Best Christmas film screenings in London, 2023
From the enormity of the BFI Imax to The Luna Cinema's return to Kensington Palace, we round up the best Christmas film screenings London 2023 has to offer
And in this most wonderful time, themed cinemas all over London offer
cosy, wondrous experiences that ignite those end-of-year pleasures. We’ve found
the capital city’s best options to craft a cinematic Christmas you’ll never forget.
BFI at Christmas
Photo: David Jensen
The BFI Imax is the beating heart of cinematic London; it’s a literal roundabout between Waterloo station and the South Bank, housing the largest screen in the UK. An ideal location, then, for bombastic festivities. This year, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Jon Favreau’s modern classic Elf, the entire venue will be transformed into the Manhattan department store where Buddy (Will Ferrell) works.
As well as giving Elf a 20 x 26m experience – complete with 4K and laser projection – the BFI has provided a great selection of movies to watch this Christmas. Come with Timothée Chalamet to a world of pure imagination with the new Wonka prequel, climb aboard The Polar Express in 3D, and see the hosts of the Ghibliotheque podcast introduce the 2003 animation Tokyo Godfathers. You can also revel in the anniversary of The Return of the King with the entire The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Or if you prefer a more cultured experience, the BFI is winding down its Powell and Pressburger season with Imax screenings of A Matter of Life and Death and Black Narcissus.
Where: BFI IMAX, 1 Charlie Chaplin Walk, London SE1 8XR
When: Friday 1 December – Saturday 30 December
Christmas at the Prince Charles Cinema
Photo: Nicole Enelmann Photography
The Prince Charles Cinema never disappoints when it comes to screenings that are themed, interactive, or just a bit different. It makes sure you have an unforgettable time: previously hosting the actual Santa Claus for Elf, singalongs of The Muppet Christmas Carol, and reruns of It's a Wonderful Life.
This year, the PCC is holding brilliant double features of Home Alone and Home Alone 2 as well as Die Hard and Die Hard 2. There's also an all-night Christmas Pyjama Party, during which you watch a lovely slew of Christmas movies in your best jammies. And all the Grinches out there can enjoy a more alternative selection with films like Eyes Wide Shut, Tim Burton's Batman (alongside Batman Returns), Goodfellas, In Bruges, Boogie Nights and American Psycho.
The central location in Leicester Square boasts a familiar and fanatical atmosphere, its audiences the most vocal cinema-lovers in the big smoke.
Where: 7 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BY
When: Friday 1 December – Sunday 24 December
The Rivoli Ballroom Christmas Pop-Up Cinema
Photo: Rivoli Ballroom
Did you know that the Rivoli Ballroom is one of the only 1950s ballrooms remaining in London? With its regal red and glittering gold decor, its barrel-vaulted auditorium and its sprung maple dance floor, the venue sets the perfect scene for some festive film screenings.
Six classics are on offer: Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Die Hard, Gremlins, Elf, and Love Actually. To make things better, the bar and food stall are open, serving sweet and savoury cinema favourites like chocolate, hot dogs, popcorn and ice cream.
Where: 350 Brockley Road, Crofton Park, London SE4 2BY
When: Wednesday 20 December – Friday 22 December
Love Actually: film with live orchestra, Eventim Apollo
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without Love Actually, so why not celebrate with a classier viewing of the festive rom-com? In December, the Richard Curtis classic will be accompanied, once again, by a live orchestra within the epic setting of the Eventim Apollo.
Where: 45 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London W6 9QH
When: Saturday 9 December
Festive Film & Fizz with Curzon, One Aldwych
Photo: The M Collective
This year, the One Aldwych hotel is going all out by transforming the lobby into a woodland wonderland. But down below sits a subterranean escape for movie fans: Film & Fizz. This luxurious experience features a cosy 30-seat cinema, a three-course dinner, Chapel Down sparkling wine, and (of course) popcorn.
From the feel-good factor of Love Actually and Miracle on 34th Street to the timeless magic of Elf and It's a Wonderful Life, there's sure to be something to add a bit of sparkle to your happy holidays.
Where: 1 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BZ
When: Friday 17 November – Saturday 30 December
The Luna Winter Cinema
The brilliant minds over at The Luna Winter Cinema return to the fairytale setting of Kensington Palace. They turn the location into an architecturally astounding paradise within the palace’s formal gardens, abundant with Christmas trees. Luna also expands to the historic and creative Battersea Arts Centre, as well as across the country to Liverpool Town Hall, St Saviourgate in York and the Factory Works in Birmingham.
Relax with a warm cup of cocoa or a pleasing mug of mulled wine in front of The Holiday or The Nightmare Before Christmas or even Wonka. And how about some sweets, chocolate, mince pies and BrewDog beer to go with that? As always, Luna delivers.
Where: Kensington Palace Pavilion, London W2 4RS / Battersea Arts Centre, London SW11 5TN
When: Monday 11 December – Saturday 23 December