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Christmas in the UK

Somerset House Ice-rinkIf you're an overseas student spending Christmas in the UK for the first time it can be hard to know what to do for the few days around the Christmas period itself. Central London can be quite quiet at this time of year, and Christmas Day (25th December) is a national holiday so shops and tourist attractions are closed. However, there are lots of great options you might like to consider when planning your Christmas in the UK:

Go on a HOST Visit!

You can apply to stay with a British family over the Christmas period, to experience an authentic British Christmas. If you have not been on a HOST visit before King's will pay for your first visit, and you will just need to cover your travel costs. You need to apply well in advance as the Christmas holiday is a very popular time for HOST visits. You will need to register early in order to be placed with a host over Christmas. The deadline for visits over the Christmas period was 18th November, but you can still apply for a visit in early January.

Experience a traditional British Christmas party!

Each year International Students House holds a traditional British Christmas party with all the trimmings on Christmas Day, including Christmas Dinner, party games and a walk in Regents Park. You will need to book in advance and pay a small fee to attend this event.

Spend Christmas in the Highlands!

Our friends at Haggis Adventures run a choice of trips to the Scottish Highlands ranging from 3-5 days which include tours, parties and a proper Christmas dinner. If you're looking to go away for New Year you can join in traditional Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh on one of their tailor-made tours.

Christmas in London...

There are all sorts of events in London before, during and after Christmas including concerts, carol services, markets, Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland, and funfairs, many of which are free! Or why not go ice skating, or go to the pantomime, a form of entertainment (probably) only found in the UK? Time Out is another great place to find out what's going on when throughout the holiday season.

...Or Europe?

There are Christmas markets, special activities and festivals all over Europe between November and January, many of which are accessible by the Eurostar (including the Christmas Markets in Lille and Brussels) or less than a 2-hour flight away. If you're travelling in Europe make sure you read our pages on travelling outside the UK before you go.

Commonwealth and International Student Christmas Weekend

Taking place at Cumberland Lodge, a royal 17th Century house in the grounds of Windsor Great Park, this traditional British Christmas celebration is held a week before Christmas (on 18th-20th December) and includes a trip to Windsor Castle, Christmas lunch and even a visit from Father Christmas!


There are lots of opportunities to volunteer over Christmas. In particular, Crisis are looking for speakers of other languages to join their translation teams. You'd be working with homeless people at one of their London centres, helping them have a great Christmas. For more information visit their webiste.

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