Ah, Christmas movies! They’re a timeless tradition that takes us away from our everyday lives and brings us into a world of festive cheer and holiday magic. And ever since the first Christmas movies were made, London has been a beloved backdrop for many of them. From cult classics like Love Actually to modern remakes such as The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, the city’s timeless beauty and unique charm never ceases to create the perfect setting for holiday romance and drama.
So, what do you say? Are you ready for some magical movies that will transport you right into the heart of London during the holiday season? Or even better, to check them out yourself? Then, read on to explore some of the most iconic locations from these classic films.
NOTE: This list is limited to picture-perfect London locations and places that are still there (somewhat) untouched. If, however, you want to check out the corner shop where Bridget buys her cigarettes (no judgment here!), the Dickins & Jones that has since been turned into a high street retailer, or fancy a trip down to Gloucestershire, I have added the links for posts where you can find their exact locations.
Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)
A modern twist on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones’ Diary stars Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones who finds herself stuck between two men—the sophisticated Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and her wild boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). From start to finish this movie is full of humour and romance with plenty of London scenes sprinkled throughout. It truly captures what it feels like to be single in London at Christmastime!
Movie Locations: This classic romantic comedy was shot almost entirely in London, primarily in the borough of Southwark.
- Check out Bridget’s (oh-so-affordable!) flat: Above The Globe Tavern at 8 Bedale Street.
- Walk past the fictitious Greek restaurant where Daniel and Mark get into a fight: Right opposite Bridget’s flat, at 5 Bedale Street. It is currently a wine bar/merchant with a changing menu of wine and small plates (Bedales of Borough Market).
- Grab a bite or a drink with Bridget’s friends: The restaurant with beautiful views over London where Bridget dines with Shazza and Jude is Tate Modern Restaurant in Tate Modern. Sadly, the glamourous and exotic Maroccan restaurant where Bridget seeks their advice (Momo at 25-27 Heddon Street) went into liquidation and is no more. But it’s not all doom and gloom. While not a movie location itself, Momo’s old sister bar Kwānt, is still around and currently serving up a storm in its new location on Stratton Street in Mayfair.
- Relive the launch of Kafka’s Motorbike: After a quick run through Piccadilly Circus à la Bridget, make your way to the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) on the Mall, where you can feast your eyes and ears on revolutionary and cutting-edge art.
- Meet the swift hand of justice: Soak in the beauty of the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand, where Bridget dabbles in covering the extradition case for Sit Up Britain.
- Recreate Daniel and Bridget’s date: Enjoy a meal in Cantina del Ponte, at 36c Shad Thames, on the Butler’s Wharf quayside (minus the now-shocking indoor smoking common throughout the movie), followed by a kiss beneath the walkways of Shad Thames Wharf Bridges.
- Trot back to Bridget’s from Daniel’s flat: Through the Borough Market, the most famous food market in London.
- Reunite with your Mr Darcy: At the Royal Exchange Buildings in Cornhill, right at the heart of the City.
Huge Bridget Jones fan no matter the (festive) season? Then you may like this list of all the Bridget Jones filming locations in England.
About a Boy (2002)
About A Boy is an uplifting British comedy-drama set in North West London which follows Will Freeman (Hugh Grant), a wealthy bachelor who pretends to have children so he can join single-parent groups and meet women. Along his journey, he meets Marcus – an odd 12-year-old boy – who helps him learn what it really means to care about someone else besides himself and ultimately teaches him how to take responsibility for his own life.
- Wander around Will’s neighbourhood: Clerkenwell, an area that was just turning hip in 2002 when the movie was filmed. It is now completely transformed and has become one of the city’s great destinations for foodies.
- Walk by the entrance to his flat: Where an elusive little door was added just for the movie (16-18 St James Walk, at the corner of Sekforde Street).
- Treat yourself to some yummy French food: At Comptoir Gascon, 63 Charterhouse Street, which is currently closed for dining in until further notice, but offers takeaway and delivery on Friday and Saturday.
- Unlike Will, you can opt to lend a helping hand: At St James Church in Clerkenwell.
- Go on a movie date: At BFI London IMAX Cinema in Waterloo. You really can’t miss that big illuminated rotunda!
- Spoil your date with an elegant dinner: At Hakkasan, 8 Hanway Place, a Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant just off Tottenham Court Road.
- In the mood for a Grade II listed building spotting: If so, you can check out Acton Town Hall, Acton High Street, which doubled as the school auditorium.
Love Actually (2003)
This classic rom-com is sure to warm your heart during the cold winter months.
Set in modern-day London, Love Actually follows multiple stories about love in all its forms over the course of a single month leading up to Christmas. With an all-star cast including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman and more, Love Actually will have you laughing and crying as you explore all kinds of relationships around London during a particularly magical time of year.
Movie Locations: If you are looking for a movie that hits all the quintessentially London spots, then this must be it!
- Look for signs that “Love actually is all around”: At Heathrow Airport (from bookend sequences), Trafalgar Square, Millenium Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral or Central Court of Somerset House. Bonus points if you can get a picture on the ice rink of the Somerset House. The opening sequence of the movie, right after the studio recording, is essentially a tour de force around London’s biggest sights. Unfortunately, Whiteleys in Queensway, with the massive indoor Christmas tree, is no longer a department store or even open for a visit. But the plans are underway to turn it into private residences, the UK’s first Six Senses hotel, and choice restaurants and retailers. So, watch this space!
- Follow the most dashing Prime Minister: To, well, unsurprisingly, 10 Downing Street.
- For a moment of peace and quiet: Visit St Paul’s Clapham (from the funeral scenes) or Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair (from the wedding scenes).
- Followed by a moment of total silence: The film’s most defining moment (you know, the one with the cue cards) takes place in 27 St Luke’s Mews, in Notting Hill. An area that is so rom-com that it has a movie named after it!
- Enjoy the retail therapy at its best, with a necklace or two: At Selfridges, on Oxford Street.
- Have your very own heart-to-heart on a bench: At Gabriel’s Wharf, on The Queen’s Walk in Southwark. While you’re there, make sure to visit Oxo Tower Wharf, which doubled as Mark’s home.
- Search for the ‘the dodgy end of Wandsworth’: With a drive or walk across the beautiful Albert Bridge in Chelsea.
Want to check out all the locations in Love Actually? Then you will love this post by MovieLocations.com.
The Holiday (2006)
Set between England and Los Angeles, this charming movie stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, as two women who switch homes during Christmas time in order to get away from their old lives and find new perspectives on life and love. While one ends up in sunny Los Angeles and the other in a small English village, both eventually find themselves visiting each other’s homes—and falling head over heels for new men—in London just before Christmas Day arrives. It’s an entertaining romantic comedy that will have you swooning until its end!
Movie Locations: OK, true, the English part of the movie was primarily filmed in Surrey. But since it is a very very very Christmassy movie, and has at least the Houses of Parliament and South Bank of the River Thames in the shot, we will call this a Christmas movie set in London. Sssh, don’t tell anyone.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
No list of Christmas movies would be complete without including Charles Dickens’ timeless classic ‘A Christmas Carol’. This 2009 remake starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge —the penny-pinching miser who learns his lesson about the spirit of Christmas from three ghosts who visit him on one fateful night—, captures all of Dickens’ original charm whilst updating it for modern audiences with stunning 3D animation effects.
Movie Locations: Yes, it is an animated movie, but most of its scenes have locations you can visit in London today, like Camden and the good old Big Ben!
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)
This 2018 fantasy adventure retells ETA Hoffmann’s classic 1816 story about Clara Stahlbaum’s search for a special key that will unlock a box containing a priceless gift from her late mother – which leads her on an adventure into four realms filled with magic and wonderment. Along the way, she meets some magical characters including Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley) and Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren).
Movie Locations: The movie was shot at Pinewood Studios near London. Scenes were also filmed at Syon House’s Great Conservatory in west London, Dulwich College in southeast London and Kensington Gore, next to the Royal Albert Hall.
Last Christmas (2019)
Last Christmas is one of those feel-good romcoms that can be enjoyed by all ages. Set in contemporary London, this movie follows Kate (played by Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones), a young woman who finds herself stuck in an unsatisfying job while struggling with her mental health until she meets Tom who helps her gain perspective on life again. Through a series of unexpected encounters and romantic misadventures, she learns how to live life to its fullest and rediscovers the importance of family and friendship.
Movie Locations: The majority of filming took place in London, with major highlights like Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, the Strand, and the Embankment, all making an appearance.
- For a heavenly moment: Drop by St Sofia’s Greek Cathedral in Bayswater, for the opulent interiors from the flashbacks. Or St Mary’s Church in Marylebone, with a gorgeous rounded stone portico, where Tom volunteers.
- Feel the buzz: On Electric Avenue in Brixton, South London, where we first get a glimpse of Kate’s perfect elf shoes!
- The Yuletide store where Kate works: A fictional store at Covent Garden, the heart and soul of Christmas in London!
- Enjoy a show where Kate auditioned, after all, she is “not a career elf”: At the Noel Coward Theatre on St Martin’s Lane in the West End or Savoy Theatre on the Strand. But don’t be late!
- Bump into love: At Cecil Court, a whole street dedicated to art, antiques, books, maps and curiosities. And follow it down to Brydges Place.
- Find yourself a bench: At the Phoenix Garden, where, like Kate, you might be bestowed upon a secret or two.
- Get your ice skates on: At the Alexandra Palace (affectionately known as Ally Pally) Ice Rink.
- Take a walk with Kate and Tom and don’t forget to “look up”: At Lombard Street with the grasshopper sign. Philpot Lane, with the statues of mice and cheese. And at Spitalfields and Brick Lane, Tom’s stomping ground.
- Grab a bite: On a bench in Albert Bridge Gardens in true Kate style or at Simpson’s In The Strand.
If you need something festive to watch over the holidays then why not check out one (or all!) of these amazing films set in this beloved city? Whether you want some lighthearted laughs or a heartwarming drama – there’s something here for everyone!
So get your favourite hot drink ready, draw those curtains closed tight, curl up on your couch with a fluffy blanket and let yourself be transported into another world full of excitement and adventure. You have a movie date with London at the most festive time of year! Oh, and if you’re in the city, why not pay these movie locations a visit?
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