Whether you’re splashing the cash this December, or trying to do the holidays on a budget, you don’t have to look far for things to do around London. Yes, you may have to try a little harder to avoid spending money, but there’s still plenty to keep you occupied, so you can celebrate your way. Follow along for some free (and not-so-free) things to do in London this December.

66 Books in Hemel Hempstead – £

Sat in an industrial estate in Hemel Hempstead is 66 Books Ltd, a wholesaler

offering books at 70% off. It is open to the public one weekend a month for an annual membership fee of £2. The warehouse has two floors and is filled wall-to-wall with new titles, old classics and special editions of all genres. They’re in no particular order so dedicate a few hours to look around and get there early if you want to avoid huge queues. It’s a great place to pick up gifts for the family at a huge discount. Check here for the monthly book club dates.

Winter Light at Southbank Centre – free

If you fancy a wander while you take in the Christmas vibes, the Winter Light show at the Southbank Centre is a must-see. The show is an exhibition of outdoor artwork that uses light and colour to explore society, featuring artists like David Batchelor, Jakob Kvist, Marinella Senatore and many more. It’s pretty, it’s wholesome and, best of all, it’s free.

SKATE at Somerset House – ££

Lace up your skates and glide on over to Somerset House if you want to take part in the time-honoured tradition of clutching onto the side of an ice rink, trying not to fall over, while people skate rings around you. Maybe that’s just me. Either way, pop-up ice rinks such as SKATE are a great way to get into the festive spirit and have a laugh or two.

Christmas market tour – free

London has Christmas markets aplenty – from Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland to Christmas at Trafalgar Square to London Bridge City’s Winter by the River. While there’s no shortage of opportunities to spend money, if you just want to soak in the atmosphere, have a wander around the stalls and enjoy the buzz of the crowds, this is a budget-friendly option. Some places do charge an admission fee – looking at you, Winter Wonderland – but if you’re going to spend a whole day there, you’ll more than make up the ticket price.

Candid Studios on Kensington Church Street – £££

This isn’t the most conventional way to ring in December cheer, but it’s a way to have fun and leave with souvenirs to last a lifetime. Candid Studios offer the unique experience of a studio photoshoot but without the photographer. With the camera in place and the props ready, you take the photos yourself without being observed. For someone who doesn’t feel natural in front of a camera, like me, it’s a great way to get some photos with friends, family or just of yourself. Whether you want to gift or receive this experience, or get that perfect snap for a Christmas card, supporting this small business is the way to go.

Spend time with others or yourself – free

The holiday season isn’t always a happy time for everyone. But no matter your situation, there’s always a way to surround yourself with people (if that’s what you want). It could be joining a carol singing group or volunteering at your local soup kitchen, whatever floats your boat.

If you would rather celebrate by yourself, or ignore the season altogether, keep yourself entertained by starting a new book or puzzle, tackling your Netflix watch-list or taking up something creative, like painting a snowy scene. If you’re willing to face the brisk outdoors, take a journey across London on the Walking with The Snowman sculpture trail inspired by the 12 Days of Christmas song. From Chancery Lane to St Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll certainly get your steps in searching for our frosty friends.

By Steph