you’ll find key information on dates, opening times, and local specialties.
Christmas in Trafalgar Square
Christmas Specialties in Trafalgar Square
Mulled Wine: A hot drink made from red wine, spices, and sometimes fruits. Mulled wine is a staple at British Christmas markets. Its warm, spicy aroma fills the air as you walk past the stalls.
Mince Pies: Traditional British pastry filled with mincemeat. Often homemade, these pies are a sweet treat locals and visitors enjoy during Christmas.
British Cheeses: You’ll find a variety of local cheeses, including Cheddar and Stilton. They’re often sold in special holiday gift packages and pair well with crackers or fruit.
Artisan Chocolates: Handmade chocolates are available in various shapes and flavours. Crafted by local chocolatiers, these chocolates make great gifts or indulgent treats for yourself.
Traditional Sausage Rolls: A British favourite, sausage rolls consist of sausage meat wrapped in puff pastry. They’re often enjoyed warm and are perfect for a quick, savoury snack.
Hot Cider: Made from apple juice and spices, hot cider provides a non-alcoholic alternative to mulled wine. It’s a popular choice for warming up on chilly winter evenings.
Roast Chestnuts: Often sold from carts, these are roasted on-site and served in paper cones. The nutty aroma and warm, slightly sweet taste make them a popular snack.
Gingerbread: These spiced, molasses-based cookies often come in festive shapes like stars, snowflakes, and even intricate houses. They’re both decorative and delicious.
Pretzels: Originating from Germany, these twisted bread treats are often salted or come with sweet coatings like cinnamon sugar. A versatile snack, they fit both sweet and savoury cravings.
Stollen: A German Christmas bread filled with dried fruit and marzipan. It’s a heavier snack, making it a filling option if you’re planning to spend a lot of time exploring the market.
Churros: These Spanish dough pastries are deep-fried and usually coated in sugar. Often served with a cup of hot chocolate for dipping, they offer a different kind of sweetness.
Poffertjes: These are small, fluffy Dutch pancakes usually served with a dusting of powdered sugar. Light and delicious, they make for an excellent quick bite.
Hot Chocolate: Various stalls serve this classic winter drink, sometimes with the option of adding whipped cream or marshmallows. It’s a go-to choice for families with children.
Christmas Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Hand-knitted Scarves: Local artisans often sell scarves knitted from high-quality wool. These make for practical gifts that also offer a piece of local craftsmanship. Each scarf typically features intricate patterns or traditional designs.
British Tea Blends: Tea is an essential part of British culture, and you’ll find special Christmas blends that often include flavours like cinnamon, ginger, and clove. These teas come in beautifully designed tins or packages, making them easy to gift.
Union Jack Merchandise: From keychains to magnets, you’ll find various items featuring the Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom. These make for convenient, lightweight souvenirs to take home.
Local Craft Beer: Small-batch brews from local London breweries can be purchased either in individual bottles or as part of a sampler set. They offer a taste of London’s vibrant craft beer scene.
Christmas Ornaments: Hand-painted or glass-blown, these ornaments often depict London landmarks or classic British symbols. Adding one to your Christmas tree could become a fond annual tradition.
Spiced Nuts: While not a traditional gift, spiced or candied nuts are often sold in decorative bags or jars. They make for a tasty, easily transportable snack that can also serve as a last-minute gift.
Gourmet Food Baskets: These baskets combine a variety of local goods like cheese, sausages, and chocolates. Presented in decorative packaging, they provide an assortment of British flavours in one convenient gift.
Fairy Lights: Some stalls sell fairy lights in a variety of shapes and sizes, from classic white lights to those shaped like iconic British symbols. They can add a festive touch to any room and are easy to pack.
Things to Do in Winter
For a reliable source of information on things to do in winter and the latest events, I’d recommend visiting Visit London, the city’s official website.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are some ways to make your Trafalgar Square Christmas visit more sustainable.
Eco-Friendly Accommodation: I recommend opting for hotels that are committed to using renewable energy sources. These hotels not only help in reducing carbon footprints but also often have sustainability measures like water-saving appliances and waste recycling systems in place. You’ll find several options in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square.
Reducing Food Waste: When you buy food at the Christmas markets in Trafalgar Square, be mindful of portions. Overindulging in the festive atmosphere is easy, but unnecessary food waste can be a real issue. Many stalls even allow you to bring your own containers for food, further cutting down on waste.
Ethical Consumption: While the market vendors offer a wide array of products, think before you purchase. Buy only what you really need or will use, and consider the longevity and utility of the items. Some stalls specialize in handcrafted goods made from sustainable materials, which support local artisans and are also kinder to the planet.
Sustainable Diets: If you’re considering eating at the market, look for stalls that offer plant-based options. Consuming less meat and dairy is one way to lessen your environmental impact. Some of these stalls source their produce locally, which also contributes to a smaller carbon footprint.
Sustainable Transport: Finally, Trafalgar Square is well-connected by public transport. Buses, trains, and the Tube offer convenient and eco-friendly ways to get around. Walking or cycling is also feasible and allows you to see more of the city while reducing emissions.
The Trafalgar Square Christmas Market dates are likely from the 10th November 2023 to 2nd January 2024.
Situated right in the heart of London, the Trafalgar Square Christmas Market is hard to miss. It’s accessible via multiple public transport options, including the Tube and buses.
Opening times for this market are 11am to 9pm.
Expect a bustling atmosphere, especially in the evenings and on weekends. It’s a popular spot for both tourists and locals, so if you prefer a quieter experience, weekday mornings are generally less busy.
If you would like to leave a review of Trafalgar Square Xmas Market, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Trafalgar Square, London. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.