Explore the Royal Docks this winter
Wrap up warm and head to the Royal Docks this winter. From picturesque parks and delicious hot chocolates to the enchanting Kingdom of Winter and the Community Lantern Walk – there is something for everyone to see, do and explore at this time of year.
Visit our What’s On page to keep up to date with all the latest events. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are five great ways to spend time in the Royal Docks this winter:
Magical family adventures
ExCeL London is the place to be for families looking for something magical this winter. Go on an enchanting festive adventure at Kingdom of Winter and enjoy family-friendly attractions including a winter-themed circus, ice skating, fairground rides, and an immersive ice expedition trail all under one roof. For Disney fans, Disney100: The Exhibition offers special behind-the-scenes glimpses into the creation of the most popular Disney characters, films, shows, and attractions.
There’s plenty of free family fun to be had too. Wrap up warm and light up the night sky at the Community Lantern Walk or take part in Christmas wreath making and cookie decorating classes at the UEL Winter Fair. The Royal Docks Learning and Activity Centre (RDLAC) also has lots on offer this winter. Join the festivities at their community Christmas lunch and the Christmas party complete with carol singing, mince pies and hot chocolate. The centre will also be open to all as a warm hub.
There are many beautiful local parks to explore too. Wander through the hedge maze at Thames Barrier Park, enjoy the river views from Lyle Park, or book a court on a crisp winters day for a game of tennis at Royal Victoria Gardens. There’s even a Floating Garden at Royal Victoria Dock. This pocket park provides a floating wetland habitat for around 4,000 aquatic plant species, creating a unique hotspot of urban biodiversity.
Nothing is more festive than a winter market, and you’re spoilt for choice in the Royal Docks. Don’t miss these bustling winter markets - Britannia Village Youth, Good Hotel, Ballymore and Rosetta Arts. Pick up unique stocking fillers from local makers, enjoy delicious street food and soak up the seasonal cheer as you stroll through the markets.
Connect with the Community
Join one of the many Christmas celebrations taking place at libraries across Newham. Activities vary but expect all things festive, from carolling, Christmas crafts and festive face painting to Christmas foods from around the world, workshops and of course Santa’s grotto.
For a party vibe, check out Social Convention’s jam-packed calendar of exciting events. The entertainment includes free live jazz and a drag show hosted by Violetta J'Adore every second Friday.
Get crafty with the community at Sew Social, a free monthly sewing group for textile enthusiasts in Newham. Connect with other local crafters, use the sewing machines to work on your own projects, and receive helpful advice from the friendly group members. It’s the perfect opportunity to make your own Christmas stocking!
If you fancy an old fashioned knees up, head to Brick Lane Music Hall. Enjoy a delicious festive 3-course lunch before the show. The entertainment then begins with a performance of song, dance and festive fun, keeping the tradition of music hall alive.
A wintery day out at Royal Victoria Dock
Take to the skies with a ride on the IFS Cloud Cable Car from Greenwich Peninsula to Royal Victoria Dock . You’ll soar 295ft above the ground as it crosses the River Thames. You’ll experience spectacular views of the capital and the magnificent expanse of the Royal Docks. You may even spot a Christmas tree or two.
Did you know you can enjoy open water swimming in the Royal Victoria Dock during the winter too? For the courageous amongst you, brave the cold and join the Christmas swim. There’ll be warm drinks, snacks, goodie bags and prizes to be won for the best dressed festive dress swimmer. Research shows that cold water immersion can help conditions such as high blood pressure, migraines and symptoms of menopause and even depression. It’s also great fun!
You can then head to one of the many great local cafés to warm up. Perky Blenders X Goodvibes at Expressway offers seriously good coffee or indulge in a mug of their award-winning hot chocolate.
Wrap yourself up in art, history and heritage
The Royal Docks also boasts many fantastic art installations. ‘Types of Happiness’, by renowned artist Yinka Ilori, features 10ft chairs with bold and colourful patterns. The chairs will definitely brighten up your day! The installation is part of The Line, a free public art walk running between the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The O2. The Royal Docks is also home to exciting works by Madge Gill, Laura Ford and Larry Achiampong.
You can also immerse yourself in the area’s unique history and landscape with our self-guided tours and trails. It’s the perfect way to explore the Royal Docks, on foot or by bike. Haven't got a bike? You can simply hire a compact Brompton folding bike from one of the lockers at Royal Albert Station, Custom House station, Cyprus Station and Beckton station.
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Free things to do in the Royal Docks
There are so many ways you can have a great time in the Royal Docks without spending a penny. Check out our guide to some of the best things to do in the area completely free!